Those Sensitive Subjects

Those Sensitive Subjects

 

Those Sensitive Subjects

Aspects of God’s Will that Many Avoid, Alter, Deny, or Despise!

Will you Respond to God’s Will?

This article is unlike most others that you will read since it deals with Biblical teachings that many people either avoid, reject, alter, or despise! Thankfully, there are a minority of people who are willing to examine the Scriptural evidence, study the issues, believe the words, and act upon what they learn.

If you are one who merely confines your reading to the Psalms and Proverbs, or maybe you only give a cursory reading of the New Testament, you may not really see the controversial sections of Scripture that many people try to avoid. If you only read the Bible once a week or two or if you merely read superficially, you may overlook many of the teachings that we cover in this booklet. But if you read with an open mind and a receptive heart, you will discover these sometimes unpopular directives and truths of Scripture.

Jesus said to religious leaders of His day, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that bear witness of Me” (John 5:39). We need to seek truth from the Scriptures—and then come to Christ Himself, the Living Word, that we might have the eternal life that He freely gives.

Will you search God’s Word along with me that you might believe and obey it? If you come with a sincere heart and open yourself to the Holy Spirit, “the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7). Pray that you will read and understand what we present on these pages—and then submit yourself to the truths that you learn.

–Richard Hollerman

 

Those Sensitive Subjects

Aspects of God’s Will that Many Avoid, Alter, Deny, or Despise!

Many families are aware of “sensitive” areas of concern and conversation that are “off limits” and must not be brought up.  Because of deeply-held convictions and personal bias, these families just refuse to discuss certain issues.  This kind of sensitivity may be found in religious circles as well—in churches, Bible study groups, and professing Christian fellowships. They just don’t want to converse about some Biblical matters because of the controversy that often surrounds them.

We also know that some people and groups shun speaking about or learning about certain topics since they feel guilty about doing the very thing that the Bible condemns.  Or these people and churches want to refrain from certain doctrines or practices since they know that they are not doing the very things that God would have them do. They sometimes invent subtle ways of avoiding obeying or even discussing these “sensitive” issues. These doctrines or Biblical commands are “too hot to handle,” thus they are not even brought up, much less obeyed.

This may work with some people, but there are honest-hearted men and women who won’t allow denominational hierarchy, doctrinal statements, biased preachers or officials, or anything else to forbid the practice of some of these Scriptural teachings. Because of their own inner devotion, sensitive heart, and honest intentions, they insist on studying and eventually obeying what their religious companions may reject!

We know that the Bible gives direct instruction as well as offering spiritual principles that deal with a wide variety of human concerns.  Virtually every subject we face in everyday life today is covering in one way or another.  As Peter reminds us, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (1 Peter 1:3). God, in his wisdom, power and love has given everything we need to live a life that is well-pleasing to Him. The man of God is “adequate” and “equipped for every good work” by reading, studying, and heeding “all Scripture” that is inspired of God (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

We are not “adequate” if we fail to consider Scripture in every situation in life. We are not prepared to face life and live a godly life if we refuse to open ourselves up to God’s will in every area of life.

Yet you I know that we fail to address very important issues that are needed to deal with God’s will in every single aspect of daily living. It may be that some of these issues are too painful to deal with. Others pertain to matters that society around us refuses to accept. Some of these issues are ones that our culture refuses to believe or understand. And so we are tempted to just relegate these “old and outdated” commands from God that are no longer valuable in our modern, information and technological age. Many push these aspects of God’s will to the ash heap of non-essentials, or old fashioned ideas, or optional extras. After all, society doesn’t accept them any more or maybe our family refuses to embrace them. When one issue is piled on top of another issue, we may have dozens of these matters that we just won’t touch, accept, or even obey. We simply refuse to allow Jesus to be Lord over these issues and refuse to let Scripture speak to them. This is dishonesty—and dangerous!

What are a few of these matters that people don’t like to discuss or obey? Let’s ask the question, “What does the Scripture say?” (Romans 4:3a). This is always the vital inquiry. There surely would be a dozen or even two or three dozen, but we can’t deal with all of them here. However, let’s notice a few of them. We don’t intend to exhaustively deal with any of them, but at least we should ask whether Scripture speaks to them. Here are a few that come to mind.

  1. Suicide

Surely this would qualify as a “sensitive” issue that is seldom addressed from a Biblical viewpoint. Some people do approach it from a psychological angle or a sociological viewpoint, but not often from a Scriptural viewpoint. Suicide has been called “the act of intentionally taking one’s own life.”

There are few situations in life that can be more painful, more tragic, and more hopeless than losing a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a father or mother, or a dear spouse to suicide.  When one hears of the self-killing or self-murder of a loved one, it surely will bring a grief that is unimaginable. This closes the door to the relationship. It closes the door to forgiveness and reconciliation. It closes the door to rehabilitation and repentance. It is the end—so far as human, earthly life is concerned. Thus, suicide may surely be referred to as a “sensitive” issue. I extend my sympathy to you in case you, as a reader, have experienced the loss of a loved one through this horrible means.

However, as we read Scripture, we notice that suicide is always treated negatively. Consider the tragic case of Judas. Matthew informs us that “he went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5).  Luke adds that “falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out” (Acts 1:18). Jesus called him a “devil”—one who was an enemy of truth and Christ Himself. Surely he wasn’t saved.  Earlier, we know that the apostate Saul, the first king of Israel, also committed suicide when he was defeated in battle (1 Samuel 31:1-4). Again, this was a tragic end to a tragic life. It has been said that a total of seven people in the Bible took their own life.

Scripture would say that one cannot be saved if he dies in sin. The Hebrew writer says that if one sins “willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries” (10:26-27). Willful, known, deliberate, and unrepentant sin is a terrible thing! “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). There is no indication that if one deliberately sins against God and refuses to repent, that he could be saved and have eternal life. Suicide is “self-murder” and “you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15).

If you have lost a loved one in such a tragic way, perhaps you don’t want to face the reality of his or her fate. Many preachers and pastors will assure the loved ones and family members that the suicide perpetrator is in “a better land” where “all of his problems have been solved” and “he is now dwelling in the bliss of God’s presence.” They seemingly don’t want to face the stark reality of the person’s sin and unrepentance. Someone has called suicide the most selfish of all sins since the person was thinking of his or her own sadness and pain and was unwilling to think of the pain that he or she would impose on the remaining loved ones.

