Category: What does the Bible say About


  It is interesting to note how the phrase “climate change” is replacing “global warming” as the catch phrase of environmentalism. Some scientists/climatologists are certain that human activity, primarily greenhouse gas emissions, is impacting the environment. What they are not certain about is precisely what the impact will be. A couple of decades ago, “global cooling” was the fear, with warnings of a new ice age being the primary scare tactic. While most scientists/climatologists today believe that global warming is the primary risk, uncertainty has led to “climate change” being used as a less specific warning. Essentially, the climate change message is this: greenhouse gas emissions are damaging the environment, and, while we are not certain what the effect will be, we know it will be bad.

Climatologists, ecologists, geologists, etc., are unanimous in recognizing that the earth has gone through significant temperature/climate changes in the past. Despite the fact that these climate changes were obviously not caused by human activity, many of these same scientists are convinced that human activity is the primary cause of climate change today. Why? There seem to be three primary motivations.

First, some truly and fully believe the greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change. They honestly examine the data and come to that conclusion. Second, some hold to the climate change mindset with an almost religious fervor. Many within the environmentalist movement are so obsessed with protecting “Mother Earth” that they will use any argument to accomplish that goal, no matter how biased and unbalanced it is. Third, some promote the climate change mentality for financial gain. Some of the strongest proponents of climate change legislation are those who stand to have the greatest financial gain from “green” laws and technologies. Before the climate change mindset is accepted, it should be recognized that not everyone who promotes climate change is doing so from an informed foundation and pure motives.

How, then, should a Christian view climate change? We should view it skeptically and critically, but at the same time honestly and respectfully. Most importantly, though, Christians should look at climate change biblically. What does the Bible say about climate change? Not much. Likely the closest biblical examples of what could be considered climate change would be the end times disasters prophesied in Revelation 6–18. Yet these prophecies have nothing to do with greenhouse gas emissions; rather, they are the result of the wrath of God, pouring out justice on an increasingly wicked world. Also, a Christian must remember that God is in control and that this world is not our home. God will one day erase this current universe (2 Peter 3:7-12) and replace it with the New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21–22). How much effort should be made “saving” a planet that God is eventually going to obliterate and replace with a planet so amazing and wonderful that the current earth pales in comparison?

Is there anything wrong with going green? No, of course not. Is trying to reduce your carbon footprint a good thing? Probably so. Are solar panels, wind mills, and other renewable energy sources worth pursuing? Of course. Are any of these things to be the primary focus of followers of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not! As Christians, our focus should be proclaiming the truth of the gospel, the message that has the power to save souls. Saving the planet is not within our power or responsibility. Climate change may or may not be real, and may or may not be human-caused. What we can know for certain is that God is good and sovereign, and that Planet Earth will be our habitat for as long as God desires it to be. Psalm 46:2-3, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

  As Christians, we should be concerned about our effect on our environment. God appointed man to be the steward of this world (Genesis 1:28), not the destroyer of it. However, we should not allow environmentalism to become a form of idolatry, where the “rights” of an inanimate planet and its non-human creatures are held in higher esteem than God (Romans 1:25) and man created in His image. With global warming, as with any other topic, it is crucial to understand what the facts are, whom those facts come from, how they are interpreted, and what the spiritual implications are.

A careful look at global warming, as a topic, shows that there is a great deal of disagreement about the facts and substance of climate change. Those who blame man for climate change often disagree about what facts lead them to that conclusion. Those who hold man totally innocent of it often ignore established facts. Experience and research leads us to believe that warming is, in fact, occurring; however, there is little to no objective evidence that man is the cause, nor that the effects will be catastrophic. The idea of earth “wearing out” is an apt analogy. This entire world has been continually decaying since the fall.

