Sin

Throwback Thursday ~ 9 Things that Are Still Sins Whether We Agree or Not

Originally published June 19, 20159 still sins

 

I do it all the time, Mother, and I’ve decided something-
it’s not a sin.

I heard this line several years ago on a popular sitcom, spoken by an adult daughter to her Christian mother about a behavior the Bible unambiguously calls a sin. I mean, it’s right smack dab in the middle of the Big 10; “thou shalt not” and everything.

It’s one thing to say, “I know it’s a sin, but I don’t care. I’m going to do it anyway,” but how depraved is the world when they think they – in God’s place – are the ones who get to define what sin is? And what’s even worse is that the church has begun to adopt this audacious depravity as well, whether approving of sin by fiat or by simply ignoring God’s word and letting sin slide without rebuke.

When it comes to what’s a sin and what’s not, God made up His mind a long time ago. And He’s not changing it, regardless of what you or I or Joe Politician or Jane Celebrity might think. Maybe we all need a remedial course in hamartiology, so let’s start with the basics. These things are all still sins whether the world and the church agree with God or not:

1. Homosexuality

Let’s just get it out of the way right up front. I don’t care how many celebrity “pastors” and “Christian” authors twist God’s word to say otherwise, or how many people declare themselves to be (unrepentant, practicing) “gay Christians,” or how many homosexuals declare that God made them that way, God’s word is clear: homosexual lust and behavior are sins.

2. Abortion

Abortion is the taking of an innocent human life. We don’t murder people because they’re small or sick or inconvenient or will hinder our sucess. God didn’t say, “You shall not murder, except when…” He said, “You shall not murder.” Period.

3. Extra-Marital (Heterosexual) Sex

Adultery, fornication, whatever form it might take, if you’re not legally married to the person you’re engaging in sexual activity – up to and including actual intercourse – with, you’re sinning.

4. Cohabitation

See #3. And don’t try to whitewash it by saying you’re living together but not sleeping together. A) The Bible says we’re to flee temptation, not move in with it, and B) we’re supposed to avoid every form of evil, even the appearance of it. If you call yourself a Christian and you’re shacking up, you’re living in sin (that’s why they call it “living in sin”). Repent and move out or marry up.

5. Divorce

Yep, still a sin, except in two cases: unfaithfulness or an unsaved spouse leaving a saved spouse. In those two cases the spouse who was wronged is not sinning and is free to marry again.

6. Swearing

The air is saturated with it. Foul language coming from our TVs, music, movies, social media, and the people we’re around all day. But expletives have no place in the vocabulary of a Christian. Is your potty mouth on Saturday the same one you praise God with on Sunday?

7. Taking God’s Name in Vain

It’s gotten to the point where we think so little of casually punctuating our sentences with, “Oh my G-d,”  or using the name of Jesus as an exclamation that pastors are even doing so from the pulpit these days. God’s name is high and holy and should be spoken only reverently and worshipfully. How can we look people in the eye and call them to repentance and faith in a Person whose name we use as a cuss word?

8. Gluttony

We have almost completely amputated gluttony from the spiritual realm by cordoning it off as merely a physical or medical issue. We’ve renamed it “overeating,” but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a sin. God created good food for us to enjoy, but just as with all the other good gifts He gives us, He expects us to exercise Spirit-enabled self control when we receive it.

9. Female Usurpation

God makes it abundantly clear in His word that women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures or hold authority over them in the church. Women sin when they pastor churches, preach sermons in church, teach men in Sunday School classes, and hold other positions of authority over men in the church. Men, however, bear the primarily responsibility for this when they sin by failing to rebuke usurping women, or when women feel they have no other choice but to take on male responsibilities in the church because men are shirking their own duties before God.

 

We don’t get to decide what sin is. That’s God’s job. And all of us – whether we’ve committed one of these nine sins or not – are guilty of sinning against Him. That’s the bad news.

