Below is my response to a friend who sent me these questions. How would you answer them? 

What is your view of two widowed people living together? 

Can it be done and not be in a sinful way? What is your view of Biblical marriage? 

Is the courthouse/state necessary?

Well, if you mean living as if married, when you say “living together” obviously God isn’t into that. If you mean living under the same roof as if brother and sister, I suppose that is another story, but if the said two people are “lovers” I believe marriage is necessary in God’s view.

When it comes to the courthouse/state thing, I think marriage needs to be recognized legally which means a marriage by someone recognized by the state in which they reside, whether it’s a minister or county clerk, etc. I think when it comes right down to it marriage is about a vow or covenant made between a man and woman and God, also known as “Holy” matrimony. To me this would include some sort of public display or recognition by the state, hence the wedding license and ring.

Ultimately marriage between a man and wife, them becoming one flesh, is meant by God to be a picture of our union with Him “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:17). So, with that being said, marriage is a display of faithfulness, holiness, openness, truthfulness, sharing, self-sacrifice or simply put–love. The watching world should be able to look at marriage and see God’s character in full display between the two who have vowed to become one. This of course means we take the way of the cross for others. I’ll just leave it there for now. This may be more than you were asking for; but marriage is quite a topic.

Louie

The following is the result of a word study on the word “Serpent” found in the Garden of Eden story in Genesis. Was it really a serpent or another kind of creature known as “Nachash”? One definition of “Nachash”, according to Strong’s Concordance, is “to hiss, i.e. whisper a magic spell; to prognosticate…divine, enchanter, enchantment, learn by experience, diligently observe.” So with this understanding of the term “Nachash” it is easy to see how “serpent” came to be the translation. A further search into the root of the word “Nachash” is described as “copper” or “shiny” which then lead me to look into the word Lucifer which means “to shine; to make a show, to boast; and to rave, celebrate, commend, glory, give light…” Are you getting the picture?

The idea is that Lucifer was created to shine, to be a “light-bearer”, meaning he was meant to be an expression of the light of God but apparently he started to think he, himself, was the light. Obviously he began to believe his own hype therefore he was evicted from God’s Holy Mountain (Ezekiel 28:11-19). So, we see the “Nachash” (i.e. serpent) was shiny, and “Lucifer” was covered in precious, or shiny stones which would be shiny, right? The fall of Lucifer from the Mountain of God was quite the fall and couldn’t get much worse than the sentence of crawling on the belly and having dust for food could it? By this time you’re probably asking yourself, “What is this all about? What is he getting at here?”

The nature of a serpent, especially a constrictor, is to slowly squeeze the life out of its prey and then consume it. You see this is exactly what the enemy of our soul does. He has been “observing” us for quite sometime, and he knows just what it takes to “enchant” us into his range. Once he has attracted us by something “shiny”, he slowly wraps himself around us and begins the squeeze. The process of squeezing us may be so slow that the natural eye can’t even perceive that it’s happening, and that’s just what he wants. The last thing he wants to happen is for us to become alerted to his methods and be loosed from his bondage. So throughout the Bible the serpent is synonymous with the fallen Lucifer, also known as Satan, the enemy of our soul.

The good news is God has provided a solution. In the Gospel of John, Jesus used an Old Testament story to enlighten Nicodemus. He said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” Even though the old serpent has been putting the squeeze on humanity God has provided a door to freedom and His name is Jesus. Let’s look at the story of Moses and the serpent to refresh our memory.

In the 21st chapter of the book of Numbers, the Children of Israel are complaining, which wasn’t unusual for them to do, and God sent fiery, or shiny, serpents among them and they were bitten. Moses prays for God’s deliverance and God tells Moses to make a bronze, i.e. copper (shiny) serpent and place it on a pole. Now this serpent was specifically called a “fiery serpent” in the text, and the word “fiery”, interestingly enough, is the word “Saraph.” If that doesn’t ring a bell let me just say the word “seraphim”, as used in Isaiah 6, is derived from this same Hebrew word which is defined, “burning, poisonous creature (copper in color). So God’s provision for the bite of the fiery serpent is to place the image of a fiery serpent on a pole, and have all who have been bitten to look to it in faith, so they might be healed and live. This is exactly what happened on the cross.