Global warming “facts” are notoriously hard to come by. One of the few facts universally agreed upon is that the current average temperature of Earth is indeed rising at this time. According to most estimates, this increase in temperature amounts to about 0.4-0.8 °C (0.72-1.44 °F) over the last 100 years. Data regarding times before that is not only highly theoretical but very difficult to obtain with any accuracy. The very methods used to obtain historical temperature records are controversial, even among the most ardent supporters of the theory of human-caused climate change. The facts leading one to believe that humans are not responsible for the current change in temperature are as follows:

• Global temperature changes from past millennia, according to available data, were often severe and rapid, long before man supposedly had any impact at all. That is, the current climate change is not as unusual as some alarmists would like to believe.

• Recent recorded history mentions times of noticeable global warming and cooling, long before man had any ability to produce industrial emissions.

• Water vapor, not CO2, is the most influential greenhouse gas. It is difficult to determine what effect, if any, mankind has on worldwide water vapor levels.

• Given the small percentage of human-produced CO2, as compared to other greenhouse gases, human impact on global temperature may be as little as 1%.

• Global temperatures are known to be influenced by other, non-human-controlled factors, such as sunspot activity, orbital movement, volcanic activity, solar system effects, and so forth. CO2 emission is not the only plausible explanation for global warming.

• Ice Age temperature studies, although rough, frequently show temperatures changing before CO2 levels, not after. This calls into question the relationship between warming and carbon dioxide; in some cases, the data could easily be interpreted to indicate that warming caused an increase in carbon dioxide, rather than the reverse!

• Computer simulations used to “predict” or “demonstrate” global warming require the assumption of human causation, and even then are not typically repeatable or reliable. Current computer weather simulations are neither predictive nor repeatable.

• Most of the global temperature increase of the last 100 years occurred before most of the man-made CO2 was produced.

• In the 1970s, global temperatures had actually been dropping since 1945, and a “global cooling” concern became prominent, despite what is now dismissed as a lack of scientific support.

The “consensus” claimed by most global warming theorists is not scientific proof; rather, it is a statement of majority opinion. Scientific majorities have been wrongly influenced by politics and other factors in the past. Such agreement is not to be taken lightly, but it is not the same thing as hard proof.

This “consensus,” as with many other scientific theories, can be partially explained by growing hostility to those with differing viewpoints, making it less likely that a person without preconceived notions would take on the subject for research. The financial and political ramifications of the global warming debate are too serious to be ignored, though they should not be central to any discussion.

• The data being used to support anthropogenic (man-caused) global warming is typically based on small data sets, single samples, or measurements taken in completely different regions. This creates an uncertainty in the results that rarely gets the attention that alarmist conclusions do.

While the above list is not exhaustive, it does include several of the major points that raise doubts about mankind’s actual effect on global temperatures. While no one can deny that warming is occurring, “overwhelming evidence” of any objective type does not exist to support the idea that global warming is significantly influenced by human actions. There is plenty of vague, short-sighted, and misunderstood data that can be seen as proving “anthropogenic” global-warming theory. All too often, data used to blame humans for global warming is far less reliable than data used for other areas of study. It is a valid point of contention that the data used in these studies is frequently flawed, easily misinterpreted, and subject to preconception.

In regards to issues such as this, skepticism is not the same as disbelief. There are fragments of evidence to support both sides, and logical reasons to choose one interpretation over another. The question of anthropogenic global warming should not divide Christian believers from each other (Luke 11:17). Environmental issues are important, but they are not the most important questions facing mankind. Christians ought to treat our world with respect and good stewardship, but we should not allow politically driven hysteria to dominate our view of the environment. Our relationship with God is not dependent on our belief in human-caused global warming.

For further research on global warming, we recommend the following articles:
http://www.icr.org/article/3233/
http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/ http://www.clearlight.com/~mhieb/WVFossils/ice_ages.html
http://www.xtronics.com/reference/globalwarming.htm
http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/5/14/161152.shtml
http://www.whrc.org/carbon/images/GlobalCarbonCycleLG.gif
http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/fig3-1.htm

There is a difference between the biblical view of the environment and the political movement known as “environmentalism.” Understanding this difference will shape a Christian’s view of environmentalism. The Bible is clear that the earth and everything in it was given by God to man to rule over and subdue. “And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth'” (Genesis 1:28).

