The Christian Walk: Lesson 4 How Not to Walk cont

The Christian Walk: Lesson 4

Part 1: How Not to Walk


  1. Do not Walk in Vanity/Foolishness
    1. Texts: Job 31:5; Ps 39:6; Jer 2:5, 8; Eph 4:17, 5:15
    2. Principles:
      1. Avoid the emptiness and futility of the false religion.

People who walk after vanity become vain (Jer 2:5). Vanity in this case is literally “breath, vapor,” but figuratively refers to anything empty or useless. Jeremiah records God’s thoughts about the vain, profitless idols and false gods of the heathen. The people had “gone far” from the Lord by adopting the idolatrous worship practices of the heathen. Those worshipping false gods become like them—useless and stupid (cf. Ps 135:15-18). Christianity has nothing in common with the falsehood and error of counterfeit religion, and Christians must “come out from among them” and separate from such unclean things (2 Cor 6:14-17).

  1. Avoid the foolishness of secular human thought.

a)                  The word “vanity” in the NT means “emptiness, futility.” Paul is referring to emptiness and futility of thought so common among the “Gentiles,” i.e., the unsaved. Whatever unbelievers think and do ultimately ends in futility and disappointment. From God’s point of view, whatever the unbeliever’s mind/intellect conceives is worthless. Peter uses the same word when describing false teachers who speak “great swelling words of emptiness” (2 Pet 2:18). Unbelieving Gentiles failed to attain the true purpose of the mind, namely, to receive God’s revelation which would guide them in their conduct.[1] Instead of thinking God’s thoughts after Him, unbelievers fill their minds with worthless, meaningless, foolish thoughts.

b)                  Paul describes what the futility of the unbelieving mind looks like  (Eph 4:18-19):

(1)               Having their understanding darkened—both intellect and emotions are corrupted by sin.

(2)               Being alienated from the life of God—they have no spiritual life due to their separation from God.

(3)               Ignorance and blindness of heart—they do not know and do not see (cf. 1 Cor 1:18f).

(4)               Hardening of heart—a medical term signifying callous hardening (cf. John 12:40; 1 Tim 4:2)

(5)               Given over to lewdness, uncleanness, and greed—voluntarily yielded themselves up to the power of their own sensuality and lasciviousness, so as to be commanded by it, without resisting it.[2]

Quote:  Indulgence in vice destroys the intellect as well as the body, and unfits a man to appreciate the truth of a proposition in morals, or in mathematics, or the beauty of a poem, as well as the truth and beauty of religion.[3]

c)                  The unwise are those who, having no insight into things that pertain to God and salvation, are not aiming to reach the highest goal and therefore do not know and do not even care to know what are the best means to reach it. They regard as very important what is in reality of minor value or may even be harmful, and they do not appreciate what is indispensable. They conduct themselves accordingly.[4]

d)                 The NT repeatedly warns believers not to adopt the philosophies and vain traditions of unbelievers (cf. Rom 1:21-22; 1 Cor 1:19-20; Eph 5:6; Col 2:8, 18). The wisdom of unsaved man is empty foolishness compared to the wisdom of God. Believers must reject any man-made philosophy or rule that contradicts God’s word (cf. Acts 5:29; 1 Cor 1:20, 3:19).

Note: Christians are frequently guilty of seeking approval from the unsaved crowd. They strive for recognition and respect from mainstream society (i.e., media, politicians, entertainers, educators). They try to merge Christian thought with secular philosophies. This is exceedingly dangerous and unbiblical. Gaining approval and recognition from the unsaved world is not a biblical value; far from it. We should have no interest in gaining appreciation or support from those who hate God. In fact, when a professing Christian gains worldly approval, he has made himself an enemy of God (James 4:4). Beware of following any Christian leader who gains approval or respect from the unsaved world.

e)                  Theologians refer to the negative consequence sin has upon the mind as the noetic effects of sin (based on the Greek word for mind, nous). The carnal (fleshly, i.e., unsaved) mind is hostile to God and refuses to subject itself to the law of God (Rom 8:5-8). The result is blindness to the truth and foolishness of thought. Regeneration reduces some of the noetic effects of sin, yet the believer still must strive to bring his thoughts under the Lordship of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 10:5).

  1. Avoid the externalism and superficiality characteristic of the unsaved world.

a)                  To “walk in a vain show” (Ps 39:6 KJV) likely refers to living according to external appearances. The Hebrew word for “vain show” is literally “image or shadow” and suggests something imaginary instead of real. Such people “make an uproar for nothing” (Ps 39:6b NASB). That is, they make much of what is essentially trivial, inconsequential, and insignificant.

b)                  Unsaved people often emphasize appearance/image over substance, costume over content. Outward show becomes important while the content of one’s character has little value. What they are so proud about is worthless and empty from God’s perspective. Examples: TV/movies/video games, sports fanatics, celebrities.

c)                  Christians must be careful not to adopt this heathen characteristic of valuing what is essentially worthless (cf. Isa 44:14-20). Our thoughts should be focused on “things above,” not vain, earthly concerns (Col 3:1-3). Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7). The “hidden man of the heart” (1 Pet 3:4) is of true value; that is where our focus should be.

Good quote: “There is nothing wrong with frivolous activity for one whose life is not committed to frivolity. There is no harm in superficial pleasures for one who also has a knowledge of the tragic and of the transcendent. The subjectivism of popular culture is impotent for someone whose life is characterized by rootedness in objective reality. Christians should not fear the idols and myths of our day, as long as they have no reverence for them.”[5]

  1. Do Not Walk in Craftiness
    1. Text: 2 Cor 4:2
    2. Principles:
      1. “Craftiness” in this case is not a positive attribute. The word connotes the trickery or cunning treachery necessary to deceive others. Satan deceived Eve by employing craftiness (2 Cor 11:3), and he continues to use this strategy. God promises to catch the “wise” (i.e., fools) “in their own craftiness” (1 Cor 3:19). So the idea seems to be cunning deception.
      2. Craftiness is in the same category as “hidden things of dishonesty.” Paul refused to deal with people dishonestly or deceptively. He was honest and full of integrity. This should be particularly true of Christian ministry (2 Cor 4:1). One need not use underhanded or deceitful means of convincing unbelievers to be saved or of exhorting believers to be holy. Simply preach the Gospel and trust God for the results (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 3:6-7; 1 Thes 2:3-5).

Quote:  Trickery is an attribute of the devil, not of the apostles and their helpers.[6]

Much ministry these days is tainted by man-pleasing flattery rather than God-honoring truth. The church marketing and seeker-sensitive models are guilty of pandering to the sensibilities of the unsaved mind.

  1. Those guilty of craftiness may also be guilty of “handling the word of God deceitfully.” Some have falsified God’s word to suit their own agenda. They “lie in wait to deceive” through their “cunning craftiness” (Eph 4:14). We must not be among those who “corrupt the word of God” (2 Cor 2:17). Genuine Christians must retain their commitment to “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) by speaking sincerely and honestly.
  2. Do Not Walk in Sin
    1. Texts:  1 Kings 15:3, 26, 34; Col. 3:5–7;Jer 6:28, 9:4, 23:14; Mic 2:11;Rom 13:13; 1 Pet 4:3; Dan 4:37; 2 Thes 3:6, 11
    2. Principles:
      1. Avoid the sins of your ancestors or predecessors. The fact that your family behaved in a certain way does not guarantee that such behavior was right or proper. The Christian rule of life must come from the Bible, and especially from the NT. We can learn much from our forebears, but we must be careful to avoid their errors and sins.
      2. Avoid lies, slanders, speaking evil, false stories, gossip, etc.
      3. Avoid rioting, drunkenness, lewdness, lust, fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, covetousness, strife, envy, etc.
      4. Avoid pride (an over-inflated estimation of oneself). See Rom 12:3.
      5. Avoid disorder.
        1. Disorder is forsaking the apostolic tradition taught to the churches. Christians are to behave themselves properly in God’s house, the church, “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). The church in particular should be characterized by good order—”Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor 14:40).
        2. Disorder is departing from the rule of life as given in the Bible. The apostles and their contemporaries exemplified a pattern of Christian living that we should emulate (Phil 3:17). Paul specifically mentions idleness and gossip as evidence of a disorderly lifestyle.

