Category: Christianity

Why believe in Christianity above all other Religions?

Critics often ask why we should believe in Christianity over all other religions in the world. How can it be that only Christianity is true?  If God exists, why can’t God use different religions?  Don’t all paths lead to God?  Skeptics ask these kinds of questions all the time, and unfortunately, few Christians have the answers.

Nevertheless, they cannot be different paths of the same God because they teach different gods, and contradict each other. And, none of the other religions have Jesus who claimed to be God in the flesh, fulfilled detailed prophecy, died on the cross, and three days later rose from the dead. Therefore, in an attempt to demonstrate why Christianity is true, and all other religious systems are false, I’ve prepared the following list of reasons for Christianity’s superiority.

There are such things as absolute truths

If truth is relative, then the statement that truth is relative is an absolute truth statement and would be a self-defeating statement by proving that truth is not relative.  But, if the truth is absolute, then the statement “truth is absolute” is true and not self-defeating.  It is true that truth exists.  It is true that truth will not contradict itself, as we have just seen.  It is true that you are reading this paper.

If we can see that there is such a thing as truth in the world, then we could also see that there can be spiritual truth as well.  It is not absurd to believe in spiritual absolutes anymore than physical or logical absolutes.  Even the statement that all religions lead to God is a statement held to be a spiritual absolute by many people.  This demonstrates that people do believe in spiritual truth.  Why?  Because truth exists.  However, not all that is believed to be true is true.  Furthermore, all belief systems cannot be true since they often contradict each other in profound ways – and the truth is not self-contradictory.

Religions contradict each other; therefore, they cannot all be true.

Mormonism teaches that there are many gods in existence and that you can become a god.  Christianity teaches that there is only one God, and you cannot become a god.  Islam teaches that Jesus is not God in the flesh – where Christianity does.  Jesus cannot be both God and not God at the same time.  Some religions teach that we reincarnate, while others do not.  Some teach there is a hell, and others do not.  They cannot all be true.  If they cannot all be true, it cannot be true that all religions lead to God.

Furthermore, it means that some religions are, at the very least, false in their claims to reveal the true God (or gods).  Remember, truth does not contradict itself.  If God exists, He will not institute mutually exclusive and contradictory belief systems in an attempt to get people to believe in Him.  God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33).  Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that there can be absolute spiritual truth and that not all systems can be true regardless of whether or not they claim to be true.  There must be more than a mere claim.

Fulfilled prophecy concerning Jesus

Though other religions have prophecies in them, none are 100% accurate as is the Bible; and none of them point to someone like Jesus who made incredible claims and performed incredible deeds.  The Old Testament was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, yet the Old Testament prophesied many things about Jesus.  This is undoubtedly evidence of divine influence upon the Bible.

Please consider some of the many prophecies of Jesus in the following chart:

ProphecyOld Testament ProphecyNew Testament Fulfillment
Born of a virginIsaiah 7:14Matt. 1:1825
Born at BethlehemMicah 5:2Matt. 2:1
He would be preceded by a MessengerIsaiah 40:3Matt. 3:1-2
Rejected by His own peopleIsaiah 53:3John 7:57:48
Betrayed by a close friendPsalm 41:9John 13:26-30
His side piercedZech. 12:10John 19:34
CrucifixionPsalm 22:1,
Psalm 22:11-18
Luke 23:33;
John 19:23-24
Resurrection of ChristPsalm 16:10Acts 13:34-37

Fulfillment of prophecy can have different explanations.  Some state that the New Testament was written and altered to make it look as if Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (but there is no evidence of that).  Others state that the prophecies are so vague that they do not count (but many of the predictions are not vague at all).  Of course, it is possible that God inspired the writers; and Jesus, who is God in the flesh, fulfilled these prophecies as a further demonstration of the validity of Christianity.

The claims and deeds of Christ

Christianity claims to be authored by God.  Of course, merely making such a claim does not make it true.  Anyone can make claims, but backing up those claims is entirely different.  Jesus used the Divine Name for Himself (John 8:58), the same Divine Name used by God when Moses asked God what His name was in Exodus 3:14.  Jesus said He could do whatever He saw God the Father do (John 5:19), and He claimed to be one with God the Father (John 10:3010:38).  Likewise, the disciples also called Him God (John 1:114John 10:27Col. 2:9).  By default, if Jesus is God in the flesh, then whatever He said and did would be true.  Since Jesus said that He alone was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one can find God without Him (John 14:6), His words become incredibly important.

Again, making a claim is one thing.  Backing it up is another.  Did Jesus also back up His fantastic words with miraculous deeds?  Yes, He did.

The eyewitnesses recorded the miracles of Jesus, and the gospels have been reliably transmitted to us.  Therefore, we can believe what Jesus said about Himself for two reasons:  one, because what He said and did agree with the Old Testament; and two, because Jesus performed many convincing miracles in front of people who testified and wrote about what they saw Him do.

Christ’s resurrection

Within Christianity, the resurrection is vitally important.  Without the resurrection, our faith is useless (1 Cor. 15:14).  It was Jesus’ resurrection that changed the lives of the disciples.  After Jesus was crucified, the disciples ran and hid.  But when they saw the risen Lord, they knew that what Jesus had said and done proved that He was indeed God in the flesh, the Savior.

No other religious leader has died in full view of trained executioners, had a guarded tomb, and then rose three days later to appear to many many people.  This resurrection is proof of who Jesus is, and that He did accomplish what He set out to do: provide the only means of redemption for humanity.

Buddha did not rise from the dead.  Muhammad did not rise from the dead.  Confucius did not rise from the dead.  Krishna did not rise from the dead, etc.  Only Jesus has physically risen from the dead, walked on water, claimed to be God, and raised others from the dead.  He has conquered death.  Why trust anyone else?  Why trust anyone who can be held by physical death when we have a Messiah who is greater than death itself?


Why should anyone trust in Christianity over Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, or anything else?  It is because there are absolute truths.  Only in Christianity are there accurately fulfilled prophecies of a coming Messiah.  Only in Christianity do we have the extremely accurate transmission of the eyewitness documents (gospels). So, we can trust what was originally written.  Only in Christianity do we have the person of Christ who claimed to be God, performed many miracles to prove His claim of divinity, who died and rose from the dead, and who said that He alone was the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).  All this adds to the legitimacy and credibility of Christianity above all other religions – all based on the person of Jesus.  It could not be that Jesus is the only Truth, and other religions also are the truth.

Either Jesus is true, and all other religions are false, or other religions are true, and Jesus is false.  There are no other options.  I choose to follow the risen Lord Jesus.

The Parable of the Four Foot Long Chopsticks

This old story was first recorded by Harry C. Mabry. It seems this person had just arrived in Heaven, was telling St. Peter what a glorious place it was, and asked Peter for just one glimpse into hell. This way the newcomer would appreciate heaven all the more.

Peter obliged the neophyte with a snap of the finger. In hell they saw a long table extending as far the eye could reach, laden down with the most delicious of all varieties of foods. But everyone around the table was starving to death.

When asked for an explanation, Peter said, “Everyone is required to take food from the table only with four-foot long chopsticks. They’re so long that no one can reach the food from the table to his or her mouth, and everyone is dying of starvation.”

Quickly they returned to heaven, and behold, the new arrival saw an identical table, laden down with identical foods. But everyone around the table was happy and well fed.

Then the newcomer said to Peter: “How do they take the food from the table?” Peter answered, “Only with four-foot long chopsticks.” At that the new arrival inquired: “Then why are all those in hell starving to death while all those up here are so well fed and happy?”

Peter replied: “In heaven we feed each other.”