On the cross, Jesus became sin! In His body, though sinless, He took in the nature of the Serpent, or Nachash, and died. Now before you get in an uproar hear me out. I am not saying Jesus committed sin or that He was joined to Satan in a spirit to spirit union. What I am saying is the Serpent spirit, which is Satanic, entered into Jesus’ body. When His body died and was buried the spirit no longer had a place to dwell. Then God, by way of His Holy Spirit took up residence within Jesus’ body again and raised Him back to life! This is prefigured for us in the Old Testament with the provision of the scapegoat. The scapegoat took the sins of the people upon himself and was driven out of the camp. This now makes sense as to how we are set free through His death, burial and resurrection because when we are joined to Christ we are taken through death and the grave only to be brought back out to walk in newness of life. Death is what frees us from the grip of the serpent.

With that being said, we can now understand 2 Corinthians 5:21 more clearly, “He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” All who look to Jesus Christ, made sin (the serpent on the pole) on our behalf, in faith are healed! We are no longer in the death squeeze of that old serpent. We are now able to breathe freely walking in His nature and loving others in the way God intended.

In the end we are all either in the serpent’s clutches, filled with the serpent’s nature, or we are free in Christ, filled with His divine nature. Either way the solution to our problem only came about when Jesus Christ, the only one who should be shining, humbled himself in order to rescue all of us.

The following was borrowed from an unknown author, but I think defines these two natures very well so I will leave you with this.

“All love emotions are expansive, all emotions of hatred are restrictive.

Hope and faith are of the nature of love and expand the soul, while fear and doubt and despair are of the nature of hate and contract our souls, making us feel uneasy, and unhappy. The snake stands for contraction, for tightness and indrawing; while men fight and quarrel with one another they always resemble more or less the old snake, each drawing to its side, anxious for self-preservation. Freedom from the snake’s anguish can only be had by ceasing from the snake’s ways, and learning to obey the law of love, the first dictate of which is self-sacrifice.”

Of course without the Spirit of God there is no way for us to really love or be sacrificial, but thankfully God Himself resides in the believer, the one who continually looks in faith to Christ lifted up, and then He lives His loving, self-sacrificing life through us as though it is us.

Louie

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:13-18).

 

If you know your Bible you probably know the Apostle Peter to be quite the go-getter. When the disciples saw Jesus walking on water, it was Peter who cried out for Jesus to let him come out to him on the waves. Whenever the disciples had a difficult time understanding Jesus’ teaching it was usually Peter who asked him to explain further. When Jesus asked “Who do men say I am?” and “Who do you say I am?” Peter spoke right up to answer without hesitation. In other words, Peter was usually the first one to jump up anytime there was a task at hand right up to the moment Jesus was arrested in the Garden. When the soldiers seized Jesus it was Peter who drew his sword and cut off one of their ears.

On one occasion after the Last Supper, Jesus warned Peter saying, “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Of course this led up to Jesus being arrested and what we might call Peter’s hitting bottom. During the time of Jesus’ arrest there was quite the upheaval and many accusations flying around about who was with him. Peter, just as Jesus had predicted, denied even knowing Jesus obviously out of fear for his own life. This I believe was the sifting Jesus had warned Peter about only mere hours before.

Remember Jesus’ words to Peter were “I have prayed your faith may not fail and once you have turned again, or repented, strengthen your brothers.” Isn’t that just how it usually works? We have times in our lives when we seem to be full of faith, seeking God and riding on the magic carpet of the Spirit and then Boom! the bottom falls out. Suddenly everything falls apart and you begin saying to yourself “how could I have done that?” Don’t you just love Peter for this? I mean isn’t it marvelous to know that even one of Jesus’ most intimate disciples failed in such a way? Don’t get me wrong it isn’t that I would ever wish failure on someone, but it does help us to see the amazing forgiveness and restoration of Christ and how we can get back up and keep going.

Recently an inmate asked me about backsliding. He said, “What do you think causes someone to do that?” He then admitted he, himself, has done it on many occasions. He said, “I do well for a while but then for some reason I end up falling away from church and eventually end up back in jail.” My response to him was “I think it’s because we start to think we can live the Christian life rather than realizing only Christ can.” You see once God “fixes” or “heals” things in our lives and we get back into life’s normal routine we take back over as if it is our lives to lead. In a word our trouble is “Independance.”

This is why reading in 1 Peter 1 we see Peter going out of his way to tell us our being born-again, our salvation (inheritance in Christ) is all God’s doing. He said, “God caused us to be born-again, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…and our inheritance in Him can’t fade away or perish because it is reserved for us in heaven.” He then goes on to tell us we are kept, or protected, by the power of God through faith. In other words our salvation and we ourselves are safe because it is God himself who is keeping us and not us. You see the Satanic sifting Jesus spoke of had done its work. Peter had been shaken and now in the 1 & 2 Peter letters we see a new man who is encouraging us to place our faith in Christ only rather than thinking we can do anything for Him.

Louie

 

 

According to the Hebrews letter, Jesus couldn’t have ever become a priest because He was from the line of Judah. In order to be a priest during the Old Covenant period one had to come from the line of Levi. Once the author of Hebrews establishes this, he goes on to tell us why. Because the priesthood of Levi, which was also known as the Law, could never perfect the worshiper, God revealed a New Covenant. Whenever the priesthood changes there arises the necessity of a new law also. You see whereas the Old Covenant of the Law, and the priesthood coming from Levi, was a Covenant which was destined to end because it had only earthly men as priest. In the New Covenant a new priest arises, who is after the order of Melchizedek, which isn’t based on the physical requirement of coming from Levi rather it is based on the power of an indestructible life. So, like the mysterious Melchizedek, Jesus is priest forever because He will never die, and so will never need another to take His place.

Well, okay so Jesus is now priest forever so what about the New Covenant? Let’s compare the Old with the New for a minute. The Old Covenant was based on the worshipper’s commitment to God. God says, for instance, keep my commandments and the worshipper says, “Whatever you say we’ll do.” If the truth’s told no one could ever fulfill God’s commandments, it’s just that we tend to take a long time to discover this. The good news is God has always known this and at just the right time, He did something about it. He offers us a New way.

The first Covenant had troubles because we simply couldn’t live up to our end of the deal. So now God institutes something else. He says, “I will effect a New Covenant…not like the covenant before…no. This is the covenant that I will make with you now. I will put my laws into your minds, and I will write them on your hearts. I will be your God, and you shall be my people.” You see this New Covenant is entirely one sided. The old one required us to perform up to a perfect standard of righteousness. In the new one God is going to do it all. That’s right, you heard me!

The Old Covenant’s priesthood, sacrificial system, Temple and altar and everything has been superseded. Christ is greater than the Old Covenant priest, sacrifices, temple and everything. “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” There is nothing left for us to do. God has done everything He is ever going to do for us in His Son Jesus Christ! I know that’s a profound statement but I encourage you to search this out for yourselves. Read Hebrews chapters 8-10 and see if I’m steering you wrong. These chapters even go as far as to say, while the blood of bulls and goats could cleanse the worshipper’s flesh, the sacrifice of Christ himself can even cleanse our consciousness of sins. What, even the consciousness of sins? This truly is good news isn’t it?

Louie

The following is a discussion that came about based on a question to Christians. The question read as follows: Which is appropriate for a Christian to say about themselves?

A. I’m a sinner, saved by grace
B. I was a sinner, but I’ve been saved by grace

For me the real point of this little quiz was to provoke people to think about their identity in Christ and how God truly sees those of us who have been saved. While the names of these participants have been exposed to the internet already, I am going to use only first names here. Also I am going to edit some of the comments for the sake of space but will do my best to keep the original sentiment intact. This exercise confirmed for me what I’ve known for quite sometime which is for the most part Christians have an identity crisis; and when we don’t know who we are in Christ it affects every area of our lives.

The overwhelming majority of people who responded see themselves as sinners, more than twenty, even though they claim to be saved and or born-again. I’ll let the responses speak for themselves. Here they are.

Dave: A. for all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God.

Dona: B. I have been made perfect in Christ…!!!

Tammy: We are still capable of sinning…but with his love and forgiveness “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13

Joyce: A…we are still sinners…but, one day we will be like HIM!!

Ron: Not sucking me into this one.

Louie: Thanks so much for the responses but before I tell you my answer let me ask one more question. When Paul addresses his letters to the saints at Rome, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, etc. is he addressing you? If so does that mean the terms “saint” and “sinner” is interchangeable?

Dawn: A. God’s grace saved me. I’m still a human, still sin and won’t be perfect until He calls me home.

Dawn: I believe yes to your follow up question. Saints and sinners are the same. Saints saved by grace.

