Deal Radically with Impure Thoughts

Jesus told His disciples in the sermon on the mount that any man, who looked on a woman to lust after her, was committing adultery with her. He went on to say that it was better for such a man to pluck out his eye than to go to Hell with both eyes (Matthew 5:27-29). He taught thereby that constantly lusting after women sexually with one’s eyes was enough to finally send a man to Hell.Believe that God will help you in every possible way to give up this sin immediately and permanently.

The fire of lust in a man’s heart today is the same hellfire that has burned in every man’s heart, since the time of Adam. Only the fire of the Holy Spirit can destroy it. Your heart will either burn with lust to sin or burn with love for Jesus. Your choice has to be one of these two: Either the refiner’s fire now or hellfire in the future. There is no third alternative.

The Jewish people, to whom the Lord spoke, already had a very high moral standard through the Law. They lived by a strict moral code, where sex outside of marriage was always punished by death. There were no pornographic books or magazines or television programmes in that day, to tempt people to immorality. Every woman in that society was decently dressed, and men and women hardly ever spoke to each other. Yet, even in such a society, with all its restrictions, the Lord knew that men lusted after women, and He had to warn His disciples against it. If it was so in such a strict society, how much more He would warn young men about this in the lewd society that we live in today.

Today’s society throws fuel into our minds through every possible means, to feed our sexual passions. This is why we all have to be more careful in our day. If you are serious about putting out this fire of lust, then you must be serious about cutting off the supply of fuel. And you must cut off the source of that fuel, fiercely and radically, without any mercy. This is what it means to pluck out the eye and to cut off the hand. Jesus was commanding us to destroy the thing that causes us to sin. Jesus was more aware than anyone else of the danger of sin and the reality of hell-fire – and that was why He urged such radical spiritual surgery, in order to be saved from sin.

The application of the Lord’s command to us today is, “If your television-set causes you to sin in your mind, get rid of it immediately.” It is better to go to Heaven, having missed out on TV, than to go to Hell along with the TV stars whom you have watched on the screen. Or if it is some magazine, or a particular type of music or internet website that stimulates you and causes you to sin, do the same thing with those magazines, videos and websites. Surely there can be nothing on earth that is so precious to you, that you must keep holding on to it, even if as a result, you finally miss Heaven and go to Hell.

Even as you read this, Satan will be quick to whisper to you, “You will surely not die (go to Hell) for something so small as that.” And he will cleverly tell you that lusting after a picture in a magazine or after someone you see on the TV, or the internet is not really adultery. Don’t listen to him – for Jesus has warned us that Satan has been a liar from the beginning.

Don’t just say concerning this sin, “I’ll try to do it better in future”, or “I’ll try to give it up”. The Bible warns us to abstain from even the appearance of evil. Believe that God will help you in every possible way to give up this sin immediately and permanently. Take up the battle from today, and don’t give up until you have cut off the head of this Goliath that has defied you who are a soldier in the army of the living God.

1 Corinthians 7:1 warns us to avoid physical contact with girls. When the Holy Spirit says something is “not good”(as He says there), that should be enough for any disciple to avoid it altogether. Legalists live by the letter, whereas disciples live by the spirit of the commandment. For example: Jesus knew that it was adultery to lust after a woman in one’s heart, because He sought to understand the spirit of the seventh commandment. In the same way, if you are wholehearted, you will see what lies at the root of all of God’s commandments. See what Paul tells Timothy: “Flee from anything that will give you the temptations that young men often have” (2 Timothy 2:22-Living). You must flee from all such possibilities of temptation.

The Lord is cleansing His temple once again. His temple now is your physical body. Allow Him to do a thorough job in it at once.

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**By Zac Poonen © Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://www.cfcindia.com/

What Taking God’s Name In Vain REALLY Means

What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? Is taking God’s name in vain a sin? 

You have probably heard that taking God’s name in vain is a sin. And if you grew up in Christian circles that meant saying Oh my goodnessrather than Oh my god and not using God’s name as a curse word when you stubbed your toe. 

The problem is we’ve oversimplified the 3rd commandment and have missed the real meaning of not taking God’s name in vain. 

So, what does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? Let’s start with what the Bible says.

Bible Verse Taking The Lord’s Name In Vain

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. Exodus 20:7

When we approach something familiar to us, we tend to just read it quickly and move on. But in order to understand what it means to take God’s name in vain, we have to slow down and read it again. 

Let’s break down what this passage is saying so that we can understand what taking the Lord’s name in vain really means. 

Representing God 

The first question we should be asking of this verse is what does it mean to take the name of the Lord? 

Another way you could translate this phrase from the original language is, “You shall not take up the name of God [in vain]” or, “You shall not bear the name of God [in vain].” What this verse is saying is that God’s people are His image-bearers.

Another way of thinking about it is that Christians are representatives of God. Your actions tell those around us something about God.

Think about it this way: when you go into a store and encounter an employee that is rude, you’ll be less likely to shop there in the future. Of course, the reverse is true too: if you encounter an excellent employee at a store, you will be more likely to shop there again. They represent the company they work for, and what they do and say tells you something about the company. 

