Tag Archives: Sin

Christmas : Separation, Purity, and Christmas

21 Dec

Christmas is a battleground for believers, with external and internal opposition to virtually every aspect of the season. Should we even celebrate such a contested holiday? And if so, how do we celebrate in a way that adorns the gospel?  http://ow.ly/W5Lap

Excerpt from Article:

“Christmas is a study in contrasts.

Snow is one of the prominent themes of the holiday, but most of the world doesn’t get snow in December, so people decorate with inflatable snowmen and twinkle lights meant to imitate icicles.

Christmas is hailed as a time of joy, love, and peace, but many feel profound sadness and strife due to lost loved ones and broken families. And in spite of it being a season of giving, the majority of advertisements and sales focus on fulfilling selfish, materialistic desires.

On TV, the contrasts are unmistakable. One channel broadcasts the nativity story while the next airs a debate over whether Jesus was anyone worth celebrating. And a parade of politicians and talking heads fight over where and when it is appropriate to celebrate Christmas, while others work overtime to celebrate every religion’s traditions.

But perhaps the most puzzling contrast is between believers—between those who celebrate the birth of Christ and those who argue that Christians should have no part in such a “pagan” holiday. In fact, some Christians oppose Christmas with as much (or more!) vigor as those who celebrate it.

The arguments are the same every year: Jesus wasn’t born on December 25; Jeremiah 10 condemns Christmas trees; Christmas is a Catholic mass created to syncretize with a Roman pagan feast; Christmas is a man-made feast while the biblical feasts are ignored. You’ve probably received some chain emails to that effect already this season.

In the face of such opposition, how should the rest of the church respond? Should we even bother to celebrate such a widely-contested holiday?

In a video blog last year, we asked John MacArthur that very question. As usual, his response cut right to the heart of the issue, pushing past the smaller matters that so often trip us up. He said:

In my view, any opportunity that we can have to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, we need to grasp that opportunity. We would do well to celebrate His birth every single day. We would do well to proclaim His virgin birth, as God in human flesh, every day. But if the world wants to give us a day and a season in which the whole of humanity focuses on the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, we would be foolish not to capitalize on that.

We waste such an opportunity when we contend with a godless culture for the traditional trappings of the holiday. It’s pointless to debate over seasonal terminology or fight to keep nativity scenes in front of government buildings. And it’s profoundly vain to complain about whether or not a popular coffee shop’s cups are decorated with vague allusions to the season—especially when that coffee shop has a history of promoting and supporting immoral causes….”

“All the traditions of Christmas are just that—traditions. Inasmuch as they foster loving relationships, generosity, and worship of the Savior, they are commendable. But if they cause us to be self-focused and distracted from what really matters, they should be set aside.

We should be single-minded, focused solely on Christ and the tremendous blessings we enjoy through Him. And we ought to look for any opportunity to extend the blessed news of the salvation He made possible to the world around us. How do we accomplish that when we waste so much time complaining about coffee cups and trees?”….

Read the full article here: http://www.gty.org/Blog/B151221
Grace to You Blog

 

Christmas…the Real Story :  A child born to die

 

 

 

 

 

Christ Our Substitute

11 Nov

Christ Our Substitute

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The Lord Jesus Christ, in great love and compassion, has made a full and complete satisfaction for sin, by suffering death in our place upon the cross. There He offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, and allowed the wrath of God, which we deserved, to fall on His own head. For our sins, as our Substitute, He gave Himself, suffered, and died – the just for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty – that He might deliver us from the curse of a broken law, and provide a complete pardon for all who are willing to receive it.

~ J.C. Ryle

 

All have Sinned:

Isaiah 53:5-6 “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him, “

Romans 3:23-25 “ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;”

Romans 5:8-9 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we ere yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”

Romans 5:12-14 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned–for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to com.”

Children of Wrath – Made Alive in Christ

Ephesians 2:1-3 “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

Sin Entered the World Through Adam:

Genesis 3:1-19  “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;

But from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!

“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden,

Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”

He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”

And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life;

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heal.”

To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you saying, “You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.

Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field;

By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

The Bible gives us instruction on how to be right before God, Confess your sins. 1 John 1:8-10 said; “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”

Because He Lives we have New Life

Do Not Fret Because of Evildoers

21 Jun

Psalms 37:1-22

Do not fret because of evildoers,

Be not envious toward wrongdoers.

For they will writher quickly like the grass

And fade like the green herb.

Trust in the LORD and do good;

Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

Delight yourself in the LORD

And He will give you the desire of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD,

Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light

And your judgment as the noonday.

Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him.

Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,

Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.

Cease from anger and forsake wrath;

Do not fret; it only leads to evildoing.

For evildoers will be cut off,

But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.

Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;

And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.

But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

 

The wicked plots against the righteous

And gnashes at him with his teeth.

The Lord laughs at him,

For He sees his day is coming

The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow

To cast down the afflicted and the needy.

To slay those who are upright in conduct.

Their sword will enter their own heart,

And their bows will be broken.

Better is the little of the righteous

Than the abundance of many wicked.

For the arms of the wicked will be broken,

But the LORD sustains the righteous,

The LORD knows the days of the blameless,

And their inheritance will be forever.

They will not be ashamed in the time of evil,

And in the days of famine they will have abundance.

But the wicked will perish;

And the enemies of the LORD will be

Like the glory of the pastures,

They vanish-like smoke they vanish away.

The wicked borrows and does not pay back,

But the righteous is gracious and gives.

For those blessed by Him will inherit the land,

But those cursed by Him will be cut off.

Psalms 37:1-22

From: New American Standard Bible

© 2014 Sherry DuBois

 

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Wrong Answers to the Right Question

17 Jun

“When the Holy Spirit draws sinners to God, regenerates them, and grants them eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, they are recreated (2 Corinthians 5:17). The nature of the new creature in Christ is to obey the Word, follow Christ, reject the temptations of the world, and display the fruits of righteousness in their lives (Romans 8:6; Philippians 3:9; Colossians 3:2). While the old nature is still present, there is a new desire, interest, and capacity to love and obey the Lord that wasn’t there before.

John’s apparent contradiction is no contradiction at all. In chapter one, he refutes false teachers who claim to have advanced beyond any struggle with sin (1 John 1:8-10). He goes on in chapter two to make it clear that if someone does not obey Christ’s commands (2:3) and live righteously (e.g., demonstrate love [2:9-10]), he is not a believer. In our passage from chapter three, the apostle reinforces the tests of faith he has already established. In doing so, he further refutes false teachers who minimize or deny the significance of sin. His teaching is just as vital today in the face of similar false teaching. Jesus sacrificed Himself not only to perfect people in the future, but the purify them in the present (Ephesians 5:25-27). Minimizing sin in the church goes against the very work of Christ.”

See Full Article Here:

Wrong Answers to the Right Question.

The Darkness of Twilight – Probe Ministries

1 Jun

The Darkness of Twilight

Written by Sue Bohlin                                                                   Listen to Sue’s Probe Briefing about Twilight

Demonic Origin of Twilight?

The Twilight saga is a publishing and movie phenomenon that sweeps tween and teen girls (and a whole lot of other people) off their feet with an obsessive kind of following. Millions of Christian girls are huge fans of this series about love between a teenage girl and her vampire boyfriend-then-husband. But it’s not just a love story made exciting by the danger of vampires’ blood-lust. I believe the Twilight saga, all four books and their corresponding movies, is spiritually dangerous. I believe there is a demonic origin to the series, and the occult themes that permeate the books are a dangerous open door to Satan and his hordes of unholy angels.

I was stunned to learn about how the idea for Twilight came to the author, Stephenie Meyer. She tells this story:

I woke up . . . from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately. {1}

 “Fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire”? Consider what vampires are, in the vampire genre that arose in the 1800s: demon-possessed, undead, former human beings who suck blood from their victims to sustain themselves. A vampire is evil. And the vampire who came to Stephenie Meyer in a dream is not only supernaturally beautiful and sparkly, but when she awoke she was deeply in love with this being who virtually moved into her head, creating conversations for months that she typed out until Twilight was written.

When I heard this part of the story, it gave me chills. Scripture tells us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, which is a perfect description of the Edward Cullen character.

Then I learned that “Edward” came to Meyer in a second dream that frightened her. She said, “I had this dream that Edward actually showed up and told me that I got it all wrong and like he exists and everything but he couldn’t live off animals . . . and I kind of got the sense he was going to kill me. It was really terrifying and bizarrely different from every other time I’ve thought about his character.” {2}

I suggest that if the Twilight saga is demonic in origin, it is dangerous, to Christians and non-Christians alike.

Vampires, Blood, and Salvation

I explained above how the Twilight saga was birthed in an unusually vivid dream that I believe was demonic in origin. So it’s really no surprise that the books are permeated with the occult.

The Twilight vampires all have various kinds of powers that don’t come from God. They are supernaturally fast, supernaturally strong, able to read others’ minds and control others’ feelings. Some can tell the future, others can see things at great distances. These aspects of the occult are an important part of what makes Twilight so successful.

In both the Old and New Testaments, God strongly warns us not to have anything to do with the occult, which is part of the “domain of darkness” (Col. 1:13) where demons reign. He calls occult practices “detestable,” which tells us that He is passionate about protecting us. One of the reasons Twilight is so dangerous is that readers can long for these kinds of supernatural but ungodly powers; if not in real life, then in their imagination. And this is a doorway to the demonic, which is all about gaining power from a source other than God. Twilight glorifies the occult, the very thing God calls detestable (Deut. 18:9). This is reason enough for Christ-followers to stay away from it!

For a growing number of people vampirism is not make-believe.  In a special report on the Fox News Channel, Sean Hannity reported, “there’s actually a vampire subculture that exists in the United States right now and spreads into almost evrey commmunity in this country.” {3} Joseph Laylock, the author of a book on modern vampires, explains that there are three general categories of people who “believe they have an ‘energy deficit,’ and need to feed on blood or energy to maintain their wellbeing.” {4}  Some drink real blood, others feed only on “energy” they draw from other humans, and “hybrids” who are a bit of both. {5}

My Probe colleague Todd Kappelman, a philosopher and literature critic, observed that Stephenie Meyer took unwarranted liberties with the genre. Vampires are evil, and you can’t just turn them “good” by writing them that way.

You can’t have vampires strolling around in the daytime. You can’t make evil good and good evil, putting light for darkness and darkness for light [Is. 5:20]. It’s a law of physics: light always dispels the darkness. You can’t have the bad guys win. There is no system in the world where evil is rewarded with “happily ever after”; it violates our sensibilities too much. Either the extremely ignorant or the extremely childish would fall for it. And apart from the moral aspect, it’s doing violence to the genre—like putting Darth Vader in a Jane Austen novel. {6}

Writer Michael O’Brien comments,

In the Twilight series we have a cultural work that converts a traditional archetype of evil into a morally neutral one. Vampires are no longer the “un-dead,” no longer possessed by demons. There are “good” vampires and “bad” vampires, and because the good vampire is incredibly handsome and possesses all the other qualities of an adolescent girl’s idealized dreamboat, everything is forgivable. {7}

Closely connected to the occult is drinking blood, which is a focus of the vampire literary genre; vampires feed on the blood of humans. In Twilight, we are supposed to embrace the “good” vampires who have learned to feed on the blood of animals, calling themselves vegetarians (which is an insult to all vegetarians!). Interestingly, in Lev. 19:26 God connected the occult with ingesting blood 3200 years before the vampire genre was invented.

