CTT | The Pregnancy isn’t the sin…

pregnancyNormally, I like to introduce a CTT post by sharing something I’ve heard and then exploring what Scripture says. Today, we’ll be doing it in reverse order. I want to examine a passage of scripture and then discuss the point made in the title as it pertains to the Church today.

Galatians 6:1-10 (ESV)

Galatians 6:1-10 (ESV) | Bear One Another’s Burdens

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Paul is talking to the Church, to Christians, about the need to restore fellow Christians who are caught in a transgression… in any transgression. With all that is going on in the media today, one might expect this post to be about the Ashley Madison hack where some 37 Million people were exposed as adulterers. While that is horrible and needs to be addressed, that is not what I am most concerned about today. My concern today goes to a young woman who discovers she is pregnant as the result of sin.

The Pregnancy is not the Sin

Whether we are dealing with pre-martial sex, extra-marital sex, incest, or even rape, it is critically important that we, the Body of Christ, do not get sloppy in identifying the sin. We must ever preach the Law, properly identifying sin and trusting in God the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin… but we must not leave it there, for we must also preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. But we must guard against the evil lies of the enemy that seek to shame the young mother into sacrificing her baby to Molech (Lev 20:1-3) in hopes of being forgiven for the sin… adding the sin of murder (abortion) improves nothing.

To the young lady who just discovered she is now pregnant before her wedding… the sex is the sin… not the baby.

To the married woman who is found to be with child from someone other than her husband… the adultery is the sin… not the baby.

To the young man who just discovered he was responsible for the conception of a baby as a direct result of his sin… the sexual immorality is the sin… not the baby.

To the church, whenever someone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 

The Law is unchanged by circumstance or emotion… the wages of sin is still death. Dear Christian, we do not seek to soften the Law; rather, to be clear and precise in application of the Law to expose sin and transgression. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict the individual of sin unto repentance. As Christians, we are called to bear on another’s burdens, to restore in a spirit of gentleness while keeping watch over ourselves. The pre-marital sex is sin, and must cease. The adultery is sin and must cease. Repentance is required and by faith forgiveness is assured. For some clarity, let us look one of the pastoral epistles, that of 2 Timothy.

2 Timothy 2 (ESV) | A Good Soldier of Christ Jesus

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself.

A Worker Approved by God

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Now let us be clear, that we are not talking about a cleansing of the self by the works of your human hands; rather, we are talking about the working of faith in repentance granted by God the Holy Spirit through hearing the word of Christ. This isn’t a call for penance, or self-punishment, and we are definitely not talking about taking the life of your baby to make the sin go away. This is a call to repentance for the sin, and to trust in God for provision for you and the baby. The baby is a gift from God sent for His glory. Let’s look now at Paul’s instructions to the Colossians.

Colossians 3 (ESV) | Put On the New Self

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity,passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice,slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts,kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Rules for Christian Households

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

So, we have our Law and Gospel… that the sexual immorality is sin, but the pregnancy, the baby, the conception is not. That doesn’t make anything easy… and I truly hope no one thinks I’m suggesting any of this is easy. While I cannot speak to all possible scenarios, I will say that God is Sovereign and that He is the Good Shepherd. He takes care of us in ways we simply cannot comprehend. In closing, let us turn to James 1 for proper encouragement in these days. Whether you are the one found pregnant, or the brother or sister helping to bear the burden of another… let us find comfort in these words.

James 1:1-18 (ESV)

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

1Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Each man/woman is tempted when he/she is lured and enticed by his/her own desire. The birthing in this passage is actually referring to the transition from temptation into sin, for the sake of this discussion that sin is the sexual immorality that led to pregnancy.

