Seven Sins Against the Spirit

Numerous are the sins mentioned within the pages of the Bible. In a very real way, every sin which we commit is a sin against God (Psalm 51:3-4; Exodus 16:1-2 cf., 16:7-8; Numbers 14: 1-2 cf. 14:27; Numbers 16:11; Acts 5:3-4; Acts 9:1-5, etc.). However, there are seven specific sins mentioned in scripture as being against the Holy Spirit. Let’s notice:

1.  Lie to the Spirit (Acts 5:1-4).

Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, sold a possession. They claimed that they were giving a total sale price into the treasury of the church. However, what they actually did was claim that they sold the possession for less than they did. Their plan was to pocket the difference, while telling others that they gave all (Acts 5:2-3:8). They were not required to give all (Acts 5:2-3, 8). They were not required to give all (Acts 5:4). They simply wanted others to think that they had.

They lied. They lied to man. However, they had lied not only to man, but to the Holy Spirit to God. Every sin is a sin first and foremost against God. It has been said that when man lies, he cares more about what man thinks, than he does what God thinks. He is behaving cowardly toward man, and bravely toward God. God knows our every word (Psalm 139:1-4; Matthew 12:6).

Peter and the other apostles, it seems, were endowed with every spiritual gift. One of these gifts was the discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10). James Burton Coffman comments, “The apostles of Christ, after their baptism in the Holy Spirit, were inspired men, able to perform miracles and to discern the thoughts of men… if such a fraud as that undertaken by Ananias and Sapphira had been successful, it would have discredited the central authority of God’s church upon earth. The sale of a piece of land, as well as the price paid and received, could not long have been concealed, since such things have been in the public record of every generation; and if the deception had succeeded, the word of the apostles themselves would have been suspect.”

2.  Grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30a).

The word translated “grieve” means “to cause pain” (Vine’s). The Holy Spirit can be pained by us.

How do we grieve the Holy Spirit? The book of Isaiah used this same language. There, rebellion against God grieved the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:10). Rebellion grieves God (Psalm 95:7-11).

What about the immediate context of Ephesians? There are behaviors toward others that are to be put off (4:22; 25a, 26-27, 28a, 29a, 31). There are behaviors towards others that are to be put on (4:24, 25b, 28b, 29b, 32). The point seems to be that when we do not treat one another according to God’s word, it grieves the Holy Spirit.

3.  Insult the Spirit (Hebrews 10:24-31).

The context concerns the church assembly. The assembly is not only about honoring God, it is an opportunity “to stir up love and good works” in one another (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Those who willfully forsake the assembly: (1) miss the opportunity “to stir up love and good works” in others (Hebrews 10:24-25 cf. Colossians 3:16); (2) treat the blood of Christ as if it were a common thing, unappreciated, not special (Hebrews 10:29 cf. Acts 20:7 cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26); (3) treat insultingly the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29), Who has revealed the gospel and has taught Christians to assemble.

4.  Quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

It is helpful to understand that the instructions of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 are written in parallelism. (1) “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) is parallelism. It is expressing a similar thought three ways. (2) “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophesies” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20). This is parallelism. The power and influence of the Spirit is quenched when revelation is despised. (3) “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). This is parallelism. All things should be spiritually tested (cf. Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1). If it passes the test it can be practiced. If it fails the test, abstain from it.

This likely concerns the use of miraculous gifts. Remember that the use of miraculous gifts could be suppressed by the one who possessed such gifts (cf. 2 Timothy 1:6; 1 Corinthians 14:32). It may be that some were afraid of boldly proclaiming the message because of the opposition in society, and were not using the God-given abilities which they possessed.

The power and influence of the Spirit may also be quenched by rejecting the message. Paul warned, “he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has given us His Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:8 cf. 2:13).

The power and influence of the Spirit may also be quenched by negative words. I once heard a woman, after a Gospel meeting in which the truth was preached, tell her friend, “not all of us in the church of Christ think that way.” She apologized for the truth. She quenched the Spirit.

The power and influence of the Spirit may be quenched by listening but not practicing. God’s word is to be put into practice (Ezekiel 33:31-32; Matthew 7:24-27; James 1:22).   There is no telling what good could be done if we all would truly put into practice what we know to do.