But, in Christianity, we never give the bad news without following it up with the good news. And, oh what wonderfully good news it is: forgiveness. Jesus paid for our sin at Calvary so that if we will only turn from it and trust Him, He will forgive us for all nine of these sins and countless others.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ May 14, 2019

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

“Complementarian interpretation of Scripture holds that God’s creation purpose for man and woman entails equality of individual value but also distinct roles.” Our friends over at Crossway give us 5 Myths about Complementarianism.

 

Image result for taking god at his wordHow about a free book? Here’s the PDF of Kevin DeYoung’s book Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What that Means for You and Me.

 

 

 

 

Image result for 50 of all marriages end in divorce“You’ve heard it repeatedly on radio, podcasts, and TV. You’ve read it in various books and articles. You’ve even heard it in your pastor’s sermon. The problem: it’s a lie: 50% of all marriages end in divorce.” The Cripplegate helpfully explains why everything you know about American divorce statistics, including the divorce rate among Christians, is probably wrong in The 50% Lie.

 

Image result for ccef‘No’ to a husband’s advances is a big deal in a marriage. A godly wife can certainly say “no” but she will also be alert to the way her response might be taken by her husband. Understanding and compassion can go a long way at these moments.” CCEF explores the sensitive subject of marital intimacy in “Not tonight dear”… men rejected.

 

On his most recent episode of Ask AnythingDr. Albert Mohler tackles a number of interesting questions, not the least of which is (from a Southern Baptist perspective) Should women preach the Sunday sermon in church? (8:58).

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Michelle’s a money-grubber, Still small voice, Husband of one wife…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!


Michelle, you’ve mentioned that your husband is previously divorced and also that he is a minister of music. How can this be? Isn’t he disobeying Scripture’s instruction that a pastor is to be “the husband of one wife“? Don’t you believe the Bible? Do you follow it? If so how do you justify your husband’s role in the church when compared to 1 Timothy 3?

Yes, of course, I believe and follow the Bible. I believe and follow the rightly handled, in context, written Word of God, not popular misunderstandings of certain passages.

(And by the way, asking a fellow Believer a question like “Don’t you believe/follow the Bible?” in an accusatory way is rude and inflammatory. Furthermore, while I am happy to answer polite questions, it is not incumbent upon me to “justify” myself or my husband to whatever stranger might have the temerity to demand that I do so.

Rudeness and ugliness from people who call themselves Christians seems to have hit epidemic proportions. I’m going to be addressing it more frequently. Let’s play nice, folks.)

I have previously written about the “husband of one wife” clause in the 1 Timothy 3/Titus 1 qualifications for elders in my Mailbag article “Can a divorced man be a pastor?”

For a number of reasons, it would be inappropriate for me to go into the details of my husband’s divorce in a public forum like this, but you may rest assured that we have not been living in sin for the past 25 years, and that we have been up front about his divorce with the search committee of every church he has ever interviewed with. There are some churches who have a policy of refusing to consider for ministry positions anyone who has ever been divorced. Though we personally disagree with those types of policies (based on the biblical reasons in the article cited above), we certainly respect each church’s right to set its own hiring policies and have been grateful to the churches that have disclosed their policies from the outset.


I recently discovered your blog and am enjoying looking around and reading your posts. I do wonder at your use of your blog for promoting your own gain, your option to donate, and the near complete aligning of one’s salvation with the allegiance to a physical church organization. I wonder if you can share Bible verses that support both of those things?

“Promoting my own gain”? I think you might need to look around and read some more. All of my blog content is available for free, including the Bible studies I write and allow individuals and churches to print out and use free of charge. I don’t keep any content behind a paywall (such as Patreon) or charge any sort of subscription fee. I don’t sell any books, materials, or other merchandise. I don’t receive any remuneration from the ads that appear on my blog. My blog isn’t sponsored by any organizations. And, I don’t receive any sort of salary for writing this blog. How is that “promoting my own gain”?

There are only two instances in which I receive money for anything in connection with this ministry:

1. When kind and generous readers take it upon themselves to send me a gift through my Financial Support page (I rarely mention this giving option, and I have never asked readers to send me money.). Few do, though I deeply appreciate the blessing those folks have been to my family. Most of the gifts I receive go toward paying household bills. (And when I say “bills” I mean electricity, water, rent, etc. I don’t have an extravagant wardrobe, a fancy car, or take luxury vacations.)

