Pornography

PORNOGRAPHY

 

DEFINITIONPornography is sexually explicit material including films, magazines, books, photographs, images, and Internet sites that are intended to cause sexual arousal.

FACTS ABOUT PORNOGRAPHY:

Pornography is sin.  Jesus said if you even look and lust after a person, it is the same as committing the sin of adultery (Matthew 5:28).  Because pornography is sin, even a married couple should not engage in it together.   By lusting after the images they view, they are sinning. They are also supporting the porn industry by purchasing and viewing such materials. Would you take a porn magazine to church with you?  God is just as present in your bedroom as He is at church because you are His temple.

Pornography is not a victimless crime.  The person who posed for the erotic photo or movie is a victim, as well as the one viewing it because you have become a mark for pornographers to peddle their evils.  If you are married, your mate is also a victim because you are secretly committing adultery in your heart by lusting after these images.   Pornography also victimizes innocent children who are used to produce porn and results in sexually transmitted diseases and feelings of low self-worth in those who produce it.  It is not a victimless crime!

Pornography leads to sex crimes.  Many convicted rapists and murderers have stated that the first step on their road to crime was viewing pornography.  A prime example in the United States was convicted serial killer Ted Bundy, who confirmed that pornography is what led to his raping and killing numerous women.

Pornography is associated with drugs.  Many of the people who pose for photos or perform sex acts for pornographic movies must get “high” in order to perform such degrading acts.

Temptation enters through the eye gate.   Read the story of David’s adultery recorded in 2 Samuel 11.  His sin began with temptation that began by viewing Bathsheba bathing on a roof top and noting that she “was very beautiful to look upon.”

DEALING WITH  PORNOGRAPHY:

Ask God for forgiveness.  Pornography is sin and, as any sin, requires confession and repentance before God.

Bind the pornographic spirit from operating.  Pornography is lust, and lust is a demonic spirit.  Pray a prayer rejecting it and binding it from operating in your life.

Make no provision for your flesh (Romans 13:14).  Do a spiritual housecleaning and get rid of any pornographic material–literature, videos, pictures, etc.  Do not access porn sites on the Internet.  If  cable TV and the Internet are too great of temptations to you for viewing porn, have them disconnected.

Make Psalm 51 your prayer:  This is the Psalm prayed by David after his adultery with Bathsheba which began by lustful “looking.”  Make this psalm your prayer.

Make a new commitment to your spouse.  Ask their forgiveness for the behavior in which you have been engaging.

Make a new commitment to the Word of God and prayer.  Use the time you were spending on porn to develop positive spiritual habits.  Turn to the Word of God and prayer anytime you are tempted to view porn.

Memorize some of the verses listed below and quote them when you are tempted.

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT PORNOGRAPHY:

I will set before my eyes no vile thing. (Psalm 101:3)

Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. (Psalm 119:37)

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.  (Proverbs 4:23)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’   But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  (Matthew 5:27-28)

Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good (Romans 12:9)

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.   (Romans 13:14)

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.  (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.   (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (2 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.  (Ephesians 5:11-12)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;  that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable,  not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;  and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7)

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  (James 1:13-15)

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  (1 Peter 2:11)

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

(1 John 2:15-17)

Polygamy

POLYGAMY

 

DEFINITIONPolygamy is having multiple spouses at the same time.  While this is forbidden by law in many nations, it is still practiced in some cultures.

FACTS ABOUT POLYGAMY:

God’s plan is one man, one woman for life.  God created a wife for Adam and His plan was that the two become one (Matthew 19:4-6).  Divorce was not in God’s original plan, but was permitted later because of the “hardness of man’s heart”  (Matthew 19:8).   Polygamy was permitted in Old Testament times, but was not God’s original plan.

The first polygamous marriage was Lamech, who took two wives (Genesis 4:19).