[1] John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), Eph 4:17–18.

[2] Poole

[3] Barnes Notes

[4] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, vol. 7, Exposition of Ephesians, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001), 237.

[5] Kenneth Myers, All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes, 87.

[6] Simon J. Kistemaker and William Hendriksen, vol. 19, Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001), 137.

The Christian Walk: Lesson 3 How Not to Walk cont

The Christian Walk: Lesson 3

Part 1: How Not to Walk


  1. Do Not Walk Contrary to God
    1. Texts:  Lev 26:21, 23, 27, 40; Ps 78:10; Ezek 20:16; Gal 2:14; Phil 3:17-19
    2. Principles
      1. Walking contrary to God amounts to flagrant disobedience to God’s commands as found in his word. The term “contrary” implies not merely passive neglect of God and his word, but active opposition, resistance, and refusal. One walking contrary to God is hostile to the things of God; he’s an active opponent of God. Walking contrary to God implies a stubborn refusal to obey God’s law.
      2. Even believers can be guilty of failure to walk “uprightly according to the truth of the gospel” (Gal 2:14). Paul had to rebuke Peter over his hypocrisy in this case. The words “walk uprightly” (KJV) is a single word in the original language (used only once in the NT) which means “walk in a straight course; i.e., to act uprightly.” Paul discerned that Peter’s conduct was not proper or honest. It contradicted “the truth of the gospel” and thus opposed it. Christian behavior must be consistent with the gospel and sound doctrine (cf. Titus 2:1).
      3. Paul describes “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil 3:18-19) with the following expressions.

a)                  “whose end is destruction” – They are on the highway to hell.

b)                  “whose god is their belly” – Their highest desire is to satisfy their own corrupt, evil desires.

c)                  “whose glory is their shame” – Instead of being ashamed of their wicked behavior, they glory in it (much like today’s media stars; cf. Rom 1:32).

d)                 “who mind earthly things” – Their focus and attention is on the physical instead of the spiritual. Many are secularists or even atheists.

Obviously, these descriptions fit the unsaved crowd, those who are on the broad road leading to destruction. The Christian walk contains none of these anti-Christian lifestyle choices.

  1. Any professing Christian who walks in opposition to God brings his spiritual state into question. Christians ought to be obedient to God and strive to promote God’s cause in the world, not stand in opposition to it.
  2. Do Not Walk According to the Course of This World
    1. Text: Eph 2:2
    2. Principles
      1. Prior to salvation, unbelievers live in harmony with the unsaved world in its opposition to God. Unbelievers feel perfectly comfortable in an environment of alienation from and opposition to God (cf. Rom 1:22f).
      2. The word “course” (KJV) is literally “age,” and describes the world viewed from the standpoint of time and change.[1] The “course” of this world is the spirit or sensibilities of this corrupt world. Paul asserts that “God has made foolish the wisdom of this world” (1 Cor 1:20).
      3. The “world” is that evil system of secular society set up in opposition to God, i.e., the wicked, ungodly world under satanic control. The world represents all that is opposed to God and his children. The world, the flesh, and the devil are our sworn enemies. They seek to entrap us, tempt us, and divert us from the right path.
      4. Pagans behave in accordance with the spirit of this wicked world because they are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1), children of wrath, and without God. This is perfectly reasonable; unsaved people behave like unsaved people. They walk “in” trespasses and sin.
      5. Clearly, walking according to the course of this world describes the lifestyles of spiritually dead, hopeless, Godless, lust-filled pagans. Those walking this way fully embrace the spirit of the wicked world in its opposition to God. For Christians to walk in this way would amount to treason against their Lord and repudiation of the Gospel.
      6. Unfortunately, many professing Christians today seem to find the course of this world very attractive. Instead of rebuking the world for its “unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph 5:11), worldly Christians adopt many of the practices their pagan neighbors enjoy. They may even attempt to bring elements of this evil world into the church and into their families, much to their shame and eternal regret.
  3. Do Not Walk According to the Prince of the Power of the Air
    1. Texts: Deut 8:19; 1 Kings 11:33; Jer 7:6, 9, 8:2, 13:10; Ezek 11:21, 20:16; Eph 2:1-2
    2. Principles
      1. Forsake satanic false gods.

a)                  To “walk after other gods” is to recognize them as legitimate, to serve them, love them, seek them, or worship them. The Israelites were constantly tempted to “forget the Lord [their] God” (Deut 8:19) and walk after the local pagan deities—Baal, Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Milcom/Moloch, etc. Besides the local false gods, some of the Israelites took up worship of the sun, moon, and stars. People who turn from the true God to serve idols are evil and good for nothing (cf. Ps 135:15-18).

b)                  Walking after false gods is incompatible with serving the true and living God (Ex 20:3-5). You must forsake the true God to walk after false gods. God will not share his glory with anyone else (Isa 42:8).

c)                  Walking after other gods always results in “hurt” (Jer 7:6). God will recompense idolaters for their evil deeds. The history of Israel testifies to this fact.

d)                 Walking after other gods is often mentioned in conjunction with other heinous sins like theft, murder, adultery, and lying. The false religions of the heathen permitted all manner of wicked behavior for their adherents.

e)                  Can a Christian forsake the true God and worship false Gods? Strictly speaking, no, he cannot. To apostatize in this way indicates that one was never genuinely saved in the first place. However, Christians may walk after false “gods” like money, popularity, career, sports, recreation, and the like. Anything that usurps the place of God in one’s life may be considered an “idol of the heart” (cf. Ezek 14:3-4; 1 John 5:21). We must be very careful that our hearts are not drawn away toward idols, whatever they may be (cf. Ezek 20:16).

  1. Forsake Satan, “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2).

a)                  Ultimately, those walking after false gods are following Satan (cf. 1 Cor 10:20-21). Prior to salvation, those dead in trespasses and sin live according their father, the devil (cf. John 8:44). All those disobedient to the Gospel are ensnared in the trap of the devil and are held captive by him to do his will (2 Tim 2:26).

b)                  The only means of rescue from Satan and his way is regeneration, the quickening wrought by the Holy Spirit upon believers in Christ. Once a person is saved, he can no longer walk according to the spirit of the world or according to the world’s “prince.”

c)                  Christians must “put on the whole armor of God” to withstand the wiles of the devil and his associates (Eph 6:11f). We must “wrestle” against such spiritual opponents and employ all the resources of the Christian life to overcome them.

[1] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, vol. 7, Exposition of Ephesians, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001).

The Christian Walk: Lesson 2 – How Not to Walk part 1

The Christian Walk: Lesson 2

Part 1: How Not to Walk

We’ll begin our study of the Christian walk with an examination of how not to walk. The Bible tells us both how to live and how not to live. We’ll start with the negative first—how not to walk as a Christian. The Bible presents many examples and admonitions to avoid walking in certain ways.

  1. Do Not Walk in the Way of the Ungodly
    1. Texts: Lev 18:3, 20:23; 1 Kings 16:31; 2 Chron 28:2; Ps 1:1; Prov 1:10-15; Isa 8:11; Ezek 11:12
    2. Principles
      1. A significant difference should exist between the walk of the Christian and the walk of the surrounding pagans. Christians are not supposed to imitate the lifestyle of the wicked. Believers must not adopt or adapt to the “statutes” or rules of living the heathen follow. God abhors the corrupt behavior of the wicked, and we should, too.