To the victim of rape, both you and your baby are victims of the sin of a third-party. Don’t let the enemy lie to you and somehow convince you that you are in any way a victim of the baby. That the baby’s conception came as a consequence of sin does not make the pregnancy a sin. Let the church share your pain, and the burden of the cares of this world. Let the Church encourage you to cast your cares upon Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Family | One of these little ones who believes in me…

daughterAs my wife and I went over Matthew 18 yesterday, the topic of discussion focused on the first portion for quite a while. Today, I thought it might be helpful to share some of our parenting perspectives. Our children are still young, so what I will be discussing today is what we have settled in our hearts based on what we read in Scriptures regarding our children. With the summer drawing to a close and the upcoming holiday season, I think this is a good time to discuss these matters in the open. Let us begin by reviewing the first portion from yesterday’s Gospel Wednesday post.

Matthew 18:1-6 (ESV) | Who Is the Greatest?

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

At the risk of giving away a portion of what we will read through next week, let us look at how the subject of children comes up again in chapter 19.

Matthew 19:13-15 (ESV) | Let the Children Come to Me

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

Luke also captures this moment with some slightly more specific language:

Luke 18:15-17 (ESV) | Let the Children Come to Me

15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these children… even infants. Possibly one of the worst consequences of the man-made doctrine of an “age of accountability” is that we have in many cases checked-out in our responsibility to train up our children in the things of God until they are old enough to be held accountable for their teaching. My wife and I come from very different church backgrounds… and together we have committed ourselves to training up our children in the things of God from infancy through maturity. We will fail, we will sin, and we will repent and turn to a loving, gracious, and merciful God who is faithful and just and who will complete the good work He started in us and in our children.

 

We Will Not Teach Our Children to Doubt Our Witness

This rule began before I had asked my wife to marry me. We were on our second date in December of 2007, and the radio must have played something related to Santa, because I very plainly told my date, “I will not lie to my kids… my kids will not put their faith in Santa”. In fairness, my words were probably more rough… no doubt referring to him as an obese demi-god or giant elf in a clown costume who spies on the kids throughout the year… yeah. It wound up being quite the argument… and a major cause for concern for her sister who took offense to my anti-santa stance well into our first year of marriage. Why the anti-santa stance? Initially, I hated the notion that I had been lied to about Santa, and every adult who contributed to the lie knew they were lying when they lied.

But society doesn’t just lie about Santa… it bears false witness to our children. Adults take children to a drunk in a clown suit, have them write letters, claim to deliver them to Santa, and default to Santa as the judge of the worthiness of child’s behavior throughout the year. Adults secretly shop for gifts, hide them, wrap them up, sometimes even signing them in Santa’s name… place them under the tree, eat the cookies they helped their children make for the Santa they know does not exist. Bearing false witness. At some time, the child either catches the adults in their lie or is so crushed in disappointment because of their unanswered prayer to the false god (Santa), that their parents then have to scramble to rebuild their child’s trust in them. At this point, whatever case the parent wants to build for their motive and intention is null and void. You do not have the ability to see or measure the damage you’ve inflicted on your child’s heart, on her trust, even on her faith. Only God can see that, and He is definitely watching. If only Santa were the only problem… some parents also do this with the tooth fairy… and some churches do it with the Easter bunny.

Why do we do it? Honestly, I struggle to find nice words for why we do this to children. The best I can come up with is that we’ve bought into the worldly notion that we can cultivate “belief” in children so that they don’t lose it like we did. We live in a fallen world with Peter Pan dreams of never growing up. Completely unbiblical. Yet, in our hubris, we think we can give our children magic to believe in to somehow enhance their child-like faith. Rubbish. We cause them to sin.

Exodus 20:3 (ESV) You shall have no other gods before me.

Sure, you think you’ve defined with laser-like precision the distinction between the fat elf who brings gifts and the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and that what your house truly celebrates during Christmas is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But ask yourself this question honestly… in whom does your little 3yr old place her hope during the Christmas season? What does she most look forward to on Resurrection Sunday, a celebration of our risen Savior or the abominable egg-laying rabbit?

Exodus 20:16 (ESV) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Not every child figures out the lie at the same stage in life. Do we repent of our misleading and false teaching? No. Sadly we often co-opt the child to continue the lie with their friends and siblings. We warn them not to hurt the feelings of their friends, not to “ruin it” for them. We encourage them to bear false witness concerning santa, the bunny, and the fairy. God forgive us.