My Love Restores You

💫 *My love restores you*
🧚🏻‍♂️ Do not be afraid to follow me into the unknown, for I am the One who leads you and restores your life. I have placed my glorious treasure within you, and I care for you. This year will be a year of restoration in your life.

*You will be restored in my love, strengthened in my grace, and surrounded with songs of joy.*

I will restore you. Never limit me. I will restore your family and those you love. All will know that I am the One who gives back what has been lost. Don’t doubt that my grace is enough for you and for your family. I will restore your mind and your heart as you come before me. Crooked things will be made straight within you, healing your spirit and soothing your soul.

I will restore your dreams. I will fulfill those desires within you and bring them to completion. You will touch the lives of others. In the whispers of the night, I will watch over every word I speak to you, and it will be fulfilled. You will see that *my ways are perfect and my love restores*.👼- Brian Simmons and G Rodriguez
🎊 💖 *Yes, God Loves You* 😘 🌹

Letter to the Laodicean Church in the Book of Revelation

As Many As I Love I Rebuke

Rev 3: 14 – 22 NKJV The Lukewarm Church

14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans[b] write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.

16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[c] I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—

18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 AS MANY AS I LOVE, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”

Question: “What was Jesus’ message to the church in Laodicea in Revelation?”

The seventh and final letter to the churches of ancient Asia Minor is to the church in the city of Laodicea. This last message is found in Revelation 3:14-22. Laodicea was a wealthy, industrious city in the province of Phrygia in the Lycos Valley.

The message is from the Lord Jesus Christ via an angel or messenger (likely a reference to the church’s pastor): “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write . . .” (Revelation 3:14). This was not simply John’s message to those in Laodicea; it was a message from the Lord. Jesus identifies Himself thus: “The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” These titles emphasize the Lord’s faithfulness, sovereignty, and power to bring all things to their proper completion (the “Amen”).

In contrast to the other six churches, the Laodicean church has nothing to commend it. Jesus begins the message with condemnation: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:15-17).

Jesus emphasizes their “lukewarm,” apathetic nature three times. As a result of their ambivalence to spiritual things, Jesus would have nothing to do with them. He would “spit them out,” as the people of Laodicea would spit out the tepid water that flowed from the underground aqueducts to their city. With their apathy came a spiritual blindness; they claimed to be rich, blessed and self-sufficient. Perhaps they were rich in material things. But, spiritually, the Laodiceans were in a wretched, pitiful condition, made all the worse in that they could not see their need. This was a church filled with self-deceived hypocrites.

Jesus calls the Laodicean church to repent of its sin: “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:18). Their material wealth had no eternal benefit, so Jesus commands them to come to Him for true, spiritual riches (see Isaiah 55:1-2). Only Christ can supply an everlasting inheritance, clothe us in righteousness, and heal our spiritual blindness.

Jesus then notes His concern for His church in Laodicea: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:19-20). His rebuke is not born of animosity but of love. “The Lord disciplines those he loves” (Hebrews 12:6). The desired response to God’s reproof was zealous change and true repentance.

Verse 20 is often used as an evangelistic appeal, yet its original context communicates Christ’s desire for fellowship with His lukewarm church in Laodicea. The church is nominally Christian, but Christ Himself has been locked out. Rather than turn His back on them, He knocks, seeking someone to acknowledge the church’s need and open the door. If they would repent, Jesus would come in and take His rightful place in the church. He would share a meal with them, a Middle Eastern word picture speaking of closeness of relationship.

Jesus then makes a promise to the believers in Laodicea: “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21). The “overcomer” refers to any believer, and the promise is that he will share Christ’s future kingdom.

In summary, the church at Laodicea had become apathetic in their love for Christ. They were allowing “the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things [to] come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). Christ called them to repent and live zealously for Him, to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). The Lord Jesus issues the same call to those who say they follow Him today.

What was the doctrine of Balaam in the church at Pergamum?

Revelation 2:12-17 New International Version (NIV)

To the Church in Pergamum

12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.

14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

Question: “What is the doctrine of Balaam?”

In Revelation 2:14, the church of Pergamum is scolded for tolerating the “teaching of Balaam,” or the “doctrine of Balaam.” Balaam’s name is also invoked in 2 Peter 2:15 and Jude 1:11, both in warnings about the conduct and message of false teachers. All of these are references to the Old Testament character of Balaam, who tried unsuccessfully to prophesy against the people of Israel (Numbers 22). He eventually advised King Balak of Moab, the enemy of Israel, to pursue a campaign of seduction against them (Numbers 31:8). The doctrine of Balaam is not only a serious problem, but a devious one. When the frontal assault failed, Balaam took a back-door approach.

Balaam, a prophet from Mesopotamia, was willing to use his God-given talents for illicit purposes. Even though he knew Balak was God’s enemy, he tried to sell his prophetic gifts to help him. When that didn’t work, Balaam counseled Balak on the most effective way to weaken Israel. This was through seduction, using Moabite and Midianite women to tempt the Israelites into sexual relationships and into pagan rituals. The Israelites who participated brought God’s judgment upon themselves (Numbers 25:1–9).

According to 2 Peter 2:15, Balaam’s “way” is a choice to promote falsehood for financial reasons. According to Jude 1:11, Balaam’s “error” was his willingness to accommodate pagan beliefs out of greed. Jude 1:4 also refers to the sin of those “who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality.” One trait of false teachers in the church is that they attempt to turn Christian liberty into a “freedom” to be promiscuous (see Romans 14:1–5).

Putting these ideas together gives a clear view of the doctrine of Balaam. It is the attitude that one can be fully cooperative with the world and still serve God. The doctrine of Balaam teaches compromise, wanting Christians to forget they are called to be separate and holy (Leviticus 20:261 Peter 1:2); the doctrine of Balaam makes believers indistinguishable from the unbelieving world (Matthew 5:13). The doctrine of Balaam is a belief that “a little sin” doesn’t hurt (Galatians 5:9), especially if there’s some financial or personal benefit involved (1 Timothy 6:5). A person following the doctrine of Balaam is willing to compromise his beliefs for the sake of economics. He acts to enable sinful behaviors for personal gain or even participate in them (Romans 1:32).

In practical terms, the teaching or doctrine of Balaam is the view that Christians can—or even should—compromise their convictions for the sake of popularity, money, sexual gratification, or personal gain. It’s the attitude that treats sin as “no big deal.” Christians can’t—and shouldn’t—totally shun the presence of sinners or unbelievers (Luke 7:341 Corinthians 5:9–13), but we are obligated to stand up for truth (Ephesians 4:25), righteousness (Proverbs 23:20Romans 14:22), and goodness (2 Peter 1:5Matthew 5:16), whether it’s what others want to hear or not (John 4:16–188:11Acts 24:24–25).

Who were the Nicolaitanes in the Church at Ephesus?

Revelation 2 (KJV)

1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Question: “Who are the Nicolaitans mentioned in Revelation 2:6, 14-15?”

The exact origin of the Nicolaitans is unclear. Some Bible commentators believe they were a heretical sect who followed the teachings of Nicolas—whose name means “one who conquers the people”—who was possibly one of the deacons of the early church mentioned in Acts 6:5.

It is possible that Nicolas became an apostate, denying the true faith and became part of a group holding “the doctrine of Balaam,” who taught Israel “to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.” Clement of Alexandria says, “They abandoned themselves to pleasure like goats, leading a life of self-indulgence.” Their teaching perverted grace and replaced liberty with license.

Other commentators believe that these Nicolaitans were not so called from any man, but from the Greek word Nicolah, meaning “let us eat,” as they often encouraged each other to eat things offered to idols. Whichever theory is true, it is certain that the deeds of the Nicolaitans were an abomination to Christ. They, like the Gnostics and other false teachers, abused the doctrine of grace and tried to introduce licentiousness in its place (2 Peter 2:1519Jude 1:4).