5.  Defile the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

The temple is the church (1 Corinthians 1:2 cf. 3:16-17). The language is collective of the whole church. “You” is plural “temple” is singular. “The only correct usage of a plural pronoun to refer to a singular noun as its antecedent is if the singular noun is a collective noun. The only collective usage of the word ‘temple’ in the New Testament is when the apostles have the church in mind” (Marion Fox, The Work of the Holy Spirit, Vol. 1, p. 235). It is not uncommon for the church to be pictured as the temple in the New Testament (Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16).

Let’s consider the Old Testament.  Did God literally dwell in the temple of old?  No! (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 6:18; Acts 7:47-50; 17:24-25).  However, He did manifest Himself in it (2 Chronicles 7:1-2).  The temple, and the tabernacle before it, represented God and His presence (Exodus 25:8; 29:45-46).  Sometimes there was even visible evidence of His presence (Exodus 40:3-38; Deuteronomy 31:15; Leviticus 16:1-2; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3).

Even so, the church represents Him on earth. The church at Corinth had dwelling in it a visible manifestation of His presence through miraculous evidence. How they conducted themselves would influence how others thought of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:1, 5; 14:23). Christians need to be careful about the message they send in their behavior (Romans 2:21-24; Titus 2:3-5; 2 Samuel 12:13-14a).

The context concerns a man’s “work” in the temple (1 Corinthians 3:12-15), and “work” seems to refer to members which are added (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1). Marion Fox commented on defiling the temple, “False teachers, who converted by unscriptural means or by teaching false doctrine, were destroying the church by building with faulty building materials. These faulty building materials were unconverted or half-converted persons” (ibid, p. 236).

Note: Everything to this point has primarily had reference to sins that children of God do against the Spirit. However, the next two have reference primarily, but not exclusively, to the non-Christian.

6.  Resist the Spirit (Acts 7:51-52).

Let’s notice the context. Stephen reviews Israelite history. (1) They had rejected the prophets and their message time and again (Acts 7:9, 22-25, 35, 37-39). (2) They had mistreated and killed the prophets of God (Acts 7:51-52). (3) They did not keep the law (Acts 7:53). (4) His point to those to whom he was speaking was that they were of the same character in their rejection of his message and Christianity (Acts 6:8-13; 7:51-52; 7:57-8:2).

Those who oppose and reject the message of the gospel are guilty of resisting the Spirit. The Spirit does not exert an irresistible grace on us. He can be resisted.

7.  Blasphemy against the Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10).

The meaning is evident in context. Jesus had performed a miracle healing a blind, mute, demon possessed man. His opponent could not deny it. However, they suggested that he did it “by Beelzebub,” instead of by the Holy Spirit. Mark’s account explains what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit saying, “because they said, ‘He has an unclean Spirit’” (Mark 12:30). J.W. McGarvey commented, “The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit here denounced is the evil speech just made by the Pharisees, in which a work performed by the Holy Spirit was attributed to Satan” (Commentary on Matthew and Mark, p. 109).

Still today, one can speak against the evidence the Holy Spirit has provided. One can possess a heart that is so set against Jesus that no evidence, not even the plainest evidence will change him. The person will not see, because he does not want to see (Matthew 13:14-15). The person will not believe, because he does not want to believe (Romans 1:20-21). The person will not submit, because he does not want to submit (Romans 1:28a; John 3:19-20).

Note: For more information, see article – The Unpardonable Sin by Bryan Hodge

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Where is the Stigma?

“One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 23:2).

It certainly was not the fault of the illegitimate offspring that he was so born.  “The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son” (Ezekiel 18:20).

Why then this command?  Let me suggest that the command was designed to put a stigma on illegitimacy, and thereby send a message to society that such is not God’s ideal for bringing children into the world.

What about today?  I do realize that we are not under the specifics of the Old Covenant.  However, there are valuable principles to be learned (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Jude 5). I am greatly concerned that today all stigma has been removed.  Individuals and churches throw baby showers, even without repentance and confession of sin, welcoming the illegitimate into the world.  Moreover, these showers sometimes go beyond helping with some basic necessities, and celebrate in the coming child.  Families celebrate parenthood, and grandparenthood which comes this way.  There is no longer any apparent shame over such.