You what is really destructive in all of this… we give these little ones far more evidence to believe in the false gods than we can hope to give of the One True God. As parents, we’ve been blessed of God who gives us children… and these little ones are in our charge. How dare we play around with their hearts and urge them to believe in what we know to be false, squandering our testimony by giving a false witness in their formative years… and later urge them to believe in the truth of God’s Word? Should we be so surprised when the public school system so easily causes our children to doubt in the Risen Savior? May God forgive us.

We Speak truth, Repentance, Forgiveness, and Truth

It is not easy to speak truth to our children. Our little ones are naturally curious and ask seemingly never-ending chains of questions. My wife and I have committed ourselves to telling the truth. Not always answering fully… there are many times when we simply have to tell them “we’ll discuss it more when you are older”. But we endeavor to make every answer we give to be one that will not later have to be changed or refuted. We are sinful beings… so when we get it wrong, we model repentance and ask forgiveness. It is a humbling experience to kneel in front of my 5 yr old son to confess that I had been mistaken about the time/date of a party and due to my error, he missed a party. I have to apologize, repent, and ask my boy to forgive me through his fat lower lip and tear-filled eyes. I praise God when my little boy forgives me.

Speaking Truth on a regular basis is surprisingly difficult. The Truths of God’s Word seem far tougher than the precious-moment-Jesus that gets heavily marketed to our children in Christian bookstores and Sunday School. It is surprisingly difficult to resist the urge to affirm a child’s desire to take comfort in the notion of a dead pet going to heaven, or to think that a dead loved-one “looking down on them from heaven”. Even the notion of good and evil is skewed in cartoons and kids-shows… the idea that most people are inherently good is shoved in our children’s faces… but the Truth is that we are sinful and unrighteous and condemned in our unbelief. These are tough topics to discuss with adults who are immature in the Faith, much less little children… but it must be done.

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

As a father of two, I’ve been given a high calling and responsibility from God to serve as the priest of my household. The only way I can do this is to rely fully on God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit to bring the Word to life in the hearts and spirits of my children. I will set the best example I can, but that example must include confession, repentance, and humility… wretch that I am… and I must extend to them the grace, mercy, and compassion I’ve received from my Heavenly Father. I don’t always get feedback or indication of the effectiveness of my teaching efforts… I have to rely on the Holy Spirit to add the increase. I draw great comfort from the Apostle Paul’s writing to Timothy.

2 Timothy 3:10-17 (ESV) | All Scripture Is Breathed Out by God

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

From childhood. I don’t like to dive into the Greek much since I am not a Greek scholar; however, this word used here for childhood covers life from unborn to infant or young child (brephos).

Conclusion

As parents, we take the warning of Matthew 18:6 very seriously. Our children watch kid shows, and play with toys, use their imaginations, and even make up stories for entertainment. They play make-believe with their sitter and with us and we have a blast. However, what we don’t do is encourage them to place trust or faith in anything we know to be false. We take every effort to strip away anything that might cause their little hearts to faint or their faith to be led astray. There isn’t a day that passes by without us confirming what is real and what is not, whether it be a commercial on TV or something they heard one of their friends or cousins say about ghosts, heaven, the Bible, good, evil, or God. As my kids grow and mature, it becomes more and more clear the significance of assessing the household of a man being considered for deacon or elder in the Church. A man who has demonstrated himself faithful to serve as priest of his home is definitely the kind of man you want in leadership of your local church.

This charge to guard the faith of the children isn’t limited to your own children. Jesus wasn’t talking only about the disciple’s children… we have a responsibility to all of God’s children… even infants.

A word of caution: Don’t attempt to co-opt my children in your false witness. My wife and I do our best to encourage our little ones to extend grace to others who enjoy playing the make-believe game of santa, fairies, and the abominable rabbit… but that’s about it. If it happens in front of me, I will instruct my children clearly… as graciously as I can for your sake, but it will be unambiguous and clear… and it will not likely be politically correct.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge