The Unethical Understudy

The Unethical Understudy

Neal Pollard

One wonders if perhaps Elisha saw Gehazi as being to him what Elisha was to Elijah, an heir-apparent to his own work. Indeed, Gehazi had been with him from at least since the miracle with the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:12), witnessing God’s providential care of the prophet, seeing Elisha raise the dead (4:32ff), and now the curing of Naaman’s leprosy (5:1-14). Gehazi had seen God’s power firsthand in incredible ways. He had to be aware of Elisha’s inclination to execute justice on the ungodly–from disrespectful lads to the rebellious Moabites. But Gehazi had some internal problems, moral weaknesses that would literally plague him. Notice 2 Kings 5:15-27.

First, he rationalized (20). Elisha had continuously shown his faith in God’s ability to provide. Naaman generously offers to give the prophet a handsome reward. Gehazi witnessed Elisha’s refuse to “take a present” from the army captain (16). Elisha was more focused on Naaman’s physical and spiritual cleansing. Rather than trusting God’s provision, Gehazi saw an opportunity for himself. He thought to himself, “As the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him” (20). We get in a lot of trouble when we feed our desires for what we want and work to convince ourselves it is the right thing to do. Maybe Gehazi forgot about Achan (Josh. 7:20-21). Remember this warning: “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts” (Prov. 21:2). In other words, we can find a way to justify any sin in our hearts, but God sees through it. So it was with Gehazi.

Second, he premeditated (21). He chases Naaman down. How often he rehearsed the story he was about to share, we don’t know. But even if he made up the story on the spot, it was in his heart before it was on his lips. Later, the prophet Isaiah would warn, “Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the Lord, And whose deeds are done in a dark place, And they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?” (29:15). Micah adds, “Woe to those who scheme iniquity, Who work out evil on their beds! When morning comes, they do it, For it is in the power of their hands” (2:1). 

Third, he lied (22). Up to this point, Gehazi’s sin was personal and internal. At any point, he could have reversed course with a penitent heart. He could have repented of his coveting. He could have stopped his pursuit. Instead, he catches up with Naaman, who asks him what’s wrong. Then, he audaciously tells this whopper: “My master has sent me, saying, ‘Behold, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothes’” (22). He must have been very pleased when Naaman gave him even more than he asked for. Maybe, the rationalizing servant even convinced himself God was with him since things were turning out so well for him financially. 

Fourth, he covered up (24). After the deed was done and he was returning to his “day job,” Gehazi gives evidence that he knew he was dead wrong. He went to his house before returning to Elisha, and he dropped off his stash before nonchalantly “went in and stood before his master” (25a). 

Fifth, he lied again (25-26). Elisha does something we’ll see again in the case of Peter and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1ff). The prophet asked him where he had been and Gehazi lies to him. Lying is a cascading crime. Usually, it requires more lies to protect the previous ones. Unfortunately for Gehazi, Elisha already knew the truth. Would things have been less severe for the servant if he had come clean? We’ll never know. 

Ironically, a heathen obeyed God and was cleansed. Now, a servant of God disobeyed Him and was sullied with the stain of his sin. He found out what Moses once told Israel: “…you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). The leprosy of Naaman clung to him and would on his descendants forever (27). Thus ended the story of Gehazi, special servant of the mighty prophet. Thus began the story of Gehazi, the terminal leper. 

We live in an age where the moral compass of the world is broken. As we are in the world, we find ourselves tempted to abandon “true north.” It is so important for us to stay vigilant (1 Pet. 5:8), keeping our conscience sensitive (1 Pet. 3:16) and our motives pure (1 Chron. 28:9; 1 Th. 2:3).  The world needs examples of moral strength, in an age where rationalizing evil, plotting evil, and doing evil are commonplace. Honesty, integrity, unselfishness, humility, and the like are qualities the world will not find within. They will have to see it reflected in the lives of people whose ethics derive from God and His Word. 

Why Does God Allow Evil To Exist?

Why Does God Allow Evil To Exist?

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

The problem of evil is a very difficult issue for many Christians. Most people reading this article have seen someone lose their faith or justify atheism with this exact problem. Maybe some of you have struggled with it too — I did for a long time. 

Evil is dysfunction. What God made in the beginning was functional and good. At some point, forces outside of this earth rebelled against God. We don’t know when this happened, but it was before mankind sinned (Genesis 2.16-17, 3.4-5; Ezekiel 28), likely before humanity was even created. 

But evil exists on earth because we introduced it. We opened that pandora’s box because we were given the freedom to do so. God warned us not to, but we did it anyway. So why doesn’t he stop bad things from happening to good people? He often does. Hebrews 1.14 and Matthew 18.10 prove that he uses angels to help his family. Evil still exists because it allows us to choose our own destiny. 

We do have to remember, though, that satan runs the planet right now (II Corinthians 4.4). This is his time, before he’s tortured around the clock for eternity (Revelation 20.10). 

When we introduced dysfunction to earth, it had far-reaching consequences (Romans 8.15ff). Evil is short-lived and on borrowed time. Jesus defeated satan when he came back to life (Hebrews 2.14; Colossians 2.14-15). Evil affects us all, but it won’t last forever. Just because it still exists now does not mean that God doesn’t exist or doesn’t love us. His unlimited forgiveness should be enough to get us through this life so we can leave evil behind forever (II Corinthians 12.8-9). It’s hard to have that mindset, but it’s worth it. 

Gary Pollard
A Light In The Dark

A Light In The Dark

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Wherever light is, there is no darkness. That almost sounds silly and maybe a little obvious. Light and darkness in the Bible often depict the concept of good and evil but nowhere is the impression given that the dark is equal to light. In both the Old and the New Testaments, we find the concept of light and darkness. It represents the believers and the nonbelievers and it also represents good and evil. Biblical writers understood God to be the ultimate Light— the ultimate goodness of the world. When John refers to Jesus as “light” in his gospel this is the concept that he is trying to get across. Jesus is pure. He’s a beacon of hope— he is Light. Strangely, scientists are still baffled by light. NASA spent a mountain of money attempting to come up with a color so dark that it could even consume light but it just isn’t possible. 

No darkness can stifle the light of Jesus.

To this day He is shining bright through His followers to ensure that this dark world can see Him and that means we have an important job to do. In gospel of John, we find this profound statement, “…the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). At this point John begins another section on light and more is revealed about the two contrasting realities. There is the light, who is Jesus, and those who did not love the light because their deeds were evil. The reason they rejected the Light was because they were separated from it by their own wickedness. Evil is done with ease in the dark and we tend to fool ourselves into thinking that we are hidden and secure under its cover. 

Alaska’s crime rate significantly drops in the summer because the sun shines continually, but in the winter months the crime rate is much higher. It’s easier to get away with evil in darkness. Notice the bold statement following this, “Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:20). Light exposes the wickedness, and exposure is not something an evil person desires.

 Today lights are used by doctors to shine down your throat, in your ear, and to expose any potential problems. We have automatic porch lights and flood lights as well as “brights” for those backroads. Jesus is here to expose the sins of others and welcome those that come to Him. This also goes to show that an individual can claim to love the Light, while living in darkness— this person hates the Light. Action speaks louder than words and in a spiritual sense this could not be more accurate. Do your actions reflect that you love the Light? 

Dale Pollard
Monkey Trap (And Letting Go)

Monkey Trap (And Letting Go)

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Maybe you’ve heard of this well-known Southeast Asian method of trapping a monkey. This simple method only requires the hunter to get a coconut or some kind of container that’s hard to break and carve a hole that’s big enough for a monkey’s hand that’s open—but not big enough when its clenched up in a fist. What these primates won’t do even as they see the hunter approach them is unhand the bait. Therefore, their fist inside the coconut traps them there until they are caught.

The principle of the monkey trap can be found in many aspects of life, and it is not foreign to the Bible either. In Matthew 19:16-30 (cf. Mk. 17-31; Lk. 18:18-30) is a story we know very well, in which a rich young ruler asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. 

Jesus knew in that moment what exactly that young man needed to hear and told him what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. However, because he was so rich and did not want to part with his wealth, the young man became sad.

We don’t have Jesus in the flesh in front of us to tell us exactly what we need to do in order to get into heaven, but that does not mean that we are lacking in any way. Through the pages of God’s inspired Word, we are being taught and guided what is required for us to enter into Christ and live a faithful life. 

The challenge for us, therefore, is not that we do not have Jesus to tell us what to do. No—in fact, we have him right here with us, around us, and within us. All around us is the presence of God and our savior. What it boils down to, then, is our fisted up hand inside the trap. 

We may look at the monkey that’s trapped by such a simple device and laugh, but don’t we often find ourselves shackled by the one or two sins that keep plaguing our lives? For the rich young ruler, it was his wealth, but this isn’t about being rich or poor. Even those without money can be chained by their sins that they cannot let go.

It’s the beginning of a new year. A time people usually spend contemplating how this new season of life will play out. How many times have we told ourselves, “I will stop this time,” or “I’ll work on this and get better about it.” When will we loosen our fists that grip so hard on the things that drive us away from God, and finally let go?

The rich young ruler could not let go, and therefore he became sad. Knowing what he needed to do, he still failed. Not because he wasn’t told nor because he didn’t understand. It was a willful decision to choose what’s in his fist rather than Jesus. He teaches us a lesson through this unfortunate outcome. How many times does God tell us through His Word exactly what we need to do, just like Jesus did with the young man? Let us be better in the coming year, to finally thwart off the chains that bind us. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” God has already rescued us. It comes down to us deciding that we want to be saved, rather than be shackled by what’s in our stubborn fists. 

David Chang
The Post That Used “Love” 25 Times

The Post That Used “Love” 25 Times

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

Jesus loves us and that truth is found all through the Bible. The Bible teaches us to love others like Jesus loves us, but that’s only helpful if we understand the implications. 

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love.” 

I John 4.16 

Piecing Together Bible Principles 

  1. Unnatural? This love calls us to live in a way that’s completely unnatural since it involves living through the eyes of everybody else. It’s the proper placement of “self” on the bottom shelf (John 3.30). 
  2. Rejection? In some circumstances, this love may demand the rejection of warm and friendly feelings for the call to act in a Christ-like sacrificial way. That love can prove to be a painful practice at first, but those pleasant feelings of gratitude and joy come when we learn to appreciate what He did first. Our selfless Savior was unbiased in His death for all mankind and that’s difficult to imagine. 
  3. Discipline? Love means discipline. When it comes to our personal dedication to the practice of that love, we must be disciplined. When God disciplines us, He means to refine so that we can enjoy a more intimate relationship with Him. 

Love Looks Like This 

If we wish to love like God we must put others before ourselves. We must call out sin. We must speak boldly in the defense of Him. Love means proclaiming to the lost the message about the God who made Heaven and Hell. 

Putting The Summary On Simmer 

To love Jesus and to love like Jesus are two connected ideas.

“But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  I John 4.8 

You can’t say you love Jesus if you don’t love like He does. You can like Him, and He’ll still love you— but only loving Jesus leads to life after death. 


Loving someone occasionally means begging them not to make poor decisions, but allowing them to do so. If and when the pleas are ignored, it pains us to see those we love hurt themselves. 


The ability to understand and experience emotions of such complexity must be part of our godly imaging. That’s something which is ingrained within all of us. 