Perhaps it is time for you to simply see what Scripture says about this terrible subject and commit it to God.  He knows best and He will do what is best. But then move on in the love of God, knowing that He will comfort you in Christ (Matthew 11:28-30) so that you will find peace.  “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Scripture says, “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (Psalm 55:22). On the one hand, we must not deny the truth of Scripture to find consolation; but on the other hand, you can find great comfort and peace in knowing that all things will work together for your good, if you love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

See also: Should You Take Your Life?

  1. Divorce and Remarriage

Another “sensitive” issue is the matter of divorce as well as a subsequent remarriage. In our day, there are millions in this country alone—not to speak of multiple millions in other countries—who have experienced the tragedy of divorce. By this we mean the putting away of a husband or a wife, or perhaps being put away by a husband or wife.  Especially if you have been an “innocent” husband or wife and your partner has deserted you for another person, the whole divorce experience has probably brought you grief almost beyond compare.  Even if you were sinned against by your spouse, and you possibly initiated the divorce against your unfaithful partner, still you must experience deep grief that goes on for weeks, months, and perhaps even years.

If you have been deserted by your spouse and he or she went to the arms of another person, and then went on to divorce you—the innocent party—you may find a special measure of grief, knowing that you were rejected and betrayed through no fault of your own. Regardless of your blamelessness, your spouse turned from you to another person.

But what often happens after divorce?  The younger you may be, the more likelihood it will be that you will remarry. The older you are, the less likely you will find another lover and spouse.  But this introduces another sensitive issue that many millions of people in America and even more people around the world must face.  Just what does God say about remarriage after divorce?

You probably already know something of the answer to this difficult issue. The Lord Jesus summarizes His will in this way: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery” (Mark 10:11-12). Do you see what the Lord is saying? If one divorces his or her legitimate spouse, and then marries someone else, he or she is committing the dreadful sin of adultery! This is the basic teaching of God’s Word in the New Testament. Jesus adds to this in another place: “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18).

Let me ask you this sensitive question: Based on what Jesus says here, have you committed adultery after an illegitimate divorce? Are you presently living in an adulterous state with a second husband or wife?  Christ says something similar in Matthew 5:31-32, but let’s see His words at Matthew 19:4-9.  In verses 4-6, He takes us back to God’s creation of Adam and Eve in the beginning (Genesis 2:18, 24), and says, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5). He then summarizes, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (v. 6). Since God joins two people together, we must not separate what God has joined!  The Lord Jesus then applies this principle to divorce: “Whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality [sexual immorality], and marries another woman commits adultery” (v. 9).

We know that most early divorces do result in a second marriage. And according to what the Son of God tells us, most of these remarriages result in the sin of adultery. This is why we must ask you: Have you entered a second, adulterous marriage? Are you living in adultery presently? The thing that makes this so tragic is that people do become lonely and want to find a second spouse. They also may want to find another (faithful) husband or wife to become a father or mother for their deserted children. Further, if the remarriage has taken place five, ten, or thirty years ago, what does one do about the prolonged adultery that has occurred in the second marriage?

We must remember that although there are many sins listed in Scripture, adultery is one of the most common and far-reaching ones there are.  But consider how important and far-reaching this is: Those who commit adultery and refuse to repent (have a change of heart and a resulting change of life and relationship) cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). God will judge all fornicators and adulterers (Hebrews 13:4). Adultery is a form of fornication or sexual immorality, and those passages that refer to fornication (Greek, pornea) are also referring to adultery (as well as homosexuality, etc.). No fornicator who refuses to repent will enter God’s Kingdom (Galatians 5:19-21). God’s wrath will rest on the guilty fornicator or adulterer (Ephesians 5:3-7; Colossians 3:5-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8) and the unrepentant adulterer will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). Thus, we can see how important this issue is.

We do know that this is a “sensitive” matter for we are speaking about human emotions and feelings here. Especially when one thinks that he or she can’t live alone and then finds a person of the opposite gender who appears to be kind, loving, and faithful, that person will be tempted to remarry and enter an adulterous relationship. If this goes on for a decade or two or even five, it may be very difficult to repent and leave the adulterous relationship. But with God’s grace and power, even this may be done. And it is far better to live with a tragic amount of unfulfillment and sorrow but find the presence of God sufficient and enjoy the hope of eternal life in His coming kingdom. No amount of earthly fulfillment can compare with the blessings of eternity with God Himself!

See also: Serious Questions about Divorce, Remarriage, and Adultery.

  1. War and the Military

In the midst of nationalistic fervor in a popular war, it is very difficult to view things objectively and ask, “What does God want in this situation?” The Second World War was a “popular” war—with most people wanting to defeat Hitler and make the world a better place.  Some 16.1 million American men (and women) served in the military. The Vietnam War was not much of a popular war, but still most people who were drafted did enter the military simply because they were forced to do so by the government.  The Iraq War and other smaller wars have also come and gone.

When a war comes and the government says to serve, usually preachers and pastors do what they can to support the civil authorities and find some sort of Scriptural justification to participation. In the couple of centuries after Christ, generally the professing “Christians” opposed warfare, but by the time of Constantine (ca. AD 325), most were more open to military service. After the time of Augustine (ca. AD 400) and his formulation of the “just war theory,” most professing “Christians” in the apostate Church allowed for war and participation in war. Sometimes the apostate Church greatly encouraged such participation, such as the period of the various Crusades.

But we are to be more interested in what Scripture says about the subject. We can understand the justification that people give, and perhaps the greatest justification is found in Romans 13. Paul says: “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves” (vv. 1-2; cf. vv. 3-7). This does sound like the civil government must receive our ultimate allegiance since it is established by God. However, we know that even governmental authority is limited.  When there is a conflict between what the government requires and what God requires, we must be able to say with the apostles, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; cf. 4:19-20). All human authority (whether it be the state, the husband, the father, or the employer) is limited by God’s ultimate authority (cf. Matthew 28:18).

As we continue to read Scripture, we see that the follower of Jesus is not to lift his hand against the aggressor (cf. Matthew 5:38-42). He is to do good to all people (1 Thessalonians 5:15). While the Christian must submit to the government in all things that are lawful, right and godly (Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-14), he must obey the Lord in offering love to all people—including his enemies (Romans 12:17-21). As Paul put it, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (v. 21). As part of Christ’s spiritual kingdom (John 18:36), we do not fight as citizens of this world and do not fight with worldly or fleshly weapons, but with spiritual ones (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). We know that the world will not be able to accept our spiritual citizenship and lifestyle of love since they are dominated by fleshly reasoning and carnal warfare.