Jesus commends the church of Ephesus for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans as He does (Revelation 2:6). No doubt the leaders of the Ephesian church protected their flock from these destructive heresies and kept their people from committing the same evil deeds.

All sin is hateful to Christ, as it should be to His followers, as we hate men’s evil deeds, not the men themselves. For the church at Pergamos, Jesus had not commendation, but censure. Unlike the Ephesians, they actually embraced the teachings of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:15).

Jesus warns them that unless they repent, they are in danger of the judgment that is sure to fall on those who teach false doctrine, attack His church, and destroy His people. The sword of judgment is poised over their heads, and His patience is not limitless (Revelation 2:1619:15).

The lesson for us is that the church of the Lord Jesus throughout the ages has been plagued by those of the Nicolaitan spirit. The only way to recognize false teaching is to be intimately familiar with truth through the diligent study of the Word of God.

Is Jesus the Only way? Isn’t this the height of arrogance?


One of the most common accusations flung at Christians is that they are arrogant. “How can you believe that you’re right and Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims—all the thousands of other religions—are wrong?” Isn’t it the height of arrogance to claim that Jesus is the way to God? A way, possibly. But the way?

This issue haunts many Christians and makes us reluctant to talk about our faith. We don’t want to appear arrogant, bigoted, or intolerant. This pluralistic view of religions thrives very easily in places like Canada or Europe where tolerance is valued above everything else. It’s very easy slip from the true claim—”all people have equal value”—to the false claim that “all ideas have equal merit.” But those are two very different ideas indeed.

Let’s take a brief look at the “all religions are essentially the same” idea. Suppose I say that I’ve just got into literature in a big way. This last year, I’ve read William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf and Tolkien, but also Harry Potter and The Very Hungry Caterpillar—and I’ve concluded that every author is identical.

Would you conclude that: (a) this is the most profound statement on literature you’ve ever heard? Or would you conclude (b) that I don’t have the first clue what I’m talking about? I suggest that you’d probably choose (b). Now, what about the statement “all religions are the same”? Doesn’t it likewise suggest that the person making it hasn’t actually looked into any of them?

Because once you do, you realize it’s not that most religions are fundamentally the same with superficial differences but the reverse is the case: most religions have superficial similarities with fundamental differences.

A further problem with the idea that all religions are essentially the same is that it ignores a fundamental truth about reality: ideas have consequences. What you believe matters, because it will effect what you do.

To claim that all religions are essentially the same is to say that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere—and this neglects the fact that you can believe something sincerely and be sincerely wrong. Hitler held his beliefs with sincerity—that doesn’t make them true.

However, truth, by its very nature, is exclusive. If it is true, as Christianity claims, that Jesus was crucified, died, and rose from the dead, then it is not true, as Islam claims, that Jesus never died in the first place and that somebody else was killed in His place. Both claims cannot be true. Truth is exclusive.

But just because truth is exclusive, that doesn’t make truth cold and uncaring. Truth for the Christian is personal. The Jesus who said “I am the only way” also said “I am the truth.” In other words, ultimate truth is not a set of propositions but a person. As the Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:12, “I know whom I have believed.” Not what I have believed or experienced but whom. Jesus Christ.

To ask why we think that Jesus Christ is the only way is to miss the point entirely. Jesus does not compete with anybody. Nobody else in history made the claims He did; nobody else in history claimed to be able to deal with the problems of the human heart like He did. Nobody else in history claimed, as He did, to be God with us. To say that we believe Jesus is the only way should have nothing to do with arrogance and everything to do with introducing people to Him.

—Andy Bannister
(Andy is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Toronto, Canada.)

What does it mean when the Bible says that You must be Born Again?

John 3:1-21 New Living Translation (NLT)

There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again,[a] you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.[b] Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.[c] So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.

10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? 11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. 12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man[e] has come down from heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.[f]

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[g] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[h]

How does the Bible compare to Hindu Scriptures? A Christian Perspective!

The corpus of Hindu scripture is enormous. A person could spend a lifetime sorting through the millions of pages of sacred and semi-sacred texts. Even the most orthodox sections of scripture are many times larger than the Bible. Clarke, in an essay on Hindu scripture, defended his limited treatment of the Vedas with this description of his subject: “How large, how difficult to understand! So vast, so complicated, so full of contradictions, so various and changeable, that its very immensity is our refuge!” (1875, p. 81)

Recall that the four Veda Samhitās are about the size of the Old Testament, and the Upanishads number over 100. Among the smrti literature, the Epics are five times the length of the entire Bible, each of the 18 principle Puranās is about the size of the Old Testament, and over 5,000 texts of varying length belong to the dharmaśsāstra tradition. The Bible seems concise in comparison, containing only 23,314 verses in the Old Testament and 7,959 verses in the New.

An average Western library or bookstore stocks some abridged compilation of the Vedic Samhitāas, the 13 principle Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gīitāa, but only the most specialized libraries carry full versions of even the major scriptures. A Hindu equivalent of the Gideon missionary society would have to donate an entire library of books to hotels rather than a single volume to each room. Of course, Hindus have little interest in proselytizing, so it is not really a problem.

If the size were insufficient to deter an honest seeker of truth, the incomprehensibility of the scripture certainly would. The Bible was written originally in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Though Bible students rarely master the original languages, sufficient lexical aids exists so that the original meaning can be understood with relatively little difficulty. Hindu students are not so fortunate. Since the Vedas were delivered from an impersonal source (the “Absolute”) there can be no original meaning. “[T]he Veda has no author, no meaning beyond the words and the sacrificial actions themselves; one cannot appeal to a pre-verbal intention to get beyond the words” (Clooney, 1987, p. 660). Incidentally, as Clooney points out in his essay, postmodernists find this approach to understanding texts refreshingly in line with their own views.

English translations are available for the primary scriptures, yet even the most careful translations are difficult to understand. Most English translations of the Bible are on the reading level of a 6-12th grader, yet the same cannot be said of the Vedas. “Many [of the Vedas] are written in a style which even educated men find very difficult to understand; and, if they have to be studied in the original, only a very small part of them can possibly be mastered by one man” (Mitchell, 1897, p. 247). Archaic Sanskrit (also called Vedic), the language of the Rig Veda, is a dead language, and inaccessible to most Hindus. Other scriptures are written in classical Sanskrit, Prakrit, Tamil, and other regional dialects. The possibility of interpretation is further hampered by the belief that the Vedas consist of sacred sound, not written text.

Were the language difficulties to be sorted out, the problem of incomprehensibility would remain. Hindu scripture contradicts itself time and time again. One might expect works separated by thousands of years to disagree (and they do), but these contradictions are found even within individual texts. There are logical contradictions, conceptual contradictions, and even factual contradictions. This may be explained partially by the Hindu conception of scripture, as explained by Eliot:

“The Hindu approaches his sacred literature somewhat in the spirit in which we approach Milton and Dante. The beauty and value of such poems is clear. The question of whether they are accurate reports of facts seems irrelevant” (1968, 1:lxxi).

Apparently, contradiction is not regarded as evidence against the Vedas’ divine origin. Hindu scripture confirms this suspicion, and actually embraces the contradictions. The Laws of Manu recommends that both sides of a contradiction in the Veda be accepted as authoritative: “But where the revealed canon is divided, both (views) are traditionally regarded as law; for wise men say that both of them are valid laws” (Manusmrti 2.14).