Because mankind was created in His image, God gave men and women a privileged place among all creatures and commanded them to exercise stewardship over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8:6-8). Stewardship implies caretaking, not abusing. We are to intelligently manage the resources God has given us, using all diligent care to preserve and protect them. This is seen in the Old Testament where God commanded that the fields and vineyards would be sown and harvested for six years, then left fallow for the seventh year in order to replenish the soil’s nutrients, both to rest the land and to ensure continued provision for His people in the future (Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7).

In addition to our role of caretakers, we are to appreciate the functionality and beauty of the environment. In His incredible grace and power, God has placed on this planet everything needed to feed, clothe, and house the billions of people who have lived on it since the Garden of Eden. All the resources He has provided for our needs are renewable, and He continues to provide the sun and rain necessary to sustain and replenish those resources. And, as if this were not enough, He has also decorated the planet in glorious color and scenic beauty to appeal to our aesthetic sense and thrill our souls with wonder. There are countless varieties of flowers, exotic birds, and other lovely manifestations of His grace to us.

At the same time, the earth we inhabit is not a permanent planet, nor was it ever intended to be. The environmental movement is consumed with trying to preserve the planet forever, and we know this is not God’s plan. He tells us in 2 Peter 3:10 that at the end of the age, the earth and all He has created will be destroyed: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up” (NKJV). The physical, natural earth in its present form, with its entire universe will be consumed, and God will create a “new heaven and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).

So we see that, rather than trying to preserve the earth for thousands or even millions of years to come, we are to be good stewards of it for as long as it lasts, which will be as long as it serves God’s sovereign plan and purpose.

A short series on the Environment and Environmentalism

The Green Bible, published in 2008 by Harper Collins Publishers, is not a new translation. The publishers use the New Revised Standard Version as their text. The whole premise of this version is similar to the “red-letter” editions of the Bible where the words of Christ are printed in red ink. Following this approach, the Green Bible prints in green ink verses and passages which, according to the publisher, deal with environmental topics or creation care. They break this down into four categories: [1]. How God and Jesus are involved in creation; [2]. How all elements (land, water, plants, humans, animals) are interdependent; [3]. How nature responds to God; [4]. How we are called to care for creation. The Bible itself is printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink with a cotton/linen cover. There is also a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as several essays by various people including Brian McLaren, of emergent church fame, and Pope John Paul II. Other features include a topical index, a personal “trail study guide,” and an appendix with information on further reading, how to get involved, and practical steps to take.

The idea of a “green” Bible may have merits. The Green Bible can serve as a reminder to believers who are overly critical of today’s modern “green” movement that the Scriptures do speak on the subject of the environment. The heavens, air, oceans, rivers, seas, plants, and animals are all wonderfully created by God. Some need to be reminded that God’s magnificent creation is something to behold, appreciate, respect, and preserve (Genesis 1:26-28). Of course, God’s command to mankind to rule over and subdue the earth does not mean we can abuse it. Rather, God has given care of the environment to mankind to nurture and use with respect, always mindful of our great God as the force behind its creation.

At the same time, there are negative aspects of the Green Bible. A statement by Eugene H. Peterson, author of The Message, explains the whole purpose of the Green Bible: “The Green Bible sets out an urgent agenda for the Christian community.” It seems clear that the main goal and purpose is to promote the “green” agenda and implies that God in His Word confirms this as a primary theme. However, the “urgent agenda” for the Christian community is not the reclamation of the earth, but the reclamation of souls destined for an eternity in hell. Anything that distracts Christians from this most basic reason for our existence is antithetical to God’s plan for His people. Interestingly, the Green Bible does not seem to be prominently used as a tool by those who support today’s “green” movement, no doubt because there are too many other truths in God’s Word that contradict the basic philosophies of the “green” agenda. The Green Bible in reality is a perfect example of what the Apostle Paul speaks about in Romans: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:25).

