The Silent Epidemic

The silent epidemic is sexual abuse. Unfortunately many Christians steer away from this topic but we cannot afford to any longer. Just how serious is it? According to Justin and Lindsey Holcomb 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are or will be victims of sexual abuse or roughly 25% of everyone you meet. The numbers are the same in the Christian church. Age break down is 15% of those abused or will be abused are under the age of 12. 29% are ages 12-17. 45% are age 18 or younger. 80% are age 30 or younger and to debunk a common myth you need to know those 80% are assaulted by people they know not some stranger. The most unsafe age to be is a 16-19 year old girl. That age group is 4x more likely!

If you are a direct victim of sexual abuse or if you know someone who has been and are wondering how the gospel can help you deal with sexual abuse please click this link and listen to the audio. It is titled “Rid of My Disgrace” and is by Michael Horton on the White Horse Inn.  It is only 35 minutes. Also read some of the other related articles and hear the wonderful truth that the gospel of grace can bring hope and healing for victims of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse isn’t the final word. With faith in Christ there is another declaration concerning you – you are justified, there is no condemnation, and there is no separation from God’s love!


He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease

Yesterday I preached from John 3:22-36 and pointed out that while John’s disciples were envious that Jesus’ popularity was growing John the Baptist was filled with surpassing joy because that was exactly what he himself had worked for! True joy is found in being occupied with Christ and it frees us from being envious/jealous/resentful toward other ministries/churches/pastors.

I share that because this morning I came across a wonderful example of this truth in action. It would seem that when F.B. Meyer was in the very zenith of his ministry in London there came to London a nineteen year old boy. And overnight that boy was world famous, throngs were going to hear him, and his name was spoken on every street by every heart. Any guesses who that “boy” might be? If you guessed Charles Spurgeon you are right!

How do you think that made F.B. Meyer feel? He says in his autobiography that it filled him with envy (no surprise there, right?). What did he do with that envy? F.B. Meyer says:

“I took it to the Lord; got down on my knees and on my face before the Lord, and I said to the Lord, ‘It’s not right, this feeling of envy that I have in my heart.’”

And then F.B. Meyer did something spectacular. He began praying for Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the boy preacher. He began asking God to give him a double portion of the Spirit from heaven, give him twice as many souls. Give him a fame that circles the world ten times, not once. And F.B. Meyer says it was not long until he began to look upon every triumph of the young Spurgeon as though it were his own. When Spurgeon would preach to thousands of people, Meyer said he’d rejoice as though he himself had done it. And when Spurgeon won throngs to the Lord it was as though Meyer had done it, he said, he so prayed for the young man and rejoiced in his glorious ministry. That is the spirit of John the Baptist! Read John 3:29! It is also the spirit of Moses in Numbers 11:26-29 and the spirit of Paul in Philippians 1:14-18.

Oh for more of this spirit in God’s church! As I said in my message yesterday morning – In a world that is under God’s wrath for rejecting God’s beloved Son there is no room for pride, envy, and competition but instead we must joyfully employ what God has given us to magnify the preeminent Savior! This new year, let’s make it our preoccupation to make Christ preeminent in all things. This new year, let’s be swallowed up in the service of Him who is the greatest for in this is true joy found!

God’s Grace in the Deepest Pain

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Romans 5:3-4

Suffering is an undeniable part of being human. Our natural response is at best to survive it and at worst to complain and develop angry and bitter hearts. However as Christians who have been justified through faith in Jesus Christ we not only rejoice in the hope of the glory of God when with glorified bodies we will dwell in the unveiled majesty and splendor of God but we can also rejoice in our sufferings. This is not natural but supernatural grace in which all Christians live and move and have their being. If you have 12 minutes please watch this video below. It is the story of Matthew and Sarah Harms experience of learning to trust God’s goodness and faithfulness through a DEEPLY painful loss. I warn you in advance, you will need a box of tissues, at first to grieve with them but by the end to wipe away tears of hope and joy in God who truly is faithful. Please watch and be encouraged at the hope, grace and strength which God supernaturally provides to all who are trusting his son, the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Stop Minimizing Sin

Anselm said in Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man) what is true of too many: “You have not as yet estimated the great burden of sin.”