God understands the importance of blood; in both the Old and New Testaments, He forbids eating or drinking it. Not only did this separate His followers from the surrounding pagan cultures, but it also separated out the importance of blood because it atones for sin. In the Old Testament, animals were sacrificed as a picture of how the spotless Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, would pour out His sacred blood to pay for our sins. God doesn’t want people to focus on the wrong blood! {8}

Twilight is also spiritually dangerous in the way it presents salvation. When Daddy Vampire Carlisle turns Edward into a vampire, it is described as saving him. {9} He ended a 17-year-old boy’s physical life and turned him into an undead, stone cold superbeing, which Edward describes as a “new birth.” {10}   Vampire Alice describes the process as the venom spreading through the body, healing it, changing it, until the heart stops and the conversion is finished.   Poison heals, and changes, and converts to ligelessness? Healing poison?  This is spiritually dangerous thinking.  Isaiah warns us (5:20)  Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

This upside-down, inside-out way of thinking is rooted in Stephenie Meyer’s strong Mormon beliefs. Twilight’s cover photo of a woman’s hands offering an apple is an intentional reference to the way Mormonism reinvents the Genesis story of the Fall. LDS (Latter Day Saints) doctrine makes the Fall a necessary step, called a “fall up.”   At the beginning of the book you will find, alone on a page, Genesis 2:17— “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Stephenie Meyer explains:

The apple on the cover of Twilight represents “forbidden fruit.” I used the scripture from Genesis (located just after the table of contents) because I loved the phrase “the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.” Isn’t this exactly what Bella ends up with? A working knowledge of what good is, and what evil is. . . . In the end, I love the beautiful simplicity of the picture. To me it says: choice. {13}

Echoing Satan’s deception of Eve with the temptation to become like God on her own terms, the heroine Bella eventually becomes a god-like vampire, glorying in her perfection, her beauty, her infallibility. She transcends her detested humanity and becomes a goddess. This is basic Mormon doctrine, not surprising since the author is a Mormon. {14}

One of the messages of Twilight is that there is a way to have immortal life, eternal life, apart from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ; that there is a way to live forever without dealing with the obstacle of our sin problem by confessing that we are sinners and we need the forgiveness and grace of a loving Savior.

This is a spiritually dangerous series.

A Love Story on Steroids: Emotional Dependency

Why are girls of all ages, but especially tweens and teens, so passionately and obsessively in love with Edward, the vampire in Twilight?

Edward is very different from the vast majority of young men today. He is chivalrous, sensitive, self-sacrificing and honorable. He wants the best for Bella, his teenage girlfriend and eventual wife. He is able to keep his impulses in check, which is a good thing since he lusts after her scent and wants to kill her so he can drain her blood. No wonder girls and women declare they’re in love with Edward Cullen!

But one of the troubling aspects of the Twilight saga is Edward and Bella’s unhealthy and dysfunctional relationship. Yet millions of female readers can’t stop thinking about this “love story on steroids,” which means it is shaping their hopes and expectations for their own relationships. That’s scary.

 The best way to describe their relationship is emotional dependency. This is when you have to have a constant connection to another person in order for you to be okay. Emotional dependency is characterized by a desperate neediness. You put all your relational eggs in one basket, engaging in an intense one-on-one relationship that renders other relationships unnecessary. In fact, there is often a resentment of not only the people that used to be your friends, but you resent anyone in the other person’s world who could pull their attention and devotion away from you.

When things are going well, it’s like emotional crack cocaine. The intensity is addictive and exhilarating. When things aren’t going well, it’s an absolute nightmare. Emotionally dependent relationships strap people into an emotional roller coaster full of drama, manipulation, and a constant need for reassurance from the other.

When Edward leaves Bella for a time, she becomes an emotional zombie. The book New Moon is full of descriptions of the pain of the hole in her chest because when he left, he took her heart with him. She had withdrawn from all her friends to make Edward into her whole world, so she had no support network in place when he left. All of her emotional eggs were in his basket. Many readers see this as highly romantic rather than breathtakingly dysfunctional.

