As a pastor, author, and speaker, I often receive questions. I try to answer all these questions on my blog. Unless otherwise requested, I don’t mention the name of the person asking the question.
I’m happy to answer questions sent to me, because it gives me topics for my blog. Plus, I’ve found often people have the same questions. Since I’ve started trying to answer people’s questions I’ve found that many times I can point them to an answer I’ve already provided.
If you’ve been in the church for very long you’ve probably heard, “All sins are the same!” Yes, there are some ways all sins are the same:
The Greek word for sin is hamartanō, which is an archery term meaning “to miss the mark.” All sins are the same in that they’re examples of “missing the mark,” or missing the standard set by God’s holy, perfect law. That’s why 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”
All sins are the same in terms of being destructive, an offense to God, and demanding death as a punishment. Romans 6:23a says, “The wages of sin is death.”
Aside from these ways all sins are the same, there are problems associated with making this well-known statement.
There Are Practical Consequences to Saying All Sins Are the Same
Soon after I became a Christian I committed a sin that had previously characterized my life for years. Although the sin didn’t bother me earlier, now that I was a believer, I was greatly convicted. I went to an older Christian friend for counsel. He could’ve said something along the lines of:
“Yes, this is sin and it’s wonderful that you’re broken up over it. God’s desire is for us to have victory over unbroken patterns of sin. You need to repent and cry out to God for His grace to help you overcome this life-dominating struggle.”
During a Facebook Live video a woman asked: “How can a wife give her husband accountability in the area of sexual purity?” I interpreted this to be a question about pornography, which I see causing terrible problems in homes and churches. It robs men of their dignity, makes them passive, and destroys initiative and motivation. It stops men from being the leaders they should be in the home and the church. When men look at pornography they won’t feel comfortable praying, reading the Word, or leading in their home or church.
As a result of these consequences, I was glad to answer the woman’s question. Although, since I didn’t have time to prepare my response, I wasn’t as thorough as I would’ve liked. You can watch the video containing my answer, but the below post is more thorough.
1. Pray for his salvation if he’s unsaved
A pattern of unbroken sin is evidence of being unsaved (1 John 3:4-9). First John 3:4-9 says:
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.
There’s a good chance that a husband who habitually looks at pornography isn’t saved. Pray for his salvation. As an unregenerate man there’s little chance he’ll develop victory over his addiction in his own effort. He needs the indwelling Holy Spirit helping him.
2. Communicate how difficult it is to respect him when he looks at pornography
When our children are only a few months old we don’t punish them, because they don’t know better and they lack self-control. Growing up means knowing better and developing self-control. When men look at things they shouldn’t it’s not masculine. Instead, they’re showing they’re like babies who have no self-control. Pornography turns men into boys (or babies). This is why few (if any) things destroy a wife’s respect for her husband faster than pornography. A wife should pray for the opportunity to share with her husband respectfully, but honestly, how difficult his sin makes it for her to respect him. Continue reading “How can a wife give her husband accountability?”→
I’m really struggling trying to get my husband to lead. I have tried to encourage him to do so, but I’m at a loss! Taking the initiative is what I want him to do, but he won’t. I have your workbook, but he won’t go over the questions with me. Short of reminding him again and again and feeling like I’m nagging him – which I hate doing and have tried really hard not to do – how do I get him to step up?
Unfortunately, there’s no answer that guarantees a husband will grow in this area. Although I provide the following recommendations, I can’t assure a wife that her husband will be different in the future. For any single ladies, this is one thing to keep in mind before saying, “I do.”
1. If your husband won’t lead, keep reminding him.
I’ll be the first to say that as husbands we can be oblivious and forgetful at times. God has called you to be your husband’s helper, and this is one of the best ways for you to fulfill that role. The obvious danger is that your reminders turn in to nagging. The woman who sent me the above question said she makes an effort to prevent that from happening. That’s wonderful!
A common way husbands mistreat their wives is by responding insensitively when they’re hurting. Elkanah’s response to Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 is a good example showing three common mistakes husbands make.
Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing this or read the transcript below…
Elkanah had two wives—Hannah and Peninnah. This was part of the problem! Polygamy in the Old Testament is descriptive, not prescriptive, portraying the reality of the era but it’s not allowed for Christians today. This is why God never condoned polygamy, and whenever it took place in the Old Testament, it always caused problems. No biblical examples of polygamy are characterized by peace and harmony. Instead polygamy is always filled with turmoil and strife. Peninnah and Hannah’s marriage is a perfect example.
Peninnah could have children, but Hannah could not. Making Hannah’s situation even worse was Peninnah’s cruelty toward her. First Samuel 1:6–7 records:
[Hannah’s] rival (Peninnah) provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that [Peninnah] provoked her; therefore [Hannah] wept and did not eat.
Consider Elkanah’s response in 1 Samuel 1:8:
Then Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?’”
Husbands get the wives they prepare for themselves based on Ephesians 5:26–27:
That [Christ] might sanctify and cleanse [the church] with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
This is discussing what Christ does with His, Bride, the Church. Since the context is marriage, it’s also explaining what husbands should do with their wives. Christ “sanctifies and cleanses” His bride, so husbands should sanctify and cleanse their brides. This makes a husband at least partially responsible for his wife’s sanctification.