Polygamous relationships, although common in the Old Testament, were not successful.  For an example, study the family of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob.  There was constant friction between his two wives, Leah and Rachel, and their children.  Abraham did not officially marry his wife’s hand-maiden, Hagar, but he had sexual relationships with her and it resulted in trouble between her and Sarah and their children.  The wives of Solomon caused great difficulties and eventually turned his heart away from God (1 Kings 11:3-4).  Polygamous relationships in the Old Testament demonstrate the wisdom of God’s original plan for one man to have one wife for life.

Polygamy is adultery on a permanent basis.  The New Testament says that marriage to another partner while the first partner is still living is adultery (Romans 7:1-3).

A polygamous person should not be a leader in the church.  First Timothy 3:2 requires that an elder in a congregation be the husband of only one wife.  This does not mean that if a former wife has died or he has a biblically justified divorce he cannot serve.  It means that he should not have any polygamous unions.

Polygamy is sin.  No one who continues in sexual sins will inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Sexual sin can be forgiven.  As in the case of all sin of which you confess and repent, God will forgive sexual sin.  First Corinthians 6:9-10 lists many types of sins, including fornicators and adulterers.  Then 1 Corinthians 6: 11 declares:   “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  These believers repented of their sexual sins and were forgiven.

Who is the true mate?  In a culture where a man is married to multiple wives, the first wife is the rightful mate if she desires to remain.  Since the husband has actually committed adultery by taking additional wives, she has a right to leave according to God’s Word.  If she chooses to remain, the other wives must be dealt with in an honorable way.  The husband should provide financially for them and children of their union.

DEALING WITH  POLYGAMY:

Repent of polygamy.  As with any other sin, confession and repentance is required.

Change your lifestyle.  A man with multiple wives should remain with his first wife–if she agrees–while continuing to provide for his other wives and children financially.  Sexual relationships with all other wives should cease.

Cease any involvement with polygamy.  This would include religions that foster it, people that practice it, and Internet websites, literature, or media that promote it.

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT POLYGAMY:

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.  (Genesis 2:22-24)

He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.  (Deuteronomy 17:17)

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’    and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”   (Matthew 19:4-6)

I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.  (Matthew 19:9)

…by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.  So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. (Romans 7:2-3)

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders  nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.  (1 Corinthians 7:2)

Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. (1 Timothy 3:2-3)

Persecution

PERSECUTION

 

DEFINITION:  Persecution is the act of subjecting someone to cruel and unfair treatment because of their ethnic origin, political views, or religious beliefs.  The biblical definition includes harassing, punishing, oppressing, or even killing those who serve God and refuse to deny Him.

FACTS ABOUT PERSECUTION:

The targets of persecution.  The Bible reveals that true believers–those who proclaim God’s Word and live by His commandments–are the targets of persecution.

All who live godly will suffer persecution. The Apostle Paul warned:  “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:;12).

Reasons for persecution include misunderstanding, jealousy, revenge, opposition, hatred of God and His Word, and Satanically-inspired motives.

The root causes of persecution in a biblical sense are wicked men who are motivated by Satanic powers to oppose God, His Word, all that is good, and believers who choose to follow the Lord.  The world hates believers because they are not of this world (John 17:14-18).

You are actually blessed when you are persecuted.  Matthew 5:11-12 says:  “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

DEALING WITH  PERSECUTION:

Pray that you will be delivered from persecution.  “Deliver us from evil” is part of the model prayer (Matthew 6:13).  Paul said to “…pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2).  David prayed save and deliver me from all who pursue me” (Psalm 7:1).

Forgive those who persecute you.  You must extend to those who persecute you the same forgiveness that you have received (Matthew 6:12).

Love those who persecute you.  Jesus said,  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies…”(Matthew 5:43).

Pray for your enemies.  Jesus said: “…pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”  (Matthew 5:44-45).  You are to pray blessings over those who persecute you (Romans 12:14).

Know that nothing can separate you from God’s love–not even persecution or death (Romans 8:35-39).