An old Puritan prayer says “Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed as in the Person sinned against.”

David confessed in Psalm 51:4, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…” (ESV)

What makes sin so sinful? Why shouldn’t you or I minimize it? Because it is “against God.” It is rebellion against the King of the universe. Here are six other reasons from Matthew Henry in “A Way to Pray” that show us sin’s cancerous nature and why we shouldn’t play games with it:

  1. Consider the sinfulness of sin: Meditate on Romans 7:13; 1 John 3:4; Luke 19:14; Exod. 5:2; Num. 15:30; Neh. 9:26
  2. Recognize the foolishness of sin: Meditate on Psalm 69:5; Titus 3:3; 1 Tim. 6:9; Prov. 22:15; Job 11:12; 2 Sam. 24:10; Ps. 73:22
  3. Admit the unprofitableness of sin: Meditate on Matthew 16:26; Job 33:27; Romans 6:21
  4. Beware the deceitfulness of sin: Meditate on Obadiah 3; Romans 7:11; Hebrews 3:13; James 1:14
  5. Recognize the offence sin has committed against a Holy God: Meditate on Romans 2:23; Isaiah 1:4; Hosea 12:14; 2 Samuel 11:27; Ezekiel 6:9; Psalm 95:9,10; Isaiah 63:10; Ephesians 4:30
  6. Become fully aware of the damage sin has done to your own soul: Meditate on Isaiah 50:1; Proverbs 8:36; Isaiah 59:2; Titus 1:15; Jeremiah 2:19; Romans 1:24, 26, 28; Proverbs 14:9

An Invitation to Sin

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” – Hebrews 2:18

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15

How is that for an enticing blog title? Are you reading this entry because you succumbed to it? By it I refer of course to temptation. Temptation is an invitation to sin. There is no sin in being tempted, for the perfect Jesus was “tempted in every way just as we are – yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). However, all sin is from temptation (James 1:14). Sin is a fruit that comes only from that root. So we must strike at that root that we may not eat its fruit. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Prayer is self-explanatory but what does Jesus mean by “watch?” It of course means to be on our guard, to take heed, to consider all ways and means as to be on our guard, great carefulness and diligence that we may not be entangled. In keeping with this idea of watching, Dr. Kevin T. Bauder has done us a great help.

Dr. Kevin T. Bauder has written a concise article on the progress of temptation over on his blog IN THE NICK OF TIME.

In his opening paragraph he writes:

Temptation occurs in a series of stages, each of which involves a growing element of implicatedness in the sin toward which one is being tempted.

He then summarizes seven stages of temptation, explaining how each stage brings one more deeply under the domination of the object of temptation:

  1. The first stage is inclination.
  2. If inclination is not resisted and dismissed, however, it leads to consideration.
  3. Unless it is interrupted, consideration will lead to permission.
  4. Naturally, permission is often followed by participation.
  5. As indulgence continues, temptation moves to the level of habituation.
  6. The last and worst stage occurs when temptation turns into identification.
  7. One other stage may occur, though it occupies no particular place in the order of temptation. It is the step of legitimation.

He then concludes with this exhortation:

Every temptation must be dealt with at the earliest possible stage. To wait for later stages is to multiply exponentially the difficulty of resisting the sin. It is also to involve one’s self increasingly with the sin itself. The first stage—inclination—brings with it no necessary guilt, but each of the succeeding stages involves growing participation in the sin. At no level is a sinner beyond the ability of God’s grace to deliver, but to presume upon deliverance at some later stage is to put God to the test in the way that Jesus refused to do. Consequently, every Christian must seek God’s grace early and employ those means that God has ordained for securing sanctification in the face of temptation

Read the rest here!

For further thought and reflection on sin and temptation I cannot recommend highly enough John Owen’s classic, Overcoming Sin and Temptation.” But be warned, John Owen is not for the casual reader. Studying Owen’s writings requires hard work but the effort required to read Owen is richly repaid.

“It is the great duty of all believers to use all diligence in the ways of Christ’s appointment, that they fall not into temptation.” – John Owen