One or both people are looking to another to meet their basic needs for love and security, instead of to God. So emotional dependency is a form of relational idolatry. People put their loved one or the relationship on a pedestal and worship them or it as a false god. When you look to another person to give you worth and make you feel loved and valued, they become inordinately essential. When we worship the creature rather than the Creator as in Romans 1, what results is a desperate neediness that puts us and keeps us at the mercy of the one we worship. They have a lot of power over us, which is one reason why God wants to protect us from idolatry.

Twilight is like an emotional dependency how-to manual. At one point, Bella’s mother tells her, “The way you move—you orient yourself around him without even thinking about it. When he moves, even a little bit, you adjust your position at the same time—like magnets . . . or gravity. You’re like a . . . satellite, or something.” {15} The power of story, especially this story, is that it can set up readers to mistake emotional dependency and relational idolatry for what a love story should look and feel like.

On the Credenda blog, Douglas Wilson makes a powerful case for Twilight also serving as a manual for how to become an abused girlfriend and then an abused wife. Edward’s moods are mercurial and unpredictable, and Bella just goes along with it, making excuses and justifying his actions. {16}

Twilight is spiritually dangerous because of its demonic origin and its occult themes, both of which God commands us to stay away from. But it’s emotionally dangerous too.

Emotional Pornography

The Twilight series is touted as pro-abstinence and pro-chastity because the main characters don’t “go all the way” before they get married. A lot of parents hear that and give a green light for their daughters to read the books and see the movies. But the Twilight books are a lust-filled series, so embedded with writing intended to arouse the emotions, that it is legitimately considered emotional pornography.

 Marcia Montenegro writes,

Much has been made of the alleged message of Twilight, that it is one of abstinence and shows control over desire. In truth, Edward is controlling himself because he does not want to kill Bella; her life is truly in danger from a ferocious vampire attack from the one who loves her. Aside from that, a vibrant sensuality of attraction lies just beneath the surface. A TIME reporter who interviewed Meyer wrote, “It’s never quite clear whether Edward wants to sleep with Bella or rip her throat out or both, but he wants something, and he wants it bad, and you feel it all the more because he never gets it. That’s the power of the Twilight books: they’re squeaky, geeky clean on the surface, but right below it, they are absolutely, deliciously filthy.” {17}

The struggle with self-control is saturated with eroticism and lust. It’s so sensual that teenage boys and young men will read it simply for that reason. The protest, “They don’t have sex” is lame; the relationship is extremely sensual. One very insightful blogger writes,

To claim that the Twilight saga is based on the virtue of chastity is like calling the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition pro-chastity because the girls are clothed.

Bella gives detailed first person accounts of her “make out” encounters with Edward—everything from trying to unbutton clothing, to how loud her breathing is and how this or that feels . . . these detailed first person descriptions are designed to arouse young girls—like a gateway drug to full blown romance novels or vampire lore. How can books in which the author has written detailed first person descriptions of actions leading to arousal help readers to be chaste? The words on the page defy chastity. Anyone who claims that the books promote chastity has to explain how a young girl can read detailed first-person descriptions of “making out” as a tool to preserving her innocence. {18}

The sensuality of Twilight is not lost on even the youngest readers and movie-goers. Robert Pattinson, the actor who plays Edward Cullen in the Twilight movies, was asked in a Rolling Stone interview, “Is it weird to have girls that are so young have this incredibly sexualized thing around you?” He answered, “It’s weird that you get 8-year-old girls coming up to you saying, ‘Can you just bite me? I want you to bite me.’ It is really strange how young the girls are, considering the book is based on the virtues of chastity, but I think it has the opposite effect on its readers though. [Laughs] {19}

God’s word says, “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22). Without a strong discernment filter in place, and without a strong determination to guard one’s heart (Prov. 4:23), it will be very hard to obey that protective command when reading the Twilight books or watching the movies.

