Our preacher, Mark Stinnett, publishes articles for the church bulletin each week. These articles are designed to teach, encourage and challenge the members of our congregation. His latest articles can be found below with the most recent at the beginning of the list. Mark has archived all of his articles on his personal blog 'MicroMarks' which can be accessed at: micromarks.blogspot.com.
Disobedience to Parents: Why is Sin Sinful?
Because I was the preacher, the request came to me. A grandmother requested that someone visit her grandson who was in the county jail.
He had committed a crime. And yet, no one faulted that grandmother for her love and concern for her grandson. Even though he was in jail, and she was not blind to his crime, she did not want to characterize him in any other way.: “He’s a good boy,” she said.
Sometimes parental love casts a veil over the eyes. Some parents do not see their children through the lens of reality. Regardless of what they do or say, the parent overlooks or minimizes their children’s bad attitudes and behavior.
I know of no parents who want to admit that their children do wrong as they grow older. I’d rather address this subject in general terms by saying, We all know it’s true; we are all sinners. (That includes my kids without naming them.)
Parents of younger children need to take notice. There will be a time at which each of your children will be old enough to be held personally accountable to God for his/her sin. So, as much as we do not like to think about it, we need to think about it. Our kids grow up to be sinners.
Solomon encouraged his sons over and over to listen! For example:
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction And do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old. —Proverbs 23:22
Turning to the New Testament we find:
Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.
—Colossians 3:20 (See also Ephesians 6:1.)
With these and many other positive teachings comes a strong admonition from the Apostle Paul. He reminded parents and children that disobedience to parents is an ungodly behavior that will result in God’s wrathful judgment. (Romans 1:30 and 2 Timothy 3:2).
Consistent disobedience in a child is a sign that God’s authority structure in the home is misunderstood or simply not honored. In too many homes, far too many Christian homes, children are allowed to dictate the terms of obedience. Through temper tantrums, angry attitudes, disrespect, whining, and manipulative techniques children turn the tables making their parents obedient to them.
And yet, it is reasonable for children to be obedient to their parents:
- Parents are better positioned (job, finances) to provide for their children’s needs.
- Parents are better equipped physically to care for their children.
- Parents are smarter (at least for a while).
- Parents are more experienced in life.
Aside from simple reasoning we must understand that God designed the home and assigned parents authority over their children.
When God’s authority structure is followed children learn how to respect authority (another of God’s expectations). But of utmost importance, children learn to honor God’s authority.
Why is disobedience to parents sinful?
When children are disobedient to their parents they have taken authority away from their parents. Both children and parents are living a lie against reality. By not upholding God’s authority structure in the home they have disregard God and His divine authority.
March 19, 2023
Stealing: Why Is Sin Sinful?
The question sounds almost silly: Why is stealing sinful?
Everyone knows that it is wrong to steal. It is as if God programmed us with that knowledge. Just watch little children. Even before they can talk, if someone takes a toy from a little child, there will almost always be a negative reaction. No one wants something they possess to be taken from them. No one!
Do we really have to be taught that stealing is wrong?
Literally carved into stone was the eighth commandment: You shall not steal. Even though we are encoded from birth with the knowledge that stealing is wrong, God thought it important to tell His chosen people that it was a sin to steal.
Sometimes we minimize the seriousness of stealing by considering the value of the thing stolen. Stealing a car IS much more serious than stealing a hammer. Not only is the car more expensive to replace, it serves a greater function than the hammer. However, there is no moral distinction between petty theft and grand theft. Whether classed as a misdemeanor theft or felony theft, wrong is still wrong.
Some may rationalize taking small items of little value such as taking a few grapes to eat while grocery shopping (and not buying grapes), or taking office supplies (that won’t be noticed) from work. Yet, the grapes are stolen. The office supplies are stolen. Rationalization is a way of explaining why the stealing was not really bad.
Sometimes people justify their theft. “Because of all the hard work I put in, the company owes me” a stapler, a tape dispenser, or a package of TP. Justification is a way of explaining why the wrong action is actually a right action.
Men do not despise a thief if he steals To satisfy himself when he is hungry; But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the substance of his house. —Proverbs 6:30-31
Rationalization and justification, as well as sympathy and understanding, do not change the reality of stealing.
Sometimes people steal without taking anything tangible. That’s why there are laws dealing with patents, trademarks, and copyright. When people make copies of materials without making a purchase, it is theft unless permission is given from the producer of that material. Making copies of written material, music, movies, software, etc. that deprive the originator of making a profit is just another way of stealing. No one deserves a pirated copy of a song just because the song artist is a bazillionaire.
Cheating is another way of stealing without taking something tangible.
So, what is God’s expectation?
If you’ve been stealing, stop stealing.
Or, just don’t steal.
Is that all?
He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. —Ephesians 4:28
The solution to stealing is not merely to stop stealing, but rather, to work and earn an income and share with those in need.
Why is stealing sinful? All forms of stealing present something that belongs to another as if it belongs to you. Stealing is a lie against reality and it opposes the very nature of God.
March 12, 2023
Adultery: Why is Sin Sinful?