The same is true for all who follow God. We bear His image (2 Corinthians 5:20). What we do, how we treat others, and what we say tells someone something about Him. Good or bad. The challenge of this verse is to represent God well.

Think for a minute; what are you telling those around you?

In Vain Meaning

The next question we should be asking about this verse is what does in vain mean? 

The Hebrew word we translate as “vain” carries a meaning of empty, hollow, nothing, worthless, or to no good purpose. This doesn’t mean that we should avoid saying God’s name, as some do. Rather, that we should be careful how we use His name. 

We tend to downplay the importance of names in our culture, but that wasn’t always the case. In ancient culture, your name meant something. It had value; it told others who you were. And the same is true with the name of God. His name has meaning and power. It’s holy. Therefore, we shouldn’t use it as if it’s empty, hollow, worthless, or in vain.

That’s what this commandment is getting at. We are forbidden from taking the name of God (representing Him) in a manner that is wicked, worthless, or for our own gain. 

Let me translate the idea of this verse this way: we are God’s ambassadors, and therefore we should represent Him well to those around us. Taking the Lord’s name in vain happens when we misrepresent him to those around us. 

Examples Of Misusing God’s Name

Most people think the meaning of this verse implies not saying oh my god or using God’s name a cuss word. But that’s an oversimplification and missing the real meaning of taking the Lord’s name in vain.

I’m not saying we should start using God’s name as a curse word. Remember, His name is holy and has power. Rather, I think the real warning for us is about misusing God’s name, which goes far beyond saying OMG.

What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? Let’s look at examples of taking God’s name in vain. 

Using God’s Name For Your Own Gain

One way people take God’s name in vain is by using His name for their own benefit. An extreme example is a TV evangelist who promises God’s blessing if you just give them your money. But it’s not limited to preachers. We take the Lord’s name in vain when we take advantage of others for our own gain.

Think about if the roles were reversed. Let’s say someone defrauded dozens of people in your name. You probably wouldn’t take too kindly to that kind of abuse of your name. 

That’s why the Bible says over and over again not to take God’s name in vain. It’s not something we should gloss over. Whether it be using God’s name to get rich, to get power, or to gain control over someone, we ought to think twice. 

What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? We tend to point our fingers at others doing this, but we should also examine ourselves. I’ve seen many manipulate a friend, family member, or co-worker in God’s name for their own gain. That’s taking God’s name in vain.

Using God’s Name To Justify Your Actions

Some use God’s name as a justification for what they want to do. Marriages have ended, business decisions have been made, and life choices set all in God’s name. Many throw God’s name out as a trump card of sorts as to why their actions are right. 

Time and time again I have heard the phrase “God wants me to be happy” used to justify a sin they were unwilling to stop. Let me make one thing clear. If what God is “telling you” doesn’t line up with what is found in the Bible, it’s not God speaking, it’s you justifying.

Some use God’s name as a justification for what they want to do. Marriages have ended, business decisions have been made, and life choices set all in God’s name. Many throw God’s name out as a trump card of sorts as to why their actions are right. 

Time and time again I have heard the phrase “God wants me to be happy” used to justify a sin they were unwilling to stop. Let me make one thing clear. If what God is “telling you” doesn’t line up with what is found in the Bible, it’s not God speaking, it’s you justifying.

What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? We take the Lord’s name in vain when we use it to justify our actions for selfish reasons. Essentially we are attempting to justify sin so that we can still sleep at night and not feel guilty.

Ironically that thing we are trying to hide from and justify is the thing God wants from us so that He can heal us. But instead, we hide and attempt to justify our actions with God’s name. That’s an example of taking God’s name in vain. 

Cursing The Name Of God

Taking God’s name in vain is more than just not saying “OMG” or using it as a curse word. And I don’t even think that’s the primary message that God is trying to communicate about not taking His name in vain. He’s much more concerned with what we do IN His name and not WITH His name. However, that doesn’t mean we should just use it however we please.

We should still approach God with honor and respect. And I don’t think it’s the most honoring thing to use God’s name as a curse word. Is the worst possible sin you can commit to say GD or OMG? Probably not. But still, I think it’s a good idea to show a little respect and reverence for the holy name of God.

What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? It means we show reverence and respect for our creator. When we abuse his name in any way that’s taking God’s name in vain.

What does it mean to take the lord’s name in vain? It’s more than just the words we say. Taking God’s name in vain is more than just not saying “OMG” or using it as a curse word. 

Again, I’m not advocating that we should start using God’s name as a curse word. I think that’s part of taking God’s name in vain, just not the sum total of this commandment. If you are a Christian, what you do and say represents Him. We should each take a moment to evaluate our lives and ask ourselves if we are representing God well.

Swearing and taking God’s name in vain are often tied closely together. If you are interested in learning what the Bible says about swearing, check out: Is Swearing A Sin? (what the Bible really says)

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By Jeffrey Curtis Poor at Rethinknow.org

Is Sex before Marriage a Sin?

That’s right, God meant for us to fully enjoy sex, (Check out Proverbs 5:19). Perhaps the best book of the Bible about the joys of sex is the Song of Songs as it reminds us sex is strictly for marriage.