Regarding the contradictions inherent in the Upanishads, the collection of texts considered by Olivelle to be the “vedic scripture par excellence of Hinduism” (1996, p. xxiii), Robson remarked: “It is hard to say what philosophical opinion might not be supported from the Upanishads, for the most contradictory statements find a place in them” (1905, p. 28). Likewise the Puranās, so holy as to be called “the fifth veda” (Chandogya Upanishad 7.1.4), are “for the most part intensely sectarian; one denounces beliefs and rites which another enjoins” (Mitchell, p. 260). Coburn stated that, when it comes to Hindu scripture, “sanctity often appears to be inversely related to comprehensibility” (p. 112).

Hindu scripture is for all practical purposes useless to the average Hindu for these and other reasons. This, of course, assumes that all Hindus have access to the scripture. Traditionally, Hindu society is divided into four castes, the Brahmin (priestly class), Kshatriya (ruling class), Vaiśsya (merchant class), and Śūdra (outcastes). The first three classes are known as the twice-born, and only the males of those classes are allowed to read the Vedas. All women and males of the Śūdra class are excluded because of their “impurity” (Manusmrti 2.164-172). These restricted groups do have access to the smrti writings and devotional literature, but the most sacred śruti texts are forbidden. The religion itself restricts to a select few the scripture that purportedly contains saving knowledge.

There is much morally reprehensible material within the Vedic literature. One 19th-century writer, speaking specifically of the Puranāas, underlined the true nature of the Hindu scripture: “The instructions which it professes to give are useless, where they are not scandalous and criminal. The only things clearly to be understood, are the profane songs, the obscene ceremonies, and the other indecencies connected with the prescribed festivals” (as quoted by Goodall, 1996, p. xxxviii). The immoralities endorsed by Hindu scripture range from racial prejudices and rigid social hierarchies to rape and murder.

For instance, the earliest Vedic texts, which are traced back to the Aryan invasion of the Indian subcontinent, reflect the racial biases of the invaders. It seems that the Aryans were a fairer-skinned people of Persian descent, whereas the indigenous peoples (Dāasas) whom they subjugated were of a darker skin color and Negro-Australoid features. One prayer directed to the warrior god Indra petitioned him to “give protection to the Aryan color” (Rig Veda 3.34.9). Another passage lauds Indra’s victory over the dark-skinned natives: “He, much invoked, has slain Dāasas and Simūs [dark-skinned natives], according to his will, and laid them low with arrows. The mighty Thunderer [Indra] with his fair-complexioned friends won the land, the sunlight, and the waters” (Rig Veda 1.100.18). According to Mitchell, the “language in which the Vedic poets speak of these enemies is uniformly that of unmingled, vehement hatred” (1897, p. 19). Critics might observe that the Old Testament is also guilty of ethnic cleansing; however, the Israelite battles were drawn over moral lines, not ethnic or racial (see Bass, 2003). Though the historical picture is unclear, it seems that the Dāasas were incorporated into the Aryan social hierarchy as the lowest class (Rig Veda 10.90.12). Evidence for this comes from the Sanskrit word for class, varna, which means “color” (cognate to the English varnish).

More disturbing than the Vedic treatment of race are the pervasive references to sex, and the its role in the religious ritual. The Kāma Sūutra of Vatsāyayana is one of the most infamous Hindu texts. Known as the “Aphorisms on Love,” or more popularly as the “Sex Manual,” the Kāma Sūtra celebrates sexual love (Kāama is the god of love, in many ways similar to Cupid). In addition to explicit information for use between husbands and wives, there are also sections entitled “Concerning the Wives of Other People” and “Concerning Prostitutes,” both providing advice on how to procure such forbidden fruit. The Kārma Sūtra is but one text among many. One entire category of smrti literature known as Tantras is dedicated to the worship of the goddess principle, Śakti. The esoteric teachings within that body of texts describe various sexual rites that represent the spiritual union of the worshipper’s soul with the goddess. Violence and sexual perversion penetrates even the most orthodox scripture. The Brhadāarankyaka Upanishad, for instance, condones rape:

Surely, a woman who has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period is the most auspicious of women. When she has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period, therefore, one should approach that splendid woman and invite her to have sex. Should she refuse to consent, he should bribe her. If she still refuses, he should beat her with a stick or with his fists and overpower her, saying: “I take away the splendor from you with my virility and splendor” (6.4.9,21).

Bestiality is likewise advocated. A particularly solemn rite for the early Vedic religion was the horse sacrifice. Though it probably was performed rarely, it is mentioned frequently in the Vedic commentaries. Note one section from the Śatapatha Brāhmana: “Then they draw out the penis of the horse and place it in the vagina of the chief queen, while she says, ‘May the vigorous virile male, the layer of seed, lay the seed’; this she says for sexual intercourse…” ( Examples such as this could be multiplied. To the list of atrocities in the Vedic scripture may be added human sacrifice (Aitaraya Brahmana 7.13-18), as if pornography, bestiality, rape, racism, inequalities were not enough.

The Bible is the authentic, authoritative, and final revelation of the true God. Though written over a period of 1,400 years by forty very diverse men on two continents, The Book is completely unified and free from error. A single theme is expanded upon throughout—the redemption of man through the Messiah. The Bible was confirmed by predictive prophecies and the miracles of the inspired men who wrote it. The moral laws contained within are more reasonable and consistent than that of any other religious or naturalistic system.

See A Remarkable Book Called The Bible and Prophecy In The Bible

By contrast, the Hindu scriptures have no final, objective authority; according to one Hindu, “all scriptural knowledge is lower knowledge” (Jayrama, 2000). Subjective religious experiences are generally preferable to written texts. Hindu scripture contains little that is noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, or praiseworthy. Allegedly a progressive revelation, Hindu scripture contradicts itself both within particular texts and as a body of literature. The Bible, also a progressive revelation, never corrects itself, but only compliments and fulfils that which has been written. Different Hindu scriptures present completely different paths to salvation (liberation)—karma-yoga (the path of action), jāña-yoga (path of knowledge), and bhakti-yoga (path of devotion). The Vedas contain no predictive prophecy and offer no miracles to confirm the revelation supposedly sent from God. Thus the Hindus have no accessible ground of truth, no normative written word, and no objective moral or religious instruction

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As Iron Sharpens Iron So One Person Sharpens Another!

Proverbs 27:5-17…As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

King Solomon knew that life in a community could be difficult, a theme he addressed in the book of Proverbs. In chapter 27, we see his wisdom applied to relationships. He likens the sharp words between friends as iron sharpening iron: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (V. 17), shaving off the rough edges in each other’s behavior.

Proverbs 27:6 King James Version (KJV)
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

The process may bring about wounds, (V. 6), but ultimately the Lord can use these wounds to help and encourage us to make needed changes in our attitude and behavior.

The Lord allows our rough edges to be smoothed over through the sandpaper of life. AMEN

What is the meaning of Iron Sharpens Iron?

Why does life sometimes feel like a jumbled mess? Life is but a Weaving Poem

Life is like an Embroidery. If you look at the embroidery from the wrong side, it look like a jumbled mess. But when you look at it from the right side you see a beautiful Pattern.

So when you look at life from our side, it seems like a jumbled mess. But if you see it from God’s side it’s beautiful. For God is working all things together for our own good, for those who love the Lord and are called according to his own purpose.

Romans 8:28 New International Version (NIV)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem) – Corrie Ten Boom

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”

The Parable of the Ten Virgins – What is the meaning of the Parable?

Matthew 25:1-13 King James Version (KJV)

1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

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What is Holiness and Moral Purity – By Pastor Chuck Swindoll

God's Will

Holiness sounds scary. It need not be, but to the average American it is. Our tendency is to think that holiness would never find its way into the office of a salesperson—certainly not that of an aggressive and successful athletics coach. Nor would a mother of small children be that concerned about holiness, nor a teenager involved in a busy high school, nor some collegian pursuing a career with his or her eyes on great financial goals. Let’s face it, holiness is something for the cloistered halls of a monastery. It needs organ music, long prayers, and religious-sounding chants. It hardly seems appropriate for those in the real world of the twenty-first century. Author John White seems to agree with that.