The Green Bible goes beyond just advocating an agenda and actually is teaching false doctrines. This becomes evident in the “Green Bible Quiz,” which has seven questions with three multiple-choice answers for each question. Question #2 asks, “Which verse praising creation is from the Psalms?” and gives Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands,” as the correct answer. The problem here is that this verse does exactly opposite of what the question asks. The verse is not “praising creation” at all; rather, it speaks of the creation praising the Creator, God. Question #4 in the Green Bible Quiz asks, “Where did Jesus go to commune with nature?” The “correct” answer given is Matthew 4:23, but apparently this was a typo and no doubt should have been Matthew 14:23, “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” This verse definitely does not say that Christ went up to the mountain “to commune with nature.” He went up to pray, literally to commune with His Father, God. This goes far beyond stretching the meaning of a verse and actually amounts to deifying nature, which is nothing short of idolatry.

There is nothing wrong with Christians being involved in a conscious effort to appreciate and even preserve God’s wonderful creation. But any effort directed at preserving the planet forever runs counter to God’s revealed plan. He tells us in 2 Peter 3:10 that at the end of the age, the earth and all He has created will be destroyed with fire. The physical, natural earth in its present form, along with the entire universe, will be consumed, and God will create a “new heaven and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). As believers, our focus has to be living for the Savior and, in what the Scriptures call the “last days,” to be about the business of sharing the good news of the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ with as many people as possible.

  In Matthew 7:13–14, Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” This passage causes some to question the goodness of God. After all, if He really wants to save everyone, why didn’t He make it easier to be saved? Why doesn’t He simply let everyone into heaven?

When we read the word narrow, we tend to associate it with prejudicial selection. It sounds as though God has rated us all on some scale of acceptability and only allows a select few to enter His presence. However, a few verses earlier, Jesus had told the same audience, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Jesus made it clear: the path to eternal life is open to everyone who asks.

However, the gate to heaven is “narrow” in the sense of having a particular requirement for entrance—faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation is found only in the Person of Jesus Christ; He is the only way (John 14:6). The “wide” gate is non-exclusive; it allows for human effort and all other of the world’s religions.

Jesus says that narrow gate leads to a “hard” road, one that will take us through hardships and difficult decisions. Following Jesus requires crucifying our flesh (Galatians 2:20; 5:24; Romans 6:2), living by faith (Romans 1:17; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 10:38), enduring trials with Christlike patience (James 1:2–3, 12; 1 Peter 1:6), and living a lifestyle separate from the world (James 1:27; Romans 12:1–2). When faced with the choice between a narrow, bumpy road and a wide, paved highway, most of us choose the easier road. Human nature gravitates toward comfort and pleasure. When faced with the reality of denying themselves to follow Jesus, most people turn away (John 6:66). Jesus never sugar-coated the truth, and the truth is that not many people are willing to pay the price to follow Him.

God offers salvation to everyone who accepts it (John 1:12; 3:16-18; Romans 10:9; 1 John 2:2). But it is on His terms. We must come the way He has provided. We cannot create our own paths or come to a holy God based on our own efforts. Compared to His righteousness, we are all filthy (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:10). God cannot simply excuse or overlook our sin. He is merciful, but He is also just. Justice requires that sin be paid for. At great cost to Himself, He paid that price (Isaiah 53:5; 1 John 3:1, 16; Psalm 51:7). Without the blood of Jesus covering our sin, we stand guilty before the God we rejected (Romans 1:20).

The way to God was completely closed, and sin was the roadblock (Romans 5:12). No one deserves a second chance. We all deserve to stay on the “wide road that leads to destruction.” But God loved us enough to provide the path to eternal life anyway (Romans 5:6–8). However, He also knows that in our self-centered, sin-saturated world there are not many who will desire Him enough to come to Him on His terms (John 6:44, 65; Romans 3:11; Jeremiah 29:13). Satan has paved the highway to hell with fleshly temptations, worldly attractions, and moral compromises. Most people allow their passions and desires to dictate the course of their lives. They choose temporary, earthly pleasure over the self-sacrifice required in following Jesus (Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Matthew 10:37). The narrow gate is ignored. Most people would rather create their own religions and design their own gods. So it was with sorrow, not discrimination, that Jesus declared that the road to eternal life is “narrow, and only a few find it.”