Louie: Here’s a thought: Before Adam disobeyed (ate the forbidden fruit) he wasn’t a sinner was he? I would say no. This means we don’t have to be a “sinner” to commit a sin. I think the Bible is clear that if we are “in Christ” we are a new creature (saint). This of course doesn’t mean we cannot commit a sin but according to 1 John it does mean we will no longer “practice” sin. So with all that being said, I think B. is the appropriate answer. If Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost I am either lost or found. I cannot be a lost/found person can I? “By His doing you (me) are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). All of this is the work of the cross. “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). “All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in him in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete…” (Colossians 2:9-10).

Tammy H.: This is to your follow up question…saints are not sinless. The word saint means sacred. All who belong to Christ by faith are saints. We are born in sin. You become a saint by being reborn. But it doesn’t mean that you won’t sin.

Tammy H.: I was wrong it is B…sorry. I should have thought longer before answering…

Ron: 1 Cor. 13:9-12: We don’t always see ourselves as he sees us. Face to face is when we see the perfect complete creation. We know that we are complete/perfect in his eyes! Still have to live in an imperfect world in an imperfect sack of flesh! We still make mistakes. Face to face we will know as we are known. Amen

Louie: my thing with this line of questioning is based on my desire for us Christians to really see ourselves as God sees us. Jesus Christ paid much too high a price for us to go around seeing ourselves as sinners. He has bought us with a price, made us whole and set us apart for a purpose. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are a branch for Him to produce fruit through, and we are to be an expression of Christ for the world to see.

Ron: Don’t forget about the thorn that Paul carried around his whole earthly life. Think Grace.

Tim: What difference does it make A or B whether we believe we are a sinner or not?

Louie: Tim, the short answer is we are what we think. If we see ourselves as a sinner we will continue in sin. If we see ourselves as someone freed from sin less sin will manifest. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Viewing ourselves as a sinner tends to become a cloak for sin. If we see ourselves as that we give ourselves an excuse. Well, I’m a sinner so I guess I can’t help it if I sin, so I might as well.

Ron: Got some people in the Word tonight. If you noticed I never did give my answer. According to the Word I believe in my spirit that the answer is…

Louie: Think about the song “Amazing Grace.” I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” Part of being a witness for Christ is telling others I once was one way but now I’m another. It is all about our identity. Here’s another illustration. When we are born we are born a sinner (Pig). When we are born again we become a brand new creature not just a washed off pig. The nature of a pig is to wallow in the mud and like it. Once we are born again we become a new creature let’s say a sheep. The nature of a sheep isn’t to wallow in the mud and like it. No, in fact a sheep may very well find himself in the mud (sin) but rather than stay there he will get up and go the shepherd to clean him. So we are no longer pigs (sinners) we are sheep (saints).

Tim: This is what happens when we take proof texts to try and describe a biblical concept. Paul takes the whole book of Romans to systematically outline the doctrines of Justification and Sanctification. Legally in God’s eyes we are as you say, perfect sinless saints, but experientially we still wrestle with our sinful nature. So in a sense both A. and B. are true. The danger for each is that if we lose sight of our position in Christ we will live like sinners. However, we should not let our guard down to our sinful condition.

Louie: This idea of a sinful nature is a tough one, but I believe once we are born again we no longer have a sinful nature. In fact I believe we humans have no nature of our own. According to Ephesians 2:1-3, we were all dead in trespasses and sins and were “by nature” children of wrath because of the spirit that works in the children of disobedience. The good news is now that we are in Christ we are a “partaker of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). So in my view we are either by nature a child of wrath, because of the spirit of error indwelling us, or we have been born again and have become a partaker of the very nature of Christ. Either way we have no nature of our own rather we are joined to the nature of another.

Tammy S.: Sinner does not mean one who sins. In the Word, sin and death means separation. So a sinner is one who is separated from God by sin. The thing is we should only say about ourselves what God says and He NEVER calls His children sinners so neither should we. You know I bowl sometimes but I don’t identify myself as a bowler. I was a sinner, but I got saved by God’s marvelous grace, and now He says I’m a saint. In my spirit I am the perfect new creature that I am going to be throughout all eternity, and I am in the process of renewing my mind to think like the new creature He created me to be. Hallelujah!!

Tim: Oh boy, this could turn into a big can of worms based on our different understandings of the doctrines of the human condition and such.

Karen: I like to say it like this; I am not a sinner because I sin. I sin because I am a sinner born with a sinful nature however now saved by grace in Jesus name.

Louie: There are no worms here Tim just some people discussing what faith in Jesus Christ means. I don’t think there’s any bad vibes here. “Iron sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

Heather: There is none that is perfect…No not one! Salvation is a free gift of undeserved mercy for the sinner, so we are saved by Jesus Christs’ sacrifice and grace. We are to turn from sin and follow Christ. However, we may fall and stumble along the path until we are made perfect in Heaven with our Lord. So we are a sinner, saved by grace. A.