Have you ever gone fishing in a polluted river and hauled out an old shoe, a tea kettle or a rusty can? I get a similar sort of catch if I cast as a bait the word holiness into the murky depths of my mind. To my dismay I come up with such associations as:

hollow-eyed gauntness
long robes
stone cells
no sex
no jokes
hair shirts
frequent cold baths
hours of prayer
wild rocky deserts
getting up at 4 A.M.
clean fingernails
stained glass

Do you see that mental picture when you think of holiness? Most do. It’s almost as though holiness is the private preserve of an austere group of monks, missionaries, mystics, and martyrs. But nothing could be further from the truth.1

As a matter of fact, holiness does belong in the life of the teenager. Holiness does have a place in the office of the salesperson. It is, indeed, appropriate in the world of the up-to-date, aggressive, even successful individual.

I couldn’t be in greater agreement with Chuck Colson’s statement: “Holiness is the everyday business of every Christian. It evidences itself in the decisions we make and the things we do, hour by hour, day by day.”

The Fog: An Analysis of Today’s Moral Scene

Before going any further, let’s back off a few feet and get a little perspective on the moral scene today. Penetrating the fog will take some effort, I can assure you. Perhaps it will help to read the writings of a sixth-century B.C. prophet named Habakkuk. His name looks like a misprint, doesn’t it? On the contrary, the man was a bold voice for holiness in a day of compromise. A misfit, perhaps, but no misprint. Had you lived in his day, you may have wondered about his sanity! He was the kind of man who just wouldn’t “get in line.” His world was corrupt, but he believed in personal purity, of all things! How strange . . . yet how significant! We may not be familiar with him, but we surely understand his times.

He’s a man who was surrounded by a moral fog. His book is an ancient call for repentance. It is a holy cry to God for divine intervention. And it’s not just a cry; it’s more like a scream. He says:

How long, O LORD, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!”
Yet You do not save. (Habakkuk 1:2)

He saw immoral and brutal acts of violence. So, of course, he asked, “Why?” He also asked, “How long?” He struggled with God’s lack of immediate action. Though the prophet prayed, God seemed unusually distant. “How long? Why?” The heavens were brass. “Why don’t You act decisively? Why don’t You unfold Your arms and get with it in this old, polluted world of ours? How long before You deliver Your people, Lord?” He continues:

Why do You make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.
Therefore the law is ignored
And justice is never upheld.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore justice comes out perverted. (1:3-4)

Are You not from everlasting,
O LORD, my God, my Holy One?
We will not die. (1:12a)

“I thought You were holy. Aren’t You the Holy One? Then how can You sit back and do so little about my unholy world?” “[Habakkuk] could not reconcile a bad world with a holy God.” 3

How bad was his world? As we just observed, it was a world of brutal violence (1:2) so severe that the prophet screamed out his prayer. It was a world of personal iniquity and wickedness (1:3). “Why do You make me see iniquity?” The word includes lying, vanity, and idolatry. “Why do you cause me to look on wickedness?” That Hebrew term encompasses oppression, robbery, and assault.

There were crimes of homicide going on in the streets. “Aren’t You Jehovah of Judah? Aren’t You the God of this nation? Where are You, God?”

There were strife and relational wrangling. There were arguments in homes, fights between parents and kids as well as between marital partners and disputes between bosses and employees. And did you notice another relevant issue? The law was not being upheld. Even when it was, it was being compromised. What a scene! It’s going to sound familiar: brutal violence, personal iniquity, relational wrangling, legal compromise. You’d think Habakkuk lived in the inner city of some American metropolis.

I smiled when I was listening to a rather well-known Bible expositor several months ago. He said he’d just completed a serious study into the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries B.C. and found himself intrigued to discover what they wrestled with back then.

He mentioned five issues that concerned those ancient people:

the imminent outbreak of international hostility;
the breakup of homes—weakening marriages;
the rebellion of youth and their lack of respect for parents or for the elderly;
the corruption in politics—integrity was undermined; and
the chuckholes in the public roads!
Does that sound familiar? Does it sound like something you could identify with? History certainly has a way of repeating itself!

That’s what makes Habakkuk’s complaint so timely. “I thought You were holy, God! Where are You? How can You allow this to happen? I’m surrounded by a fog of moral pollution, and I’m tired of breathing it in. I’m tired of its diseased impact on my life. I’m beginning to wonder about a holy God in a world of people this unholy.” Maybe those are your sentiments too.

Habakkuk cried aloud. Another prophet, named Jeremiah, just quietly sobbed. I have in mind his words as recorded in Jeremiah 6. He lived a little later than Habakkuk, though not by much. Habakkuk feared the nation’s demise, but Jeremiah lived to see the nation destroyed.

That’s why he wrote Lamentations, which is another name for weeping. Appropriately, Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet.” He doesn’t scream. He doesn’t fight. He doesn’t even argue. He just sobs. He writes his prophecy while wiping tears from his eyes.

“Be warned, O Jerusalem,
Or I shall be alienated from you,
And make you a desolation,
A land not inhabited.” (Jeremiah 6:8)

To whom shall I speak and give warning
That they may hear?
Behold, their ears are closed. (6:10a)

Understand, that’s the result of living in the fog. The system takes its toll. Your ears slowly become closed, so much so that you can’t hear the spiritual message God is giving. “They cannot listen.” Observe the way Jeremiah puts it:

Behold, the word of the LORD has become a reproach to them;
They have no delight in it. (6:10b)

Do you want to know how that sounds in today’s terms? “Aw, c’mon . . . get off that stuff! Get up with the times, man! All that prophet-of-doom talk is old hat. This is where it’s at!” In Jeremiah’s words, “They have no delight in it,” that is, in hearing the truth about holiness.

But I am full of the wrath of the LORD;
I am weary with holding it in. (6:11a)

“I’m boiling. I’m churning . . . I’m so tired, Lord.”

“For from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is greedy for gain.” (6:13a)

Does that sound familiar?

Again, these verses describe life as it is lived in a moral fog. There is a constant fighting for gain. There’s competition to get more and more.

And to make matters worse:

“And from the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.” (6:13b)

Jeremiah weeps, “It’s bad enough that it’s in the law courts, but it’s now in the pulpits, Lord. It’s to the place where I can’t trust the one who wears a collar, who says he speaks for You. I can’t be sure that those who are robed with the mantle of God tell me the truth anymore. They deal falsely. They have healed the wound of Your people just slightly.” Look at what he says! “They keep saying, ‘Shalom, shalom!’ when there is no shalom! There isn’t any peace. But they keep saying, ‘Don’t worry. Don’t worry. It’s gonna be okay,’ when it’s not going to be okay.”

And if you don’t think that’s bad, look at verse 15.

“Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done?
They were not even ashamed at all;
They did not even know how to blush.”

Honestly now, did you know the Bible spoke of a time in history when people were so caught up in an immoral lifestyle that they no longer blushed? Jeremiah sobs, “I notice, God, that there are no more red faces. No one seems shocked anymore.”

Today I suppose we could call it compensating or maybe rationalizing. In order to handle the shock of our day, we compensate by remaining free of shock. I repeat, that’s part of living in the fog.