2. When I do a speaking engagement. If I could afford to do these events for free, I would. I can’t. As you no doubt read at the Financial Support tab “my family lives frugally on one modest income.” We can rarely afford to go out to eat, never mind afford for me to drive or fly hundreds of miles from home, spend several days away from taking care of my family, and pay for food and lodging once I get there. Additionally, it takes dozens of hours to properly prepare speaking engagement material, and it is work. I usually don’t do more than a few of these a year, and, so far, I haven’t spoken at any huge churches that can afford to pay me thousands of dollars. This money also usually goes towards bills.

It is absolutely Scripturally appropriate for me or any other Christian to receive financial gifts or compensation in these two instances. (Click on the words in red for related Scriptures.)

The first situation is the giving of a gift. The money I receive from time to time is not expected, asked for, owed, or required. Jesus received monetary gifts. The early church gave financial gifts to Christians in need. The Philippians sent Paul gifts more than once. The Corinthian and Galatian Believers sent financial gifts to the church in Jerusalem. You give people gifts. I give people gifts. Christians give each other gifts.

The second situation is a) payment for work, and b) support of ministry. Jesus didn’t have a secular job. He received financial support of His earthly ministry. First Corinthians 9 and 1 Timothy 5:17-18 are abundantly clear that “those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” Proverbs 31 speaks of the wife and mother who crafts various things and sells them to bring in extra money for her household. My craft is writing and speaking. This is how I help bring in extra money for my household. These Scriptures are also why it would be completely fine for me to sell books, utilize Patreon, charge subscription fees, receive money from ads and sponsorships and any of the other things I mentioned in the first paragraph, just as it is fine for most other Christian bloggers and ministries who do.

Another excellent resource on this topic is Daniel Darling’s article No, All Christian Content Shouldn’t Be Free.

As to “the near complete aligning of one’s salvation with the allegiance to a physical church organization”, first of all, I’m not entirely clear on what you mean by that, but the New Testament couldn’t be plainer that Christians are to be joined to a local church and that one of the first signs that someone isn’t a Christian is when she leaves or refuses to be part of the church. I’ve covered this thoroughly, including the relevant Scriptures, in my article Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians.


Our church’s women’s Bible study is using Priscilla Shirer’s content (The Armor of God). I looked at your blog, but didn’t find too many quotes from Shirer that I could use to draw an appropriate conclusion. 

Occasionally I will get this question from readers: “I know you’ve written an article saying that _____ is a false teacher, but what about [this particular book she wrote]? Is it OK for me/our church to study?”

It seems like your question might be along those lines. I’ve answered it in this Mailbag article. 

Priscilla Shirer is a false teacher (see my article Going Beyond Scripture: Why It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to Priscilla Shirer and Going Beyond Ministries). The way Scripture instructs us to deal with false teachers is to avoid the person entirely, which would include all of her materials, merchandise, etc. This is not only the biblical way to do things, it is much less time-consuming than sifting through quotes from her books to find out if any of them might be passable for use in your church.

If your church is using Priscilla Shirer materials, you may also find my article How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing? to be helpful.


I recently posted on Facebook about how Christians are easily fooled by the false teaching that God speaks to certain people. Someone commented, “Don’t discount the still small voice of the Holy Spirit who calls, guides, instructs, comforts.”. I have searched the Bible and I haven’t found any verses confirming or refuting this statement. Can you shed some light on that thought? Is it in line with Scripture or is it more false verbiage that has encroached on the church?

I think the person who commented proved the point of your Facebook post. Is it “in line with Scripture”? “More false verbiage”? Yes and no.

Usually, when I see the phrase “the still, small voice” of the Holy Spirit, if the person using the phrase even knows she’s alluding to Scripture (many are just parroting what they think is a catch-phrase from pop-evangelicalism), it is based on a misunderstanding, or deliberate twisting, of 1 Kings 19:12:

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
1 Kings 19:11-13

This is God talking to Elijah. (The King James Version translates the blue phrase in verse 12 as “a still, small voice”). It was normal for God to talk to Elijah. He was an Old Testament prophet.