Jer 10:2Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way [lit. “path, road; i.e., manner of life] of the heathen …

  1. It is not a trivial thing to live like the pagans. God hates idolatry, which is what Jeroboam promoted in Israel. The idols of the heathen should hold no attraction for us. Cf. 2 Cor 6:14-18
  2. The person who wants God’s blessing must reject the lifestyle of the wicked. He does not go to them for advice, participate with them in their sinful activities, or become like them in their attitude. Those who accept the counsel of the wicked eventually start living like them and end up being one of them. This is the danger of trying to adapt secular thinking into a biblical/Christian worldview (cf. how evolutionary and psychological ideas slowly creep into Christian thinking). Conformity to the wicked world leads to corruption (cf. 1 Cor 15:33).
  3. Christians must not yield to the enticements that the wicked use to entrap the unwary. Wickedness may look appealing, but the Christian must keep his foot from that path. Those who follow the wicked into their sin will find that “the way of transgressors is hard” (Prov 13:15).
  4. The ungodly world seeks to conform everyone to its own viewpoint and lifestyle. As our society becomes increasingly pagan/heathen, we must progressively distance ourselves from its evil influence and refuse to be forced into its mold (cf. Rom 12:2). Our delight should be in the law of the Lord (Ps 1:2), not in the lifestyles of the rich and famous (and wicked).

Question: Are we advocating Christian isolationism or a fortress mentality where we separate ourselves completely from unbelievers? No, we are to be separate from sin yet still be salt and light, in the world but not of the world. We have to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, holding forth the word of life (Phil 2:15-16). Jesus never avoided contact with sinners and neither should we. However, we must not allow the ungodly to influence us for evil.

  1. Do Not Walk in Darkness
    1. Texts: Ps 82:5; Prov 2:13; Ecc 2:14; John 8:12, 11:10; 1 John 1:6; 2:11
    2. Principles
      1. Darkness in the Bible is a metaphor representing sin, corruption, and falsehood. Light, of course, signifies truth, godliness, and the presence of spiritual life. Darkness is the absence of light and the opposite of light.
      2. To “walk in the light” implies living in fellowship with God (i.e., spiritual life [regeneration]), leading a godly life, seeking to follow Christ, and living righteously.
      3. To “walk in darkness/night” implies living in sin and/or believing error (i.e., failure to walk in light and truth). Rejecting the truth leads to accepting falsehood. Those walking in darkness do not understand; their eyes are blind and they fail to see reality. Walking in darkness results in “stumbling” (John 11:10), i.e., error, falsehood, and destruction. Essentially, walking in darkness implies spiritual death (“no light”) because of rejecting the light of the world, Jesus Christ (cf. John 3:19-20).
      4. Paul affirms that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Cor 4:4). “Our adversary, the devil” (1 Pet 5:8) is doing everything he can to keep unbelievers shrouded in the darkness of sin and enslaved to sin (Rom 6:16). Unbelievers walk in darkness because they are ignorant and deceived.
      5. Those professing faith in Christ, yet habitually walking in darkness, are deceived and do not possess genuine salvation. The biblical expectation for believers is that they walk in the light (1 John 1:5f) and produce good fruit (Mt 7:17). If one continues to live like an unbeliever (i.e., in darkness), he is not converted, no matter what he may profess about Jesus.
      6. Those professing Christ must not live like unbelievers. The darkness of sin, ignorance, and error must not characterize the life of a Christian. John mentions the particular sin of hating one’s brother (1 John 2:11) as an evidence of walking in darkness (i.e., spiritual death). Hatred for others is incompatible with genuine Christianity. A lifestyle of unrepentant, habitual sin denies “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” (2 Cor 4:4).
  1. Do Not Walk After The Flesh
    1. Texts: Deut 29:19; Job 31:7; Ps 81:12;Isa 65:2;Jer 7:24, 13:10,18:12; Rom. 8:1, 4; 1 Cor 3:3; 2 Cor 5:7; 2 Pet 2:10, 3:3; Jude 16, 18
    2. Principles
      1. Do not walk according to the sinful inclinations of the flesh.
        1. The “flesh” in the Bible can signify the natural human body, but in many cases, the reference is to the sinful human nature, i.e., “unredeemed humanness.”[1] The flesh is the nature of humankind, apart from the supernatural influences of the Holy Spirit.[2] Walking according to the flesh, then, means allowing one’s corrupt, selfish, unredeemed human appetites to control his behavior. Living according to the flesh signifies an immoral lifestyle (often with connotations of sexual sin).

b)  Paul lists the “works of the flesh” in Gal 5:19-21 and describes what it means to live according to the flesh in Rom 8:4-6, 12-13. No one habitually living according to these descriptions is saved.

c)  Is it possible for a Christian to live according to the flesh? In certain ways, yes, at least temporarily. Scriptural admonitions not to live according to the flesh would be meaningless otherwise. Anytime we behave according to the lusts of the “old man” instead of the godly inclinations of the “new man” (Eph 4:22-24), we are walking according to the flesh. If we persist in living according to the flesh, it proves that our salvation is invalid (cf. Rom 8:7-9).

Note: Some conceive of three categories of human existence:[3] 1) Unbelievers are “natural,” i.e., without spiritual life; 2) New believers or immature believers are “carnal”; 3) Mature believers are “spiritual.” Those living in carnality have never matured as Christians and should not be held to the same standards as those who have become “spiritual.” They continue to live much like the surrounding pagan world, yet they should be thought of as genuine believers.

In reality, only two divisions exist among people. Men are saved or lost, sheep or goats, wheat or tares, light or darkness, etc. The true division is between spiritual man (saved) and natural man (unsaved). To describe a group of bickering, bitter Christians as “carnal” is not to establish a new sub-category of Christian existence. Christians may behave like unbelievers in certain cases, and for that they deserve sharp rebuke. But we should not see “carnal” as a label excusing Christians from biblical standards.

By describing believers as “carnal,” Paul is using strong language to force his readers to face up to the inherent inconsistency of their position. They have the Spirit, but at this junction they are neither thinking nor acting as if they do.[4]

We certainly acknowledge that among believers, some are “babes” while others are spiritually mature in the faith. We expect to see different degrees of progress in believers’ Christian experience (i.e., their walk). But those living a habitually ungodly lifestyle must not excuse themselves with the thought that they are merely carnal Christians. If someone exhibits no evidence of regeneration, his condition is not “carnal,” it is “natural,” i.e., unsaved.

d)  Walking “after the flesh” is contrasted in the Bible with walking “in/after the Spirit” (cf. Rom 8:4). You can’t do both. You either follow your own depraved heart or follow the Holy Spirit. Christians strive to bring greater areas of their lives under the Spirit’s control and to give in less frequently to the lust of the flesh.

  1. Do not follow your corrupt heart.

a)                  The biblical writers describe this error as walking after the imagination of your own heart, walking in your own counsels, walking in your own thoughts, and walking after your own devices. In each case, the error is following the counsels of your own mind (rationalism) without considering God’s instructions.

b)                  What’s wrong with following your own heart? Jeremiah tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (i.e., terminally ill, Jer 17:9). The psalmist concludes, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool” (Pr 28:26). One sign of a lost spiritual condition is the determination to go one’s own way like a dim-witted sheep (cf. Isa 53:6).

c)                  When one refuses to “retain God” in his knowledge, God in response gives him over to a reprobate mind (Rom 1:28). The natural inclination of a mind darkened by sin is to reject the Gospel as foolishness (1 Cor 1:18-21).

d)                 Following your own way amounts to rejecting the way of the Lord. One listens either to God or to the counsels of one’s own heart. One’s own way is the wide road that leads to destruction (Mt 7:13f). Believers are those who have left their own way, entered the narrow gate, and now walk along the narrow way that leads to life. Cf. Prov 3:5-6.

e)                  The Christian’s duty is to bring every thought under submission to the Lordship of Christ (2 Cor 10:5). The corrupt human heart will lead us astray. Our primary source of truth and wisdom is God’s Word.