The world will surely find this issue to be a “sensitive” one for some have lost a father, a brother, a grandfather, or a great-grandfather in one of the nation’s foreign wars. Some have participated in carnal warfare themselves and they resent that anyone would suggest that they did wrong in this involvement. As political in orientation and nationalistic in perspective, they want to express ultimate loyalty to the civil government regardless of what Christ or His apostles said. They would rather follow in the steps of valiant soldiers of the past than walk in the steps of Jesus, Stephen, Paul, or the other apostles (Philippians 4:9; Hebrews 6:12; 13:7). Regardless of the political and nationalistic zeal that may dominate certain wars, it is better to follow the Lord and His example of non-resistant love toward enemies (cf. 1 Peter 2:19-23).

See also: What is the Christian’s Relationship to Civil Government? Further: Carnal Warfare or Spiritual Warfare?

  1. Baptism

We are aware that some people hardly give the subject of baptism a passing thought. They assume that the church authorities and congregational discipline and statement of faith would be the last word in regard to baptism, thus they refuse to allow the subject to bother them. Further, they reason, “If it was good enough for my parents, my grandparents, and my ancestors, it is good enough for me.” If they were sprinkled or poured instead of baptized, or if they merely were “baptized” as a baby instead of a repentant believer, they would rather not be concerned about it. It is just easier to dismiss it as inconsequential. If the subject is raised and if one expresses some concern or doubt about the validity of one’s baptism, it surely would qualify as a “sensitive” subject!

In contrast, we must remember what Jesus our Lord declared, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in [into] the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). We see from this that people are to be taught to become disciples, they are to be baptized, and then they are to be taught to obey all of Christ’s teachings. Furthermore, the Greek term for baptism here is baptizo, and the noun baptisma literally means “the process of immersion, submersion and emergence” (W.E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). This would mean that baptism is immersion, dipping, sinking, or submersion—and not sprinkling or pouring.

Not only is baptism an immersion in water (as well as in the Spirit) that is preceded by teaching and followed by teaching, but the meaning of baptism has been greatly perverted, beginning almost within a generation or two after the apostles, and especially within two centuries of Christ. Peter, inspired by God, told the sinners in his audience, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the fit of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Instead of people being baptized “for the forgiveness of their sins,” today people are baptized because of a supposed previous forgiveness. Or they baptize a baby for the forgiveness of his or her sins—or the sins they think are inherited from Adam.

In Scripture, baptism is related to salvation (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21), washing away of sins (Acts 22:16), discipleship (Matthew 28:19-20), being united to Christ and His death (Romans 6:3-5), putting on Christ (Galatians 3:26-27), receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39; Galatians 3:27 with 4:6), and being part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:41, 47). Further, baptism was always an expression of repentance (Acts 2:38; cf. Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3) and faith in Christ (Galatians 3:26-27; Acts 8:12, 36-39; 16:14-15, 31-34; Colossians 2:11-13). It was a meaningful act of committal, but was never intended to be viewed as an effective, semi-magical act that was divorced from repentance, faith, and commitment of life. We can see that baptism is another one of the “sensitive” issues that many people would rather avoid or even deny.

See also: The Meaning, Purpose, and Importance of Baptism.

  1. Job or Occupation

Another sensitive subject that many people would rather avoid instead of dealing with it is that of one’s means of livelihood.  People seem to want to choose their life work without regard to the will of God. They would rather decide on a life work or occupation according to their own wills, their own tastes, their own interests and education, their own skills, instead of asking, “What would God want me to do?”

A job is a major investment of time, money, and effort in life.  Most people will work some 40 hours a week (perhaps 35 to 55 hours), 50 weeks a year, and some 45 years in total.  But what do we choose?  We’ll not list the many jobs that would be objectionable from God’s viewpoint, but be assured that many or even most positions are either totally opposed to the will of God or at least have aspects to them that would displease our Lord. For most people, they would have little or no concern about such matters. Their conscience has been dulled or deadened to whether one’s employment is pleasing to God or a violation of one or more Biblical teachings. Paul writes, “Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful” (Tits 3:14). While the “good deeds” here probably refer to works of charity and helpfulness, it could possibly also include the “good deeds” related to one’s occupation.

The apostle writes that we are to try “to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10). We are to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work. . .” (Colossians 1:9). Do we “please” God “in all respects” when we have little care about the profession or job we choose?  Isn’t God interested in the way we spend 90,000 working hours of our life? Indeed, He is! We are to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Millions of people are presently in jobs that compromise the way of the Lord in one or many ways.  They would rather not learn that their chosen work is displeasing to the Lord and that they should repent for years of working in a certain line of work. They either are too wedded to their job, or are content with their job, or are afraid to quit their job. Thus, they leave God out of their employment consideration. They may even become agitated or angry if you bring up the fact that their job is unscriptural and wrong in the eyes of the Lord.

What about you? Does your job entail questionable, dishonest, compromising, immoral, unchristian aspects? Would Jesus or the apostles be willing to do what you do as a means of income? Do you work too many hours, do you work all kinds of shifts that compromise your family life, do you leave the Lord out of your consideration? If you are a woman, do you hold down a job when your children are left alone, or sent to a worldly school, or overlooked in some way? This is definitely a “sensitive” issue that many people are unwilling to touch!

See also: Working in Today’s World.

  1. Materialism and Riches

Wealth is probably one of the chief “gods” in our life. We may refuse to bow down to a graven image as in Hinduism, but many or most people do symbolically “bow down” to the false “gods” of money, wealth, and material things. Scripture says, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). The “love of money” has destroyed the hearts and lives of millions!

Down through the years, people have fallen for the sins of covetousness or greed. Frederick Huntington, many years ago, put it this way:

It is not scientific doubt, nor atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. . . . It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity” (Forum Magazine, 1890).

This is true. Falling for the trap of material things has destroyed many. Jesus warned, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23). He went on to declare, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (v. 25). Does this matter of financial wealth sound like something that we should greatly desire? The Lord explained, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21). Has material things captured your heart?