The Lessons Of Peter And Paul At Antioch

The Lessons Of Peter And Paul At Antioch

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

As a free moral agent, Simon Peter had the same capacity for sin as the rest of us. And Peter sinned despite being an apostle. We recall Peter’s most famous blunder on the night of Jesus’ mock trial (Luke 22.60-62). Or perhaps we remember Peter sticking his foot in his mouth on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17.4-6). But there was another occasion on which Peter’s fallibility demonstrated itself. According to Galatians 2.11-14, Peter allowed his fear of the Judaisers rule his heart and stopped associating with Gentile Christians: 

“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of some men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and separate himself, fearing those from the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?’ (NASB)” 

Paul labels Peter a hypocrite. Remember how Paul reminded Peter that he lived as a Gentile rather than a Jew, referring to his life in Christ, in whom we make no such distinctions (Galatians 3.28). Indeed, a hypocrite is someone whose true character contrasts with the image he presents to the world. And unfortunately, Peter was guilty of doing such at the moment. Peter didn’t want the Judaisers, a zealous sect of Christians who believed Gentiles should first convert to Judaism before becoming candidates for Christian conversion, to know he had no problem freely associating with Gentile Christians. He preferred instead to maintain the charade of one whose first allegiance was to Moses’ Law.  

When we allow fear to rule our hearts, we make poor decisions. Peter should have considered the role of fear in his past failures. Fear caused Peter to sink instead of walk on water as he had done for a few steps (Matthew 14.28-30). Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the boisterous waves, exacerbating his fear rather than alleviating it. Fear drove Peter to deny the Lord three times before the rooster crow because he feared the consequences of admitting he was the Lord’s disciple rather than accepting the repercussions of that admission (Mark 14.31). But God does not want us to be concerned about what might happen. Instead, he desires that we put our trust in Him, cast our cares on Him, and make decisions that glorify Him. And once we develop perfect love, it casts out such fear (1 John 4.18).  

But did Paul have to rebuke Peter publicly? Yes. Peter had sinned publicly. There was no point in following the guidelines provided by our Lord to take such an erring brother aside privately (Matthew 18.15-16). Plus, Paul knew his judgment sound by having also received the revelation of Jesus Christ. Peter’s sin was spreading itself as cancer among the brethren of Antioch (cf. 1 Corinthians 5.6-7). Had Peter’s choice affected him alone, that would have been one thing. But Peter had a position of influence. He was an apostle. Therefore, he influenced other Jewish Christians to act hypocritically, including Paul’s future missionary journey companion, Barnabas.  

Did Peter resent Paul for so doing? I don’t imagine anyone enjoys having another rebuke him. Though referring to persecution, the Hebrews’ writer nonetheless says discipline can be painful. Despite this, a Christian understands that discipline trains him to become more fruitful (Hebrews 12.11). However, Peter must have known the words of Solomon that the one later favors a rebuker rather than the flatterer (Proverbs 28.23). Peter could, on reflection, appreciate what Paul had done for him. And that Peter bore no ill will for Paul is seen in the fact that Peter refers to Paul as a “beloved brother” in 2 Peter 3.15. 

Thus, Peter teaches us by example both positive lessons worthy of emulation and types of behavior we need to avoid, such as in Galatians 2. We should not allow our fear of what others think or our esteem for others to cause us to deviate from the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. And Paul teaches us that when someone sins publicly, and we know this because of God’s Word, we should nip that error in the bud since sin will act as leaven, permeating the body of Christ.     

Full Translation Of 1 John

Full Translation Of 1 John

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

It’s existed since the beginning. We’ve heard it ourselves and we’ve seen it with our own eyes. We’ve studied it and touched it with our own hands. This is the word of life, and this life was shown to us. Everything we’ve heard and witnessed and told you about is this eternal life. He came from the father and was revealed to us. We’ve told you everything we’ve seen and heard so you can partner with us. We have this partnership with the father, as well as with his son Jesus Christ. We’re writing this to you to make our joy complete.

The message that we’ve been hearing from him is the same one we’re giving you: God is made of light, and no darkness exists in him whatsoever. If we claim to be partners with him while our lives are defined by walking in darkness, we’re liars and can’t even practice the truth. But if our lives are defined by walking in light, we have partnership with each other. On top of that, the blood of God’s son Jesus gets rid of any and all sins we have!

