Saturday, February 23, 2013

Family Bookshelf: Parenting by God's Promises by Dr. Joel Beeke

There are countless systems for sale today that all aim to help parents raise their children to be productive members of society.  They teach everything from spanking verses timeout, punishment and reward systems, and numerous psychological approaches.  For any parent worth their salt there may be no greater fear than the fear of failure in raising your children.

That fear is amplified for Christian parents because we not only want our children to succeed in life but we also want to see them grow up to become men and women who love the Lord and lead their families to Christ as well.   The failure of most of what is found in parenting methods being sold today, inside and outside of Christendom, is that it seeks to address behavioral change as the desired goal of successful parenting.  But should that be the goal?  Dr. Beeke does not believe so and neither do I.

Rather than just working to change behavior (which can easily produce legalism in our children) we should instead be seeking to get to the heart of the behavior.  Change the heart of the child and the behavior will change as well.

In "Parenting by God's Promises" Dr. Beeke challeneges parents to adopt a method of parenting that is not new or trendy, rather it is the tried and true Biblical method of raising them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord and trusting God's faithfulness with the results.

For example, instead of being so focused on worrying about who our children marry, let's be equally concerned with teaching them to be "excellent spouses" and model for them what it means and looks like to be a faithful spouse.  Or rather than simply being angry over some infraction, let's sit them down and show them from Scripture why that decision they made was a poor one, a sinful one, and why God's ways are best.  Then, let's not hand out a retributive punishment, but a loving correction that serves to remind them of the lesson they've been taught about the Gospel and trusting God.  ((Yes that loving correction can include a properly administered spanking, not a beating out of anger.))

Further, we needn't try and coerce a decision for Christ out of them at the earliest possible age, but rather lead them to Christ and trust the God who saves to save them as He has saved us and countless others throughout the ages!  Let's teach our children about the God of grace who has so graciously offered up His own Son so that their sins could be forgiven in Him.

I highly recommend this book to any parent who is concerned with raising their child according to Biblical principles.

You can pick this up from Ligonier.org or Amazon.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Reformation Trust Publishing through their Blog for a Free Book Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The snare of the flesh...


Exodus 20:14 - [14] “You shall not commit adultery.”
 
Commandment number 7 has everything to do with preserving our neighbor’s purity and the purity of ourselves.  This makes sense to believers for Proverbs 27:17 tells us that as iron sharpens iron so we are to sharpen one another.

We look out for each other's best spiritual interest at all times.  The perverse and immoral behavior that we see applauded on television daily is not new to our generation.  Man has had a propensity for sexual immorality from the fall.  Peter Hammond – “The sexual revolution is revolting in more ways than one.  It is an uprising against God Himself.  It is a rebellion against His sovereign authority and a rejection of the Law of God.”  Why?  What are the implications on society if this were not a commandment?  And how does this protect and promote liberty?  Well, the world would like you to believe that promiscuity is a private matter that doesn’t hurt anyone besides those involved.  So you shouldn’t get involved in it because it doesn’t directly affect you.  However, this is patently false.  The reality is that everyone pays for the private sins of others.  Don’t think so? 

Let me give you some statistics…

From 1973-2011 there have been over 54.5 million abortions in the United States alone.  In 2012, there were 9 abortions performed every four minutes.  That’s 1 abortion for every 26 seconds.  That’s only surgical abortions folks.  Because every birth control pill contains an abortifacient element to it, the CDC estimates that we can safely add 14 million chemical abortions done per year in the US.  From 2009-2010 Planned Parenthood received over 487 million dollars in government grants.  Where do you think that money comes from?  You and me.  The abortion debate has nothing to do with women’s rights and everything to do with sexual freedom.  People want the gratification of sex with 0 responsibilities.  What other consequences come from sexual freedom?  How about the rampant spread of STDs, AIDS, and broken homes that come from infidelity by one or both spouses. Single parents raising their children because the man who fathered them doesn’t want to be a parent.

Any pastor or counselor will tell you that adultery destroys entire families… not just marriages.  So what does Scripture say about adultery elsewhere?     

We are to flee from all forms of sexual immorality. 1 Corinthians 6:15-20
Galatians 5:19 says that sexual immorality is a deed of the flesh, not a deed of the Spirit. 
Lust, which is the core of adultery, is not limited to the physical act of adultery nor is it restricted by age.  Given the age of internet integration that we live in, pornography addiction, which is adultery of the mind, is affecting more than just the 20-30 somethings.  A recent poll revealed that men between the ages of 55-70 who use their computer to surf the web have confessed to viewing pornographic material as often as once a week.  Women in the same age bracket confessed to having used online chat rooms to flirt with internet strangers.  Half of that group said that they seek out old boyfriends on facebook and have had emotional affairs with those old flames.

So don’t think you are immune just because you have passed a certain age… Satan doesn’t care what age the sinner is, he just cares that he tempts people to sin…Although adultery is specifically mentioned here, there is a principle laid down, that believers are expected to live pure and holy lives.  Adultery resides not in the physical, but rather in the mind.  The battle for purity and holiness begins with the mind, not the flesh.