Psychiatrist Karl Menninger took up the pen of a prophet when he wrote Whatever Became of Sin? In that searching book he admits, “In a discussion of the sin of lust we have to allow for a considerable shift in the social code during the past century. It has been called a revolution, and perhaps it is. Many forms of sexual activity which for centuries were considered reprehensible, immoral, and sinful anywhere, and their public exhibition simply anathema, are now talked and written about and exhibited on the stage and screen.” 4

From Honesty, Morality, and Conscience by Jerry White, I find a similar concern:

We live in the age of freedom of expression and freedom of lifestyle. X-rated movies and magazines are available in every city. Legislation to control pornography has failed in most places. The sexual fiction of yesterday is the reality of today. Magazines displayed in supermarkets present articles featuring unmarried couples living together. Sex manuals advocate extramarital affairs. Fewer and fewer teenagers leave high school as virgins. Prime-time television flaunts homosexuality and infidelity. 5

In his book World Aflame, Billy Graham quoted Pitirim Sorokin, formerly professor of sociology at Harvard, who lamented:

There has been a growing preoccupation of our writers with the social sewers, the broken homes of disloyal parents and unloved children, the bedroom of the prostitute, a cannery row brothel, a den of criminals, a ward of the insane, a club of dishonest politicians, a street corner gang of teenage delinquents, a hate-laden prison, a crime-ridden waterfront, the courtroom of a dishonest judge, the sex adventures of urbanized cavemen and rapists, the loves of adulterers and fornicators, of masochists, sadists, prostitutes, mistresses, playboys. Juicy loves, ids, orgasms, and libidos are seductively prepared and served with all the trimmings. 6

And to add Jeremiah’s observation: Nobody blushes anymore. It’s all part of the moral pollution . . . the fog. The system may be insidious, but it is effective.

In every major city today, with a turn of the television dial or the click of a computer mouse, you can bring explicit sex right into your home for anybody to watch. And nobody blushes.

You don’t even have to go into an “adult” bookstore anymore to find pornography. You can easily find it online at home or in quick-stop grocery stores if you’re out doing errands. You don’t have to look far, it’s there. Again I remind you, nobody blushes.

The ultimate, telltale sign of a low view of personal holiness is that we no longer blush when we find wrong. Instead, we make jokes about it. We reclothe immorality and make it appear funny. And if we don’t laugh, we’re considered prudes . . . we’re weird . . . we’re kind of crotchety.

Maybe I don’t like to laugh about that anymore because, as a minister, I am forced to deal with the consequences of it. And that’s never funny. People in the backwash of a sensual lifestyle don’t come to me and my staff to talk about the lasting joys of illicit sex. They wonder about their family; what they should do about this disease; how they can deal with this incestuous relationship that’s tearing the home apart; or how they’re going to tell their parents that she’s pregnant out of wedlock, knowing it will break their parents’ hearts.

It would be bad enough if it were limited to the world, but, as I mentioned in my introduction, it is now in the Church—the place most people would consider to be the ultimate bastion of holiness.

The Truth: God’s Timeless Counsel for Christians
I am grateful that God talks straight when it comes to moral purity. I’m grateful He doesn’t stutter or shuffle or shift His position. I’m even more grateful that He doesn’t laugh. It’s as if He is looking His people directly in the eye and lovingly, yet firmly, saying, “I want you to hear this very clearly. I’ll make it brief and simple.” And He then leaves us with a decision regarding personal holiness. Only one decision pleases Him—obedience.

As John Brown, a nineteenth-century Scottish theologian, once stated: “Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks and willing as God wills.” 7

That’s what the apostle Paul is asking of the reader in chapter 4 of 1 Thessalonians. He got his foot in the door in the last part of chapter 3 when he set forth a foundational guideline on how to “really live” as we “stand firm in the Lord” (3:8). What does that include?

And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness. (3:12–13a)

What a great way to live—”without blame in holiness”! Confident living is directly linked to being “without blame.” It’s better than knowing the answers to all the questions on a test, having plenty of money, or earning an advanced degree. There’s no security like being free of blame. When we are established in holiness, living unblamable lives of moral purity, we can smile at life. We can take its pressures and enjoy its pleasures. And then when marriage comes along, we can enjoy the partnership of the opposite sex, including all the joys of sexual delights.

Make no mistake about it. God is pleased when married partners enjoy a healthy sex life in marriage. He applauds it. And why shouldn’t He? He invented it. His Word clearly states that marriage is to be held in honor and that the marriage bed is to be undefiled—free of blame (Hebrews 13:4). But the implied warning is clear: If we remove sex from its original, God-given context, it becomes sexual immorality, lustful passion, and impurity.

In Your Walk, Excel!
1 Thessalonians 4:1-2

Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. (4:1)

We have other ways of saying “excel” today: “Go for it. Give it your best shot. Don’t just drift; pursue!” Or, as many parents often say, “Get with it!” Paul says, in effect, “Just as we have written you and have served as models before you, I encourage you to excel in your walk. Get with it! Make something happen in your life. Don’t just drift along in a fog of mediocrity. Go the second mile. Excel!”

If you’re a C student, try your best for a B. If you tend to be rather laid back in life, now’s the time to go beyond your normal level. I exhort you to give yourself to diligence. Overcome that tendency toward laziness. All of that and more is involved in excelling.

While advocating an excelling lifestyle, Paul zooms in one specific area that needs constant attention: moral purity.

In Your Morals, Abstain!
1 Thessalonians 4:3-6

For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality (4:3).

Paul has written strong and emotional words regarding our spiritual walk. We are to excel in it. Now he specifies our moral life. Whoever wishes to excel in his or her spiritual walk must come to terms with an inner battle: sexual lust. Yes, it’s a battle . . . a vicious, powerful, relentless fight that won’t suddenly stop when we turn fifty. And it won’t end just because we may lose our mate. Nor will it decrease because our geography changes or because we are well educated or because we may be isolated behind prison walls or because we remain single or even because we enter the ministry. The struggle to be morally pure is one of those issues from which no one is immune. That includes you! Now let’s understand what God is saying here.

“This is the will of God.” Very seldom will you find such straight talk in Scripture. When it comes to remaining morally pure, you don’t need to pray and ask whether it is God’s will. “This is the will of God . . . abstain from sexual immorality.” That last word is translated from the Greek word porneia. Obviously, we get our words pornography or pornographic from that original term. It refers to any kind of intimate, sexual encounter apart from one’s marital partner. It would include, of course, intimate encounters with the opposite sex or with the same sex. Fornication, adultery, or homosexuality would be included in porneia. Clearly, the command is that we are to abstain. Abstain means exactly that—abstain. Outside marriage, have nothing to do with sexual involvements with others.

Now in the fog of horizontal standards, you will be left with any number of options. You will be told by some to be discreet, but certainly not to abstain. “I mean, let’s not be fanatical about this.” A few may even counsel you, “It would be dangerous for you to play around with somebody else’s mate, so don’t do that. And, for sure, you need to watch out for disease.”

But wait. Abstain, in Scripture, doesn’t simply mean “watch out” or “be discreet.” It means “have nothing to do” with something. Others’ advice continues: “It’s unwise for you to cohabit with a partner in your family. That’s incest.” (It is not only unhealthy, but also illegal.) “If you’re a teacher, you shouldn’t be intimate with your students. That’s not professionally wise, so don’t do that,” some would caution. But again I remind you: Scripture clearly states that it is God’s will that we abstain. Moral purity is a matter of abstaining, not simply being careful.

How relieving it is to know exactly where we stand with our holy God! Now then, let’s be very specific: If you are not married, there are no sexual exceptions provided for you. It is the will of God that you not be sexually intimate with any other person until marriage. That’s what Scripture teaches both here and elsewhere. That is how to walk in obedience. It is God’s best. Furthermore, it is for our good, and it enhances God’s glory.

I am pleased to add that we are not left with simply a stark command. Amplifying counsel follows in verses 4 and 5:

That each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.

