Musings of a Christian Geek about the Word, Geek Culture, Science, Music, Movies, and anything that is deemed noteworthy.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

God is not Down With the Sickness

A view in the Church today is that God sends sickness to test us throughout our daily walk with Christ. Is this really how a Father would act with His children? To answer this question, we must look at what God’s own Word says about His relationship with His children and sickness. Let’s explore some of these passages.

Psalm 103:2-3: 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases…

1 Peter 2:24: 

Who his own self [Christ] bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

3 John 1:2: 

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

Psalm 42:11: 

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

As we see in His Word, God wants us to be healthy and has already healed us through his Son’s sacrifice and resurrection. This notion that God sends disease upon us to test us is an absurd notion because the Bible is also clear on who sends us disease and death. This is, of course, the devil. 

John 10:10: 

The thief [the devil] cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 

Hebrews 2:14: 

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Christ] also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil

1 Peter 5:8-9: 

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

All of this is but a taste of what the Word has to offer on the subject, but it is definitely enough to get the point of how God is referred to as a Healer and the devil as a destroyer. As we further expand on the record in 1 Peter 5, we see the dichotomy perfectly laid out to us between God and the devil. 

1 Peter 5:8-11: 

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

We see that the afflictions which are accomplished in our brethren are a continuation of the description of the devil as we are to resist him knowing that, “Yes, we might suffer his afflictions which he uses to inflict upon the world.” However, it is God Almighty who is there to lift us up in our sufferings. It is He Who perfects us and establishes us. In Psalm 69:29 it says, “But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.” God sets us high above the Earth and the present trouble as it says in Psalm 46:1. It is God Who strengthens us as it says in Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” And it is God who settles us. 

Does the God Who makes us perfect, strengthens, establishes, and settles us sound like the God who would give us sickness just to test us? Certainly not! Some might point out the passage in 1 Peter 1:6-7 which mentions trials of the faith as proof that God sends calamity to test our resolve. This simply is not the case.

1 Peter 1:6-7: 

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 

So, yes the Word does mention that our faith will go through trials or you could say “tested.” Though, God is not the one who is causing the trials. Reading in the context from verse 6, we see that the trials come from “manifold temptations” which only come from the devil and not from God.

James 1:13-15:

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. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Thus, the “manifold temptations” cannot come from God because God does not tempt man. A key word exists in this passage which will lead us to who exactly is responsible for the temptations and that is the word: death. As we learned in Hebrews 2:14, the devil has the power of death meaning that he must be the one who brings forth temptations. This fact is corroborated by Matthew 4:3 which refers to the devil as “the tempter.”  The dichotomy between the goodness of God and the evilness of the devil is further expounded in 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 10:13: 

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

God is so great that He will provide us with the means to escape anything we are going through or any temptation which might rear its ugly head. One last question must be asked concerning the passage in 1 Corinthians 10. So if we are to believe that God sends sickness to test us then what happens to those who have died or are incapacitated? Did those who die, fail the test God was administering? How much testing is enough for God to finally say, “Okay, I got what I needed?” Or, how far is God willing to take it with the sickness? Those question cannot be answered by the Word because that belief is not Biblical. It is clearly the devil who causes us to be sick and destroys us, but it is God who delivers.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Eve vs. Jesus Christ: A Study In Temptation

This post was originally posted at the Christian Apologetics Alliance: Go There!
temptatation_of_christTemptation, all humans experience it and most can’t resist it. This is especially true as we walk the Christian path. Everyday it seems we are lambasted with enticing words and images to make us deviate from the road God has placed us on and onto the street toward sin. Though, the situation may seem dire, as I have said before in another article, God always has a contingency plan. His Word is full of examples to help us along the way and the fight against temptation offers us many passages to cling to. One passage in particular is the record of the serpent’s deception of Eve, the first woman, in the Garden of Eden. The record begins in Genesis 3 verse 1:
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
Sadly, history seems to be repeating itself over and over because, believe it or not, this deception is carried out successfully by the devil still today. Thus, this passage holds an inerrant truth even for modern readers. Let’s take a look at why this passage is important even for the most sold out Christian.

The first mistake Eve makes is the fact that she actually starts holding a conversation with the devil. Do you think Eve knows full well she shouldn’t be talking to the serpent? Definitely. She let’s curiosity get the best of her. Well, we see strike one on the way to a sure strike out. The second mistake is committed when the devil asks her, ““Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” She responds with, “God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” This quote is in stark contrast to God’s command; so, let’s take a look at what He actually said. In Genesis 2:16-17, God commands, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

A large discrepancy exists between what God commanded and what Eve said He told her to do. God never mentioned anything about touching the fruit and He also said Adam and his wife would surely die. Eve changed the phrasing of the latter command to the much weaker lest. Random House dictionary says the word lest is “used negatively to introduce a clause expressive of an action or occurrence requiring caution.” Thus, we can see a great divide between the words surely (it will definitely happen) and lest (careful that it might happen).