  1. Do not walk by sight.

a)                  Don’t judge by external human senses alone. Our senses may give us an accurate picture of the physical world, but they cannot perceive spiritual things. Spiritual things are “spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14). Our physical senses/feelings give us little insight into the invisible and eternal realm. Instead of trusting in our own senses or powers of discernment, we are to submit ourselves to Christ and his word.

b)                  Don’t judge by outward appearances. Man naturally looks at the outward appearance (cf. 1 Sam 16:7; 2 Cor 10:7), but looks can be deceiving. Satan himself may appear as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). External appearance (grace, beauty) is far less important than inner character (cf. Prov 31:30).

c)                  Don’t be materialistic. Walking by sight amounts to following the “lust of the eyes” (1 John 2:16). Many things appeal to our sight, and many people pursue such things. The objects we can see often deceive us and provide no lasting satisfaction.

d)                 Don’t focus on the things of this world. Instead of loving the world and the things of it, we must focus on eternal realities, the “things above” (Col 3:1-3).

[1] The MacArthur Topical Bible

[2] Wesley L. Gerig

[3] Popularized by Lewis Sperry Chafer’s book He That Is Spiritual, 1918.

[4] D. A. Carson 1—WTJ 54 (Spring 1992) 1-29

The Christian Walk: Lesson 1 – Definitions

The Christian Walk: Lesson 1: Definitions

What Does “Walk” Mean?

I. Your walk describes your conduct.

A. When Bible writers tell believers how to “walk,” they are telling us how to live or conduct our behavior (thoughts, words, and deeds). The Christian walk is the Christian life or lifestyle, the believer’s direction or orientation in life. Behavior stems from belief, and the NT writers repeatedly tell us that correct belief ought to produce correct behavior.

B. The word “walk” suggests continuation and persistence. The believer is not standing or sitting; he’s walking. The verb translated “walk” is often used in the present tense in the original language of the Bible, suggesting a continued mode of conduct or behavior. The Christian walk describes an ongoing, normal pattern of life.

C. The Christian walk is an aspect of sanctification, that is, growth in godliness (cf. 2 Pet 3:18). The growing, faithful Christian will strive to walk (live) in a way that is pleasing to God. Believers should desire to “walk humbly with [their] God” (Mic 6:8).

Note the Quote: God has ever been interested in the walk of His saints, desiring that His own character might be reflected in them, and that they might in this way be for His pleasure and glory while passing through the world. To Abraham God said, “I am the Almighty God: walk before my face, and be perfect” (Gen. 17: 1). … Abraham’s life was to be in accord with the revelation that God was pleased to make of Himself to him, and nothing was to be seen in his walk that would be inconsistent with this revelation.

II. Your walk describes the quality of your spiritual life, your “walk with the Lord.”

A. To walk with God describes salvation. Those who walk in close communion with the Lord experience wonderful blessings. Examples:

1. Enoch walked with God and “God took him” (Gen 5:24). The implication is that Enoch knew the Lord very closely, walking with Him in fellowship and obedience, and God translated him directly into heaven. Enoch’s remarkable experience was both a testimony of his deep faith in God (see Heb. 11:5, 6) and a strong reminder at the beginning of biblical history that there is life in God’s presence after death for the people of God.

2. Moses describes Noah as just and perfect among his generation. Summing up Noah’s spiritual condition, the author says, “Noah walked with God” (Gen 6:9). In other words, to walk with God amounts to knowing God or being rightly related to God and enjoying close harmony and fellowship with Him.

3. When God appeared to Abraham, He said, “I am Almighty God; walk before me , and be thou perfect” (Gen 17:1). Later, Abraham described himself in the following terms: “The Lord, before whom I walk…” (Gen 24:40). Jacob stated that Abraham and Isaac walked before God (Gen 48:15). David walked before the Lord by observing (walking in) God’s law (2 Chron 6:16). The psalmist’s desire was to “walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps 116:9). To walk “before the Lord” implies living in God’s presence, under his guidance, and with his approval.

4. Christians should strive to walk “after” the Lord and to walk “in” his ways.

Deuteronomy 13:4 You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.

Joshua 22:5 But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Jeremiah 7:23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’

5. God sometimes describes himself as walking with or among his people (e.g., Lev 26:12; Deut 23;14; 2 Sam 7:7). God’s desire is to dwell among his people and “walk in them” (2 Cor 6:16). Christ promises to walk with his worthy people “in white” (Rev 3:4), referring to fellowship in heaven.

6. So it seems to follow that God’s people walk with God. To walk with God implies a saved (regenerate) spiritual condition. To walk with God amounts to fearing him, obeying him, serving him, and holding fast to him.

B. To walk with God describes the quality of your relationship with God.

1. The prophet Amos asked, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Of course, the answer is “no, they can’t.” Walking together implies agreement, fellowship, and relationship. Cf. Prov 13:20.

2. We might describe the quality of our spiritual condition in terms of how closely we are walking with God. Our walk with God may be very close and personal, or it may be quite cold and distant. The believer may be walking closely by the Lord’s side, as it were, or far behind or ahead of him. Every genuine believer walks with God, but experience varies regarding how close to God we are walking.

C. Behavior and spiritual condition are closely related; thus, the Christian “walk” describes both spiritual life and daily conduct.

III. Your walk should be consistent.

A. Biblical writers frequently contrast the walk of the individual before coming to faith and after.

1. OT: God expected the Jews to live differently from their pagan past and from their pagan neighbors. Cf. Deut 8:19; 2 Kings 17:8

2. NT: The walk of the “old man” is significantly different from that of the “new man” (Eph 4:22-24; 1 Pet 4:3-4). Regeneration is the decisive factor in how one walks in this world. It’s only after the experience of salvation that one begins to walk with the Lord. Those crucified and raised with Christ by faith must “walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4). See Col 3:5-10.

B. Unfortunately, some who claim to hold Christian belief deny it by their unchristian behavior—their ungodly walk (cf. Titus 1:15-16; 1 John 3:17, 4:20). One’s walk may contradict his talk. When that is the case, one’s profession of faith either comes into question or proves to be invalid.

The Christian Walk: Contents

The Christian Walk: Contents

The Bible often describes the Christian life in terms of walking or running. The Christian walk begins with a step of faith (salvation) and continues in the daily, practical walk of faith. Living as a Christian is something like a walk in that the believer should be making progress, moving forward, not standing still spiritually. The Christian life is a road or a path the believer travels, and Christians should seek to walk this path in the way that God intends.
This series of lessons seeks to explore what the Bible says about the Christian walk and to apply those principles to practical daily living. We will seek to distill principles from both the OT and the NT as we describe how God’s people ought to live.

Theme Verse: Colossians 2:6–7 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

William Cowper, 1731–1800
O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!
So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

Note: While the Bible contains many synonyms for “walk” (e.g., go, run, live, step, follow), this material mostly focuses on passages that use the word “walk.”