Ron: Are we done yet? Just kidding. Good debate. No winners. Saved by grace through faith. Sinner or saint doesn’t matter what word you use to describe yourself. Saved by grace through faith is what’s important. Amen.

Tammy S.: Thank you Lord for revealing to me who I am in you.

Keith: We are new creatures. Thinking that we are not sinners doesn’t make us not sinners, and having a sinful nature/body doesn’t cause us to sin more…unless we use that excuse. There’s only one human who walked the earth that was sinless: Jesus Christ. There’s no way we can say we ever become sinless, or that we don’t sin anymore. We ALL sin no matter what. So when we do sin, what then? Are you not born again? A child of God anymore? You still are!

Louie: Wow! This was amazing. Obviously there are deep rooted beliefs about whether or not we should call ourselves “sinners” after we’ve been born again. This reminds me of how many people, who have had an addiction, see themselves as an addict forever. To me we have a choice to make either we see ourselves as the world or (tradition) sees us or we see ourselves as the Bible sees us. According to the Word, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I’m going to leave it here but maybe we’ll try another little quiz soon. Thank you so much for the great participation. I’ve learned a lot.

Keith: In addition to being a deep-rooted belief (because of what God’s Word tells us), you/we have to take his Word collectively, as a whole, and base you beliefs on that, not on a verse here and there. **I’m not saying you are I’m speaking in general about KNOWING what God says.

Kelly: After reading all of your posts, I still agree with answer A. Our spirits are saved by faith and God’s grace, and because we seek to be like Him, we ask for His will and guidance in our lives, and we trust Him to “lead us not into temptation,” so to speak. But, while we are still human, our nature is still sinful from birth on. We sin daily…even the slightest rude thought towards another is a sin. Angry reactions and harsh words, even simple sarcasm, to people and circumstances, is sin. Ever thought of another woman Louie? Lust? Ever wished you had as much as someone else? Envy or coveting however you chose to say it. Ever told a teensy weensy, well-meaning lie? It’s still a lie. Ever cursed in your mind but not out loud? God still hears it. Not one of us can say not to any of these. But, as Christians, we know it is wrong, and we repent daily, even minute by minute for some of us (me!!). I am no theologian by any means, and I don’t have 100 verses of scripture to back up what I’m saying. But I DO know I can never lose my salvation, if I am truly saved. And because He lives through me, I can have the strength to go on KNOWING I am a sinner, saved by His grace through my FAITH in Him. It is through that very faith that we turn to Him to forgive us, daily, of our sins and to try to keep from those sins to the very best of our ability. And when I get to see Him, because of my faith and trust in Him, I know I will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I screw up daily, not because I want to, but because I am not God. I am not perfect. But I love Him for loving me despite all my wretched faults. And I will sleep well knowing I am a forgiven child of the King every night. God bless you for making me think on this tonight, I hope and pray I haven’t offended anyone with my beliefs. Goodnight.

Louie: No one is indicating a Christian can’t or won’t sin. The original question was about how we identify ourselves. Jesus himself said, “I came to seek and save the lost.” The good news is once He has saved us we are no longer lost. Whenever a blind man was touched by Jesus he went away seeing, so do we still call him a blind man? When a lame man was healed by Jesus, was he still lame? What about Lazarus? After Jesus raised him from the dead would we consider him to still be a dead man? Look to nature for a minute with me. Have you ever looked at a butterfly and said to yourself, “Look at that beautiful caterpillar?” Pertaining to thoughts, do you think, no pun intended, Jesus ever had a “bad” thought? For instance in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus didn’t appear to want to do what God wanted, He said, “my soul is deeply grieved and sorrowful (thoughts and feelings), even unto death” and “If there’s any other way.” Thoughts and feelings come and go all day everyday and we simply cannot control all of them nor do I think they are necessarily sin. There is a place where a thought becomes lust but simply having a renegade thought doesn’t automatically mean it’s sin.

In conclusion let me saypart of my job as a student of the Bible is to question traditions and rituals to see if they line up with the Word of God. I hope this has rattled a few of you, at least to the point of making sure of what you know. All I ask is that you don’t allow your thoughts and feelings to override what God says to be true about you. Our thoughts and feelings are to be the caboose not the engine.

Louie