Eve’s alteration and addition to the Word of God invites the devil to make the next statement, ““You will not surely die.” Whoa! This statements is a total 180 degrees from what God had originally said. As you can see, the devil does not come out and contradict God at the outset of the conversation, he lets Eve do the dirty work for him. Thus, his temptation is complete and Eve ends up sinning and convinces Adam to do the same which leads to the fall of man.

The example provided by Eve in this passage shows us a breakdown of temptation and how not to act when confronted by the devil’s devices. We see Eve make a number of mistakes along the way. The first is that she actually gives place to the devil by engaging him in a conversation. This is the opposite of what is outlined in 1 Peter 5:8-9, which says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith…” Remember one thing, the adversary has been at this since the beginning while we have relative inexperience with just a few years under our belts. I think the best thing to do is to resist him and the best way to do that is to have knowledge of what the Word of God actually says and to keep our heads in His Word. Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

The conversation Eve has with the devil snowballs into Eve’s second and third mistakes involving addition and subtraction from the Word of God. This can be dangerous because once we end up changing the Word, we cannot stand on the Word’s power and might. Hebrews 4;12, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Instead, we stand only on ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I am not comfortable standing on my own word when it comes to spiritual matters.

Eve’s temptation seems to be a guide on how not to deal with the devil’s devices; however, another one of God’s contingency plans includes a great example of how to act when temptation comes our way. Of this Example, it is written in Hebrews 4:15, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  Jesus’ triumph against temptation is found in Matthew 4:3-11:
Now when the tempter [the devil] came to Him [Jesus Christ], he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’” Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
As you can see in this passage from Matthew, Jesus Christ acts completely opposite of what Eve has shown us. He does not engage the devil in conversation, but only quotes directly from scripture. We’ve heard the term What Would Jesus Do? Well, in this case we should follow the example laid out to us by Jesus Christ and resist temptations by using the Word of God as our weapon.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

You're Doing The Waltz With Your Murderer

Well, I just saw Elysium a few days ago and I must say that it is one of the dumbest movies I have ever seen. This is not to say that there weren’t any good scenes. Any scene with Sharlto Copley was enjoyable and the fight scene choreography was good.  Though, what ruined the movie was its heavy handed, beat you over the head stupid political message dealing with social justice. The moral I got out of the story was, “Americans bad, illegal immigrants good.” Since Neill Blomkamp is not American, I don’t know if he was exactly going for that, but all you have to do is replace “Americans” with any first world Western culture and “illegal immigrants” with any disenfranchised population and you get the same dumb message. “Why did you even go when the politics of the movie were quite clear beforehand?” You might ask. Well, I didn’t pay for the movie, my friend did, and I was expecting much more from the director of District 9 which was a brilliant allegory of Apartheid in South Africa. 

My overall goal of this article is not to provide a review of Elysium (for an interesting review, check out io9), but to point out something that came to mind after watching it. Why do we constantly pay to watch movies and games that hate us, our way of life, and our point of view? This is a question which I find is one of the most puzzling for any Christian or Conservative. Another example recently reminiscent of the politics of Elysium is the game, Bioshock: Infinite. While, admittedly, I have never played the game (I believe the Bioshock series, in general, is overrated) which is considered one of the best of all time, its disdain for Christianity and the Tea Party is well documented. However, I have read many Christians critics who have either not addressed this at all or simply rationalize the content as “just entertainment.” 

This argument for “just entertainment” rears its ugly head all the time. We are treated to images almost daily which mock God and Jesus Christ to no end and to take offense is to show oneself as a prude who can’t take a joke. A sad fact is that Christians themselves do a lot of the criticizing of other Christians. This is ridiculous because not only does it go against what God said in Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” it is not the same for the other side. Movies with even hinted at Christian or conservative themes are destroyed by critics and leftists without the same kind of guilt-tripping.   

I am not one to call for boycotts or what not but what I do want Christians and Conservatives to realize is that maybe our money should go elsewhere when dealing with flat out anti-Christian and anti-Right Wing entertainment. Why do these men and women who despise us anyway deserve our support? I am reminded by two different lines in Norma Jean’s masterpiece, Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste, incidentally one of my favorite songs of all time.  The lines are, “You’re doing the Waltz with your murderer,” and “Mediocrity is the killer.” Settling for hateful rhetoric at our own expense in entertainment is settling for the mediocrity (the status anti-Christian quo) with which these movies and games will keep coming out because of profitability.