“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
That is the seventh of The Ten Commandments from the old King James Version. For many, that wording sounds holy. Forceful. Absolute!
Why is adultery sinful?
Our word adultery came into the English language from a Latin verb adulterare meaning literally, to alter, but was also used to mean, to corrupt. (This Latin word is not connected to the English word adult; nor is it connected to the Greek term that it translates.)
The Greek term for adultery was very specific in its meaning. It referred to a sexual relationship between people who were married, but not to each other. Remember that while the New Testament was written in Greek, the Greek language was used hundreds of years before Christ and across multiple cultures.
While every culture forbids adultery, the rules are different and may vary between men and women. For example, at one time ancient Greeks considered adultery to be a secret sexual relationship with a woman without the permission of her master. In many cultures men have been allowed to have sexual relationships with non-married women. Only if a married woman was involved were there consequences.
In early times consequences were carried out by family members since adultery was considered a violation of family. This was true in Roman society until laws were passed that made adultery a civil offense with consequences carried out by the legal establishment. Consequences varied from fines to revenge (by family members) to death.
Among some groups, cultural norms or laws required the husband whose wife was an adulteress to divorce her (or put her to death). In most cases cultural norms and laws were stricter regarding women since married women were often considered property. They were therefore bound to absolute fidelity in the marriage.
By the time of Christ infidelity among both husbands and wives was common in Roman society. So was divorce.
For the Jews, as with others, adultery involved sexual intimacy only, and divorce was allowed, though the acceptable reasons were debated. Recall that Jesus reminded the Jews that Moses demanded a certificate of divorce because of the hardness of their hearts (Matthew 19:7-8). In other words, husbands mistreated their wives by discarding them. So, to protect women a legal certificate was required. Men had to have a legitimate reason for divorce.
Jesus ended the debate by pointing back to creation: “But from the Beginning it has not been this way.” Jesus taught fidelity in marriage for both the husband and the wife.
Ideally marriage should reflect the very character of God. The words fidelity, loyalty, commitment, faithfulness and devotion describe God. That means that in His relationships God does not show partiality. He is not fickle in his commitment. He does not tire of love. He does not quickly grow impatient or angry. In order to preserve a relationship God is willing to forgive.
God does not quit a relationship. Even when His wife (Israel) was unfaithful, He was patient and tried to woo her back. (Hosea 2)
Why is adultery sin? Adultery violates faithfulness and commitment, the very character of God. Adultery is a lie against the truth of God’s divine nature.
March 5, 2023
Lying: Why is Sin Sinful?
Imagine for a moment that in the creation sequence when God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation…” marble-size balls of fire were produced instead. When God told mankind to “fill the earth, and subdue it,” what if He really meant for lions to be in charge, as ’king of beasts’ and to subdue man? What would this say about God’s word?
The very essence of truth was established in the creation sequence. When God said, “Let there be light,” the Bible tells us, “and there was light.” The very thing that came from the mouth of God was God’s intention and the result. A person could go though the entire creation sequence and see the same pattern of truth. So, from the beginning, truth was established.
Truth is especially important in relationships. Only thorough truth is trust built. When a new acquaintance tells his name, it is accepted as true, based on the assumption of mutual trust. As the relationship continues, it grows stronger through consistent truthfulness. Without the confidence of truth in a relationship, the relationship will not survive for long.
In Scripture, God is always true to His word. When He speaks, He speaks truth. There are things that God has not revealed to mankind, yet they are withheld according to His wisdom. So, His revelation to man is true and complete, though it may not be exhaustive. (How could we even understand all that God could reveal?)
In light of God’s intimate relationship with truth, what does he expect of created man?
In short, God expects truth. When we speak, we must speak according to reality.
Esau, the older of the twin sons of Isaac, expected to receive from his father the blessing and the birthright. The birthright was a double-portion of the physical inheritance. The blessing pertained to the future and was prophetic in nature. The oldest son was promised preeminence in the family. Blessings were given in regard to position, rule, dominion, strength, longevity, prosperity and relationships.
Isaac was Abraham’s son of promise and he received both the birthright and the blessing. However when he was old and ready to pronounce the coveted blessing on His son Esau, Jacob stole the blessing from his father by pretending to be Esau.
Later Isaac realized Jacob’s deception. However, the only thing he could say to Esau was, “He shall be blessed.” Isaac could not undo what had been done. He could not take back the things he had said as a blessing to Jacob even though Jacob’s deception was unfair.
Isaac live by a code of truth. Whatever a man spoke, it was regarded as set and unchangeable. That was how he established good character. It was the basic ingredient of integrity . It was how relationships were built and maintained.
People have devised all kinds of ways to hide their lies: deception, half-truth, white lie, clever marketing, loop-hole, etc. Yet, a lie is a lie.
Just as it is with God, man is expected to speak truth. Whenever you or I speak, it should be as firm and representative of reality as God’s word in creation. We must not play games with words to hide lies. A lie hides or obscures truth. It violates the most basic element on which relationships are built.
Why is lying sinful? A lie stands against reality and opposes the very nature of God.
February 26, 2023