The word goodness (agathosune, in Galatians 5:22) implies any or all actions done for the good of another. The world’s definition and that of Jehovah’s for goodness, however, lie in stark contrast. To the world, goodness might be witnessed in a doctor helping a young woman rid herself of an unwanted pregnancy, a business providing marital benefits to same sex couples, or a legislator vying for the legalization of illicit drugs or physician-assisted suicides.
As those who love Christ, we understand that any act of goodness must be carefully confined to that which our Lord describes as such within the pages of His word. “Trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10). “That in us you might learn not to exceed what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6). Seeing how the world is horribly misguided and mistaken, might our definition of what is good be skewed sometimes as well? Continue reading » Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness
The responses of two of my friends when I asked them the question, “What is idolatry?” are both typical and indicative of how Christians view this subject. They both replied in like fashion, “Easy, it is the worship of false gods.” Though we’ve been warned against “contemporary idolatry” from the pulpit all of our lives and give a hearty amen, do we not then sit back and smugly say to ourselves, “Forget about it, there isn’t any real idolatry to worry about today.”?
Idolatry in the Old Testament
Pagan practices pervading the period prior to the New Testament encompassed Israel in a fiery ring of heathen worship. Peoples surrounding the holy nation included the following: Syrians, Sidonians and Hittites from the North; Egyptians, Moabites, Edomites and Amalakites from the South; Assyrians, Ammonites and Babylonians from the East; the Philistines along the Mediterranean coast just to the west; and other scattered groups living within Canaan not driven out during the conquest (Judges 1:21, 27-36). All were idolatrous and all posed an eminent threat to the spiritual purity of God’s people by means of introducing the spiritual harlotry of idolatry. Those idols esteemed veneration were mountains, springs, trees, blocks of stone, carved, painted and molded images and wooden poles of Asherah such as the one destroyed by Gideon in Judges 6:25-32. Other idols embraced were the sun, moon, sacred animals and the basest of barbarous “gods” demanding infanticide and prostitution as tokens of service. Let the reader take note — the resurgence of idolatry in today’s new age movement is just as much a threat now as it was 4,000 years ago. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Idolatry
Just the name conjurs up Biblical scenes to the mind and a desire to be there where God walked among men. Aside from being a prominent site in Biblical history, the Jordan river is truly a natural phenomenon. The word Jordan, from the Hebrew ha-yarden, most probably means descender or descending – and is it any wonder? The Jordan descends lower than any river in the world! The stream’s inception is in the hills of Mt. Hermon, which peaks at 9,100 ft. Descending to Lake Huleh in northern Palestine, the Jordan assumes an altitude of 230 feet. above sea level. During the next 11 miles, the river will drop 900 feet at a rate of over 80 feet per mile before emptying into the Sea of Galilee. The trip is not yet over as the Jordan descends yet another 600 feet over a course of 65 miles where it empties it’s contents into the Dead Sea at an altitude of 1290 feet below sea level. Though the distance by air between these two major lakes is but 65 miles, the river’s snaking path leads it on a course of 200 miles to the salty sea. Two of the Jordans’ greatest tributaries are the Yarmuk and the Jabbok which enter the river south of Galilee and from the east. Continue reading » The Jordan River