You’ll notice that this is a descriptive passage, not a prescriptive passage (more on that here). That means it’s simply a passage telling us what happened with Elijah at that moment. This passage doesn’t promise, imply, or even hint that God will speak to you, me, or anybody else in the same way. It’s just a report of what happened.

(Just an aside, but isn’t it interesting that people take descriptive passages like this and assume that God will speak to them the same way He spoke to Elijah, but no one ever reads about God turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt, God sending a whale to swallow a disobedient Jonah, or God causing the ground to open up and swallow the rebellious Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and assumes God will do the same to them? No, we only want the good stuff!)

God does not speak this way to people any more. He speaks to us through His written Word. And who is the author of Scripture, God’s written Word? Second Timothy 3:16 tells us it is the Holy Spirit. So if you want the Holy Spirit to “speak to you in a still small voice,” read your Bible. I’ve covered this topic in greater detail in my article Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient. You may also find this resource from John MacArthur to be helpful: Does God give us personal direction through a still small voice?


I just wanted to drop you a quick note and tell you how much I am enjoying your study of Mark. I have been praying a lot about exactly HOW to study the Bible on my own. I love MacArthur’s method of reading the OT in a year and a book of the NT each month, but when I’d sit down to read great portions of Scripture, I didn’t have a solid grasp of what I’d just read. This month I knew it was time to start in another gospel and I decided to use your Bible study to help. Your method and questions are just right! Turns out, it’s better for me to slow down and really dig into a smaller number of verses at one time rather than digesting a great number of chapters in one sitting. And the result? I’ve been so excited about what I’m learning and often mull over throughout the day what the Holy Spirit is teaching me through His Word. Thank you for sharing these studies so selflessly! Truly, I am blessed! Indeed, your whole site is an encouragement to fight the good fight; I am grateful for you!

I get encouraging little e-mails, messages, and blog/social media comments like this all the time. And I wouldn’t trade them for all the money in the world. It thrills me beyond words to hear about Christian women who are growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ, digging into His Word, growing in discernment, and serving their families and churches.

And when I get to be a tool in God’s hands to help a sister with that in some small way, it absolutely astounds me and humbles me beyond words. Christ is so good and so kind to allow us the honor and joy of serving Him by helping others, whether that’s a sister in Christ, our husbands, our children, a co-worker, or a neighbor.

Thanks so much, truly, to all of you who have ever written me a little note of encouragement. It will one day be my joy to lay all of those e-mails and comments at the feet of my precious Jesus as a fragrant offering. All of this has always been…and will always be…all for Him.

(If you’d like to try one of my Bible studies or learn more about how to study the Bible for yourself, click the “Bible Studies” tab at the top of this page.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Sin, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ 9 Things that Are Still Sins Whether We Agree or Not

Originally published June 19, 20159 still sins

 

I do it all the time, Mother, and I’ve decided something-
it’s not a sin.

I heard this line several years ago on a popular sitcom, spoken by an adult daughter to her Christian mother about a behavior the Bible unambiguously calls a sin. I mean, it’s right smack dab in the middle of the Big 10; “thou shalt not” and everything.

It’s one thing to say, “I know it’s a sin, but I don’t care. I’m going to do it anyway,” but how depraved is the world when they think they – in God’s place – are the ones who get to define what sin is? And what’s even worse is that the church has begun to adopt this audacious depravity as well, whether approving of sin by fiat or by simply ignoring God’s word and letting sin slide without rebuke.

When it comes to what’s a sin and what’s not, God made up His mind a long time ago. And He’s not changing it, regardless of what you or I or Joe Politician or Jane Celebrity might think. Maybe we all need a remedial course in hamartiology, so let’s start with the basics. These things are all still sins whether the world and the church agree with God or not:

1. Homosexuality

Let’s just get it out of the way right up front. I don’t care how many celebrity “pastors” and “Christian” authors twist God’s word to say otherwise, or how many people declare themselves to be (unrepentant, practicing) “gay Christians,” or how many homosexuals declare that God made them that way, God’s word is clear: homosexual lust and behavior are sins.