This acceptance applies as well to those in other sins.  One can live openly in sin, and still enjoy family gatherings, thanksgiving meals and the like without repentance and confession.  In one case, I recall a group of church members eating a thanksgiving meal together.  One lady invited her drug-addicted son, who had been supposedly withdrawn from by the church, to be a part of the meal and games which followed.

Paul said this, “I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or an drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person” (1 Corinthians 5:11).  The wording “keep company” (sunanamignumi) means “to mix together with, co-mingle… to mingle one’s self with… to associate with, to have familiar intercourse with” (Perschbaucher).  True, not all sins are to be handled in the same manner (see article – Different Type of Sin by B.H.).  However, those who are informed but still engage in open, willful, sin and who refuse to repent are to be so treated.  Such is to be done: (1) to make the sinner ashamed (2 Thessalonians 3:6);  (2) To try to produce repentance and bring salvation (1 Corinthians 5:6); (3) to protect and send a message to others (1 Corinthians 5:6 cf. Deuteronomy 13:11; 17:13; 21:21).  (4) to obey the inspired instructions (1 Corinthians 5:4-5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6).

Yes, it is difficult.  Yes, it hurts us to do this.  However, it also hurts not to do this.  Let us not be guilty of legitimizing sin.  There are three important questions to ask: (1) Are we willing to do what is right?  (2) Are we willing to do what is right, right now?  (3) Are we willing to let God’s word determine what is right?

We should help the one in sin to repent. We can hold the hand and walk down the aisle supportive of the one who is ready to confess sin. We can tell the one who has sin that the consequences of sin may be difficult, but we will stand by them and help them. We can do all of these things and more, but let us not legitimize sinful behavior by passively over looking such, doing this will not help.

 Once repentance has occurred, we are told – “you ought… to forgive and comfort… lest perhaps a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow… I urge you reaffirm your love to him” (2 Corinthians 2:6-8).  Let us remember that all have sinned.

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Peer Pressure

We hear a lot about “peer pressure” today.  Usually, the context of such discussions centers upon our teens.  Some boyfriend, girlfriend or group at school is trying to get “little Johnny” or “little Suzy” to do something that they should not (or not to do something that they should).  Now “little Johnny” or “little Suzy” knows what the right thing to do is… but, they want so very much to fit in, and be accepted by their peers, and thus you have “peer pressure.”

Brethren, two myths need to be dispelled. Myth #1 – “Peer pressure” is a new phenomenon.  My friends, “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  We may not have always used the label “peer pressure,” but the concept is not new.  It was in the garden of Eden.  Adam was not deceived (1 Timothy 2:4). It was “peer pressure” to which he succumbed.  Thus, this concept is not new.  It is, in fact, one of Satan’s oldest ploys.  Myth #2 – “Peer pressure” only affects the young.  No, on the contrary, it affects adults too.   It did in Jesus’ day. Notice the words of John 12:42-43: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him (Christ – B.H.); but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him (Christ – B.H.), lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they love the praise of men more than the praise of God.”  It was due to Pilate’s “wanting to gratify the crowd” that prompted him to release of Barabbas, and deliver Jesus to be crucified (Mark 15:9-15).  Political pressure and the desire to please caused him to this. (Do we call this peer pressure? It could be argued that these Jews were not even his peers.) It was peer pressure which caused Peter to separate himself from gentile Christians (Galatians 2:11-14) “Peer pressure” a very real thing. It is not new; it has existed throughout the history of man-kind.  It affects young and old alike.

What can be done?  (1) We must honestly ask ourselves, “Whose praise and friendship do I want?” (John 5:44; 12:42-43).  (2) We must acquaint ourselves with the fact: To compromise truth for the sake of earthly friends is to love those friends more than God (John 12:43); in fact, it is to make oneself an enemy of God (James 4:4; Matthew 10:37). (3) We should choose friends that will better us and not hinder us in our walks of righteousness (Proverbs 13:20; 22:24; 27:17; 1 Corinthians 15:33). A friend worth having will not seek to influence or pressure us to do evil (1 Corinthians 13:6; Proverbs 27:5-6). (4) We, as God’s people, need to have close fellowship one with another, so that members of the church do not feel that they have to look elsewhere for acceptance and love (Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10; 5:14; 2 John 5). (5) We should remember that the true Christian never will be popular with the all (Luke 6:26; 2 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 10:25). (6) We should remember that even if all on earth reject us, we still have a friend who has promised “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 27:10).