Lesson 1: Introduction and Definitions

Part 1: How Not to Walk
Lesson 2: How Not to Walk, part 1
Lesson 3: How Not to Walk, part 2
Lesson 4: How Not to Walk, part 3

Part 2: How to Walk
Lesson 5: Walk Rooted and Built Up
Lesson 6: Walk in Obedience
Lesson 7: Walk in Truth and Sincerity
Lesson 8 Walk in the Old Paths; in the Ways of Good Men
Lesson 9: Walk Uprightly/Righteously
Lesson 10: Walk in the Fear of God
Lesson 11: Walk in the Name of the Lord our God
Lesson 12: Walk by Faith
Lesson 13: Walk in Newness of Life
Lesson 14: Walk in the Spirit (3 parts)

Lesson 15: Walk According to Your Calling
Lesson 16: Walk Decently/Properly
Lesson 17: Walk Humbly
Lesson 18: Walk in Good Works
Lesson 19: Walk Worthy
Lesson 20: Walk in the Light
Lesson 21: Walk in Love
Lesson 22: Walk Circumspectly
Lesson 23: As Christ Walked

© Brad Anderson, Liberty Baptist Church of Antigo, WI, Fall-Spring 2012-2013. This is the teacher’s edition of the notes. The blanks are filled in. To make a student copy, simply empty the blanks and print out the students’ copies. Resources footnoted.

Choosing a Good Church

My family and I have the unique opportunity to travel the 50 states. We are currently on state #15 and have traveled from the top of Michigan to Key West, Florida. Along our trip, we have found some amazing and great churches.

My wife and I really never faced the opportunity to choose a church in this fashion. Like my wife, I grew up in a home where we went to our parent’s church. Her family changed churches a couple of times. My family never changed churches.

When we got married, I began vocational ministry and though I had various opportunities to serve in different churches, the decision was not purely up to us to where we ended up going. Even then, as a member of the pastoral staff, making a choice based on what constitutes a good church was moot. It was up to me (and the staff) to help a church become a good church.

We make it a point to visit only evangelical, protestant churches. Among those, we visit Baptist, Bible, Evangelical Free, Presbyterian, Christian Alliance and non-denominational churches.

An Important Caveat

It must be stated, up front, when compared to other churches in time, we have it good! Churches were not on every street corner. If you lived on the isle of Corinth, the Corinthian church was the only church available to you. Looking for a good church would be problematic. A hypocritical Corinthian believer could have justified that he was not going to church on the basis that there were no good ones.

We are a blessed country. We live in a society where there is a proliferation of great, mediocre and bad churches. I can attest to that having visited well over a hundred churches in 15 different states, we had better appreciate our temporary freedom to worship as we wish!

Things to Look for in a Good Church

How does the Bible describe a good church?

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.


Friendliness Cannot be Manufactured. Look for a Genuinely Friendly Church.

The mood of a church has a trickle-down effect. If the people are not friendly, the pastor typically is not either. If the people are jokesters and clowns, the pastor may be anemic or a clown himself. If the people are amiable and notice that you are a visitor, chances are, the pastor is as well.

On three occasions (out of over 100), the pastor of the church greeted the visitors. We had a very delightful experience where the pastor greeted us as we came into the church and when we left and the church was over 200 people! The friendliness of a church CANNOT be manufactured by setting up a welcoming committee with nameplates on their lapel. In each of the three occasions, the pastor was unavoidable, genuine and friendly. THREE?? Really?! Only three? Yes.

I have to admit. I am a big clown at heart. I enjoy a good laugh. However, this can become a huge problem that masks an unpleasant reality. Clowns manufacture an environment that lack genuineness. It is not good for a church to rely on goofiness to manufacture a friendly environment. In fact, most times, it leads to embarrassment. With that said, only on a couple of occasions did we face this issue.

On two occasions, we were excited to visit a church. After finding their websites and reading through their “What We Believe” articles, we were sure we found a perfect church. Unfortunately, in both cases, they were horrible. The first church was a somewhat new plant. We visited two Sundays in a row. The first Sunday, the pastor avoided us. He saw us and dodged down a hallway. We thought to ourselves, “Okay, he must have some kind of emergency.” We visited again. The next Sunday, he could not avoid us. Instead, he ran right by us, said, “Hi! Thank you for coming” and dodged into a room. This must have trickled down through the congregation, because the only one to say “Hi!” was the one handing us a bulletin.

About a month later, we found another church that seemed to be the perfect fit! When we entered the doors, we were crammed into a vestibule with 75 other people waiting for a Sunday School teacher to finish up in the auditorium. Perfect! I am sure we would connect right away. People, literally, turned around and chatted with their friends. Not ONE person greeted us. We stood there for 15 minutes with no one interested in making conversation. The service was great, the preaching was good, but the utter lack of friendliness was a trickle-down. The pastor disappeared after the service closed.

Let me wrap up this section is an excellent example. We stretched our choice of churches by going to a church that was in a different denomination. It is an evangelical denomination, but not one that is very prevalent. When we entered the church, the pastor greeted us right alongside his greeters and engaged us in a very friendly, welcoming way. Upon leaving the church, he was right there again. He remembered most of our names and we teased each other when he forgot my name. We went back the following Sunday. Again, he was very welcoming and so were most in the church. Even though, due to some doctrinal differences, we are not able to continue attending, we are still friends on facebook.

Is “friendliness” an important quality for choosing a church? Absolutely. Why? If a church, and its pastor, is not willing to be friendly and accepting when a new family walks in their doors, you can almost be guaranteed that same church and pastor have no desire for the purpose of the church.

The Thessalonians were commended by Paul for “work produced by faith,” “labor prompted by love,” and “endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” So, how did this labor for ministry express itself? Notice how Paul describes them: “joy given by the Holy Spirit,” “The Lord’s message rang out from you,” “your faith in God has become known everywhere,” “they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us.”

Many Don’t Trust God’s Word: Look for a Biblically-sound Church.

The Thessalonian church became an effective church because it was fed the Gospel with passion. The word “gospel” is used in its broadest sense. We tend to think of it in terms of the plan of salvation. It is actually a generic term for the truths of Christ. It is “news that brings one great joy!”

… our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction… And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.

One of the main reasons for worshipping in a church is to receive a biblical education. That is why one of the key qualifications of a pastor is that he must be “apt to teach.” Finding a church that actually proclaims the truths of Christ, passionately and with power IS a difficult thing. Notice that these three elements must be included: 1) the Truth; 2) Holy Spirit-enabled; 3) Passionate delivery.

After a church service, ask yourself, “Did I need my Bible and do I understand the passage better?” If you cannot remember what was being preached (either because it was full off rabbit trails or just way too long and droning on), chances are you did not get a biblical education.

Every pastor has an “off Sunday.” Ministry or family demands that particular week may have drained him of his ability to communicate clearly. For this reason, if we find a decent church in every other regard, we will give it another service. With the internet, we are able to download a sampling of sermons from different months to get an overview.

We have been to churches with great media presentations, energetic, worshipful music and then a sermon that sounds more like a pep-talk. We have been to churches with struggling musicians and powerful sermons. The churches that are the most disappointing are the ones where the pastor does not trust God’s word.

On one occasion, the pastor droned on and on for over an hour. In his sermon, he explained how “Jesus wept.” In an attempt to regroup his waning audience, he made up a definition for “wept.” He said the Greek means that Jesus’s weeping was one filled with anger. It does not mean that. It simply means that he weeping was profoundly tear-filled. Why did this pastor do that? He didn’t get it from the Greek! Did he make it up on “the fly?” Perhaps. What is true is that he did not trust God’s word.

In this regard, America is in trouble! Very few of the churches we have visited actually have sermons that could be described as “truth-filled, Spirit-enabled and passionate.”

Here are some observations from our worst church experiences. These churches do not trust God’s word.