2. Abortion

Abortion is the taking of an innocent human life. We don’t murder people because they’re small or sick or inconvenient or will hinder our sucess. God didn’t say, “You shall not murder, except when…” He said, “You shall not murder.” Period.

3. Extra-Marital (Heterosexual) Sex

Adultery, fornication, whatever form it might take, if you’re not legally married to the person you’re engaging in sexual activity – up to and including actual intercourse – with, you’re sinning.

4. Cohabitation

See #3. And don’t try to whitewash it by saying you’re living together but not sleeping together. A) The Bible says we’re to flee temptation, not move in with it, and B) we’re supposed to avoid every form of evil, even the appearance of it. If you call yourself a Christian and you’re shacking up, you’re living in sin (that’s why they call it “living in sin”). Repent and move out or marry up.

5. Divorce

Yep, still a sin, except in two cases: unfaithfulness or an unsaved spouse leaving a saved spouse. In those two cases the spouse who was wronged is not sinning and is free to marry again.

6. Swearing

The air is saturated with it. Foul language coming from our TVs, music, movies, social media, and the people we’re around all day. But expletives have no place in the vocabulary of a Christian. Is your potty mouth on Saturday the same one you praise God with on Sunday?

7. Taking God’s Name in Vain

It’s gotten to the point where we think so little of casually punctuating our sentences with, “Oh my G-d,”  or using the name of Jesus as an exclamation that pastors are even doing so from the pulpit these days. God’s name is high and holy and should be spoken only reverently and worshipfully. How can we look people in the eye and call them to repentance and faith in a Person whose name we use as a cuss word?

8. Gluttony

We have almost completely amputated gluttony from the spiritual realm by cordoning it off as merely a physical or medical issue. We’ve renamed it “overeating,” but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a sin. God created good food for us to enjoy, but just as with all the other good gifts He gives us, He expects us to exercise Spirit-enabled self control when we receive it.

9. Female Usurpation

God makes it abundantly clear in His word that women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures or hold authority over them in the church. Women sin when they pastor churches, preach sermons in church, teach men in Sunday School classes, and hold other positions of authority over men in the church. Men, however, bear the primarily responsibility for this when they sin by failing to rebuke usurping women, or when women feel they have no other choice but to take on male responsibilities in the church because men are shirking their own duties before God.

 

We don’t get to decide what sin is. That’s God’s job. And all of us – whether we’ve committed one of these nine sins or not – are guilty of sinning against Him. That’s the bad news.

But, in Christianity, we never give the bad news without following it up with the good news. And, oh what wonderfully good news it is: forgiveness. Jesus paid for our sin at Calvary so that if we will only turn from it and trust Him, He will forgive us for all nine of these sins and countless others.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 14

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Mark 10:1-31

And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. What does verse 1 say it was Jesus’ “custom” (notice also the words “and again”) to do? Considering this verse and all we’ve studied in the previous nine chapters, which aspect of His ministry do you think Jesus considered spiritually weightier, His teaching or His miracles? Which was more temporal and which was more eternal? What are the implications of this for the church today? Should our focus be on the teaching of Scripture, which has an eternal impact, or on miracles, signs, and wonders, which (if they’re even real and biblical) only have a temporal impact?

2. What was the purpose of the Pharisees’ questions? (2) Where does Jesus point them for the answer? (3) Think back over what we’ve learned about Jesus’ authority. He not only had the authority, as God, to definitively answer the Pharisees’ questions, but He was regarded by many of the people as a rabbi (or teacher), and rabbis’ teachings were authoritative. Why do you think Jesus – who had the authority (“you have heard it said…but I say to you…”) to answer the Pharisees’ questions directly – pointed them to Scripture instead? Can you think of more situations in which Jesus pointed others to Scripture to answer them? If Jesus – God Himself – pointed people back to Scripture what does this tell us about the place and authority Scripture should hold in our own lives?