Some people today, especially those of anti-Christian opinions, have the mistaken notion that the Bible prescribes permanent racial divisions among men and is, therefore, the cause of modern racial hatreds. As a matter of fact, the Bible says nothing whatever about race. Neither the word nor the concept of different “races” is found in the Bible at all. As far as one can learn from a study of Scripture, the writers of the Bible did not even know there were distinct races of men, in the sense of black and yellow and white races, or Caucasian and Mongol and Negroid races, or any other such divisions.

The Biblical divisions among men are those of “tongues, families, nations, and lands” (Genesis 10:5,20,31) rather than races. The vision of the redeemed saints in heaven (Revelation 7:9) is one of “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues”, but no mention is made of “races”. The formation of the original divisions, after the Flood, was based on different languages (Genesis 11:6-9), supernaturally imposed by God, but nothing is said about any other physical differences.

Some have interpreted the Noahic prophecy concerning his three sons (Genesis 9:25-27) to refer to three races, Hamitic, Semitic and Japhetic, but such a meaning is in no way evident from the words of this passage. The prophecy applies to the descendants of Noah’s sons, and the various nations to be formed from them, but nothing is said about three races. Modern anthropologists and historians employ a much-different terminology than this simple trifurcation for what they consider to be the various races among men.

Therefore, the origin of the concept of “race” must be sought elsewhere than in the Bible. If certain Christian writers have interpreted the Bible in a racist framework, the error is in the interpretation, not in the Bible itself. In the Bible, there is only one race—the human race! “(God) hath made of one, all nations of men” (Acts 17:26).

What Is a Race?

In modern terminology, a race of men may involve quite a large number of individual national and language groups. It is, therefore, a much broader generic concept than any of the Biblical divisions. In the terminology of biological taxonomy, it is roughly the same as a “variety”, or a “sub-species”. Biologists, of course, use the term to apply to sub-species of animals, as well as men.

For example, Charles Darwin selected as the subtitle for his book Origin of Species the phrase “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”. It is clear from the context that he had races of animals primarily in mind, but at the same time it is also clear, as we shall see, that he thought of races of men in the same way.

That this concept is still held today is evident from the following words of leading modern evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson:

“Races of man have, or perhaps one should say ‘had’, exactly the same biological significance as the sub-species of other species of mammals.”

It is clear, therefore, that a race is not a Biblical category, but rather is a category of evolutionary biology. Each race is a sub-species, with a long evolutionary history of its own, in the process of evolving gradually into a distinct species.

As applied to man, this concept, of course, suggests that each of the various races of men is very different, though still inter-fertile, from all of the others. If they continue to be segregated, each will continue to compete as best it can with the other races in the struggle for existence and finally the fittest will survive. Or else, perhaps, they will gradually become so different from each other as to assume the character of separate species altogether (just as apes and men supposedly diverged from a common ancestor early in the so-called Tertiary Period).

Most modern biologists today would express these concepts somewhat differently than as above, and they undoubtedly would disavow the racist connotations. Nevertheless, this was certainly the point-of-view of the 19th century evolutionists, and it is difficult to interpret modern evolutionary theory, the so-called neo-Darwinian synthesis, much differently.

Nineteenth-Century Evolutionary Racism

The rise of modern evolutionary theory took place mostly in Europe, especially in England and Germany. Europeans, along with their American cousins, were then leading the world in industrial and military expansion, and were, therefore, inclined to think of themselves as somehow superior to the other nations of the world. This opinion was tremendously encouraged by the concurrent rise of Darwinian evolutionism and its simplistic approach to the idea of struggle between natural races, with the strongest surviving and thus contributing to the advance of evolution.