It is God’s will that we abstain from moral impurity. It is also His will that we know how to do that. I suggest that you must become a student of yourself in order to know how to handle your battle with sexual lust. Those who fail to know themselves will lose the battle and ultimately become enslaved to lust. In order for one to “possess his own vessel,” there must be a practical, working knowledge of one’s own tendencies.

You know what kind of student you are, academically, in order to pass the course. You have to apply what you know will work in order to pass the test, accomplish the course, and get the degree or the diploma, correct? In the realm of your intimate life, there must be another equally diligent application of knowledge. Each of us is to know how to “possess his own vessel” or maintain purity in one’s own body.

The point? In order to abstain from porneia, we must become alert and disciplined students of our bodies—how they function, what appeals to them, and what weakens as well as strengthens them. We are to know how to control our inner drive, how to gain mastery over it, and how to sustain ourselves in a life of purity rather than yielding to lustful passions.

Let me amplify that by putting it in practical words no one can possibly misunderstand. Within the media, there are certain things that you and I cannot handle. We are to know ourselves well enough to admit that and to face the fact that certain sensual stimuli weaken us. We simply cannot tolerate those things and stay pure. The obvious conclusion is this: We are wrong to traffic in them. There are certain magazines you and I should not read. There are certain Web sites we should not visit. There are certain films, television programs, and late-night channels we have no business watching. There are certain people who, by their suggestive conversation, weaken us. There are settings too tempting, touches too personal, and liberties that are too much for us to handle. We are fools to play around with them. They create appealing temptations we simply cannot control. So, if we are committed to abstain, we stay clear of them.

Such decisions are difficult to make and even more difficult to implement, but it is all part of our knowing how to “possess [our vessels] in sanctification and honor.” Remember this: No one automatically remains morally pure. Abstention from sexual immorality is never an easy-come, easy-go issue. As I said earlier, it’s a battle. We’re talking warfare!

The battle rages in the realm of sexually stimulating activities. Even some parties, places, kinds of music, and pastimes can weaken us. Again, we are fools to tolerate those things. A person who is trying to recover from alcoholism realizes he is fighting a losing battle if he chooses to live on the second floor above a bar. No question about it, it will lead to failure. There is more:

And that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. (4:6)

Some would get around total sexual abstention by saying, “Well, what we could do is just keep this within the family. It’s okay if it’s between two family members or among Christians.” But he corners us here as well. He adds that “no [one] transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things.”

This verse refers not only to members in the family of God but to individual family members—the indecent practices of relating intimately to one’s daughter or daughter-in-law, son or son-in-law, mother, stepmother, father, stepfather, and on and on, covering the whole realm of incest. Such indecent, unlawful acts defraud our family members!

Now to state it painfully straight: God clearly and unequivocally stands against extramarital sex, homosexual sex, and sexual encounters with individuals outside of marriage under any situation. I repeat, the command is direct and dogmatic: “Abstain from sexual immorality.”

As I write this, I realize I am not the only one saying these things. But, I confess, sometimes I feel like a lonely voice in our day. And because some illustrations could appear as gossip, I choose not to use anyone else but myself as an example. Allow me to tell you my story.

My wife and I were married in June of 1955. We both were quite young. I finished my schooling and then faced the need to fulfill my military obligation. Back in the 1950s, the military was not an option to choose but a requirement to be fulfilled. Because their time requirement best suited my particular situation, I chose the Marine Corps . . . an outfit not known for its moral purity.

I received the promise from my recruiting officer that if I joined, I would not have to serve my military duty overseas. And since I was married, that certainly was appealing to me because I was enjoying life with my bride, and the last thing we wanted was a forced separation from each other. I really wanted to be with her. But, through a chain of events too lengthy to explain, I wound up eight thousand miles from home. Stationed in the Orient for over a year, I was suddenly faced with sexual temptation as I had never known it.

Before I ever dropped the seabag off my shoulder on the island of Okinawa, I was faced with a tough decision. I was going to make my home in a barrack that was characterized by a godless lifestyle. Venereal disease was not uncommon among those on the island. Living with a woman in the village was as common as breathing smog in southern California. If you lived in Okinawa, you slept around. And it wasn’t uncommon for the chaplain, who was supposed to lecture incoming Marines about purity, to ultimately joke his way through and tell you where to go to get penicillin shots. Welcome to the real world, Swindoll.

I realized, especially since I had known the joys of intimacy in marriage, that temptation would be incredibly strong. Surrounded by men who couldn’t have cared less about the things of God, away from my home and free from physical accountability to my wife and my family, I would soon become another nameless Marine on the back streets of Okinawan villages. But I was a Christian. I determined then and there to “abstain from sexual immorality.” How I praise my Lord for His sustaining strength!

By the grace of God, the decision that I made back in the late 1950s allows me to speak and write today with confidence. Had I not been preserved from unfaithfulness, I would have to pass rather hurriedly and embarrassingly over this passage and similar sections of Scripture. I sincerely doubt that I would have pursued the ministry had I fallen into sexual lust.

Candidly, I had to be tough on myself. There were times when I had to be downright brutal with my emotions. I had to make some tough, Spartan decisions . . . unpopular decisions among a bunch of guys who tried everything in the book to tempt me. I was determined to be different so that I could reach those fellow Marines with a message that had integrity.

Let me clarify something, lest you misunderstand. God showed me it wasn’t my job to clean up the goldfish bowl; it was my job to fish. I wasn’t called to lead a flag-waving crusade for moral purity across the Orient. It was my job to live clean whether anybody else did or not. To put it bluntly, I was not to put my hands on someone who wasn’t my wife. I wasn’t even to talk about such things. Today I can speak from experience when I write these words: Sexual abstention works. It pays rich and rewarding dividends. It works . . . even in the life of a young, red-blooded Marine surrounded by endless opportunities to yield.

God made it clear to me that if I would abstain from sexual immorality, He would honor that. And His Spirit came to my rescue time and again. I had no corner on strength. I was often in the path of temptation, as anyone reading these words right now would understand, but I refused to surrender. Those were lonely days away from home for almost eighteen months. I was often burning with desire for my wife. But, thank God, I was committed to abstaining from immorality.

How did I make it? I involved myself in things that were wholesome, things that paid off, things that kept me busy, active, and fulfilled. I cultivated my musical abilities by becoming much more proficient in several instruments. I also was involved in an aggressive athletic program, spending most of my spare time with men who were committed to the same wholesome objectives. In my mind, the village was off limits. I didn’t even drop in and get a soft drink in the village bars. I couldn’t handle it. When I got off the bus that took me to my destination, I looked straight ahead and walked fast. That little island had physically attractive women and over five thousand places of prostitution. I never touched one of them. Obviously, I saw them . . . but I refused to yield.

In my heart I knew that once I broke, once I stepped into that sensual world, I would not stop. I knew the drive that was inside me couldn’t be stopped once I yielded. And I probably would not even have wanted to stop it. It’s like breaking with a diet. Once you take off the restraint, it’s much easier to say, “Who cares?” Once you’ve eaten a little chocolate cake following lunch, that night it’s half a pie!

Perhaps you are thinking, “That just mocks me, because my lifestyle isn’t there. I’ve compromised sexually . . . I’m not walking in purity.” Wait! My message to you isn’t complicated—start today! It’s time to take charge, my Christian friend. Telling yourself it won’t work is the very thing that keeps you from a life of moral purity and its rewards. Stop lying to yourself! If you are born from above, if you are a child of God, then this passage is addressed to you. Your name belongs at the beginning of these verses.