If someone says they don’t have sin, they’re lying – no truth exists in them. If we admit that we have sin in our lives, he is consistent and morally pure, so he’ll forgive us and get rid of our moral impurity. If someone says they’ve never even sinned, they make God a liar. His word will have nothing to do with them. 

My children, I’m writing all of this to you to help you avoid sin. But when we do sin, we have someone who came from God and who advocates for us: Jesus Christ, the morally perfect one who gets rid of every one of our sins. He doesn’t just take care of our sins, he does the same thing for everyone in the world! 

We can know for sure that we know him if we do what he’s told us. Anyone who claims to know God but doesn’t do what he’s told us is a liar. The truth doesn’t exist in them. If we do what he’s told us to do, the truth is in us and God’s love is, too. That’s how we know we’re with him. If we claim to be with him, we’re obligated to live by the same standard Jesus lived by. 

Loved ones, I’m not giving you a new commandment here. It’s the same one that’s existed since the beginning of time: love each other deeply. You’ve heard this before. It is new in a way, though. The same truth that existed in Jesus now exists in you. Darkness is disappearing and the true light is already shining through. 

If someone claims to be in this light but hates their Christian family, they’re actually in darkness. If you love your Christian family, you’re a part of this light. You don’t trip other people in their walk, either. Anyone who hates their spiritual family lives and walks in darkness. They’re lost because the darkness has blinded them. 

Children, I’m writing to you because Jesus forgave your sins. 

Fathers, I’m writing to you because you’ve known this from the beginning. 

Teens, I’m writing to you because you’ve defeated the evil one. 

Children, I’m writing to you because you’ve always know the father. 

Fathers, I’m writing to you because you’ve known this from the beginning. 

Teens, I’m writing to you because you’re strong. God’s word lives in you, and has defeated the evil one. 

My loved ones, do not love this world or anything in it. If you love the world, God doesn’t love you! There’s nothing good in this world. Unhealthy sexual desire, materialism, and unhealthy pride are not from God. They’re exclusive to the world, which is disappearing along with everything in it. Anyone who does what God wants, though, will live forever. 

Little children, the end is coming soon. You’ve already heard that enemies of Christ are coming. Well, many of those enemies are already here. That’s how we know the end is coming soon. They left us, but they were never really with us or they would’ve stayed. They showed their true colors when they left. 

But you have been chosen by the holy one, and you know everything you need to know. I’m not writing to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, unlike those who lie. 

Anyone who denies that Jesus is the chosen king is a liar. Anyone who rejects the father and the son is an enemy of Jesus. Anyone who rejects Jesus rejects his father, too. 

But anyone who acknowledges Jesus partners with the father, too! It’s important that you stick to what you’ve heard from the start. If you do, you are partners with the son and the father. Through this message we’ve been promised eternal life. 

I’m writing to you because people are trying to deceive you. He chose you, and that stands – no one needs to teach you anymore about it. When he chose you, you learned everything you needed to know. His choosing you was true, not a deception. Stick with him. Stick with him so that when he comes back, we can have confidence without having to feel ashamed. You know that he’s morally perfect. 

Look into the kind of love the father gave us: we can be called “God’s children,” and we actually are! The rest of the world doesn’t know us, but that’s because they never knew God. 

We are God’s children right now, but we have no information about what we’re going to be in the future. What we do know is this — when it’s made known, we’ll be just like him. We know this because we’ll be able to see him the way he is now! Anyone who has the kind of hope that comes from him is pure, the same way he’s pure. 

Anyone who continuously, consciously sins is anti-law. Sin itself is anti-law. We’ve known that Jesus was revealed to everyone1 so that he could lift away sin, and sin doesn’t exist for you when you’re partners with him. Everyone who sticks with him avoids sin – if you continuously sin, it means you’ve never seen or known him. 

Children, don’t let anyone fool you. If you continually practice moral excellence, you’re as pure as he is. If you continuously practice sin, you’re an ally of satan. He’s been a sinner since the very beginning. 

