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Friday, November 11, 2011

Amish farmer in Belleville, PA (Photo by Greg Schneider)
Amish farmer near Belleville, PA
Belleville is in the Kishacoquillas Valley in Central PA south of State College. As you can see this farm spreads right up to a mountain. This photo was taken by Greg Schneider, a friend of ours, who is also a newspaper photographer

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"The Rejection Of God's Standards
Of Morality"

"Flee from sexual immorality" (1 Corinthians 6:18). "Keep yourself pure" (1 Timothy 5:22).

Today we examine the fourth scheme of Satan, a massive rejection of God's revealed standards regarding sexual morality. This has been headline news for the last several days; nationally (allegations of impropriety), in our state (regarding the situation at Penn State which is getting a massive amount of coverage here in Pennsylvania) and locally (regarding allegations of misconduct against a local educator). 

Due to our God-ordained hormonal constitution people in every generation have dealt with sexual temptation. One of the shining examples of victory over sexual temptation is Joseph. The Bible tells his story in Genesis 39. The Bible also forthrightly records David's failure in this regard and his story is perhaps the more familiar (2 Samuel 11).

But today we face a situation far more intense and distinct from those in previous generations. There is a flood of material condoning and even glamorizing immorality. In too many settings and organizations it's actually taught as good and acceptable.  It's included in the public school curriculum and presented through governmental agencies. Interestingly, there is a parallel sense of condemnation by popular culture of those who still maintain a Biblical outlook on morality. Those who hold to such views are seen as old-fashioned, narrow-minded, unloving, judgmental and intolerant.

I simply do not believe this condoning the wrong and condemning the right took place in recent generations.  In fact it was the reverse!  Sexuality was to be expressed through the bonds of marriage as a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman and was presented as normal and healthy. The Bible was revered by many and at least respected by others and its teaching held sacred.

Certainly there have always been people in every generation who practiced sexual immorality; some engaging in pre-marital sex, others in marital unfaithfulness and all through history a very small segment engaged in sodomy. But except in the most uncivilized cultures these behaviors were known to be wrong, even by the participants. 
Sexual immorality was understood to be sinful behavior. 

There are those reading this today who have engaged in sexual immorality in the past but have repented and found that the purifying scrub brush of the Holy Spirit brings renewal, cleansing and an invitation to start over according to God's design.  Some of you are fighting this battle even now. You know in your heart this message is speaking directly to you.

The apostle Paul wrote, "Flee from sexual immorality."  Today we need to practice, maintain, and proclaim the Biblical teachings regarding sexual morality.  But those who do so will be increasingly reviled.  Preachers who stay true to the Bible and faithfully proclaim the Word are branded old-fashioned and homophobic, if they merely repeat what the Bible says in regard to its unambiguous, forthright condemnation of homosexuality and hold to the Scriptural teachings concerning sexual morals.

This happened to me several years ago. In the course of a message I referred to God's standards of morality and noticed a young college-aged lady seemed somewhat distressed. I found out later from her Mom that she felt her friends would be very uncomfortable with what I had presented (the truth of Scripture). It was the last time she attended our church.

My word of encouragement today is to stay faithful in word and deed to God's teachings. "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised" (Hebrews 10:35,36).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, it is Your desire that we stay faithful to Your teachings. Scripture gives many examples of those who knew to do right, but chose to do wrong. The consequences of their wrong actions inflicted a great deal of loss, life-long regret and emotional pain, not only for themselves but often inflicting others as well. Help us to avoid the traps Satan has set for the believers by not only reading the Word, but applying its truth to our lives, and standing firm when the temptation to do wrong is ever before us. Help us *to control our own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know You. We pray for this in Jesus' name.  Amen.

*See I Thessalonians 4:4,5

For further study:
The case for being narrow-minded! I recently came across a thoughtful online message by Ray Pritchard of "Keep Believing Ministries" titled "The Tragedy of Open-Minded Christianity – Revelation 2:12-17"  He likens the contemporary church to the church in Pergamum.

I found this especially insightful: "We are seeing it happen before our eyes in the area of sexual ethics, especially in the great cultural shift surrounding gay marriage. The simple truth of the matter is that until very recently the Christian church in all of its branches condemned all forms of homosexual behavior. We have a 2000-year track record of consistency on this issue based on what the Bible clearly teaches.

But now we’re not so sure. Even in evangelical churches a subtle change is underway. It happens something like this:

Stage 1: A church takes a stand in favor of traditional marriage and against homosexuality.
Stage 2: The church receives public ridicule for its stand.
Stage 3: Some of the church members feel uncomfortable with the negative publicity.
Stage 4: The church de-emphasizes its position in order not to offend the people they are trying to reach with the gospel.
Stage 5: Some people begin to wonder if homosexuality is really wrong.
Stage 6: They find ostensibly Christian writers who defend homosexuality as morally neutral.
Stage 7: The church moves to a position of silence on this issue.
Stage 8: The church welcomes those who have a “different position” on homosexuality.

That’s how you get a modern-day church of Pergamum. The slide in that direction doesn’t happen overnight, but I can tell you that once it starts, you can move from Stage 1 to Stage 8 fairly quickly. The worst of it is this:

Many people in the congregation have no idea what just happened.

They keep on attending.
They keep on giving.
They keep on supporting the church.
No church remains in the Pergamum stage forever.

Meanwhile the church has become schizophrenic.
On one level it remains faithful to the Bible.
On another level it tolerates those who promote unbiblical (and ungodly) teaching.

The end result is a church that receives both a commendation and a harsh warning from the Lord.

One final thing must be added to all of this. No church remains in the Pergamum stage forever. You can’t hold fast to sound doctrine while harboring those who promote immorality. In the end the church must go one way or the other." (End of quote from Ray Pritchard message)

Monday we will complete this series on Satan's schemes with an examination of the "peril of materialism".

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Holiness Is What I Long For"  Video  Sonicflood

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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