As the 19th century scientists were converted to evolution, they were thus also convinced of racism. They were certain that the white race was superior to other races, and the reason for this superiority was to be found in Darwinian theory. The white race had advanced farther up the evolutionary ladder and, therefore, was destined either to eliminate the other races in the struggle for existence or else to have to assume the “white man’s burden” and to care for those inferior races that were incompetent to survive otherwise.

Charles Darwin himself, though strongly opposed to slavery on moral grounds, was convinced of white racial superiority. He wrote on one occasion as follows:

“I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit…. The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”

The man more responsible than any other for the widespread acceptance of evolution in the 19th century was Thomas Huxley. Soon after the American Civil War, in which the negro slaves were freed, he wrote as follows:

“No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried out by thoughts and not by bites.”

Racist sentiments such as these were held by all the 19th century evolutionists. A recent book has documented this fact beyond any question. In a review of this book, a recent writer says:

Ab initio, Afro-Americans were viewed by these intellectuals as being in certain ways unredeemably, unchangeably, irrevocably inferior.”

A reviewer in another scientific journal says:

“After 1859, the evolutionary schema raised additional questions, particularly whether or not Afro-Americans could survive competition with their white near-relations. The momentous answer was a resounding no…. The African was inferior—he represented the missing link between ape and Teuton.”

The Modern Harvest

In a day and age which practically worshipped at the shrine of scientific progress, as was true especially during the century from 1860 to 1960, such universal scientific racism was bound to have repercussions in the political and social realms. The seeds of evolutionary racism came to fullest fruition in the form of National Socialism in Germany. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, a contemporary of Charles Darwin and an ardent evolutionist, popularized in Germany his concept of the superman, and then the master race. The ultimate outcome was Hitler, who elevated this philosophy to the status of a national policy.

“From the ‘Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life’ (i.e., Darwin’s subtitle to Origin of Species) it was a short step to the preservation of favoured individuals, classes or nations—and from their preservation to their glorification…. Thus it has become a portmanteau of nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and dictatorship, of the cults of the hero, the superman, and the master race … recent expressions of this philosophy, such as Mein Kampf, are, unhappily, too familiar to require exposition here.”

However one may react morally against Hitler, he was certainly a consistent evolutionist. Sir Arthur Keith, one of the leading evolutionary anthropologists of our century, said:

“The German Fuhrer … has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.”

With respect to the question of race struggle, as exemplified especially in Germany, Sir Arthur also observed:

“Christianity makes no distinction of race or of colour: it seeks to break down all racial barriers. In this respect, the hand of Christianity is against that of Nature, for are not the races of mankind the evolutionary harvest which Nature has toiled through long ages to produce?”

In recent decades, the cause of racial liberation has made racism unpopular with intellectuals and only a few evolutionary scientists still openly espouse the idea of a long-term polyphyletic origin of the different races. On the other hand, in very recent years, the pendulum has swung, and now we have highly vocal advocates of “black power” and “red power” and “yellow power”, and these advocates are all doctrinaire evolutionists, who believe their own respective “races” are the fittest to survive in man’s continuing struggle for existence.

The Creationist Position

According to the Biblical record of history, the Creator’s divisions among men are linguistic and national divisions, not racial. Each nation has a distinct purpose and function in the corporate life of mankind, in the divine Plan (as, for that matter, does each individual).

“(God) hath made of one blood, all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation: That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him” (Acts 17:26,27).

No one nation is “better” than another, except in the sense of the blessings it has received from the Creator, perhaps in measure of its obedience to His Word and fulfillment of its calling. Such blessings are not an occasion for pride, but for gratitude.

We now have a new President of the United States, Donald J. Trump; our 45th President.  President Trump has two things apparent that do not bode well in Washington, D. C.: (1): he’s at war with the News Media and (2) he’s not “politically Correct” by any measure.  The latter begs the question “should Christians be politically correct”?

Political correctness (PC) is defined as “a term that describes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, religious belief, disability, and age-related contexts.” The key word here is offense. No individual or group is to be offended in the PC world. Certainly, as Christians, we are not to go out of our way to offend anyone personally, but the truth is that Christianity itself is offensive.