God’s son was sent here for a specific reason: to destroy satan’s work. Anyone who joins God’s family for real is able to avoid sin. How? His very essence lives in you, so you’re unable to commit sin because you came from God. 

This is how you can tell the difference between God’s family and satan’s family: if they aren’t practicing moral goodness, they aren’t God’s. If they don’t selflessly love their Christian family, they aren’t God’s. 

This is what you’ve heard from the beginning: you should love each other. Don’t be like Cain, he was evil. He slaughtered his own brother. Why would he do that? Because he did evil things, and his brother was morally pure. 

Don’t be surprised, family, if the world hates you. You know you’ve transferred from death to life when you love your Christian family. Those who don’t love their Christian family are still dead. Anyone who hates their Christian family is a murderer — and you know that no murderer lives forever. 

This is how we know what love is: Jesus gave up his own life for everyone. We owe each other our lives, too. Let’s say one of you is living life to the fullest, financially comfortable and stress-free. If you notice that one of your brothers or sisters needs basic necessities and you suppress your feelings of compassion, can God’s love exist in you at all? Children, don’t just say you love each other — prove it by how you treat each other. 

This is how we know we exist in the truth: we can pacify our guilty consciences in front of God whenever our hearts condemn us. God is more powerful than our hearts and he knows everything! Loved ones, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we can be completely confident when we pray to God. If we ask him for something, he’ll give it to us. This is because we do what he’s asked and we listen to his commands. 

These are his commands: believe in his son (Jesus, the king), and selflessly love each other. Everyone who carefully practices those commands is with God, and God is with them. 

This is how you know you’re with him: he gave us his spirit. Loved ones, don’t believe every spirit, but really put them to the test to see if they came from God. You’ll need to test them because a whole lot of fake teachers were sent to the world. 

This is how you know if a spirit came from God: every spirit that comes from God will acknowledge that Jesus was sent to earth as a human. If a spirit refuses to acknowledge this, it isn’t God’s. In fact, it’s the spirit of Jesus’s enemies. You heard that the spirit of Jesus’s enemy was coming — it’s here now. 

Young ones, you are from God and have already beaten these spirits. How? Jesus is far more powerful than his enemies, and he’s with you. These enemies come from the world, so they talk like it — and the world listens to them. But we came from God. If you know God, you’ll listen to us. God’s enemies are the ones who don’t listen to us. This is how you can tell the difference between a legitimate spirit and a fake one.

Loved ones, we should make a habit of showing each other selfless love. This is because love comes from God. Everyone who makes a habit of showing love is part of God’s family. They show that they know God well, too. If someone fails to practice selfless love, they don’t know who God is. God is love. 

This is how we know God loves us: he made it pretty clear when he sent his only son to earth to give us life forever. That was real love — not the same way we love God. No, God loved us so much that he sent his one son for the purpose of taking away all of our sins. Loved ones, since God showed us that kind of love, we owe each other love, too. 

At no point has anyone ever taken a good look at God. But since we love each other, he’s with us. He continues to grow his love in us!  

This is how we know that we’re with him and he’s with us: he gave us his spirit. We were there, we saw firsthand that the father sent his son on a mission to save the world. Whoever agrees that Jesus is actually God’s son is with God, and God is with them. Because we saw him, we came to believe and really understand the kind of selfless love that God has for us. God is love. The one who practices love is with God, and God is with them. 

This love is being matured in us for a reason: so we can be completely confident on the last day when everyone is judged. If we have selfless love, we’re considered to be as pure as Jesus was when he was on earth. Love leaves no room for being afraid. If we mature our love, that love keeps us from being afraid. If we live in fear of judgment day, it’s because we haven’t matured in our love. 

We practice love because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but still hates their Christian family, they’re a liar. How’re you supposed to love a God you can’t see while failing to love a Christian family you can see? It’s not possible. Remember the commands he gave us: we have to love God and love our Christian family, too. 