God loves sex. He really LOVES sex. He created sex and declared it, “good.” I say this often to my children (teens and college-age), and much to their dismay, because I want them to understand the gift of sex but only in the confines of marriage. I want them to look forward to it but remain pure. 

I want them to understand the struggles they may face in this, “If it feels good, do it” culture. In fact, God tells us in the very first chapter of the Bible “to be fruitful and multiply.” In other words, have lots of sex and enjoy each other. 

The Blueprint of God’s Design for Sex

The Bible says, “From the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female’” (Genesis 1:27Mark 10:6-8 ESV). It goes on to declare, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’” (Mark 10:6-8Genesis 2:24). 

Research suggests that a man’s oxytocin level increases following an act of sexual intimacy. A husband’s brain re-bonds with his spouse. And it’s not just chemicals that are being released; for a few moments, they are one.

Linda Savage writes about the mingling of spirits and bodies in sex in her recent article, “Spiritual Sex: Ecstatic Love Beyond the Physical,” she writes, 

… it is sexual energy that goes beyond physical sensations of pleasure and genital orgasms. It is not limited to genital stimulation and the release of tension through a quick and simple orgasm. When spiritual sex is consciously practiced, there is a quality of ‘mindfulness,’ which is heightened awareness and expanded consciousness. The more cosmic experiences utilizing sexual energy create ecstatic states. The essence of spiritual sex is enhanced awareness, extraordinary inspiration, and a sense of merging with the life force.

But as culture continues to influence the church more than the church influences the culture, many Christ-followers have adopted the world view of sex. Many assume sex before marriage isn’t a sin because where exactly does the Bible say, “Thou shalt not have sex with your boyfriend/girlfriend, even if you think you’re going to marry him/her?” 

What Does the Bible Say about Sex Before Marriage?

Even though it is one of the clearest prohibitions in Christianity, one would be hard-pressed to find scripture on it. Many would refer to the Ten Commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” Exodus 20:14). But this passage is about having sex with another person’s spouse. 

Others might turn to the “sex chapter” in Leviticus 18 which lists every kind of perverse act that trashes the gift of sex such as bestiality, incest, threesomes, pornography, and other sexual sins. 

But, before you text your girlfriend the words, “Netflix and chill,” let’s trek to 1 Corinthians 7:2. It clearly states that sex before marriage is a part of the definition of sexual immorality. In fact, all Bible passages that condemn sexual immorality as being sinful also condemn sex before marriage! 

There are numerous scriptures that declare sex before marriage to be a sin (1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21Galatians 5:19Acts 15:20Ephesians 5:3Colossians 3:51 Thessalonians 4:3). Revelation 14:4 assumes that unmarried Christian men who desire to be faithful are not having sex.

Hebrews 13:4 considers sex outside of marriage to be immoral. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” And yes, for those of you wondering, oral sex is included in this definition.

Young people are told often, “Oral sex is not really sex.” This couldn’t be further from the truth: oral sex is sex and is meant to also be enjoyed within the confines of marriage. Please remember neither spouse should be forced or coerced into doing something he/she is not completely comfortable with. Oral sex is permissible within the confines of marriage but that’s a whole new article.

So, Is Sex Before Marriage Really Wrong?

The early chapters of the Bible were based on rules and commandments of the Jewish traditions. Sex before marriage was clearly condemned in Judaism, and the same goes for Christianity. This was the culture Jesus was raised in. These commandments and rules gave the blueprint for marriage. The words “sex outside of marriage” are never mentioned, however, it is implied that it is against God’s design. 

In fact, Adam wasn’t joined to Eve until God gave her away in the first marriage union of time. The same tradition goes for Noah, Shem, Abram, and Jacob. Everyone waits until they are united in marriage to have sexual relations. That’s because the other aspect of sex is to procreate. 

That’s right, God meant for us to fully enjoy sex, (Check out Proverbs 5:19). Perhaps the best book of the Bible about the joys of sex is the Song of Songs as it reminds us sex is strictly for marriage. However, there is one example of the condemnation of sex before marriage of a soon-to-be wife who had sex outside of marriage in Deuteronomy 22:13-19.

It was such a precious manner that the husband had the right to divorce her if she was found not to be a virgin. Also, because of how this law could’ve been misconstrued, laws were put in place to protect the woman as well. She had the right to prove her virginity had been taken in the marriage bed. 

What Does This Mean?

The Bible promotes complete abstinence before marriage. Sex between a husband and his wife is the only form of sexual relations of which God approves. Christians can mess up and receive God’s full forgiveness. But there is a stark difference between messing up and continuing to do so with the mindset, “I can always ask for forgiveness.” 

What matters is a fully repentant heart. Repentance isn’t just an attitude of the heart; it literally means to turn from the former life with a commitment to change for the better. We, as followers of Christ, must strive to live within the confines of his loving boundaries and celebrate the good gifts he’s given us — even if that means we have to wait until our wedding day.

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** By Heather Riggleman at Christianity.com / Image: Illustration by Rick Szuecs / Source images: Getty / Envato