The apostle Paul references the “offense of the cross” in Galatians 5:11. The cross was an offense to the Jews because their idea of salvation was to “work the works of God” (John 6:28–29), meaning keeping the numerous burdensome Old Testament laws and rules. When Jesus came preaching salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, they were shattered. He made it plain that “by works of the law, no human being will be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20) and that all their law-keeping was of no value to them whatsoever. Especially repugnant to them was the idea that, without Jesus, they who prided themselves on their meticulous adherence to the letter, if not the spirit, of the law, could do nothing of spiritual value (John 15:5).

Truly, the offense Jesus created was a stumbling block to the Jews, as Paul explained to the Romans. He reminded them of Isaiah’s prophecy that God would lay a Cornerstone (Christ) in Zion over which many would stumble and fall (Isaiah 8:14; 28:16; Psalm 118:22; 1 Peter 2:6). Just as the Jews stumbled over the idea of their works being of no value to God, so do many today hate the idea that Christ will build His church not on human merits, but on His righteousness alone. That message is as offensive today as it was in Jesus’ day. No one likes to be told there is nothing he can do to earn his place in heaven.

Equally offensive is the necessity of dying to self in order to follow Christ. Of all the religions of the world today, Christianity is the only one where its founder tells you to follow Him and die. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me'” (Matthew 16:24). Those who heard this message knew exactly what Jesus meant; to follow Him was to die to self and give up everything they ever held dear. That’s why everyone ran away when He was arrested; they weren’t prepared to die with Him.

Correctness in the secular, political realm is not the concern of Christians or the church because “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will, by the power that enables him, “bring everything under his control” (Philippians 3:20–21).

Most words in the Bible that are translated “lust” mean “a passionate desire.” Strong desire can be either good or bad, depending upon the object of that desire and the motive behind it. God created the human heart with the capacity for passionate desire so that we would long after Him and His righteousness (Psalm 42:1–2; 73:25). However, the concept of “lust” is now usually associated with a passionate desire for something God has forbidden, and the word is seen as synonymous with sexual or materialistic desire.

James 1:14–15 gives us the natural progression of unrestrained lust: “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

According to this passage, sinful lust begins with an evil desire. Being tempted by evil is the not sin. Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1). The sin begins when the evil desire “drags us away” from where our hearts need to be. When an evil desire introduces itself, we have a choice. We can reject it as Jesus did and refocus on the path God has set before us (Matthew 4:10). Or we can entertain it. As someone once said, “We cannot stop the birds from flying overhead, but we don’t have to let them make a nest in our hair.” When temptation beckons, we need to remember that we are not helpless. We can choose to give in or to resist.

The reason we are “dragged away” by temptation is that we are “enticed.” That word in the Greek refers to bait, as on a fishing line. When a fish sees the wiggling worm, he is enticed by it and grabs hold. Once the hook is set, he can be “dragged away.” When we encounter temptation, we should immediately reject it as Joseph did when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:11–12). Hesitation opens the door to enticement. Romans 13:14 calls such hesitation “making provision for the flesh.” Like the unwary fish, we grab hold of the tempting thought, believing it will delight and fulfill us. We savor the fantasy, imagine new and sinful scenarios, and entertain the idea that God has not provided all we need for happiness (Genesis 3:2–4). This is foolish. Second Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee youthful lusts.” To “flee” means to take off immediately. Joseph did not stick around to consider his options. He recognized sexual temptation, and he ran. When we hesitate, we make provision for the flesh and give it the opportunity to choose evil. Often, we are overwhelmed by its power. Samson was a physically strong man, yet he was no match for his own lust (Judges 16:1).

The next step in the downward progression of temptation, according to James 1, is that “desire conceives.” Lust begins as a seed, a thought packed with wrong desire. If we allow the seeds of lust to germinate, they will sprout into something bigger, more powerful, more difficult to uproot. Temptation becomes sin when it is allowed to germinate. Desire takes on a life of its own and becomes lust. Jesus made it clear that lust is sin, even if we do not physically act on it (Matthew 5:27–28). Our hearts are God’s domain, and when we allow evil to grow there, we defile His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19).