Keep your focus on eternity.  If you suffer with Him and in His behalf, you will be glorified with Him (Romans 8:16-18)

Know that God’s grace is sufficient.  No matter what you suffer, His grace is sufficient  (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  You will have sufficient grace to help you in times of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Do not back down.  If you are suffering because of your Christian witness, do not back down. The disciples suffered in this way, but they determined to continue to minister the Gospel and to obey God rather than man (Acts 4:18-20; 5:28-29).

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT PERSECUTION:

O Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me. (Psalm 7:1)

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Matthew 5:10-12)

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  (Matthew 5:43-45)

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.   (Matthew 6:12)

But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them.  But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.  For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.  You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me.  But not a hair of your head will perish.  By standing firm you will gain life.  (Luke 21:12-19)

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.  Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.  They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me (John 15:18-21)

All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.  They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.  They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.  I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.  (John 16:1-4)

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (John 17:14-16)

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.  For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20)

“We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”  Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!”  (Acts 5:28-29)

They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. (Acts 14:21-22)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written:”For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”   Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:35-39)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  (Romans 12:14)

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2)

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  (Hebrews 4:16)

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.  He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26)

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (1 Peter 4:12-16)

Perfectionism

PERFECTIONISM

 

DEFINITIONPerfectionism is the rigorous rejection of anything that is less than perfect, a driving demand to be absolutely flawless in every area.

FACTS ABOUT PERFECTIONISM:

We live in an imperfect world.  We are created in God’s image, and as He desires perfection so do we.  But there is nothing absolutely perfect in this world other than God.  That is why a relationship with Him is the only thing that satisfies the need for perfection.  Even the great Apostle Paul described a less than perfect missions outreach:  “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life”  (1 Corinthians 1:8). The Apostle James pointed out that “…we all stumble”  (James 3:2).

Perfectionism is a form of pride.  You cannot admit to yourself or others that you are less than perfect.  You take pride in everything you do being absolutely flawless.  Perfectionism is performance-based rather than faith-based conduct.

Extreme perfectionism leads to and results from other problems.  These include fear of failure and feelings of rejection because you are less than perfect.  A poor self-image and an attitude of defeatism may result because nothing is ever good enough.  An obsessive compulsive disorder can also develop, a driving force that dictates that everything has to be flawless and causes you to repeat actions excessively to be sure things are absolutely perfect.

Perfectionism is not the same as maturity in Christ.  The Bible has many commands for believers to be “perfect” When the Bible speaks of being perfect in Christ it means to be  complete in Christ and spiritually mature.  It does not mean you will never sin or make mistakes.

We all fall short of being perfect.  A major purpose of the Word is to confirm that we fall short of perfection:  “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:22-24). 

DEALING WITH  PERFECTIONISM:

Admit that you are not perfect.  We have all sinned and we all make mistakes (Romans 3:22-24).

Forget the past and focus on the future.  The Apostle Paul, who made many mistakes in his past, declared:  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 3:12-14).

Accept God’s gift of grace.  God’s grace covers your past, present, and future sins and mistakes.  Accept His gift of grace to cover your sins and imperfections: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”  (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Accept that Jesus bore your sins.  All of your sins, imperfections, and mistakes were taken by Jesus to the cross.  He  bore them so that you do not have to bear them: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”  (Isaiah 53:6).

Rely on God’s perfection instead of your own.  God and His Word are perfect.  Rely on these instead of your own effort.  “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless” (Psalm 18:30).  It is God who will make your way–all that you do and say–perfect (Psalm 18:32).  Instead of relying on your perfectionism, focus on His Presence.

Focus on spiritual growth.   Focus on eternal values rather than emphasizing temporal performance.  Many of the imperfections that you fret over are temporal things of the world which will pass away (1 John 2:15).  Keep your focus on eternal things “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT PERFECTIONISM:

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. (Psalm 18:30)

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  (Psalm 18:32)

There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.  (Ecclesiastes 7:20 )

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  (Isaiah 53:6)

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1:6)

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3:12-14)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

…we all stumble….(James 3:2)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.  (1 John 1:8-10)

Peer Pressure

PEER PRESSURE

 

DEFINITION Peer pressure is the influence that a group or an individual exerts over someone that encourages them to change their attitudes, values, or behaviors to conform to group norms.