Paul warned plainly about the sin of greed or covetousness. He said that no “covetous man” “who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God,” for because of this “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:3-6). One need not be a “prosperity teacher or preacher” to fall under God’s condemnation for greed. And one need not be a total secular person who aspires to wealth and “the fine things of life” or the pursuit of “the American dream.” No, this is a sin that can affect the common person as well.

Do you spend your time, interest, and money seeking a luxurious house, a late-model car, the most beautiful furnishings, the ocean cruises, the expensive restaurants, the brand-name fine clothes, and many other materialistic pursuits? Do you give a mere 5 percent or 10 percent of your income to the Lord, when you could give 20, 30, 40, or 50 percent of the money God gives to you? Do you cling to riches piled up in the bank, just to feel confident of your financial security? We can see that this popular sin is a “sensitive” issue to vast numbers—surely the majority. And we include the majority of professing Christians as well.

See also: The Peril of the World.

  1. Entertainment

We can safely say that entertainment is one of the prevailing gods of our age—whether this is in America or in other portions of the world. We know that recreation, per se, is not wrong if kept at a minimum and according to Christian standards, but surely the majority are enraptured by an amazing variety of entertainment choices.

Think of some of these: TV, radio, CDs, movies, all sorts of music, computers, computer games, dancing, parties, novels, newspapers, books, magazines, smart phones, sports of all kinds, vacations, toys, sports vehicles, boats, and on and on.  One could easily fill up every single day with different entertainment choices. Many of these are worldly in nature, while a few of them may be acceptable if carefully monitored and kept at a minimum.

Since this is such a vast subject, we won’t be describing very much here. We would just ask you to consider some of the teachings of Scripture as they pertain to entertainment and recreation. Is it worldly in nature (1 John 2:15-17)? Does it use precious time (Ephesians 5:15) and money (1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17-19) that should be better used for other and more spiritual pursuits? Does this put you into close contact with unbelievers or those who would compromise your spiritual life (2 Corinthians 6:14-16; 1 Corinthians 15:33)? Does this detract from a spiritual frame of mind and true Christlike living (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:3-6; 1 Corinthians 3:17-18)? Does it cater to the flesh in some way (1 Peter 2:11; Romans 8:6-13)? These are a few of the many principles that should help us to make informed and Godly choices.

See also: The Peril of the World.

  1. Modesty and Appearance

Obviously, the issue of clothing and appearance is a highly sensitive issue that many find offensive, legalistic, and plainly objectionable. They accuse anyone who promotes modesty and conservative clothing with being “old fashioned” or “Victorian” or “outdated.” If one urges young and old to avoid form-fitting, transparent, abbreviated, revealing, loud, and worldly attire, many liberal professing Christians will strongly object. They will condemn such devoted disciples and go on to “tickle the ears” of young people and adults while they “accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Timothy 4:2-3).

While millions of teenagers and older people will compromise the standards of modesty and righteousness, the committed follower of Jesus will not be swayed. Men in their teens and twenties may wear earrings, use body piercing, display tattoos, cut their hair in bizarre styles, remove parts of their clothing, and display worldly slogans and pictures. Women may do some of the same things, following the styles, fads, and fashions of the world around them.

Scripture is clear that women (and evidently men) are to dress modestly and discreetly, with proper clothing, without wealthy extras (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Christians must beware of external adornment that is worldly and immodest (1 Peter 3:3-4). We must avoid anything that would identify us with immoral people (cf. Proverbs 7:10). We must avoid anything that would lead us into sin or would tempt the opposite gender with anything sexual (Matthew 5:27-28). We must not share responsibility for the sins of others (1 Timothy 5:22).

In all of this, we must “flee youthful lusts” and “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). We must “abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” and must not promote this in the life of others either (1 Peter 2:11). Paul describes the appearance and hairstyles of God’s people that would take professional help to misunderstand (1 Corinthians 11:3-16). We can see that urging people to appear modestly and different from the world will bring much opposition from unspiritual or worldly people who claim to be Christians. It is a “sensitive” area that most people are unwilling to go!

See also: Pleasing God in Personal Appearance; The Woman’s Glory; What about the Strange Practices in Outward Appearance?

  1. Women’s Leadership and Teaching

This surely is a sensitive issue in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We know that as society goes, so goes the church. As the secular world leads, the religious world will also follow. If the secular world accepts evolution, the church will eventually accept it (as it is today). If the secular world accepts entertainment that once would have been condemned, then the church world will follow and accept what would have been rejected less than a hundred years ago. If the secular world accepts immodest clothes for women and men, the church has already followed and largely endorses immodest attire. The same can be said about women’s leadership and public teaching and preaching.

It is not a question about whether the Bible is clear on this matter. It is quite clear and can’t be mistaken, apart from professional help to misunderstand! The Word of God says that “a woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1 Timothy 2:11-12). Paul then gives the foundation of this teaching: “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (vv. 13-14). Notice that the apostle’s reasons for the restrictions of women are not culturally-related or locally-associated, but they rest on reasons that go back to creation itself! This would say, then, that a woman should receive, not give, instruction. She should be submissive, not domineering or claim authority. She should not be over men. And she should be quiet, especially in teaching situations.

Further, Paul says that only men (the Greek term is andras, from aner, meaning the male gender, a word that “is never used of the female sex”—W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of the New Testament). Further, we read this clear principle: “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Thus, there is a clear hierarchy in the male-female relationship. In chapter 14, we read that “in all the churches of the saints,” “the women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says” (vv. 33-34). “It is improper for a woman to speak in church,” and this rests on “the Lord’s commandment” (vv. 35, 37). It is quite clear, isn’t it!

Maybe a few miscellaneous comments will be suffice. Scripture teaches that only men were chosen as apostles (Matthew 10:2-4). Only men may serve as “overseers” (from the Greek episkopos, overseer), who were also known as “shepherds” (KJV, pastors) or “elders” (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 14:22; 20:17, 28; Ephesians 4:11). Only men were “servants” (or deacons, 1 Timothy 2:8-13; cf. Acts 6:3-6). Only men were “proclaimers” (or “evangelists”) (Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:5; Acts 21:8). It is true that women did prophesy in the early body of Christ but there is no indication that this continued (cf. Acts 2:17-18; 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5). Since women were forbidden to speak in public settings (cf. 1 Timothy 2:11-12), we can see that this would be a restriction on even the prophetess position.