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Now Is That Rainy Day!

You have heard the saying: “We are saving it for a rainy day.” This may be prudent in one’s personal life [The Bible warns against: (1) wastefulness (Proverbs 12:27; 19:24; 21:20); (2) the life of luxury, prodigal living of the high life (Proverbs 21:17 cf. Luke 15); (3) abuse of credit (Proverbs 6:1-5; 11:15; 17:18; 22:7); (4) lack of preparation for the future (Proverbs 30:25). Moreover, it teaches that we are to: (1) support self and family (2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 5:4, 8, 16; 2 Corinthians 12:14). (2) Pay financial obligations (Psalm 37:21; Proverbs 6:1-5; James 5:4), including taxes (Matthew 17:24-27; 22:15-21; Romans 13:1-7)]. This may be prudent in business [though, money is a tool for growth. It should not sit idle, but put to work – at least drawing interest when possible (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27)].

What about churches? “Saving for a rainy day” may be prudent. Some reserves are needed. Major expenses do occur (roofs, foundations, plumbing, electrical, parking lots, flooring). Nature can be destructive (hurricanes, tornadoes, hail, wind, termites). Economic downturns do occur (members get laid off from their jobs or lose their jobs). Members disappoint (get disgruntled and leave), etc.

However, I suspect that sometimes the “saving for a rainy day” is just an excuse for not using talent, or even hoarding. Remember, money can be viewed as a tool for growth (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27).

The work of the church is: evangelism (proclaiming the good news, trying to reach the lost); edification (building up, strengthening, fortifying members); benevolence (kindness toward those in need); and worship of God (see article – The Work of the Church by B.H.). The church should use its money to accomplish these works, to the glory of God, and as an attempt to help save man.

Franklin Camp made these pertinent observations: (1) “One of the blessings of my life has been the privilege of working with some elders who believe that opportunities create responsibilities, and that, when they lead the church in accepting responsibilities, God will provide the needs… How many doors are closed by leadership today by simply saying, ‘That is not in our budget?’’(Principles and Perils of Leadership, p. 10). (2) “What is a budget? …it is a means of growing character When elders decide that a budget is raising money instead of developing spiritual lives, they have lost their concentration on the principles of Christianity” (ibid, p. 33).

What about that rainy day? Let me suggest to you that Now Is That Rainy Day! Society is at a moral low. The illegitimate birth rate in 2012 was 40.7% (Roger Clegg, nationalreview.com, October 11, 2013). It was 5.3% in 1960 (William Bennett, The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, p. 46). The abortion rate is 21% (gutmacher.org, July 2014). “Cohabitation has increased 900% over the last 50 years” (Lauren Fox, theatlantic.com, March 20, 2014). “Two-thirds of couples married in 2012 shared a home together for more than two years before they ever waltzed down an aisle” (ibid). The divorce rate in 2010 was 41% of all first marriages; 60% of second marriages; and 73% of third marriages (divorcestatistics.org). The divorce rate was one in six in 1940 (Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation, p. 231). In 2012 there was 386.9 violent crimes per 100,000. The number was 160.9 per 100,000 in 1960 (Wikipedia.org). Property crime in 2012 was 2,859.2 per 100,000. The number was 1,726.3 in 1960 (ibid). Churches are struggling. “Somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 churches close their doors every year… Between 2010 and 2012, more than half of all churches in America added not one new member. Each year, nearly 3 million previous churchgoers enter the ranks of the ‘religiously unaffiliated’” (Steve McSwain, Why Nobody Wants to go to Church Anymore, Huffpost, October 14, 2013). “More than 40% ‘say’ they go to church weekly. As it turns out, however, less than 20% are actually in church” (ibid). The Disciples of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran church, Lutheran church (Missouri Synod), Episcopal church, American Baptist, United Methodist church, Presbyterian church, and the United Church of Christ all saw declines of adherents between 1990 – 2000. During this same period, the church of Christ grew barely by 2.7% (Flavil Yeakley Jr., Why They Left, p. 30). Do not get too excited. The population of the U.S. increased 13% during this same period (Bloomberg.com). We are losing about 45% of our young people when they leave home, about 12% fall away but return in time, 33% fall away and do not return (Flavil Yeakley Jr., Why They Left, p. 30). My personal observation is that most local churches are graying. If this is not a rainy day, then what is? It seems time for a full-court press, but such is another metaphor.