3. Examine Deuteronomy 24:1-4, what “Moses commanded” (3), and compare it with verses 4-12. Does the content and tone of the Deuteronomy passage agree with what Jesus says in these verses? How would you summarize God’s view of marriage? (5-9) What does Jesus teach about divorce in verse 11? Who is guilty of adultery in a divorce and subsequent remarriage- the spouse initiating the divorce, or the spouse who didn’t initiate the divorce? Compare Mark 10:1-11 to these passages. What are the two biblically allowable circumstances for divorce and remarriage? Is divorce required by Scripture in these situations?

4. Why do you think the disciples rebuked people for bringing their children to Jesus to bless them? (13) Which attribute(s) of God does Jesus showcase in verses 13-16? Take a look at these Greek, Roman, and other Gentile attitudes and practices toward children circa the time of Jesus. As a first century Gentile, what would this passage have said to you about God’s love and care for children? How should this passage inform us today about abortion as well as the need to nurture our children and raise them in a godly way?

5. Examine Jesus’ teaching about marriage in 5-9 and His words and actions about children in 13-16. If you were to formulate a theology of family from these verses, what would it say?

6. Compare verses 14-15 with Mark 9:35-37. How can one “receive the kingdom of God like a child”? (15) What does it mean to have a “childlike faith”? Is there a difference between having a childlike faith and having a childish faith?

7. Fill in the blanks from verse 17: “…what must __ ___ to inherit eternal life?”. Does the gospel require us to do (perform, behave) something in order to be saved? In verse 18, is Jesus denying His deity? When Jesus says, “No one is good except God alone,” (18) He is implying to the rich young ruler that by calling Him good, he is also calling Him _____. Considering the remainder of his interaction with Jesus (19-25), was the rich young ruler ready to concede that Jesus was God?

8. Take a look back at the Ten Commandments. The first table of the Law (Commandments 1-4) deals with the (vertical) relationship between people and Whom? The second table of the Law (Commandments 5-10) deals with the (horizontal) relationship between people and whom? Examine verse 19. Which table of the Law do all of these commands come from? So if what the rich young ruler says in verse 20 is true, with whom is he in a right relationship by keeping all these commands? Examine verses 21-25 and compare the man’s love of his riches (and refusal to give them up to follow Jesus) to the first table of the Law. Which Commandment(s) is he breaking? This demonstrates he is not in right relationship with Whom? What do verses 23-25 teach about the idolatry of wealth versus following Jesus?

9. Some people use verse 21 to teach that anyone who ministers to the poor is in right standing with God (i.e. saved, going to Heaven), regardless of whether or not they’ve repented and placed their faith in Christ. Examining this verse in the context of this passage and in the context of the biblical gospel, is that truly what this verse is teaching? Is verse 21 a command for all Christians to follow (a prescriptive verse) or is it simply a description of something Jesus said to this particular person to elicit a particular response (a descriptive verse)?

10. Consider verses 26-27 in their immediate context – the power of idolatry to keep people from Christ. Have you ever prayed for the salvation of someone you felt was a hopeless case, that it would be pretty much impossible for her to get saved? How does this passage offer hope about those “hard cases”? Compare with John 6:44.

11. Examine verses 28-31. Sometimes people take verses 29-30 to mean that if you follow Jesus you’ll get more houses, lands, loved ones, and wealth. Think about Peter (28), the rest of the disciples, and Paul- what they left behind to follow Jesus and to be founders of the New Testament church. Think about the hardships and martyrdom they faced. What does this passage mean in light of their suffering? Could this passage be pointing to God providing for our needs and the love and comfort of church family rather than the promise of temporal wealth?


Homework

Mark 10:1,17 again mention Jesus’ travels. Find a good Bible map of Israel during Jesus’ lifetime (there’s probably one in the back of your Bible or Google “Bible maps”), go back over Mark 1-10, and trace Jesus’ travels on the map. You might even want to print out a map you can write on and mark the various places He visited and routes He took.


Suggested Memory Verse

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45