We must not in any way demean women or discredit them. They are not to be despised, minimized, or slandered. They had and continue to have a very important role in the body of the Lord, but this can be done in a private and less conspicuous way than many are now insisting (cf. 1 Timothy 5:9-10; Acts 9:36-41; 18:26; Romans 16:1-2).

See also:  The Discipleship of Devoted Women. Also: Is Womanly Submission Really Biblical?

  1. Food and Nutrition

Another issue that is quite “sensitive” is that of food and nutrition. We know that there are preachers who give little or no thought to their diet. Some are overweight or even obese! These grossly overweight preachers, pastors, and teachers do great disservice to the Lord and fail to provide a good example to others. Paul says, “Show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12; cf. Titus 2:4). Can a preacher who despises the self-discipline of nutritious eating really be an example to others?

Much has been written about the detrimental effects of high-calorie foods, high-fat and high-cholesterol foods, high-sodium foods, and high-sugar foods. We know that good, nutritious, healthy foods are what we should focus on, yet these are the very kinds of food that many professing “Christians” avoid.  Instead of focusing on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and other healthy fare, they shun much of this, in favor of unhealthy non-foods that even secular nutritionists say are detrimental to physical health. They proclaim their “freedom” and “liberty” and thereby eat anything that their lusts demand. It would seem that professing “Christians” are just as addicted to fast foods and junk foods as the average unbeliever. Something is dreadfully wrong.

Paul says that in our eating and drinking, we are to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). We are to present our body “a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God,” which is our spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1). The “life of Jesus” is to “be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:10). The “life of Jesus” is to “be manifested in our mortal flesh” (v. 11). Yet we know that “bodily discipline is only of little profit” but “godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). We must have a balance here.  Jesus said that the world is concerned about “what you will eat or what you will drink” (Matthew 6:25). We must not give undue attention to our diet; but, on the other hand, we are to only eat what is for our good and are to avoid what we know will be for our harm.

It is time that professing “Christians” begin eating and drinking to please God and not themselves, to glorify God and not glorify the lustful and fleshly appetites that will destroy our health. Let us begin to live for eternity and not fall for the trap of Satan the enemy who would like to destroy us through poor nutrition. Especially let us feed our dear children well while they have time to form good habits and the practice of self-discipline. It is better to prevent clogged arteries in a 6-year-old than try to correct degenerative diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis in a 50-, 60-, or 70-year old! If we fail to heed this very practical matter of good health, we sin against these precious little ones who have been given by God our Creator. Although this is a “sensitive” matter, let’s face it and go on for God’s glory!

See also: Devoting Your Body to God!; Why I Don’t Eat Junk Foods; Do You Really Want that Soft Drink?

  1. Schooling/Education

Another of the most sensitive issues that may be avoided by professing Christians or even awake a strong reaction to the point of anger is that of education. Let’s focus on primary and secondary schooling. Surely most or even all of those who make a claim to Christianity acknowledge that there is a serious problem in public, secular education. They can see that it is rife with humanism, secularism, pluralism, evolutionism, nationalism, and the ever-present problem of “political correctness.” Surely people are aware of the drug abuse, the tobacco, the sex education, the sexual immorality, the idolatry of sports, the parties, and so much more. Worldliness of all sorts is deliberate and rampant! Young people who are sent to the public schools must be exposed to blatant immodesty, blasphemy, evolution, abortion, homosexuality—and the list goes on.

What is to be done? We’ve heard the opinion that parents want to send their children to the secular humanistic schools and expect them to be strong enough to withstand the assaults of the enemy. Some may even say that they want their children to be young “missionaries” to an evil culture. Instead, God warns against exposing children to an array of worldly influences—whether from unbelieving teachers, humanistic textbooks, worldly activities, and much more.

Scripture is plain: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). The psalmist spoke to this: “How blessed is the man [or child] who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers” (Psalm 1:1). Should a father or mother encourage their child to walk in the counsel of wicked educators? Should they force their children to stand in the path of sinners? Should they require that they sit in the seat of scoffers?

Humanism is a religion and great numbers of educators consider themselves “missionaries” to this false way of looking at life. God’s Word tells us: “He who walks with the wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). We walk with wise men when we are educated according to righteous, Godly and Scriptural standards. We walk with fools when we listen to foolish, hurtful, and false theories of evolution, origins, religion, politics, and morality. Don’t be surprised if you compromise the education of your children and find that they have adopted the world’s philosophies! Statistics say that 50 to 90 percent of young people will fall away in high school or in the early years of college. Many will become either worldly, atheistic, or apathetic. Is this what you want?

Two or three million children are now being trained in the home by interested and devoted parents. The home schooling option has been open since the middle 1980s and large numbers of devoted fathers and mothers are using this option to keep their children from wrongful influences and to promote good influences by using the parents’ own influence as well as professional and attractive curricula. Each year for the past 25 years I have gone to a home school convention of about 5,000 parents who are determined to use this means of education for the benefit of their children.

Other parents use different forms of “Christian schooling” or the “Christian day school” option. Probably most of these alternatives are negative as well, but in some minority of cases they may be a better choice than the public schools.  Hopefully, Christian groups will advice and lead believing families in a wise way to promote a wholesome educational experience for children and young people.

See also: Renewing the Mind; also: What about the Public State Schools?

  1. Sexual Issues

We could wish that sexual immorality would only be an issue for unbelievers around us, but, alas, it is a major problem for even professing “Christians.” Surveys show that Evangelicals and other Protestants and Catholics have fallen for the same sexual sins as their unbelieving neighbors. It has become a serious and “sensitive” issue that some refuse to even consider. The subject of sex has become a major form of “idolatry” in our day and perverse, bizarre, and wicked expressions of sex are to be found all around us!

Think of pornography. At one time, a person who wanted to pursue lewd pictures, had to go to a “smut shop” or “porno” place. Some would dare to go to “places of ill repute” to pursue harlots or prostitutes. Others might find sordid literature in out-of-the-way places, but some would hesitate going lest his obsession would be found out. As the years went by, the pornography became more and more explicit to the point that nothing was held back.