  • Sermons drone on and one and go nowhere. Pastor not prepared? Probably.
  • Sermons are provocative, interesting but don’t use Scripture. Pastor studying everything else but Scripture? Probably.

Here are some observations from our best church experiences.

  • Sermons are based on a passage of Scripture or a particular topic. Not that they just begin with a passage/topic, but the passage/topic is developed clearly.
  • Sermons where the length of the sermon does not matter. In these cases a 45 minute sermon feels like it is only 20 minutes. Conversely, a 20 minute sermon can be packed with truth and passionate.
  • Sermons that direct you to understanding, grasping and appreciating the message instead of the preacher’s personality.
  • Sermons (or points within the sermon) that are memorable and life-changing.
  • Sermons where difficult, controversial topics are presented so that even our 11 year old daughter says, “Oh! Now I understand!”
  • Sermons where the speaker is not an expressly gifted speaker, but is able to present the Bible clearly.

Churches that stand out in our mind in this regard (Preachers we heard)


Obviously, there is more that can be said about looking for a good church. However, since 2,000 words is more than sufficient for one article, it is our hope to be an encouragement to those who are looking for a church.

Even though America has plenty of churches, it is not an easy job finding a good one! If you so happen to have landed in a good church, count yourself blessed!



Brad Anderson

The media has informed us about a spate of moral failures of late. Perhaps the most well-known is that of SC governor Mark Sanford and his adulterous relationship with an Argentinean woman. This is particularly surprising and shameful because Sanford claims to be a Christian and an ardent defender of family values. Now he’s the butt of jokes a prime example of hypocrisy for liberals to criticize.

Others have recently fallen into similar sins. Louisiana Senator David Vitter, who is married and has four children, admitted involvement with an “escort” service. Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada, a leading conservative and potential presidential candidate, recently admitted an affair with a campaign staffer who was the wife of a close friend. John Edwards, former VP candidate, had an illicit affair while his wife was struggling with cancer. Former NFL quarterback Steve McNair was shot and killed recently, apparently by his 20-year-old girlfriend, a former waitress. McNair was 36 years old, married, and had four sons. He was known not only as a great athlete but also as a generous and caring man, an exemplary citizen. Yet he was carrying on an adulterous affair with this girl little more than half his age. McNair’s wife didn’t find out about the affair until she heard about her husband’s death.

In each of these stories, we find intelligent, talented, professional men who risked their careers and family lives for temporary pleasure. In McNair’s case, his philandering cost him his life. It remains to be seen how these adulterous affairs will affect the politicians involved. Years ago, such affairs would mean the end of their political careers (e.g., the name Gary Hart may ring a bell). Today, after 8 years of Bill Clinton as president, such affairs are mostly shrugged off and ignored by the public. People almost expect politicians to have affairs, and when they do, it’s no big deal. Personal lives and public lives are separate.

These men, and the women involved with them, gave in to temptation. Circumstances presented opportunities to them to gratify their passions and lusts, and they gave in.

Quote from Gene Lyons’ recent article: 1 [Mark Sanford] married [into] money, went into real estate, then politics. Like many South Carolina aristocrats, he’s an Episcopalian. However, like most Southern Republicans, Sanford talked like a biblical fundamentalist, piously condemning others’ sexual sins and boasting about his own righteousness. Such simple-minded certitudes often fail to survive exposure to the wider world. One dark-eyed temptress and it all comes undone.

It’s not only politicians and athletes who succumb to “dark-eyed temptresses” of the world. Self-professed Biblical fundamentalists, who piously condemn others’ sins, give in to temptation and ruin their lives as well. How many pastors have taken off with the church secretaries? How many have been ruined by pornography? E.g., Bob Gray in Florida.

None of us are beyond temptation— Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 1Co 10:12

In light of these events, I thought it might be helpful for us to consider what the Bible says about temptation and how to deal with it.

  1. Define temptation
    1. Temptation is essentially a solicitation or enticement to sin.

James 1:13-14 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

    1. The biblical word “tempt” can refer to a trial or a testing of one’s faith. E.g., God tested Abraham’s faith when he told him to sacrifice Isaac. This was a test, not a solicitation/enticement to do evil. God never tempts anyone to sin, never entices anyone to sin.
    2. I’ll be using the word “temptation” in the sense of “enticed to sin,” not in the sense of a test or trial of faith. However, every solicitation to sin is a test or trial of our faith. Not every test/trial is an enticement to sin.
  1. Facts about temptation
    1. Temptation is universal. “Every man is tempted” (James 1:14). Temptation is “common to man” (1 Cor 10:13). We live with temptations every day. Even Jesus was tempted.

We perhaps think that we live at a time when temptation is more strong or powerful than ever before. But that’s not really true. Think of society under pagan cultures—Greeks, Romans, Chinese—east Asians, etc. In some cultures, there are virtually no limitations on immorality—it’s open, blatant, and expected. E.g., temple of Aphrodite at Corinth, 1000 prostitutes; fertility religions were common.

Temptation has been common in all cultures and times. Our own western culture is rather tame compared to some others. I admit that it’s getting worse all the time. But it’s not as bad as it could be.

    1. Temptation is not sin. Jesus was “tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). Yielding is sin.
    2. Temptation may be satanic. Satan is called “the tempter” (cf. Mt 4:3; 1 Thes 3:5). He is the father of temptation; he originated the idea.
      1. We often think of Satan tempting us, but there is only one of him, and he can be in only one place at a time.
      2. Can demons tempt us? I am unaware of any biblical text that suggests that.
      3. The emphasis in the Bible is temptation is the enticement to sin that corresponds to our own sinful nature, particularly, our desires. Satan is not involved in most instances of temptation.
      4. Nevertheless, temptation is satanic in origin.
    1. Temptation is closely associated with desire/lust. Temptation works by appealing to something inherent or organic within humanity.

Jas 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

      1. The passions of the flesh or our appetites, in and of themselves, are not wrong. They are God-given as part of humanity. E.g., we have a natural desire to eat and to sleep. But if we eat or sleep too much, it’s sin. We have a natural desire for companionship with the opposite sex. Marriage is God’s program to fulfill that desire. If we fulfill that desire outside of marriage, it’s sinful.
      2. In our sinfulness, we tend to corrupt God’s plan or program for fulfilling our natural desires. E.g., the men I mentioned earlier were all married, yet sought to fulfill their appetites outside of marriage.
      3. Our minds have a hard time controlling the lusts of the flesh. Our appetites can become so strong that they almost bypass our minds. Once we start giving in to the flesh, our appetites have the capacity to override our common sense.

E.g., Sanford—telling everyone he was hiking in the mountains when he was down in Argentina, thinking no one would find out??? That’s just plain stupid.

E.g., Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of NY, and the former DA of NY, allegedly met regularly with “escorts” for 1.5 years before he was identified and forced to resign.

E.g., Steve McNair carrying on with this 20-year-old when he had 4 kids and a wife at home.

Ridiculous, stupid, irrational. The appetites take over and the rational mind seems to shut down.

Read Prov 7:5ff (esp. vss. 22-23)

    1. Temptation usually follows a pattern.

James 1:14-15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

      1. The process of giving in to temptation often starts in very small ways. First we make quite minor compromises before moving on to greater and greater sins.
      2. Quote: “Nearly every grave moral failure begins with a small sin. Because there comes a time, after we toy with sin, when one pull of the flesh causes us to cross the line, to disengage from reason, and to follow our appetites wherever they may lead.” 2

E.g., King David—he merely caught a glimpse of a woman, and it led to multiple sins—adultery and murder among them.