Just as Christ gets the church He prepares for Himself, so husbands get the wives they prepare for themselves
There is a tremendous truth contained in these words. Christ does what He does in verse 26—sanctifying and cleansing the church—so that He can obtain for Himself the glorious church, or bride, described in verse 27 that “has no spot or wrinkle but is holy and without blemish.” The simplest way to say it is: Christ gets the church He prepares for Himself.Continue reading “Husbands get the wives they prepare for themselves”→
If you’ve been in the church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard generational curses discussed. There are two conflicting opinions:
God punishes children for the sins of their parents.
God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their parents.
Why the confusion?
Verses seem to support and argue against generational curses…
Exodus 20:5, 34:7, Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9 indicate God punishes children for the sins of their parents:
You shall not bow down to [idols] nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.
Other such as Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20 indicate God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their parents:
Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20 The LORD says, “What do you mean by this proverb, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? This proverb shall no more be used. Behold, the soul who sins shall die…The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father…the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
The people said they were punished (their teeth were bad: “set on edge”), because of their parents’ sins (the “sour grapes” they ate). God said, “Don’t say this anymore. You’ll be punished for your own sins!”
“Why are wives commanded to submit to their husbands?”
This is an understandable question when people first learn Scripture commands wives to submit to their husbands. Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing the answer and/or read the transcript below…
Wives are commanded to submit because it’s necessary
We see the clear need for submission in all other areas of life. No organization can be successful without authority or headship:
Businesses have CEOs.
Sports teams have coaches.
Governments have presidents or prime ministers.
Just as we recognize the need for a leader, or a head, we also recognize that there cannot be two heads. We don’t see two head coaches, two presidents, two head pilots, or two head surgeons. Imagine how uncomfortable you would feel:
Flying on a plane with two head pilots arguing over the flight plan
Being operated on by two head surgeons quarreling over the proper procedure
“Can a wife love her husband without respecting him?”
This is a good question to understand, because many people don’t think there’s a difference between a wife loving her husband and respecting him. This leaves many women thinking they respect their husbands, while the husbands are not feeling respected. Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing the answer and/or read the transcript below…
Can a wife love her husband without respecting him? Not only would I say it’s possible, I would say it’s common! Most women will say they love their husbands, and I believe they do. But many of these same wives might not respect their husbands. I’ve met men who have told me they feel loved by their wives but not respected.
In marriage counseling, when I hear wives expressing their frustrations about their husbands, it typically sounds like this: “I don’t feel that my husband loves me. I wish my husband loved me more. He never tells me he loves me.” But when husbands express frustration, it more often sounds like this: “I wish my wife respected me more. I wish my wife followed my lead. I wish my wife supported my decisions.”
In truth, it is much easier for a wife to say she loves her husband than to show it through respect. But it is through respect that a wife expresses her love for her husband. If a wife does not show respect, her husband will not feel loved. A good perspective for couples to keep in mind is that feeling unloved is as painful to a wife as feeling disrespected is to a husband.
An example from scripture of a wife loving her husband without respecting him
Katie asked me six questions about apologizing. Here’s the outline for the video:
0–4:17—Have you always been good at apologizing?
4:17–6:54—What are wrong ways to apologize?
6:54–13:00—What are right ways to apologize?
13:00–19:35—What is your favorite story about apologizing?
19:35–24:04—Should we apologize to our kids?
24:04–27:39—How can apologizing or lack of apologizing affect marriages?
1. Have you always been good at apologizing? Elaborate on your “history” with apologizing and how you grew in it.
When I saw this question, my first thought was, “If I’ve learned too apologize well, it’s from making so many mistakes.”
As a pastor you’re going to learn to become comfortable apologizing, because it’s a necessity to have a healthy church body. I’d go so far as saying don’t become a pastor if you’re not comfortable apologizing. You’re going to have to apologize for your own actions and the actions of others. Nothing looks worse than shifting blame, even if the blame belongs elsewhere.
As far as when I learned to apologize, I’d have to give credit to LTC Richard Brewer, my commander in Army ROTC. He didn’t teach me to apologize. He forced me to apologize. I couldn’t make excuses or shift blame.
2. What are wrong ways to apologize?
When we should apologize our sinful nature wants to flare up, get angry, make excuses or blame others. Some people – whether intentionally or unintentionally – act like they’re apologizing, but their “apologies” are simply excuses disguised as apologies.
Every Christian has been confused by Scripture at times. Here’s part of a message I received from someone after a study I taught:
Last week, I took the entire chapter [from the study], copied it to Word, and then made spaces for notes. I thought I was prepared. But I wasn’t as prepared as I was hoping. I will just keep working on it.
I can tell the person was discouraged, and this is something I’ve encountered regularly. Here are two passages that should discourage us from being discouraged:
“Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand“(2 Peter 3:15-16). The Apostle Peter himself read Paul’s letters and found them difficult to understand at times.
“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating” (1 Peter 1:10-11). The prophets were given the very words of God. Even they had to “inquire” and “search carefully” to understand the revelation in each other’s writings.
Why does God allow certain parts of Scripture to be confusing?