Tag Archive: atheism


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  Demas had at one time been one of Paul’s “fellow workers” in the gospel ministry along with Mark, Luke, and others (Philemon 1:24). During Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, Demas was also in Rome (Colossians 4:14).

There is also biblical evidence that Demas was with Paul during Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome, at least for a while. Then something happened. Demas forsook Paul, abandoned the ministry, and left town. Paul wrote about the sad situation: “Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica” (2 Timothy 4:10).

The Greek verb used in the original implies that Demas had not merely left Paul but had left him “in the lurch”; that is, Demas had abandoned Paul in a time of need. The apostle was in prison, facing a death sentence, and that’s when Demas chose to set sail. Undoubtedly, Paul was deeply let down by Demas. It’s never easy to see a friend and associate in whom you’ve placed your trust forsake you in the midst of hardship.

The separation caused by Demas’ desertion of Paul was not merely spatial but spiritual. Demas left Rome because he fell in love with the world. In other words, Demas chose the corrupt value system of the unsaved world over what heaven values. As the NLT translates it, Demas “loves the things of this life” (2 Timothy 4:10). We don’t know the details of Demas’ situation, but it is evident that Demas decided that what Satan has to offer in this life is better than what God has to offer in the next.

Much can be said in support of the view that Demas, in love with the present world, was never a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Paul makes a sharp contrast in 2 Timothy 4:8 and 10. In verse 8, Paul speaks of those who love the Lord: “There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award . . . to all who have loved his appearing” (ESV). Demas, in contrast to those who love Jesus’ return, loved the present world (verse 10). First John 2:15 is clear about the spiritual state of those who love the world: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” Nowhere in the Bible do we read of the restoration of Demas.

The tragedy of Demas is still being lived out today by those who choose the temporary benefits of this world over the eternal riches of heaven. Today there are still those who seem to receive the Word but then “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). Past service is no guarantee of future faithfulness; we must depend on the Lord, our Strength (Psalm 28:8). We must be born again (John 3:3); otherwise, we have no foundation of faith. “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19; cf. Matthew 7:22–23).

Conceit is excessive pride in oneself. Conceited people love to talk about themselves and their achievements, showing lesser regard for the accomplishments of others. Conceited people often take the credit for every good thing God has done in their lives and consider themselves intrinsically superior to most other people. The Bible has harsh words for the conceited because pride gets in the way of all God wants to do in and through us.

We need to note the difference between healthy self-worth and sinful conceit. Some believe that to be proud of any achievement is wrong, and they may go to the other extreme of belittling themselves. However, self-abasement is just pride on its back. It masquerades as humility but is, in fact, another way of gaining attention. Social media is a showcase for this kind of conceit. For example, a woman posts a seductive selfie with the comment “Feeling so ugly today.” What happens? Within moments, an avalanche of statements to the contrary flood her post. Conceit sometimes wears a mask, and conceited people usually know how to fish for compliments while appearing humble.

Saul is a biblical example of a conceited man. The Bible describes him as “the most handsome man in Israel” (1 Samuel 9:2). God chose Saul to be the first king of Israel, and he had a great future ahead, if he would obey the Lord. But Saul’s conceit grew with his popularity, and it did not take long for him to usurp God’s authority in his life and make decisions that put him in a good light with the people. Rather than obey God completely, Saul decided that he knew better. First Samuel 15 recounts Saul’s slide away from God’s favor. The man who could have had it all got too big for his britches, and the Lord removed him as king.

Humility is the opposite of conceit, and C. S. Lewis had a perfect definition: “Humility is not thinking less of myself. Humility is thinking of myself less.” The conceited think of themselves constantly. They may hide that self-obsession with self-deprecating remarks (“I don’t think I’ll ever do as well as I did last time”), but they can’t hide the fact that self is their primary interest. To overcome an attitude of conceit, we must be willing to see ourselves honestly, the way God sees us. We must come to terms with the fact that we are not the center of the universe; we must acknowledge the reality that no one is as obsessed with us as we are. We cure our conceit by shifting our gaze from the mirror to the face of Jesus. “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30).