Recently at a youth discipleship camp, I asked the young men how they felt about Twilight. They booed. Real men don’t stand a chance to be enough compared to the too-good-to-be-true Edward Cullen. When girls use the emotional porn of romance novels or movies, they are setting up impossible expectations that have no hope of being fulfilled by limited, fallible, all-too-human beings. It’s a cruel twist on the way men can sabotage their relationships with real women by their use of internet porn. Is there much of a difference between using sexual porn or emotional porn? In both cases, fantasy creates unrealistic expectations that reality cannot satisfy.

Apart from the problem of unrealistic expectations, it is unhealthy to make such an intense heart connection with a fictional character. Some people choose getting lost in reading and re-reading the books over having connections with real human beings in community. One lady told me that she called a friend about going out to a movie, but her friend begged off: “Oh, I’m going to stay in with Edward tonight.” A nail technician had one 60-year-old client who confided, “Don’t tell my husband, but I’m in love with Edward.”

In the first Twilight book, Edward sweeps Bella off her feet with the intoxicating description of his intense desire for her and why she desires him: “I’m the world’s most dangerous predator. Everything about me invites you in. My voice, my face, even my smell. . . I’m designed to kill. . . I’ve wanted to kill you. I’ve never wanted a human’s blood so much in my life. . . Your scent, it’s like a drug to me. You’re like my own personal brand of heroin.” {20}

I believe there is a spirit of seduction in the Twilight saga. Something supernatural draws millions of readers to fantasize about being desired, pursued and falling in love with a character that I believe has a deeply demonic component. It’s dangerous on several levels.

The (Rotten) Fruit of Twilight

Twilight  is one of the most successful series ever published. Readers don’t just read the books; many of them re-read them, multiple times. In order to be discerning, we need to examine the fruit of this series to see its effect on readers. I believe that there is a spiritual reality of evil behind Twilight that explains three kinds of fruit I see.

First is the fruit of obsession. Literally millions of fans can’t stop thinking and talking about the books, the characters, the minutia of the Twilight world. There is an addictive element of the series for many people. Addiction is bondage; why willingly submit yourself to bondage?

Some girls talk about their daily reading and study of “The Book,” and they’re talking about the whole saga—not the Bible. {21} With social networking and digital media, fans have access to an ever-growing community of other Twilight-obsessed people, which allows them to connect with their God-given desire to be part of something bigger than themselves.  But the transcendence of connecting to the Twilight world is so much less than God intends for us to experience!

The second fruit is the spiritual warfare reported by Christians, especially those who disobeyed God’s leading to get rid of the books—night sweats, hearing voices and other unusual noises, being gripped by a spirit of fear, loss of intimacy with God. Some thoughtful people have reported what one woman called “a stronghold I didn’t want and couldn’t seem to overcome. I became uncontrollably obsessed over this make-believe world. And fell into a pit of manic-depressive-suicidal state.” {22}

One Christian teenager, clearly under conviction, wrote this comment on a blog:

As a 15-year-old, reading those books was a . . . strange experience for me.

I didn’t think they were too bad or morally lacking until I heard my old high-school chaplain [a thirty-something woman, I think. Never dared to ask 🙂 ] praise them. And then something inside me clicked, because it struck me as wrong that a Godly woman would find this series good. . . .

Another problem with Twilight that I had is that it drives girls to think of love before they are emotionally and mentally ready for the idea. It pretty much skews their ideas of love up. I know it’s done that to me. Because what this series has done is stick Edward Cullen in one category (i.e. “pure perfection”) and “everyone else” lumped together in another as a portrayal of pure “ocker”ness. I am now not sure to what percentage *gentlemanliness* exists in a normal, TANNED boy. So it’s not really fair to guys, or girls, because of skewed expectations. . . .

Otherwise, I enjoyed the Twilight series, but I don’t feel that I should have, so I’m going to pray about that one. {23}

The third fruit is a spirit of divisiveness. Some Christians are inordinately defensive about Twilight, choosing the books over relationships with other believers who take a negative view of the series. One Christian speaker who shared her deep concerns over Twilight at a church conference was verbally attacked at the break by supposedly mature women. Some of them still refuse to speak to her.