Matthew 5:27-28 - [27] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ [28] But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Jesus says that God sees lustful thoughts as adultery.  So for those who say they look but don’t touch, the Bible labels that person an adulterer.  It is a matter of purity.  By forbidding adultery God is protecting purity.  Purity both mentally, emotionally, and physically.

I showed you some statistics on murder, I would disgust you with further stats about STDs or grieve you with stats on divorce and such… but rather than that let me give you three reasons for obeying this law as it relates to promoting Christian liberty and see if that doesn’t provide a sufficient answer to our understanding.

1.) Obeying this protects purity

It is advantageous to be pure.  We are image-bearers of God.  God is pure and thus we are to be pure as well. Matthew 5:8 - [8] “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Now, obviously sins has marred that image, but that doesn’t change the fact that we were created to be pure.  There is a speed limit on I-20 of 60mph.  I’ve hardly been on it once where people were obeying that law, should we remove all speed limits just because the majority break them?  Of course not!

Purity of heart consists of dedication to god.  At the core of the Gospel is the fact that we need to be cleansed and made pure from our sin.  So severe is the grime of our sin on our body and soul that it takes the blood of Christ to wash it off.  Pursuing purity is another way of saying that we are to pursue holiness.  After all, holiness is perfect purity.

1 Peter 1:16 - [16] …it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

The dominant reason for su to pursue holiness and purity is because God is pure and holy and as Christians we are in relationship with Him.  We are to be holy because the Holy One has identified Himself with us in a work of His glorious grace.  Matthew Henry said that the calling of a sinner to salvation is a “powerful engagement to holiness”.  Obviously, obviously sexual purity is not the only area that we are to pursue holiness in.  But is there any other sin that can so adversely affect your body and life and the bodies and lives of others as lust and fornication?

2.) Obeying this protects the sanctity of marriage.

Why is that so important?  Let me give you a reason from Ephesians 5.  Ephesians 5:1-6 - Paul sets up there how it is that we are to “walk in love”.  That, he equates to being “imitators of God”.  We are to walk as Christ walked.  What did Christ do?  Verse 1 says that He loved us and gave Himself up for us as a sacrifice and offering to God.  How would that look in my life?  Well, we might say with Christ that we are to deny ourselves and take up our cross… or with Paul that we are to die to self or Ephesians 5:22-33

Adultery, the sin of adultery, directly undermines not only the purity of marriage relationships but it also distorts the Gospel.  Our marriages are to be a living illustration of the Gospel.  The wife is to submit to her husband as to the Lord; in other words, in like manner.  That submission points at honoring them from a principle of love for them; because God has ordained the husband to be the head of the wife.  As the church is to submit to the headship of Christ, so wives submit to their husbands.  You see the Gospel illustrated here?  Likewise, husbands are to love their wives.  Love then should be seen as a choice and not an emotional feeling.  How are husbands to love their wives?  As Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her!  Did Christ or will Christ ever abandon the church?  NO!  Did Christ or will Christ ever link Himself up emotionally, mentally, or physically with another bride?  NO!  Adultery, be it through the physical act, or a lust of the mind or even through flirting… damages the purity of marriage which damages the purity of the Gospel that we preach.  God designed marriage to be a union between one man and one woman that is not to be defiled by a failure for the wife to submit, or a failure for the husband to love, or divorce or any sort of infidelity.  Why?  Because Christ will not defile His relationship to His Father or us with a failure to submit to the Father, or a failure to love us, nor will He divorce us, nor introduce any sort of impurity to us.

3.) Obeying this shows practical evidence of the new birth

Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God.  Pursuing holiness is marking sin in our life and putting it to death by the Spirit.  It is agreeing with God’s Word.  Loving what He loves and hating what He hates. 1 John 2:6; John 14:15

We must pursue purity in all areas because it most proves that we are born again children of God.  We must pursue holiness because our comfort and assurance depends on it.  “We cannot be too often reminded of this.  We are sadly apt to forget that there is a close connection between sin and sorrow, holiness and happiness, sanctification and consolation.  God has so wisely ordered it that our well-being and our well-doing are linked together.” – JC Ryle

Is there a greater comfort in this life than knowing we are secure in Christ?  I know of no such comfort!  And that is how observing this law is liberating for the believer, because as we are pursuing purity … pursuing holiness; particularly in this area of sexual purity of mind and body.  As we do that, we have a clear conscience before God, assured by the Holy Spirit.  1 John 3:21; Romans 13:5

So here do we go from here?  If you aren’t pursuing holiness, Christian, resolve afresh to chase hard after a holy life.  Or we might say, a Spirit-led life.  A life abiding in Christ.  John 15:4-5.  Abide in Christ, believer, Jesus said that if you abide in Him and Him in you that you will bear much fruit.  That will be fruit of holiness I assure you!

Do you want to attain holiness?  Are you lost?  Do you need Christ?  I assure you that if you are lost, then you certainly DO need Christ!  Along with a deep conviction of our sin comes a deep desire to be cleansed of it; that is true repentance.  Come to Christ, be forgiven and cleansed of all sin and be made holy in His sight by His blood.

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