Conceit is one of the traits of wicked people in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1–5). Conceit is at the root of most sins because we choose to please ourselves instead of pleasing God or helping someone else. In contrast, Philippians 2:3 instructs us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” None of us can do this naturally. Our sin natures want to put ourselves first. But in the power of the Holy Spirit we can be intentional about humbling ourselves and agreeing with God about our worth (1 Peter 5:6; James 4:10). By faith we can develop a healthy self-image that blesses the Lord and those around us.

A passive-aggressive person is one who appears to comply with a request but actually resists in subtle ways. The resistance can range from pouting to delayed vindictiveness. We all exhibit passive-aggressive behaviors at some point, usually as children when it was not safe to openly rebel. However, as we mature, we should be learning healthier behaviors such as setting boundaries and expressing disagreements more openly. The Bible does not use the term passive-aggression, but it does give us character sketches of people who exhibited passive-aggressive traits and the results of that behavior.

King David’s son Absalom is an example of a passive-aggressive person (2 Samuel 14:28–33). After Absalom had murdered his brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:20), David banished him from the kingdom. Even when he was allowed to return, David refused to have anything to do with him. But Absalom was full of pride and hated his father. He summoned Joab, the commander of David’s armies, to send a message to David. When Joab twice refused the summons, Absalom set fire to his crops in the field. He then began plotting to take the kingdom from his father, but he did so by feigning compassion and concern for the citizenry. He hinted that his father was not attending to the needs of the people, and that, if crowned king, he, Absalom, would see that their needs were met. Absalom’s plan was working, and “he stole the hearts of the people of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:6). Passive-aggressive people are possibly more dangerous than openly aggressive ones because we don’t see the attack coming.

King Ahab of Israel demonstrated passive-aggressive behavior when he coveted the vineyard of a neighbor and was denied its purchase (1 Kings 21:1–4). His response to being denied what he wanted was to sulk and pout and refuse to eat. His passive-aggressive actions prompted his wicked wife Jezebel to concoct a scheme to kill Naboth, the vineyard owner, and give her husband the land. She lied, forged her husband’s signature, and slandered the innocent Naboth, leading to his public execution. The Lord immediately sent Elijah the prophet to proclaim to Ahab that God had seen all that happened and that Ahab’s death would soon follow Naboth’s (1 Kings 21:17–22). It was Ahab’s passive-aggressive behavior that had begun the disastrous chain of events.

Passive-aggressive speech and behavior are cowardly ways of avoiding conflict. By pretending to be pleasant while inwardly seething with resentment, we fool ourselves into thinking we are peacemakers practicing self-control. In truth, we are communicating contempt and disapproval without having the courage to openly say so. An ancient Chinese proverb defines passive-aggression like this: “Behind the smile, a hidden knife!”

Social media has turned passive-aggression into an art form. We all know what it means when we are “unfriended,” “unfollowed,” or blocked. Some find it easier to vent their frustrations on social media than have a private conversation with someone who has offended them. However, what begins as passive-aggression can quickly mushroom into online bullying. The internet and the proliferation of smartphones have created dozens of ways for passive-aggressive people to exact revenge from behind the relative safety of a screen. Whether spoken, acted, or typed, passive-aggressive responses are harmful and dishonest. We are pretending to be unoffended while secretly planning ways to get even.

Leviticus 19:17 says, “Do not harbor hatred against your brother. Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him.” The Bible instructs us to confront sin in a loving and humble way, taking someone with us if the offender will not listen (Matthew 18:15–17). We are to be ready to forgive and restore when someone repents (Luke 17:3). Passive-aggression bypasses those critical steps in a relationship and goes directly to judgment (John 7:24). Rather than openly confront the wrong and offer an opportunity to clear the air, passive-aggressive people slide silently into the judge’s seat and devise subtle ways to get even.

Passive-aggressive traits are often so well-concealed that we are not even aware of them. We can identify behaviors that may suggest we are being passive-aggressive by asking ourselves a few questions:

1. Do I imply guilt when someone has something I can’t have? Example: “I love your dress. I wish I could afford something like that, but I have to take care of my mother.”

2. Do I give backhanded compliments to mask my jealousy? Example: “Oh, your new house is cute—for a starter home.”

3. Do I make a point to ignore or behave coldly toward someone with whom I’ve disagreed? Example: The person strikes up a conversation, but I keep checking my phone or glancing over the person’s shoulder.

4. Do I gossip about someone rather than address that person directly? Example: James was confused when he did not get the promotion he was promised. But rather than confronting the boss about it, he started rumors that the boss was dishonest.