FACTS ABOUT PEER PRESSURE:

There are both positive and negative influences in life.  You must make decisions each day about which of these you will allow to influence you.  Positive peer pressure that encourages you to do good is not a problem.  It is the negative peer pressure of ungodly influences in your life which you must learn to confront and conquer.

You are influenced by those with whom you associate.  The Bible says “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character”  (1 Corinthians 15:33).  Proverbs warns:  “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered,  or you may learn his ways  and get yourself ensnared” (Proverbs 22:24-25).  Substitute any negative influence for the words “hot-tempered” and the result is the same–if you run with someone who is dishonest, you learn their ways.  If you hang out with a liar, you will become one too.

You should be an example instead of following bad examples.  Paul told a young believer named Timothy:  “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity”  (1 Timothy 4:12-13).  Jesus said you were to follow His example (John 13:15) and that as a believer you are His ambassador to the world (1 Corinthians 5:20).  Do not be a clone.  Be an example.  You are to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13).  Tasteless salt is worthless (Mark 9:50).  As a follower of Christ it is your responsibility to flavor the world around you so it will be positively impacted for God.

Doing things because “everyone else is doing them” is idolatry.  The Lord said that Israel imitated the sinful nations around them, although God had ordered them not to do so.  They followed idolatrous people and became idolatrous themselves (2 Kings 17:15).  When you decide to do something because “everyone else is doing it”, you are establishing those unsaved people as an idol in your life–imitating them and adhering to their standards instead of following God.

DEALING WITH  PEER PRESSURE:

Do not blame God when you yield to peer pressure. The Bible says: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death”  (James 1:13-15). 

Repent of conforming to negative peer pressure.  If you have been yielding to pressure to do things that are not in harmony with God’s Word, you have sinned. Confess, repent, and ask God to forgive you.

Rebuke the fear of man. The Bible says that the fear of man is a spiritual snare which entraps you in their ways (Proverbs 29:25).

Determine that you will obey God rather than man.  The disciples took their stand against “peer pressure”, even when facing possible imprisonment and death.   Peter and the other apostles declared: “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29).

Renew your mind in the Word of God.  This will enable you to be transformed instead of conforming to the world (Romans 12:1-2).

Do not be unequally yoked in relationships.  The Bible warns believers:  “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”   “Therefore come out from them and be separate,”   says the Lord.  “Touch no unclean thing,  and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters”  (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).   Break close relationships with those who exert pressure for you to look, act, think, or talk in ways that are not in harmony with God’s Word.

Form positive relationships.  Make friends with fellow-believers who are seeking to live by the Word of God.  You can be friendly to everyone, but your close relationships should be with those who have like spiritual goals.  Find friends at church, at Bible study groups, or through Christian social organizations.  Find a prayer partner as well, one with whom you can pray regularly.
Do not become involved in the troubles of others.  Some people want to involve you in their messes and even take delight in getting you into trouble. The moment you are tempted to become involved in another person’s issues, you  end up as part of their troubles.  The Bible warns:  “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence” (Proverbs 4:14-17, KJV).

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT PEER PRESSURE:

Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. (Exodus 23:2)

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners

or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!  (Psalm 119:115)

My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.  If they say, “Come along with us;

let’s lie in wait for someone’s blood, let’s waylay some harmless soul;  let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit;  we will get all sorts of valuable things  and fill our houses with plunder;  throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse”–my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths;  for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood.  (Proverbs 1:10-16)

Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. (Proverbs 4:14-17. KJV)

Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered,  or you may learn his ways  and get yourself ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24-25)

Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat,  for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.  (Proverbs 23:20-21)

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.  (Proverbs 29:25)

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transform. (Romans 12:1-2)

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”   “Therefore come out from them and be separate,”   says the Lord.  “Touch no unclean thing,  and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters.  (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.  (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.  (1 Timothy 4:12-13)

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  (James 1:13-15)

Peace

PEACE

 

DEFINITIONPeace is a condition of quiet, calm, tranquility, and harmony.  It is the absence of strife, anxiety, and concern.  Peace is not just passivity, because maintaining peace requires directed  action on the part of a peacemaker.  In Greek, “peace” means to bind together in wholeness.