See verse 1 of 1 Thessalonians 4? “Finally then, brethren . . .” Put your name there. This is specific instruction for you, child of God. No one else has the power. To be very frank with you, it’s beyond me how an unsaved person can stay morally pure. Only by the power of the living Christ and His Spirit can this kind of life be carried out. If you really want to live in moral purity, yet you are not a Christian, then put first things first. You need to come to Christ. Becoming a Christian precedes cleaning up your moral act. Trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ is primary. Only then can you call upon the power you will need to walk in personal holiness.

Even then, I remind you, it won’t be easy or automatic. You’ll still need to apply the techniques I’ve mentioned to sustain your commitment to purity. I have found there are times when temptation is so fierce I have to be almost rude to the opposite sex. That may not sound very nice, but that’s the price I’m willing to pay. It is worth it, believe me.

Some of you are husbands and fathers. The habits of fidelity you are forming directly affect your wife and children at home. How careful are you with personal holiness? How consistent? How tough are you on yourself? You cannot depend on anyone else to provide you with a moral standard. Your moral standard is the one that’s going to keep you pure . . . or lead you astray. Isn’t it time you became serious about moral purity?

You may be single, attractive, and capable. You may have entered a fine career. That’s great . . . but it is also possible that you have begun to compromise your morals. You may find yourself saying, “It feels so good, and I am so lonely, and it is so accessible, so secret.” Wait . . . it isn’t secret! There is no “secret sin” before God. Furthermore, it won’t remain a secret on earth forever.

See what it says in verse 6? It’s not often that the Lord calls Himself the Avenger, but He does in this case. The meaning? “One who satisfies justice by punishing or disciplining the wrongdoer.” Not all of that avenging will wait until the judgment day. Some of it happens now in the form of anxiety, conflict, guilt, disease, insanity . . . even death.

By the way, 1 Corinthians 6:18 is a pretty significant verse. In a context much like the one we’ve been considering, the writer exhorts the reader not to compromise morally. The verse says:

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

Practically speaking, all other sins can be fairly well managed in an objective manner. But this one comes in on you. In today’s terms, it’s an “inside job.” In many ways, sexual sins take a personal toll on the victim, leaving the person in bondage, increasingly less satisfied, and on a downward spiral which only results in greater tragedy. Few have ever said it better than evangelist Billy Graham:

In every area of our social life we see operating the inevitable law of diminishing returns in our obsession with sex. Many do something for a thrill only to find the next time that they must increase the dose to produce the same thrill. As the kick wears off, they are driven to look for new means, for different experiences to produce a comparable kick. The sex glutton is tormented by feelings of guilt and remorse. His mode of living is saturated with intense strain, unnatural emotions, and inner conflicts. His personality is thwarted in its search for development. His passions are out of control, and the end result is frustration. In his defiance of God’s law and society’s norm, he puts a death-dealing tension on his soul. His search for new thrills, for new kicks, for exciting experiences keeps him in the grip of fear, insecurity, doubt, and futility. Dr. Sorokin says: “The weakened physical, emotional, and spiritual condition of the sex glutton usually makes him incapable of resisting the accompanying pressures, and he eventually cracks under their weight. He often ends by becoming a psychoneurotic or suicide.”8

When just a small boy, I remember memorizing the following:

Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.

How true! And we never come to the place where we can call a halt to the sowing-reaping process. I heard of a Christian leader who interviewed a veteran missionary who was then in his eighties. The interviewer asked, “Tell me, when did you get beyond the problem with lust?” In candor the godly gentleman answered, “It hasn’t happened yet. The battle still goes on!” If you’re waiting to outgrow the battle, don’t hold your breath.

In Your Reasoning, Remember!
1 Thessalonians 4:7–8

For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification (4:7).

Paul uses sanctification for the third time in this passage. It’s a theological term referring to our pilgrimage, our progress from earth to heaven. Perhaps we could call it our growth pattern.

Remember this: You and I have been called to operate in the sphere of spiritual progress. God has called us to be in a spiritual growth pattern. Sometimes we’re up . . . sometimes down. Sometimes we’re more victorious than other times. But the progress is a movement forward and higher. God certainly has not called us for the purpose of impurity, even though we continue to live in a world socked in by a moral fog.

So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. (4:8)

The second thing to remember is: To reject a lifestyle of holiness is to reject the God who empowers you to live it. Holy living is inseparably linked to believing in a holy God.

The Choice: A Decision Only You Can Make
Let me conclude my thoughts by simplifying your options. Actually, you have two. First, you can choose to live your life in a horizontal fog. If that is your choice, the results are predictable. You will continue to drift in a fog of moral uncertainties. Your disobedience will result in a series of rationalizations that will leave you empty. Guilt and grief will be your companions. You can choose to live like that. If you do, you open up a door of misery for yourself. You’ll play at church. You’ll toss around a few religious words. But before very long, your lifestyle will match the atmosphere around you. Your eyes will no longer tear up. Your conscience will no longer sting. Your heart won’t beat faster. You may even stop blushing. A jaded, horizontal lifestyle is an option. But it has those consequences . . . those terrible consequences.

Why? The Avenger. God doesn’t let His children play in the traffic without getting hurt. Your disobedience will result in increasing personal misery.

Second, you can choose to live your life vertically on target. The benefits? You will honor the God of moral absolutes. And your obedience will result in greater personal confidence and habits of holiness. It will begin to come supernaturally. You’ll find yourself stronger, more secure, possessing a healthy self-image.

Internally, we’re a little like an automobile. The God who made us built us with all the right lights on our internal dashboard. I don’t know of anybody who after purchasing a new car also buys a little hammer for the glove compartment. Let’s imagine a weird scene. Let’s say that as two men are driving along, one of the lights on the dashboard starts flashing red. The driver says to his friend, “Hand me that hammer in the glove compartment, okay? Thanks.” Tap . . . Tap . . . Bamm . . . Bamm . . . Pow! “There! Now we’ve gotten rid of that light.” Smoke is coming out of the hood, yet the guy keeps driving along.

How foolish! And yet, it isn’t difficult to find people who will hand out hammers. As they do, they say, “Aw, that’s needless guilt. We’re in an age where guilt is no longer considered important. You need to get rid of all that stuff.” But wait . . . that’s necessary guilt! God help us when we don’t have it! It’s the conscience that bites into us deep within and stings us when we compromise our moral purity. When we sin, it’s supposed to hurt. We are supposed to be miserable when we compromise morally. That’s the red light flashing down inside. It’s God’s way of saying, “Pull over . . . stop. Lift the hood. Deal with the real problem.”

Jonathan Edwards, one of the great preachers of early American history, once made this resolution: “Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.”9

You have available to you the power that’s necessary to solve the real problems of your life. He is Jesus Christ. And once you have the Savior, you also have the Holy Spirit. He will come inside not to mock you but to help you; not simply to cry with you over how strong the temptation is but to empower you to overcome it. You can do all things through Him who keeps on pouring His power into you. Even if you have never done it in your life, you can begin a life of power today. There’s no checklist. There’s no probation period. There’s no long list of responsibilities that you must fulfill before God will give you the power. If you’ve never met the Savior, holiness begins at the cross, where Christ paid the penalty for sin. Take Him now.

Holy Father in heaven, our world is a difficult one in which to live. The fog is thick, and the heat is stifling. It’s difficult . . . but not impossible. Thankfully, Your power provides us with hope . . . hope to start anew, even though we have failed; hope to press on, even though we are afraid; hope to walk in moral purity, even though we are weak.

I pray for all who have read this article. I pray that You would use it to turn their hearts toward You . . . to help them break the syndrome of immorality, to find true freedom, happiness, and holiness by hearing Your Word, obeying Your counsel, and walking in Your truth. In the invincible name of Jesus Christ. Amen.