      1. It’s very easy to toy with sin these days. With all the different media outlets providing loads of ungodly materials, you have to be very careful to avoid exposure.
      2. So flagrant sin usually starts with small compromises. You being toying with sin, entertaining sinful thoughts, indulging the flesh in small ways. Soon you can tolerate more sin, you rationalize it away, and eventually your flesh overcomes all restraint. Your fleshly appetites overwhelm your normal self-control and you indulge in blatant sin with no regard for the consequences.
  1. Strategies to overcome temptation

We know that we will face temptations daily. We know that we struggle to control our natural human appetites. We know that flagrant sin often starts with small compromises. What else do we need to know to overcome temptation?

    1. Recognize and admit your human frailties and weaknesses.
      1. Mt 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.
      2. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 1Co 10:12
      3. We may think that we are somehow beyond temptation. That’s not true. Given the right set of circumstances and pressures, we very well might give in/yield to temptation.
      4. E.g., David, the “sweet psalmist of Israel,” the great king. No one would have expected him to do what he did. But given the right set of circumstances, he sinned grievously.
    2. Rely on God’s strength and the resources He provides. 1 Cor 10:13
      1. “God is faithful”
        1. The solution to the problem is God. God provides all the resources we need to overcome temptation.
        2. It follows, then, that the solution is not within ourselves. It’s not merely a matter of will power or self-control. We must bring God into the equation. We must rely on His power to get us thru temptations.
      2. God has promised not to allow temptations beyond our ability to withstand it. I.e., we are not victims. We can’t claim that we had no choice—“I was overwhelmed; I couldn’t control myself.” Not true.
        1. Remember that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:13).
        2. Contrary to what some people tell us, we are not mere animals who must follow our instincts. With God’s help, we can control ourselves. Self-control is one of the fruit of the Spirit.
      3. God will provide a way to escape or a way to bear with the temptation.
        1. Escape is a good strategy for dealing with temptation. “Flee youthful lusts” (James 4:7). E.g., Joseph ran away from Pot’s wife.

E.g., How Steve McNair should have reacted: met this waitress at a restaurant, finds her attractive and interesting, feels his lust kick in. What should he have done? Leave the place and never come back. He should not have entertained the idea in his mind.

        1. Sometimes we can’t escape from temptations. We can’t flee from some circumstances. And I admit that persevering under a long-standing temptation is very difficult. But it’s not impossible.

Jas 1:12 Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Ge 39:10 And it came to pass, as [Potiphar’s wife] spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, [or] to be with her.

    1. Pray.
      1. Mt 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.
      2. It’s not impossible, but it’s pretty hard to yield to temptation immediately after you’ve prayed and asked God to help you resist temptation.
    1. Resist. James 4:7
      1. Resist means, “To set one’s self against, to withstand, to oppose.”
      2. It suggests active opposition, not merely holding steady.

Illus.: think of a tug of war (not a perfect analogy, but close) —you don’t merely stand steady; that’s not the goal. You pull in the opposite direction.

      1. Similarly, in a temptation, we actively resist and oppose the devil. We pull back—oppose, not merely try to hold steady.
    1. Consider the consequences of giving in to temptation.
      1. If you are tempted by a piece of pie, the consequences of eating it will likely be rather minor—perhaps an extra pound or two.
      2. If you are tempted to steal something, the consequences may be rather significant.
      3. If you are tempted to commit adultery, the consequences may be monumental. Read Prov 5:3-5, 9-11, 21-23
      4. What were the consequences for David?
        1. Child died.
        2. Trouble in his family the rest of his life; i.e., misery and sorrow.
        3. Worst consequence: 2 Sam 12:14 by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, …

The enemies of God have a field day when self-proclaimed conservatives and Christians fall into sin. That’s exactly what the liberal media has done to Sanford.

      1. What were the consequences for Eliot Spitzer? Lost his job as governor, potentially a bid for the presidency. Sanford was thought of as a presidential contender; no more.
      2. The appeal of the fleshly passions is so strong that a person is often willing to sacrifice virtually everything to fulfill that desire. If you give yourself over to fulfilling the desires of the flesh, you eventually lose self-control.
    1. Fill your mind with the Word of God.

Ps 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed [thereto] according to thy word.

Ps 119:11 ¶ Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Jesus provides a good example for us. When Satan tempted Jesus, how did he respond? “It is written…” (Mt 4:1f)

    1. Fulfill your appetites in appropriate ways.
      1. God has provided proper means of fulfilling our passions and desires. The Bible gives us full permission to fulfill those desires in proper ways.
      2. Unfortunately, the human heart has almost infinite capacities for sin, so even if you are seeking to fulfill your desires legitimately, it does not shield you completely from temptations. But it certainly helps.
      3. E.g., Prov 5:15-18
      4. E.g., what should David have done after lusting over Bathsheba? I don’t want to be crass here, but he could have called one of his wives; he easily could have expressed his physical desire legitimately with a woman he was already married to.
    2. Take practical steps to protect yourself.
      1. Seek an accountability partner. Cf. Prov 13:20
      2. Be careful who you spend time with. “Friends” can be a significant source of temptation.
        1. Prov 1:10 “If sinners entice thee…”
        2. 1Co 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
      3. Install safeguards like Internet filters and/or cable TV controls. Disconnect the cable at hotels.
      4. Keep yourself occupied. “Idol hands are the devil’s workshop.”
      5. Stay away from things that excite your lustful passions. E.g., the magazine rack in the book store, the TV, the computer, etc. cf. Prov 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence…”
      6. Be sensitive about sin; don’t compromise or toy with it; don’t rationalize it or excuse it.
      7. If you do fall into sin, respond appropriately: confess the sin, forsake it, make amends for it if necessary, and put safeguards into place so you don’t give into temptation like that again.

Conc: We live in a world that is full of temptations. Dark-eyed temptresses abound, enticing us with the prospect of forbidden pleasures. Yet we must not give in to temptation. We must remember that “God is faithful” and he will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.

  1. Gene Lyons, “Hypocrisy All Around,” July 2, 2009
  2. Chuck Colson, BreakPoint Commentaries, “The Bewilderment of Sin,” 6/26/2009.

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

One of life’s toughest issues to deal with is explaining why bad things happen to good people. Think of some “bad” things that have happened to “good” people who you know.

Why is this such a dilemma? What questions arise? [How can a good, all-powerful God allow such things to happen to His people? Does God care? Why doesn’t He do something? Technical name for this is “theodicy.”]

Several initial truths to keep in mind:

  1. One may never understand the reason or purpose behind bad circumstances. However, believers should take comfort in the fact that God is sovereign and has a purpose for what He is doing. C.f., Isa 55:8-9.

  2. Bad things happen indiscriminately to both the wicked and the good. There is not necessarily a direct relationship between bad circumstances and sin or lack of faith. Sickness, death, and problems are not an accurate reflection of a person’s spirituality. See Job 1:21

  3. Beware of “health and wealth” theology, which asserts that faithful believers will not experience illness, financial setbacks, or other difficulties.

The Bible gives us several Reasons Why Bad Things Happen to Good People:

I. Bad circumstances are the result of original sin.

  1. We live in a sin-cursed world. Thus, we are subject to suffering and death. The earth itself is under the curse. Gen. 3:14-19
  2. Sin is an unfortunate part of life for all of us. None of us is good. Rom. 3:10, 23
  3. Even faithful believers may be afflicted. Heb. 11:36-37

II. Bad circumstances may be a means of testing an individual. Rom 5:3-5

  1. Job experienced testing. Job 23:10
  2. Paul experienced testing. 2 Cor. 12:7
  3. All Christians will experience testing. 1 Pet 1:7

Question: For whose benefit is the testing? [The person’s.]

III. Bad circumstances may be used by God to display His power and grace.

  1. 2 Cor. 12:8-10
  2. John 9:3
  3. Who are some other examples? [Joni, Eliz. Elliot, martyrs.]