But all of this has changed! Today, anyone with a computer or smart phone may call up the most debased, degraded, and shameful images in a matter of moments! Some would even say that 40 to 60 percent of pastors have checked out porno sites! Most teens, some as early as 10-year-olds or 12-year-olds, have been exposed to porno images and many have become “hooked” for life! It is a booming business on the internet. And, remember, all of this can be done in secret without anyone else knowing of such gross and explicit immorality. Women (and men) are treated as sex objects rather than persons to love and bless. All of this amounts to mental fornication or adultery (Matthew 5:27-30)!

In recent times, the issue of “homosexual marriage” has become prominent. We know that God would not approve of this bizarre arrangement, for homosexuality or sodomy clearly violates the will of God made clear at creation. God created a man and a woman and said, “A man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Marriage is a covenant relationship between an eligible man and an eligible woman—for life. Jesus stressed God’s original plan in Matthew 19:3-12. But this plan has been abused, denied, and rejected in our day.

God has made it clear that fornication and sex before marriage is sinful (1 Corinthians 6:9-10;  1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Ephesians 5:3-7; Colossians 3:5-7; Hebrews 13:4). He says that a violation of the marital relationship through adultery is likewise sinful (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Homosexuality or sodomy is also sinful (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:10). Divorce and remarriage apart from sexual immorality is another tragic form of sinful activity (Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; Matthew 5:31-32; 19:9; Romans 7:2-3). Of course, immodest clothing is also forbidden by our Holy God (Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:4).

All of these compromises are sinful and wrong and the results are serious: those who commit sexual sins will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3-7). They will be judged by God (Hebrews 13:4) and will be sent to the lake of fire, or hell (Romans 21:8). Although this is a “sensitive” issue, it is one that needs to be addressed!

See also: The Seduction of Sex! Also: Living with a Boyfriend or Girlfriend 

  1. Denominationalism and Sectarianism

This definitely is a “sensitive” issue that many Protestants and Catholics would rather avoid. Probably most of them have an uncomfortable feeling about being part of division and the creation of religious organizations that have no justification in Scripture, but they are too caught up in institutional religion to discard the unscriptural ways they have either inherited or created. It is just too comfortable to be content with the status quo. Or it may be that they are part of the leadership of these religious organizations and their life, position, respect, admiration, income, and retirement are dependent on perpetuating what they know is unbiblical.

Just today, I had a conversation with two proponents of a religious group with a super-organization (they were Watchtower Witnesses) who vainly sought to justify their unscriptural institution and unscriptural leadership by comparing them to the apostles! This gross twisting of Scripture will be to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16-17).

God’s Word freely speaks of the people of God meeting in different localities (cf. Galatians 1:2, 22; 1 Corinthians 16:1), but it is silent about super-organizations and inter-congregational connections. We are simply to be Christ’s spiritual body on earth: “We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5). The ekklesia (often translated “church”) is “His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23). As Paul puts it, “You are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Early believers met in small gatherings, generally in homes, and sought to edify each other, support and bless each other, and share the good news of Christ with others (cf. Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-34; 9:31; 12:12; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 1:2). The community of Christ consists of individual “members” who each has a function, just as a body is composed of many members. This “family” of God, with God’s children as part of this family, or brothers and sisters within this spiritual household (1 Timothy 3:15), is His way of bringing growth to individual saints and affecting a world lost in sin (Ephesians 4:11-16). It all was a rather simple arrangement.

Individualism and division were strictly prohibited by the Lord. As Paul wrote in a plain passage: “. . . that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). His condemnation of factions devoted to Paul, Apollos, and Cephas (vv. 11-13) would also be a condemnation of sects devoted to Martin Luther (Lutherans), John Calvin (Presbyterians), John Wesley (Wesleyans), Menno Simons (Mennonites), Jakob Ammann (Amish), Moses M. Beachy (Beachy Mennonites), or any other religious founder or leader. We have no right to create a group that differs in any respect from the early community of Christ and devote ourselves to a preacher, leader, or teacher. Although it may be a “sensitive” topic, we must call people back to the New Testament way of working, way of serving, way of preaching, way of meeting, and way of loving.

See also: What Does God Want in the Community of Christ?

  1. Withdrawal of Fellowship

We come to another “sensitive” issue that is seldom mentioned or discussed—but one that is quite prominent in God’s Word. We know that members of the early body of Christ were very much focused on fellowship—a fellowship with God and with Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:3) and a fellowship of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 12:14). Along with this, the early followers of Christ promoted an intimate and extensive fellowship with other true believers. John said that he proclaimed the truth to others that he might establish fellowship: “. . . so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). He went on to say, “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (v. 7). God wants us to have this deep spiritual fellowship with each other, as followers of Christ.

But there is another side to this very important belief and practice.  If a person does come to Christ for His mercy and forgiveness, he becomes part of the ekklesia or assembly (group, community, congregation) of God. However, what will happen if this person allows sin and unbelief to enter and then dominate his life? Does he continue in the sweet fellowship that he supposedly knew after conversion? This is what almost all denominations and independent churches do. They allow a person to continue on and on, attending the meetings, perhaps even partaking of common meals, and engaging in group activities. Some may feel uncomfortable with this hypocritical and sinful brother or sister, but little is done about it.

Those who know the Scriptures know that this is not at all the way it must be if we would be faithful to God.  Just as a leg with gangrene can poison the whole body and bring death, so God recognizes that sin can contaminate the body of Christ and bring death to those within the congregation.  Further, we know that allowing a person holding and promoting false doctrine to continue in fellowship can harm the entire group and cause many to fall into sin and false teachings.

The Hebrew writer warns that “no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (12:15). God says that in a situation like this, the members of the body must remove the offending member and exclude him from fellowship. He must be severed from the community of the faithful so that he doesn’t harm the others. As Paul says, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7a). One sinful or apostate member can “leaven” the other parts of the body, thus the body must be cleaned out of the old leaven of apostasy, immorality, and sin.

In the Word of God, what types of sins should lead to this exclusion from fellowship? Jesus says that one who sins and refuses to repent or refuses to reconcile with an offended brother, that person must be entirely excluded from the assembly (Matthew 18:15-17). Further, we are to “turn away” from those who “cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching” which the believers have learned (Romans 16:17-18).

Again, a brother who is sexually immoral (fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, etc.), or covetous (or greedy), or an idolater (worshiping and serving any created thing), or a reviler (one who maliciously speaks against another), or a drunkard, or a swindler (or a cheater) is to be “removed” from the assembly and delivered to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:1-3). We are not to associate with such a person and not even to eat with him (v. 11).