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Recipe for Revival

“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

1.  Humility is needed. Pride blinds one to his own sins (Luke 18:9-14). Pride deceives one into a false sense of security (Obadiah 1:3). Pride hinders spiritual health and growth (Proverbs 26:12).   Pride prevents one from returning to God (Hosea 7:10). Pride is an abomination to the LORD (Proverbs 16:5; 6:16-19).

The first step to forgiveness is humility. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God” (James 4:6-7a). “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). The humble pray, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:14). They do not deny their sins. They are not arrogant or self-righteous. They understand just how much they need the mercy and grace of God.

2.  Prayer is needed. When one has become guilty of sin, denying that guilt will not help. The Bible declares, “He who covers his sins will not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13a). When sin exists in one’s life, denying such is at best self-deception (1 John 1:8), and at worst it is lying to God (Acts 5:4), or even denying His word and thereby calling Him a liar (1 John 1:10).

When one has sinned, one needs to humbly acknowledge such to God. “Whoever confesses and forsakes (sins – B.H.) will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13b). Peter instructed Simon, “Repent… of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22).   John declared, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:10). David prayed, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions…” (Psalm 51:1-3). The tax collector beat his breast saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). It takes humility to do this. It takes a broken and contrite spirit. He will not despise such (Psalm 51:17).

3.  A God-ward seeking needed. Some do not have a God-ward attitude. There are those who do not like to retain God in their knowledge (Romans 1:28). They do not even like to think of Him. There are those who worship Him with their lips, but their heart is far from Him (Matthew 15:8; Ezekiel 33:31). There are those who try to run from their God given-responsibility, as did Jonah (Jonah 1:1-3).

One needs a God-ward heart to be spiritually successful. “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:29-30). “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33). Christians are to “seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). Creation should “Seek the Lord, in hope that they might grope for Him and find Him” (Acts 17:27). It has been promised, “You will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29). The spiritually successful seek Him. They want to know Him. They want a good relationship with Him. The want His fellowship.

4.  Repentance is needed. Some want a relationship with God, without any change of behavior. It will not work. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth (1 John 1:6). “He who says ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).

One in sin needs to repent. Repentance is a change of mind, and this change of mind will produce change in behavior (Matthew 12:41 cf. Jonah 3:10). “Whoever confesses and forsakes (sins – B.H.) will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). “Repent… and pray” was the instruction given to Simon

If these four things are followed good things will result. God will forgive sins. A nation ills can be healed if the whole would do these things.

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The Ethiopian Eunuch’s Confession (Acts 8:37)

 

“And the eunuch said, ‘See here is water.  What hinders me from being baptized?'” (Acts 8:36).

“Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’  And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'” (Acts 8:37).

Does verse 37 belong in the Bible?  Is it genuine?  Many do not believe that it is.  The manuscript evidence available to us is not very supportive of this verse.  It appears in no known Greek manuscript before the 6th century.  The Codex Laudianus from the 6th century is the earliest Greek manuscript we have which contains this verse.  Moreover, this verse is missing in the earliest known translations known to us.

However, the words clearly pre-date the 6th century.  Irenaeus (130-202 A.D.) wrote that the eunuch confessed, “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Against Heresies 3:12).  Cyprian (200-258 A.D.) wrote, “In the Acts of the apostles… ‘Lo here is water; what is there which hinders me from being baptized?’  Then said Philip, ‘If you believe with all your heart you may.'” (Treatises of Cyprian).  Augustine (354-430 A.D.) wrote, “The eunuch believed on Christ, and said when they came to certain water, ‘See water, who does hinder me to be baptized?’  Philip said to him, ‘Do you believe on Jesus Christ?’  He answered, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’  Immediately, he went down into the water” (Sermon 49).