Of course, we hear the refrain, “Oh come on. It’s just a book. It’s just fiction.” But all forms of entertainment are a wrapper for values and a message, and we need to be aware of what it is. Remember, what we take into our imaginations is really like food for our souls. If something has poison in it, it shouldn’t be eaten. Saying “It’s just a book, who cares what it is as long as we’re reading,” is equivalent to saying, “If you can put it in your mouth and swallow it, it must be food.” What are you feeding your soul? Goodness or poison?

Readers resonate with the important themes of life and literature: romantic love, family love and loyalty, beauty, sacrifice, fear, danger, overcoming, conflict, resolution. But these themes are laced with spiritual deception: “You, too, can be like God.” You hear that Twilight is a love story on steroids, and people—especially young girls—are drawn to God’s design for a woman to be cherished, protected, and provided for. They are drawn to the way Bella responds to Edward with love, respect and submission, which is also God’s design. So it is especially devious that the elements that resonate with our God-given desires for love are poisoned as occult principles are interwoven with the story.  {24}

One teenage girl made this comment on a blog: “I never thought of [the books] as arousing or erotic in any way. Like many other girls, I found myself falling for Edward as I delved into the story. Before I knew it, my heart was beating faster during the mushier scenes.” Like millions of others, she is unable to discern the line between emotional and sexual arousal. Swooning because you are in love with a fictional character, when you long for this character when you’re not reading the book, means you’ve been taken captive (Col. 2:8). And God does not want us in bondage to anything except Him!

Twilight is dangerous because it subtly stretches us into accommodating that which God calls sin. People don’t leap from embracing good to embracing evil in one giant step; it’s a series of small, incremental allowances. Readers easily accept unthinkingly an unmarried couple spending every single night together when the Word says to avoid every form of evil and to flee temptation, not lie there cuddling with it! Readers are led to accept as heroes and friends vampires who murder human beings to drink their blood.

Commentator Michael O’Brien makes a stunning analysis of Twilight:

In the Twilight series, vampirism is not identified as the root cause of all the carnage; instead the evil is attributed to the way a person lives out his vampirism. Though Bella is at first shocked by the truth about the family’s old ways (murder, dismemberment, sucking the blood from victims), she is nevertheless overwhelmed by her “feelings” for Edward, and her yearning to believe that he is truly capable of noble self-sacrifice. So much so that her natural feminine instinct for submission to the masculine suitor increases to the degree that she desires to offer her life to her conqueror. She trusts that he will not kill her; she wants him to drink her essence and infect her. This will give her a magnificent unending romance and an historical role in creating with her lover a new kind of human being. They will have superhuman powers. They will be moral vampires—and they will be immortal.

Here, then, is the embedded spiritual narrative (probably invisible to the author and her audience alike): You shall be as gods. You will overcome death on your own terms. You will be master over death. Good and evil are not necessarily what Western civilization has, until now, called good and evil. You will define the meaning of symbols and morals and human identity. And all of this is subsumed in the ultimate message: The image and likeness of God in you can be the image and likeness of a god whose characteristics are satanic, as long as you are a “basically good person.”

In this way, coasting on a tsunami of intoxicating visuals and emotions, the image of supernatural evil is transformed into an image of supernatural good. {25}

Twilight is not dangerous because people will literally want to become vampires. Twilight is dangerous because, through the powerful medium of storytelling, dangerous ideas and messages go straight to the heart like a poisoned-tipped arrow, without being passed through a biblical filter. Beware the darkness of Twilight.

Addendum: Should I Let My Children/Grandchildren/Students Read Twilight?

I have read all four books in the Twilight series. I strongly recommend against reading these books.

 But I also understand that it’s a cultural phenomenon, and lots of people are going to read the books no matter what anyone says. So allow me to attempt to redeem the cultural pressure inherent in these books’ popularity by suggesting how you can help the tender, untaught minds of your loved ones to think critically as they read.