5. Do I try to sabotage someone else’s success when he or she has offended me? Example: “Oh, I know you’re on a diet, but I couldn’t resist blowing my paycheck on this cake for you.”

6. Do I keep score and make certain that slights and snubs are kept even? Example: Sue did not invite me to her last dinner, so I send my party invitations to everyone in the office but her.

7. Do I hide behind vague comments on social media, geared toward embarrassing, shaming, or exposing someone whom I have not addressed face to face? Example: John posts on Facebook, “Some people need to learn that friendship is more than asking for bail money.”

Keeping Jesus’ Golden Rule would obliterate passive-aggression (Matthew 7:12). We are to treat others the way we want them to treat us, not the way they have already treated us. Regardless of how someone else acts, we are to respond with kindness, patience, and forgiveness (Ephesians 4:31–32). When we stand before God one day, He will not ask us how we were treated, but how we treated others (Romans 14:12). With His help, we can recognize our own passive-aggressive tendencies and replace them with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–25).

 

 

Men who seek

Men who fear hell seek religion;

Men who have been there seek Jesus.

The Bible offers many principles to aid the process of making decisions that honor God. The following list is not exhaustive, but it does represent many teachings of Scripture.

First, begin with prayer. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” If we should pray in all situations, we should certainly pray in times of decision-making. As we pray, we ask for wisdom (James 1:5).

Second, define the issue. Wise decisions are informed decisions. It is important to understand what options are available. Once the factors are known, options can be further considered and evaluated.

Third, seek biblical wisdom. Some decisions become easy, if there is one clear choice consonant with God’s Word. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” When we follow the teachings of God’s Word, He guides our path and provides knowledge to make wise choices.

Fourth, seek godly counsel. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Sometimes, consulting with a friend or family member is enough. At other times, consulting with a pastor or other trusted voice can make the difference between a harmful decision and a helpful one.

Fifth, trust the Lord with your decision. In other words, if you’ve made your decision with prayer, sound wisdom, and biblical counsel, trust God for the outcome. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Sixth, be willing to admit mistakes and adjust accordingly. In most cases, there is no wisdom in continuing down a wrong path after you have discovered it is wrong. Be willing to admit mistakes or failures and ask God for the grace to change.

Seventh, give praise to God for your success. When your decisions result in personal success, the temptation is to believe it is due to your own power, talent, or genius. However, it is God who blesses our efforts and gives strength. “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27).

Faith in God is trust in Him, based on a true understanding of who He is, as revealed in the Bible. Faith in God involves an intellectual assent to the facts concerning God and a life-changing reliance on those facts.

Faith in God has several components. The first is believing that He actually exists. However, simply believing that God exists is not enough. As James 2:19 explains, the demons believe in God’s existence as well.

After acknowledging that God exists, the second element of faith in God is commitment. Faith that does not result action is a dead faith, not true faith (James 1:26).

However, even a faith in God that motivates us to action is not enough. For faith in God to be genuine, we must accept Him as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. We are not allowed to accept the attributes of God that we prefer and jettison the ones we don’t. If we do not accept God as He is, then we are putting our faith in a false god of our own making. Much “religion” does exactly this, but any religion not based on the Bible is a designer religion with a designer god. For faith in God to be genuine, it must be based on the genuine God. For example, the God of the Bible is triune, so true faith in God must accept the deity and personality of the Son and the Holy Spirit as well as the Father.

There is much confusion today over the nature of faith. It is reported that, when asked to define faith, a little boy in Sunday school responded, “Believing what you know isn’t true.” Many of the “new atheists” place faith over against science and evidence. They say that Christians have faith that God exists but that atheists have empirical evidence for science. Christians have faith, but scientists have knowledge. This comparison misunderstands the nature of faith in God.