There is reason to question the genuineness of this verse.  J.W. McGarvey pointed out, “The fact that it is interpolated does not prove that the eunuch did not make the confession.  On the contrary, when rightly considered, it establishes the presumption that the passage, as it now reads, is  faithful account of the event” (Original Commentary on Acts).

When studying with someone who objects to the use of this verse, remember that there are other passages which can be used to teach the same doctrine.  Jesus Christ is the Son of God, according to the scriptures (cf. Acts 9:20).  Belief comes before baptism in the Bible (cf. Acts 8:5, 12; 16:30-34; 18:8).  Confession is to be made (cf. Matthew 10:32; 16:16; John 12:42-43; Romans 10:8-10; Philippians 2:9-11; 1 Timothy 6:12-13; Hebrews 3:1), and such is to occur before salvation (cf. Romans 10:8-10).

It is important to keep in mind that no doctrine is affected in manuscript differences.  F.F. Bruce remarked, “The variant readings… affect no material question of historic fact or Christian faith and practice” (F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, pp. 19-20)  The New Open Bible/ NKJV preface reads, “Some variation exist in the spelling of Greek words, in word order, and in similar details… other manuscript differences, regarding the omission or inclusion of a word or  clause, as well as two paragraphs in the gospels, should not overshadow the overwhelming degree of agreement which exists among the ancient records.  Bible readers may be assured that the most important differences in the English New Testament of today are due, not to manuscript divergence, but to the way in which translators view the task of translation: How literal should the text be rendered?  How does the translator view the matter of Biblical inspiration?  Does the translator adopt a paraphrase when a literal rendering would be quite clear and more to the point?” (p. 14).

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Mardi Gras: A Mockery of Pure Religion

It is called “Mardi Gras” meaning “Fat Tuesday.”  It is called “Carnival” from “Carne Vale” meaning farewell to flesh.”   It is the last opportunity to revel and “live it up,” before the Catholic’s forty days of lent starts, and abstinence begins.  The lent season is supposed to be a time to grow in virtue through penance, sacrifice, and mortification leading up to “Easter Sunday” (Note: Sundays are not counted when counting out the forty days). Really, Mardi Gras is, to many, an excuse for sin.  Booze, the flashing of boobs, and transvestites are common sights at Mardi Gras celebrations.

It is difficult to distinguish Mardi Gras celebrations from pagan feasts.  New Orleans has the Bacchus Parade on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday.  Bacchus was the Roman god of wine.  There use to be a Comus parade and still is a Comus organization. Comus was the Greek god of festivities and excess. He is the  son of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. “During his festivals in Ancient Greece, men and women exchanged clothes. He is depicted as a young man on the point of unconsciousness from drink” (Wikipedia). Comus is source for the Greek word translated “revelries” in Galatians 5:21.  The word is listed among the works of the flesh.

Many believe that the celebration is pagan in origin.  Robert Farrell has written, “Mardi Gras long predates Christianity.  The earliest record comes from ancient times, when tribes celebrated a fertility festival that welcomed the arrival of spring… The Romans called this pagan festival Lupercalia in honor of ‘Lupercus,’ the Roman god of fertility.  Lupercalia was a drunken orgy of merry-making held each February in Rome, after which participants fasted for 40 days.  Interestingly, similar to modern celebrations, the Romans donned masks, dressed in costumes and indulged in all of their fleshly desires as they gave themselves to the gods ‘Bacchus’ (god of wine) and ‘Venus’ (god of love).  The masks and costumes were used as disguises to allow sexual liberties not normally permitted as individuals engaged in ‘bacchanal,’ the drunken and riotous occasion in honor of Bacchus.  The word ‘bacchanal’ is still associated with carnival celebrations to this day.   As pagans converted to Catholicism, they did not want to give up this popular celebration.  Church leaders… decided to ‘Christianize’ this festival” (realtruth.org).

Remember these passages:

1.  Galatians 6:7 – “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

2.  James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

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