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the king who came from God should also love everyone who belongs to God. When we love God and practice what he commanded, that’s how we know we love his family, too. We prove that we love God when we do what he’s commanded, and those commands aren’t difficult to live out. 

If you’re a part of God’s family, you’ve already beaten the world. Our faith is how we’ve won — if you believe that Jesus is God’s son, you’ve won against the world already! 

Jesus Christ is the one who came to earth with water and blood — notice that he didn’t just come here through water, but also with his own blood. And the true spirit attested to this, because it’s true. In fact, there are three proofs of who Jesus is: the true spirit, the water, and the blood. All three of these agree with each other. We accept what people say about Jesus when it’s true, but God’s testimony about Jesus is far superior. 

This is what God said: if you keep believing that Jesus is God’s son, you have God’s approval. If you don’t believe God, you make him a liar. It means you never believed what God said about his son. God gave us eternal life, which exists only in his son. If you have his son, you have life. If you don’t have the son, you don’t have life. 

We’re writing this to you so you’ll know you have life forever. This is for those of you who believe the name of God’s son. We can be confident when we talk to God — if we make a request that aligns with his will, he listens to us. We know he listens whenever we ask, and that he’ll give us what we ask for. 

If one of you sees a Christian family member sin (not the kind that causes death), ask God to give them life, and he will. This only applies to the kind of sin that doesn’t cause death. There is a kind of sin that leads to death, and I’m not saying you should pray for someone who commits that kind of sin. Every morally wrong act is sin, but there are sins that don’t lead all the way to death. 

We know that no one in God’s family continues to sin. God’s son personally protects us, and evil can’t affect him at all. We know that we belong to God, but evil controls the whole world. We know that when God’s son came to earth, he gave us the ability to understand the true one. We live in truth through his son, Jesus Christ. He is the truth, and he is life forever. Children, keep each other away from idols. 

Do You Know The Magnitude Of Your Debt?

Do You Know The Magnitude Of Your Debt?

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Do you have a “debt problem”? According to credit service, Experian, the average credit card debt per household is $5,315 (Wallethub puts it at $7,849). Renting money comes at a high cost with exorbitant interest.  Perhaps you or a loved one have faced an enormous debt, medical costs, business or student loans, or a mortgage that made for uncomfortable living? Most of us know how that feels, to one degree or another. We don’t like the thought of owing someone. It gives them power and control over us (read Prov. 22:7). Perhaps you are one of those who can say that you don’t owe anyone–not the credit card companies, the mortgage company, the automobile dealers, etc. But you are still in debt! So am I. 

Luke reveals a dinner party with a very diverse cast of characters (Luke 7:36-50). There’s Simon, a Pharisee, who plays host (36). There are several dinner guests (49), but sinless Jesus, God in the flesh, is the guest of honor (36). Then, there was a woman who crashed the party, whose name Luke doesn’t give us but who instead is identified by her lifestyle–“a woman in the city who was a sinner” (37). The Pharisees were the custodians of the Old Law (Mat. 23:2). Simon would be a man of great reputation, one who we’d think would not be the indebted type. This unnamed woman was the opposite. 

Such is the setting that allows Jesus to drive home a powerful point about debt. The woman, with a visibly enormous, spiritual debt, spends money (Mark and John record a similar incident where the contents were worth as much as 300 denarii, or almost a year’s wages), sacrifices dignity, submits humble service, and shows significant emotion (37-38). Apparently, “who” she was was well-known and she had nothing to lose and everything to gain. She is the picture of transparency and need.

Apparently, Simon is at the other end of the spectrum, physically, socially, and, at least on the surface, spiritually. In fact, he sits in judgment of Jesus for allowing the woman to be so familiar with Him, thinking to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who & what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner” (39). 

Jesus, able to read Simon’s thoughts, uses them as a launching point to teach that vital point about spiritual indebtedness. He shares the parable of two debtors. There was a disparity between the two debts, but neither could repay what they owed. The lender forgives both debts, no strings attached. Who would feel the greater depth of gratitude and affection? The answer is obvious, and Jesus makes application.