Wrong desires plague every human being. The tenth commandment forbids coveting, which means lusting for something that is not ours (Deuteronomy 5:21; Romans 13:9). The human heart is constantly seeking to please itself, and when it discovers something or someone it believes will satisfy, lust begins.

It is only when our hearts are dedicated to the glory of God that we can overcome intrusive desires and conquer lust. When we surrender to the Lord, we find our needs met in a relationship with Him. We must “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We must allow the Holy Spirit to keep our thoughts where He wants them to be. It helps to pray daily the words of Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” When our heart’s desire is to please God more than ourselves, we can keep lust at bay.

The phrase “lust of the eyes” is found in 1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” What is this “lust of the eyes”?

Simply put, the lust of the eyes is the desire to possess what we see or to have those things which have visual appeal. This coveting of money, possessions, or other physical things is not from God, but from the world around us. John emphasizes that these physical things do not last; they will pass away. In contrast, the child of God is guaranteed eternity.

The Ten Commandments addressed the lust of the eyes in its prohibition against coveting. Exodus 20:17 commands, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Coveting can include a desire to have people, possessions, or status.

Satan uses the lust of the eyes as one avenue of temptation. Part of the reason Eve listened to the serpent in the Garden was that she looked at the forbidden fruit and saw that it was “pleasing to the eye” (Genesis 3:6). Satan used a visual image to help entrap her. Satan tried a similar tactic on Jesus. One of his temptations in the wilderness was an attempt to make Jesus covet earthly power. Satan used a visual: he “showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” (Matthew 4:8). He then promised to give them to Jesus—for a price. Of course, Jesus did not succumb to the lust of the eyes, and Satan was defeated (verses 10 and 11).

We must follow Jesus’ example and, in the power of the Holy Spirit, resist the lust of the eyes. The world is full of “eye candy,” glamor, and gaudiness. Materialism beckons with its promise of happiness and fulfillment. A media-saturated society bombards us with advertising campaigns that might as well say, “Covet this!”

All that glitters is not gold, and the child of God knows that fame, fortune, and finery quickly fade (Proverbs 23:5). Our focus is not the newest product or latest fashion. Our goal is not to keep up with the Joneses or to surround ourselves with the trappings of glittering magnificence. Instead, our goal is “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). Our eyes are set on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Our view is to eternity.

Cecil Alexander, the Irish hymnist, said it this way:

“Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store;
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, ‘Christian, love Me more.’”

What is lust?

The dictionary definition of lust is “1) intense or unrestrained sexual craving, or 2) an overwhelming desire or craving.” The Bible speaks of lust in several ways. Exodus 20:14, 17 (NLT), “Do not commit adultery. . . Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns,” or Matthew 5:28, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Job 31:11-12 (NLT) sums up lust quite nicely: “For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. It is a devastating fire that destroys to hell. It would wipe out everything I own.”

Lust has as its focus pleasing oneself, and it often leads to unwholesome actions to fulfill one’s desires with no regard to the consequences. Lust is about possession and greed. The Christian faith is about selflessness and is marked by holy living (Romans 6:19, 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30, 6:19-20; Ephesians 1:4, 4:24; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, 5:23; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16). The goal of each person who has put his/her faith in Jesus Christ is to become more and more like Him each day. This means putting off the old way of life of which sin was in control, and conforming one’s thoughts and actions to the standard put forth in Scripture. Lust is in opposition to this ideal.

Nobody will ever be perfect or attain sinlessness while still on this earth, yet it is still a goal for which we strive. The Bible makes a very strong statement regarding this in 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8, “God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. Anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” If lust has not yet gripped your heart and mind, ready yourself through a life lived above reproach to combat the temptations of lust. If you currently struggle with lust, it is time to come clean before God and ask for His intervention in your life, so that holiness can be a mark of your life as well.