FACTS ABOUT PEACE:

There are two types of peace.  The first is peace with God  which comes through accepting Christ as Savior (Romans 5:1).  After you have made peace with God, you can have the peace of God manifested in your life (Philippians 4:7).

You must know God to experience true peace.  You will never experience true peace apart from making peace with God.  You do this by confessing and repenting of sin and–if you are not a believer–accepting Jesus Christ as Savior.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace, enabling you to have both peace with God and the peace of God (Ephesians 2:14).

Lack of peace results from wrong attitudes and sinful actions.  Worries over provision–a job, housing, clothes, food, money to pay bills–often result in a lack of peace.  Jesus said not to concern yourself with these things  (Matthew 6:31-34).   Unconfessed sin will also cause you to lose your peace.

Lack of peace can be caused by tormenting spirits.  Demonic spirits bring tormenting thoughts that steal your peace.

Peace is a gift from God.  It is a spiritual legacy bestowed by Jesus:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”  (John 14:27).

Peace is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit.  As one of the Fruit of the Spirit, it is a virtue that is to be developed in the lives of all believers (Galatians 5:22).

Peace is a benefit of the atonement of Christ.  The Prophet Isaiah declared:  “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed”  (Isaiah 53:5).

Confusion is the opposite of peace.  God is not the author of confusion, rather He is the God of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).

DEALING WITH  PEACE:

Make peace with God.  If you do not know Jesus as Savior or there is known sin in your life, make peace with God.   Confess, repent, and ask forgiveness. There is no peace without the Prince of Peace.  You must have peace with God in order to experience the peace of God.

Bind tormenting spirits. Bind the spirits that bring confusion and the tormenting thoughts that  cause you to lose your peace.  Loose the spirit of peace to operate in your life.

Accept peace as a gift from God.  Just as you accepted salvation, accept peace as God’s gift to you (John 14:27) and a Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Ask God to transform your mind.  Lack of peace begins with your thought life…”Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).

Keep your mind focused on God.  Despite adversities and the circumstances of life, keep your mind focused on God (Isaiah 26:3).  You can do this through continual prayer and study of the Word, for one of the purposes of the Word is to bring peace (John 16:33).

Allow peace to reign.  You must allow or “let” the peace of God to reign in your life despite the circumstances:  “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Colossians 3:15).

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT PEACE:

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.  (Psalm 29:11)

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.  (Psalm 34:14)

Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace.  (Psalm 37:37)

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.(Proverbs 3:24)

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.  (Proverbs 16:7)

The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.(Proverbs 17:14, NKJV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace  there will be no end.  (Isaiah 9:6-7)

You will keep in perfect peace  him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.(Isaiah 26:3)

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.  (Isaiah 32:17)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10)

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. (Isaiah 48:18)

“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”  (Isaiah 48:22)

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  (Isaiah 53:5)

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken  nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.  (Isaiah 54:10)

All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace. (Isaiah 54:13)

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field  will clap their hands.  (Isaiah 55:12)

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future .” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.  (Matthew 5:9)

Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.   (Mark 9:50, NKJV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  (John 14:27)

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; (Romans 8:6)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. (Romans 12:18)

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 14:17)

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (Romans 14:19, KJV)

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:13)

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.  (1 Corinthians 14:33)

…Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.  (2 Corinthians 13:11)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,  and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:14-18)

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV)

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.  (Colossians 1:19-20)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. (Colossians 3:15).

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.  (2 Thessalonians 3:16, NKJV)

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace. (James 3:17-18, ASV)

Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it.  (1 Peter 3:11, NKJV)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  (1 Peter 5:7)