Faith in God is not a blind leap without any evidence or, even worse, contrary to the evidence. Faith is simply trust. The Christian trusts in God. The scientific atheist has faith in science. If an atheist uses the scientific method to discover a medicine and then takes that medicine, he is exercising faith. He trusts his data, and he trusts that the medicine will cure him, not poison him. Some people may take the medicine with no thought whatsoever as to how it was developed or as to who prepared it. Others may only take the medicine after thoroughly investigating every aspect of the research. One person may take it with great confidence while another person takes it tentatively. In the final analysis, anyone who takes the medicine is exercising faith in the medicine. Ultimately, it is not the strength of the faith that determines if the medicine will work, but the efficacy of the medicine. Great faith in bad medicine will not cure a person. It is the object of faith, not the strength of faith that makes the difference. Uncertainty about a good medicine will not hinder its efficacy, as long as it is taken as prescribed. Faith is not the opposite of doubt; in fact, doubt can exist even in the heart of faith (see Mark 9:24). A person can exercise faith (trust and commitment) while at the same time being unsure about the thing or person he has committed himself to. Someone once defined doubt as “faith seeking understanding.”

Some people may simply trust God because it seems intuitive. They may have been raised in a Christian home and taught the Bible from their earliest remembrance. They have seen God work in the lives of other people, and they simply trust Him. Others may only have come to faith after a thorough examination of the evidence for God. Whether the decision to trust the God of the Bible is intuitive or deliberative, it is the mark of genuine faith.

The atheist likewise may come to his atheism by intuition or after careful deliberation. In the end, he has faith that God does not exist because he trusts either his instincts or his investigation and commits himself to live in a way that is consistent with his beliefs. Contrary to the claims of the new atheists, everyone has some kind of faith—everyone trusts something. It is impossible to live without trusting in something, even if it is only in the reliability of our five senses. The object of our faith is what makes all the difference.

Doubt is an experience common to all people. Even those with faith in God struggle with doubt on occasion and say with the man in Mark 9, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (verse 24). Some people are hindered greatly by doubt; some see it as a springboard to life; and others see it as an obstacle to be overcome. The Bible has something to say about the cause of doubt and provides examples of people who struggled with it.

Classical humanism says that doubt, while uncomfortable, is absolutely essential for life. René Descartes said, “If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” This is similar to what the founder of Buddhism said: “Doubt everything. Find your own light.” If we take their advice, we would have to doubt what they said, which seems rather contradictory. Instead of taking the advice of skeptics and false teachers, we will see what the Bible has to say.

A working definition of doubt is “to lack confidence, to consider unlikely.” The very first expression of doubt in the Bible is in Genesis 3, when Satan tempted Eve. God had given a clear command regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and had specified the consequence of disobedience. Satan introduced doubt into Eve’s mind when he asked, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” He wanted her to lack confidence in God’s command. When she affirmed God’s command, including the consequences, Satan replied with a denial, which is a stronger statement of doubt: “You will not surely die.” Doubt is a tool of Satan to make us lack confidence in God’s Word and consider His judgment unlikely.

Lest we think that we can lay all of the blame on Satan, the Bible clearly holds us accountable for our own doubts. When Zechariah was visited by the angel of the Lord and told that he would have a son (Luke 1:11-17), he doubted the word given to him. He logically assumed that he and his wife were too old to have children, and in response to his doubt, the angel said he would be mute until the day God’s promise was fulfilled (Luke 1:18-20). Zechariah doubted God’s ability to overcome natural obstacles – many people today share the same doubt. Any time we allow human reason to overshadow faith in God, sinful doubt is the result. No matter how logical our reasons may seem, God has made foolish the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 1:20), and His seemingly foolish plans are far wiser than man’s. Faith is trusting God even when His plan goes against human reason or experience.

Contrary to the humanistic view that doubt is essential to life, the Bible says that doubt is a destroyer of life. James 1:5-8 tells us that when we ask God for wisdom, we are to ask in faith, without doubt. If we doubt God’s ability to respond to our request, what would be the point of asking in the first place? God says that if we doubt while we ask, we will not receive anything from Him, because we are unstable. “He who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6).

The remedy for doubt is faith, and faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). God gave us the Bible as a testimony of His works in the past, so we will have a reason to trust Him in the present. “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago” (Psalm 77:11). In order for us to have faith in God, we must study to know what He has said. Once we have an understanding of what God has done in the past, what He has promised us for the present, and what we can expect from Him in the future, we are able to act in faith instead of doubt.

The most famous doubter in the Bible was Thomas, who declared that he would not believe that the Lord was resurrected unless he could see and touch Jesus himself (John 20:25-28). When he later saw Jesus and believed, he received the gentle rebuke, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We can have confidence even in the things we cannot see, because God has proven Himself faithful, true, and able.