We are also to “keep away from every brother who leads and unruly life and not according to the tradition” which the apostles taught (2 Thessalonians 3:6; cf. vv. 7-15). This refusal to associate with him should mean that he is “shamed” and will repent (vv. 14-15). We are also to “reject a factious man” after a first and second warning (Titus 3:10-11). Paul may also have reference to various categories of sins in 2 Timothy, in which he commands, “Avoid such men as these” (vv. 1-5).

This is an unpopular and compromised teaching even though it is found many places in the inspired Writings.  It may be sensitive for various reasons. Some members may realize that they, themselves, are living hypocritical lives and should be excluded from fellowship. And it is hard to withdraw from a fellow member when those who do the withdrawal are in a similar situation. Also, it may be that a member has a brother or sister, a father or mother, or a son or daughter who is living in sin, immorality, or worldliness, thus the person is hesitant to go along with the withdrawal of fellowship. (His own life would be disrupted in having no fellowship with his family member!)

And there are liberal members who wrongly think that excluding sinful members is condemned by Jesus as an act of “judging” (Matthew 7:1-5). In reality, these words of the Lord are speaking of hypocritical and unloving judging and not judging, per se, which can be a good thing (vv. 3-5; John 7:24). Although admittedly this is a “sensitive” issue, it is a Biblical one that must be practiced if we are to be faithful to God.

See also: The Painful Command.

  1. Music

Although many of us can’t personally sing very well, it is probably true that most people do like to hear music of some kind. In the secular realm, there are many different kinds—Country, Rock, Hip Hop, and numerous others (one list included dozens of styles). The same is true in the spiritual or religious realm. There are many different kinds of music that purports to be “Christian” in nature. Often churches try to accommodate the younger generation with what they call “Contemporary” music and try to satisfy the older generation with the “Traditional” music. There may be positives and negatives to both of these categories.

This is a “sensitive” issue since music is close to the heart of many people. While much of the secular music available in the world is totally objectionable from a Christian viewpoint, we could wish that everything in the “religious” realm would be acceptable. Sadly, it is not.  It is true that we don’t use the music that the Jews of the first century used and the musical styles of the early Christians (both Jewish and Gentile). There are a few guidelines found in Scripture that will help us in choosing music today, whether it be for personal worship and edification, or for worship and edification within a fellowship of saints.

From the evidence found in Scripture, apparently Christians were to use “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19a; cf. Colossians 3:16). This would cover a variety of song and hymn types.  Some of the songs were directed to God Himself—as worship and lament compositions. Paul says that we are to be “making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19b). We are to be “singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (v. 16b). Since we are to be “speaking to one another” with these songs, there would also be an aspect of edification involved (v. 19a). All of this instruction comes after Paul’s command to “be filled with the Spirit” (v. 18b), thus the singing should be spiritual or Spirit-filled.

In Colossians 3:16, the apostle says, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another” with the listed songs and hymns. Thus, this worship is inspired and directed by Christ’s divine Word, and should be a manifestation of our wisdom in teaching and admonishing one another. It is not only directed to God as prayer and worship expressions, but it is also directed toward other believers present.

The Lord Jesus said that “true worshipers” will “worship the Father in spirit and truth,” with the right attitude and according to God’s truth. Many of the lyrics in songs and hymns are not totally in harmony with the truth of God, thus they need to be revised or eliminated. Further, since all of the passages mentioning singing in the New Testament have no reference to instrumental music, it is better to take this as God’s will. He must desire the simplicity of the human voice in our praise and worship. There must be a reason for the absence of any instruments in connection with Christian singing.

As Scripture says, we are to make “melody” in our heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19). The heart is the human instrument in worship, not a mechanical instrument. Interestingly, the worship of the Old Testament was normally found in the Jerusalem temple, whereas the first century Jews that met in the synagogue didn’t use instrumental music in their singing. Probably many of the musical controversies of the twenty-first century could be eliminated or minimized if we only used vocal music in our singing—and not the instrumental music that has become popular. Without the band or orchestra, without the drums, the guitars, the pianos, the organs, and horns, and the stringed instruments of much of the music of Christendom, surely there could be a remedy to the musical strife that is so prevalent.

A final point is this: Since “a woman must quietly receive instruction [not give instruction] with entire submissiveness” and a woman is not permitted “to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1 Timothy 2:11-12), and since our singing involves “teaching and admonishing one another” (Colossians 3:16), it would seem that women would be forbidden to “teach” others through solos that have become so popular in the past hundred years.

While music can be a “sensitive” topic in some religious circles, we do think that a large portion of this could be eliminated (1) if we focused on the words of the songs and not the instruments, (2) if we used vocal music exclusively instead of instrumental or vocal and instrumental, (3) if we used congregational singing for the most part, (4) if we had common singing and not professional and elaborate singing, (5) if we eliminated choirs in the meetings, and (6) if all of the messages in the songs were in harmony with God’s Word. Although this may be a sensitive matter to some, it need not disrupt the meetings of God’s people.

See also: Christian Music?

  1. Use of Time

While this may be a surprise topic in a study like this, we think that this also could be a “sensitive” topic to many people. In our independent perspective of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, many think that if they just “give God” two hours on Sunday morning, they are free to use the remaining 166 hours of the week in whatever way they choose. Just as some people mistakenly believe that if they give 10 percent of their income (a tithe) to the Lord (or to the church!), they can use the remaining 90 percent as they choose, so others think that they may use most of their time for their own pleasure.

How different from the Biblical perspective.  Paul the apostle says, “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). We are to be “careful” in the way we live—and not careless. We are to be “wise” in our living, and not unwise or foolish. We are to “make the most of our time” and not wile away our hours on worldly trifles, foolish pastimes, and worldly entertainment. We have only a very brief period of time on earth—whether it be 50, 60, 70, 80, or 90 years—and then stretches the vastness, endlessness of eternity! Let us be wise while we live on earth!

In the world of “churchianity,” in which “church members” live their own lives of selfish indifference and disconnectedness, we can see why the issue of time is not a major concern. But in the kind of “togetherness” envisioned in Scripture, in which all Christians are in close fellowship with each other and each shares their life, work, possessions, and time with fellow-saints, we can see that the use of time could be a major consideration.