IV. Bad circumstances may be a form of chastening.

  1. 1 Cor. 11:29-30 Sickness and death may be due to improper attitude toward God
  2. Acts 5:1-5 Death may be due to lying to God. C.f., 1 Jn 5
  3. Heb. 12:7 All errant believers receive chastening.

V. Bad circumstances may be due to the natural consequences of personal sin.

  1. A. Gal. 6:7-8 Problems are the natural result of sin. Rom 6:23 says that sin has wages or penalties. What are some examples? [AIDS, sexual disease, drinking, drugs, stealing, lying, etc.]
  2. B. 1 Cor. 3:17 Problems may be the result of defiling the temple of God (your body). How does one defile (corrupt, ruin) his body? [Sex sins, drugs, alcohol, smoking, etc.]
  3. There is often a direct connection between sinful behavior and negative circumstances. What do the following verses say about sin and its results?
  • Psalm 1:6 the way of the ungodly shall perish.
  • Psalm 146:9 the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
  • Proverbs 4:19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
  • Proverbs 11:6 transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.
  • Proverbs 13:15 the way of transgressors is hard.

VI. Bad circumstances may be from Satan. Luke 13:11-16; Job 1:12


Problems, evil, and bad circumstances may be due to original sin, may be used by God to test a person, may be a means to display God’s power and grace, may be a form of chastening, may be a result of sin, or may even come from Satan himself.

Keeping a Pure Mind


(from MacArthur’s The Vanishing Conscience)

The Bible clearly teaches that sin goes beyond behavior. Sinful behavior always starts with sinful thinking in the mind. Someone may think that as long as his thoughts are not acted out he has not sinned, or that sins of the mind are not as bad as sins acted out. This is not true. Lust itself is sinful, as is greed, covetousness (note Commandment #10), pride and hatred. In fact, thoughts and fantasies can be just as sinful as sinful deeds.

Texts: Matt 5:21-22, 27-28; 15:18-19; 23:25-28

If you want to progress in sanctification, start by controlling your thought-life. Controlling your thoughts is extremely important; your thoughts are the frontlines of the battle for holiness. Remember that evil deeds are the offspring of evil thoughts.

How does one sin with his mind?

  1. Sins of remembering: remembering, cherishing, or mentally reliving past sins. Sin has a way of impressing itself on your memory. When you bring back and think about past sin, you repeat the sin. [This is one reason porn is so destructive: once you implant an image in you brain, it’s easy to bring it back up and difficult to forget it. It’s not just images, either. Sinful/explicit dialogue and stories are the same. Often our imaginations fill in more explicitly than a pix would. This is one reason we need to stay away from such material. If it never gets into your brain, you’ll never remember it.]
  2. Sins of scheming or plotting: planning sinful actions is sin. Ps 36:1-4; Prov 15:26, 24:8-9 Those who plot evil actions reveal the wickedness filling their hearts. Even if the plans never are acted out, God condemns the sinful thoughts.
  3. Sins of imagining: fantasizing about sinful activity. This is what Jesus referred to in Mt 5:28. Even if you don’t plan on acting out the thoughts, if you imagine it, you’ve sinned and you’re guilty. [Imagination is usually far worse than that which we’d actually do. Eg., comments of guys at Patio when a good-looking woman comes in. ]

How to Deal with Evil Thoughts

  1. Confess and forsake known sin (Isa 55:7). If you are guilty of mental sins, repent of it and ask forgiveness. Don’t downplay the sinfulness of evil thoughts. Remember that God knows your thoughts (Ps 139:2-4). God hates this sin as much as any other.

  2. Refuse to entertain sinful thoughts. Who controls what you think about? You do. Don’t let yourself dwell on sinful images or ideas. Don’t read books, look at images, or listen to music that generate sinful thoughts or tempt you to indulge in them (Job 31:1). Stay away from things that tempt you in this way. Guard your thoughts. This requires discernment: the ability to evaluate something before giving or withholding approval. E.g., lots of bad stuff on the internet, most easily accessible. If you can’t handle the temptation, stay away from it.]

  3. Focus on the right kind of thoughts (Phil 4:8). Soak your mind with true, valuable, honorable, and pure information. Replace the bad with the good. [Many sources: Bible, classic novels, good magazines, some TV shows, etc. Unfortunately, replacement doesn’t get rid of the bad stuff.]

  4. Feed on the Word (Ps 119:11). The Word strengthens and insulates your mind. It also reveals your sin and shows you the right way to go.

  5. Get accountable. If you find you have difficulty with this on your own, find someone you can check in with occasionally who will help you keep you mind on the right track.

Conclusion: Sin always starts in the mind. You are in control of what you think about. Determine to think about the right things. Don’t fill your mind with trash. When you do commit mental sins, repent of it and determine not to let it happen again.

Envy / Jealousy

Envy / Jealousy

How would you define envy? Write your definition here.

“a sense of discontentment or jealousy with regard to another’s success or possessions; an inordinate desire to have [something] possessed by another.”

Why do some people envy other people?

Do you ever envy other people? Why? Why not?

Psalm 73 tells us that envy is a process. It is the result of a series of events.

[Break into 3 groups and work on the following. Fill in the blanks first.]

  1. Notice how well others are doing in comparison with yourself. List areas of which we could be envious of others from Psalm 73:1-5
    .3 prosperity–wealth, house, car, boat, pool, things
    .4 strong–do what they want, power, control, respected
    .5 no trouble, no plague–everything going fine, easy, no problems
    [.12 carefree, wealthy]
  2. Notice that other people are ungodly and it does not seem to affect them. What are some characteristics of the ungodly listed in Ps. 73:6-12
    .6 pride, violence
    .7 evil thoughts, callous (hard) hearts
    .8 speak wickedly (bad language, cursing), scoff, arrogant, make threats
    .9 boastful about their attitude.
    .11 question if God exists, live as though He does not
  3. Complain about the requirements of your faith. Paraphrase what the psalmist says in verses 13-16.
    .13 I have lived a godly life for nothing. It is useless to be a Christian.
    .14 I am always punished for my sin
    .15 If I talk about this to others, the people will doubt God. I.e., I can’t even talk about this situation.
    .16 I cannot understand why the wicked do what they want and seem to prosper, while I try to do right and am punished for it.

Envy is a process. So is the cure to envy.

1. Change your point of view. .17a

Instead of looking at others from your viewpoint, try seeing people as God does. He is not interested or impressed by their wealth or prosperity. He sees the wicked as sinners on their way to Hell.

2. Understand the truth of the situation. .17b-20 List the future for ungodly people.

.18a slippery places

.18b destruction, ruin

.19 desolation, swept away by terrors

.20 despised by God. [“God is angry with the wicked every day.” Cf John 3.36]

3. Realize that it is stupid to envy the wicked. .21-22 [There are lots of bad things that will happen to the wicked. They are in deep trouble. cf Prov 3:33]

4. Find contentment in God and what He provides. .23-28 List the blessings God has for those who trust Him. Can the ungodly count on these blessings?

.23 God is always with me and holds me up.

.24 God will guide me and receive me to glory.

.25 The only One who matters is God, and He is the One who takes care of me.

.26 God is my strength and portion forever even tho I may be weak.

.28 Good to draw near to God. Tell others what you found out so they won’t repeat your mistake.

Conclusion about envy:

  1. It is unwise to compare yourself and your situation to others and their situations. 2 Cor. 10:12
  2. Envy is sin. 1 Cor. 3:3, James 3:16
  3. Be content with what you have. Heb. 13:5-6
  4. Psalm 73:25-28 [try to view things from God’s perspective.]