He points to how humbly and freely the woman expresses her love and appreciation to Jesus, while Simon is negligent in all the ways she was demonstrative. Jesus points out that this is about faith and forgiveness (47-50). The Lord doesn’t deny that the magnitude of the woman’s sinfulness is enormous (47), but He fully and freely forgives her. Simon’s disadvantage is not as apparent, but is definitely serious. Was he prideful? Self-righteous? Judgmental? There are definitely signs of such struggles in his life. 

It is dangerous to live a life of sin and rebellion against God’s will. Too many never come to grips with their need for faith and forgiveness. But, it is at least as dangerous to be blind to our sin problem or to rationalize and minimize its effect upon our lives. This woman teaches us to be transparent with God and others, to acknowledge our debt, to ask the only one capable of forgiving it to do so, and then to live with humble gratitude and renewed resolve and purpose. Because, whether we admit it or not, we all have an insurmountable debt we cannot repay without His help. 

Is the Bible Homophobic?

Is the Bible Homophobic?

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

Romans 1:27 says, “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” 

There is no denying the fact that scripture clearly states that it is a sin to commit shameful acts that go against what God intended. Since this is the case, many will take this verse and others and claim that the Bible (God) is homophobic. 

While the Bible does label it as a sin, it does not encourage Christians to hate homosexuals or anyone else! Homophobia is defined as “having or showing a dislike of or prejudice against gay people.” The Bible does not approve of this. 

Several things we need to consider: 

  • Sin is sin. There is no greater or lesser sin. 
  • Just because some can’t fathom it and feel tempted by it, doesn’t justify hating those who are. 
  • Cheating on a test is just as much a sin in God’s eyes as homosexuality, and both will separate man from God. 
  • Sin will always be found in mankind. 
  • Remember that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. 
  • Just because someone sins in a way that might be different doesn’t give us the right to hate and ridicule them.

Above all else, the Bible calls for us to love everyone. The second greatest command outside of loving God is to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31). 

We are called to love each person. Every sinner; even our enemies. Love the sinner, and hate the sin.

Moral Protection And Identification (1 John: Part 7)

Moral Protection And Identification (1 John: Part 7)

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of I John in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an “essentially literal” translation, and should be read as something of a commentary. 

Moral Protection, Identification

Anyone who continuously, consciously sins is anti-law. Sin itself is anti-law. We’ve known that Jesus was revealed to everyoneso that he could lift away sin, and sin doesn’t exist for you when you’re partners with him. Everyone who sticks with him avoids sin – if you continuously sin, it means you’ve never seen or known him. 

Children, don’t let anyone fool you. If you continually2 practice moral excellence, you’re as pure as he is. If you continuously practice sin, you’re an ally of satan. He’s been a sinner since the very beginning. 

God’s son was sent here1 for a specific reason: to destroy satan’s work. Anyone who joins God’s family for real is able to avoid sin. How? His very essence lives in you, so you’re unable to commit sin because you came from God. 

This is how you can tell the difference between God’s family and satan’s family: if they aren’t practicing moral goodness, they aren’t God’s. If they don’t selflessly love their Christian family, they aren’t God’s. 

 1 ἐφανερώθη means, “to reveal, make visible, … expose publicly … with focus on sensory aspect rather than cognitive” (BDAG φανεροω). The idea seems to be that, unlike his other missions – which were invisible to the human eye (cf II Kgs 6.17ff, 19.35; I Chron 21.14f) – Jesus’s presence was visible to everyone. Since the word is aorist passive, “was sent,” and, “was revealed,” seemed appropriate. 

 2 Use of continuously and continually is not accidental. No one can continuously practice righteousness (cf I Jn 1.8). John posits sin as something we all have, but which is not held against us. Only when we sin so much that it defines our existence do we find ourselves in darkness. While “continuously” is not literally correct, it highlights the intention of the author more effectively. One who sins without ever coming up for air is different from one who struggles with sin (cf I Jn 1.7f; Rom 7.14-25).