Does God want us to waste away hour after hour watching TV—when the average American wastes some 18 to 35 hours a week? (Remember too that most programming involves foolish, worldly, immoral, debased subjects!) Does God want us to waste away dozens of hours in social networking, texting others, emailing others, and other uses of precious time?  What about listening to music (most of which is worldly) and even watching or listening to compromising preachers on TV or the radio or the internet?  What about the vast amount of time thrown away watching or participating in the world of sports? And what about computer games, toys, magazines, and other time-wasters? Then there are the senseless conversations with family, friends, and fellow-workers (this doesn’t deny the importance of meaningful and positive interactions).

Since people “don’t want to be told what to do or not do,” we can see how the issue of time or time use can be considered a “sensitive” issue. If we can all focus on the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), if He is our very life (Colossians 3:4), if we are “seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (v. 1), and if we are to “set [our] mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (v. 2), then much of the problem can be thrown out. Beloved, let us use time well and live for eternity rather than time! Let us choose the spiritual and right way rather than “enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25).

  1. Death

If death is an experience that everyone must face, how could this subject be such a “sensitive” issue?  There are various angles to this question. First, some cultists deny death, such as the Christian Scientist cult.  We know that this notion is a false one since God, in the Bible, says that “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Paul also adds, “Death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). The apostle also wrote that “in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22a). Thus, it is clear that everyone will die—unless we are alive when Christ returns (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

A more troubling issue surrounding the subject death is the question of who is prepared to die! Christ clearly says that very few people are prepared to face God in judgment after death. This fact is found in many places, such as Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Our Lord thus says that “many” are on the “broad” way that leads to destruction, while “few” are on the “narrow” way that leads to eternal life. We can’t get around this truth—without distorting our Lord’s words!

It is clear that Christ’s words here (and the message of the entire Bible) are not welcome news to most people. They seemingly are unwilling to believe what our Lord is saying. If a person loses his spouse, his parents, or his children, he is usually reluctant to admit that this loved one didn’t enter eternal life but, rather, was ushered into a place of torment and will eventually be sent to the lake of fire, the second death (cf. Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8). No one enjoys the thought of his or her loved one suffering eternally in a place of conscious pain, anguish, and retribution! Many people will do all they can, including denying the plain facts of Scripture, to console themselves with the deceptive thought that their loved one is “in a better land” or is “enjoying the blessings of heaven”!

Sadly, even liberal preachers and pastors will acquiesce to this human longing and pronounce that the sinful loved one is right now delighting in the pleasures of Paradise! How deceptive, how dishonest, and how wrong! Yes, preachers will “tickle the ears” of their hearers in order to console the deceased one’s family and relatives, but they do a huge disservice in the process (cf. 2 Timothy 4:3-4). At a time when people need to become aware of the danger of remaining in their guilt and sin, they are being lied to and deceived about what it takes to get right with God and prepare for the coming Judgment and eternity!

Another aspect to the question of death is this: Many people seek to escape the truth of death and the hereafter by vainly assuming the false doctrine of reincarnation. This is true not only of Hindus and New Agers, but many others just conclude that if one dies unprepared to meet God, they will come back as another person and be able to live life over again! Some even think that they might experience hundreds or thousands of different reincarnations before they are prepared to experience Nirvana and melt into nothingness! How false and vain such a belief is!

There are still others who think that God will give people a “second chance” after death to repent and rectify the wrongs they did during their life on earth. They imagine that the Lord will allow a person to change his mind and alter his unbelief into belief after he breathes his last on earth. This also is another false theory that violates numerous passages of Scripture (cf. Hebrews 9:27). As Jesus warned people of His day, “You will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). To die in your sins is to face God in unbelief, and the Lord warned, “He who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16; cf. John 3:18).

A further compromise with the truth of death is the idea that one can live in known, deliberate sin and not repent on earth, but still God will receive such a person! This belief comes from an extreme view of unconditional security or this is sometimes called once saved, always saved. Some preachers and teachers stress that one need only have a momentary, immediate act of belief and that person is then unable to be lost the rest of his life. He will be eternally saved even if he lives in continual sin, if he turns to unbelief, and if he refuses to obey the Lord!  While most do not go this far, there are some who say that one may become an actual atheist and still make it to heaven!

This theory or theology is obviously wrong and there are a hundred passages of Scripture that cry out to us about such a deceptive and extreme view. Surely there are thousands or even millions of people who have died, thinking that they were safe, but will discover that they are lost and will eternally be lost—regardless of some assumed past experience! The Bible is clear: “If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27). Indeed, “it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (v. 31). The Lord Jesus said, “He who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 8:36b; cf. Romans 2:7-11).

We know that many people find some comfort in the false idea that their loved one is in a “better land” (a slogan that we all have heard). If I remember correctly, one preacher thought that the unbelieving deceased woman would be “dancing” on the tables of heaven! Another thought that an apparent unbeliever who died would be “fishing” along the “river of life” in Paradise! Another suggested that the lost loved one would be playing golf in the fields of heaven! While this may reassure all of those who attend a funeral, it grievous sins against God who does not wish “for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

We can see that death is often a “sensitive” issue that people are unwilling to accept as it is presented in God’s inspired Word. Yet it is better to face the truth right now and repent of one’s sins while we can than to deceive ourselves about lies that Satan wishes to promote—along with unconscionable preachers and grieving loved ones. As Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5).

Overcoming the “Sensitive” Issues of Life

We have noticed some 17 different matters that may be considered “sensitive” issues in our contemporary world.  By this, we mean issues that many people would rather not read about, consider, or deal with since they either make them feel guilty or make them think about the more serious questions of life. Some would not only avoid facing these issues, they would go so far as to refuse to face them and perhaps even become disturbed by having them raised before them.

On the other hand, we hope that most of our readers are more spiritually-inclined and want to know the truth on these matters and want to really know what pleases and displeases God. Scripture says (Proverbs 9:8-10):

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,

Reprove a wise man and he will love you.

Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser,

Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,

And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

If you are a God-fearer who seeks wisdom and the knowledge of His will, we believe that a study like we have had in this essay will be very desirable to you. Let’s have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) in these matters and really seek God’s will.  Let’s not be afraid of these and any other “sensitive” issues in our own life, and let’s have the courage to share the truth on such issues with others—whether our family, our friends, our co-workers, or others.

As you pay “close attention” to your personal life and your teaching, and as you “persevere” in these things, you “will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).

 

 

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