Life is full of challenges, difficulties, trials, and moments of distress and pain. We can go on and pretend these types of things do not affect us. Or we can lament our failures, trials, and distress, and live in healthy faith.
We are hearing all sorts of news about abuse, assault, and harassment allegations now brought to light. #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements have exposed the prevalence of such behaviors, even unfortunately among those who would profess the Lord Jesus. What do the Scriptures teach about abuse, assault, and harassment, and how should Christians respond to such claims and behaviors?
Paul has encouraged the Colossian Christians to root themselves in Jesus, the image of the invisible God, the treasury of all wisdom and knowledge. If they want to be alive in Christ, they must follow His higher way, taking off the worldly lusts and sins which lead to death, and to put on righteousness and its fruit.
If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.
Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience: wherein ye also once walked, when ye lived in these things; but now do ye also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth: lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.
Put on therefore, as God’s elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God. And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:1-17).
The Psalmist spoke of Moses as one who “stood in the breach” before YHWH on behalf of Israel (Psalm 106:23); YHWH sought a man who would stand in the breach before Him in the days of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 22:30). Why is it so important to have one stand in the breach?
Everyone has heard of sin. Most people recognize they’re guilty of sin. But is it a big deal? Is it just a way of making people feel bad about themselves? Or is sin really a major problem?
Everything seemed “righteous” in the 1980s; “righteousness” is often associated with a certain type of very strict people. What is righteousness really all about? What is righteousness? Who can be righteous, and how?
We’ve all seen and heard that Jesus saves. But what does that mean? Why is it necessary for us to be saved? How did Jesus accomplish salvation for us?
In Ephesians 5:27 Paul declares that Jesus will present the church to Himself as holy and spotless. We cannot cleanse ourselves, but we must strive to live as a sanctified people. Unfortunately not all will do so; we must address it; we do well to strive to follow Jesus according to His purposes!
The scene is set. God has an indictment against His people. He will judge; Israel will be ruined. But not forever.
Hear the word of YHWH, ye children of Israel; for YHWH hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor goodness, nor knowledge of God in the land. There is nought but swearing and breaking faith, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery; they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.
Yet let no man strive, neither let any man reprove; for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. And thou shalt stumble in the day, and the prophet also shall stumble with thee in the night; and I will destroy thy mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children. As they were multiplied, so they sinned against me: I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of my people, and set their heart on their iniquity.
And it shall be, like people, like priest; and I will punish them for their ways, and will requite them their doings. And they shall eat, and not have enough; they shall play the harlot, and shall not increase; because they have left off taking heed to YHWH. Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the understanding. My people ask counsel at their stock, and their staff declareth unto them; for the spirit of whoredom hath caused them to err, and they have played the harlot, departing from under their God. They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and terebinths, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters play the harlot, and your brides commit adultery. I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot, nor your brides when they commit adultery; for the men themselves go apart with harlots, and they sacrifice with the prostitutes; and the people that doth not understand shall be overthrown.
Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Beth-aven, nor swear, As YHWH liveth. For Israel hath behaved himself stubbornly, like a stubborn heifer: now will YHWH feed them as a lamb in a large place. Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone. Their drink is become sour; they play the harlot continually; her rulers dearly love shame. The wind hath wrapped her up in its wings; and they shall be put to shame because of their sacrifices.
Hear this, O ye priests, and hearken, O house of Israel, and give ear, O house of the king; for unto you pertaineth the judgment; for ye have been a snare at Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor. And the revolters are gone deep in making slaughter; but I am a rebuker of them all. I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me; for now, O Ephraim, thou hast played the harlot, Israel is defiled. Their doings will not suffer them to turn unto their God; for the spirit of whoredom is within them, and they know not YHWH. And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore Israel and Ephraim shall stumble in their iniquity; Judah also shall stumble with them. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek YHWH; but they shall not find him: he hath withdrawn himself from them. They have dealt treacherously against YHWH; for they have borne strange children: now shall the new moon devour them with their fields.
Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah: sound an alarm at Beth-aven; behind thee, O Benjamin. Ephraim shall become a desolation in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be. The princes of Judah are like them that remove the landmark: I will pour out my wrath upon them like water. Ephraim is oppressed, he is crushed in judgment; because he was content to walk after man’s command. Therefore am I unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness.
When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to Assyria, and sent to king Jareb: but he is not able to heal you, neither will he cure you of your wound. For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and there shall be none to deliver. I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me earnestly (Hosea 4:1-5:15).
Americans may want to think they are not accountable to anyone; God would beg to differ. We will not prove spiritually healthy or mature unless we prove willing to live with accountability before God and our fellow believers.