 If your teen or tween expresses a desire to read the books, give an explanation for why you think they shouldn’t. (“Just say no” just doesn’t work with most kids. They need to know why, and that’s fair.) I would suggest something along the lines of, “I love you and I want what is best for you, and that means protecting you from dangers you are not aware of. This series is steeped in the occult and in demonic influence, both of which God strongly warns us against in His word. There is also a powerful emotional draw into unhealthy fantasy which could sabotage future relationships with real people. There are spiritual dangers and emotional dangers that I want to protect you from.”

 If you receive pushback, then you might respond by saying, “If you want to read the books, then I’ll read them with you. We’ll talk about them, a chapter or a scene at a time. The choice is yours.” This gives your loved one the power of choice, but you remain involved in the process. What would be especially powerful for young girls is for Dad to read the books as well and talk to his daughter(s) about what’s in them. Men would have a very different take on the emotional lust in these books, as well as a sensitivity to the unfair expectations of a lover that would be formed in their daughters’ hearts. Girls need their father’s input in this adolescent time of emotional and sexual confusion, and Twilight is almost guaranteed to add to the confusion.

 Talk about the books’ content frankly and openly; if they are embarrassed for you to know what they are reading, their well-placed shame will make a powerful statement about the wisdom of reading this kind of book. Make sure they know that you are completely aware of what they are taking into their minds and spirits, just as you would want to know if they were taking drugs into their bodies. Reframe the book’s content in terms of what the Bible says, and ask questions: Does this agree with the Bible’s explanation of life and reality? Does this help you draw near to God, or does it make you want to avoid Him and His Word? How do the descriptions of Bella’s, Edward’s and Jacob’s thoughts and feelings make you think about the people in your real life? Are you tempted to look down your nose at the “mere humans” you do life with?

 Even though this work is fiction, it is still making statements about reality. What is it saying about life on earth? About God? About sin? About love? About the soul? About heaven and hell? About biblical truth?

 How does the book compare to what the Bible says? For example, look together at the Ephesians 5 passage about marriage and why it is important. (Marriage is an earthbound illustration of the union of Christ and the church.) And what Jesus said about the nature of the marriage relationship in heaven in Matthew 22:30. (The marriage relationship is ended by death.) How does it compare with the ideas about marriage in Twilight? Look for the ways Bella relates to her father. Is it according to God’s command to children to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20)? Does she get away with her deceptions and repeated acts of disobedience? (Yes.) Is this consistent with the Bible’s teaching on the consequences of sin (Gal. 6:7)?

 Talk about the gold standard for what God wants us to expose ourselves to: “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” (Phil. 4:8). Look for what is true and not true, noble and not noble, right and not right, etc. The books are not without statements and ideas that are true, noble, and right; the problem is that they are mixed in with even more compelling ideas that are false, ignoble, wrong, impure, unlovely, and shameful.

 “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 7:23). The things we think about by filling our minds and hearts will shape us. What are you filling your mind and heart with? Longing for the perfect lover that no human being can fulfill? Discontent with being human and wishing you could have supernatural powers? Will that serve you well?

 Lia Carlile, a teacher at a Christian school in Washington State, offered these excellent critical thinking questions to help students think through Twilight or any other cultural phenomenon. Lia cites many Scriptures in her notes, which I highly recommend. {26}

 Question 1 – Me and God

• How is this thing building my relationship with the Lord?

 • How does my interest in this area compare with my time invested in my relationship with the Lord?

Question 2 – Me and the People Around Me

 • Is this creating conflict in my family or with others?

 • Does it offend other believers or is it confusing them in their faith?

 • What am I saying to my non-Christian friends or what example am I setting for others?

Question 3 – The Bible

 • What does the Bible have to say about this? Who does it glorify—God or Satan? Jesus or the things of the World?

Question 4 – Me and Twilight (or whatever applies)

 • How is this affecting what I think about; my attitude, heart, and mind?

 • Does it help me to do what is right according to God? Or, does it promote things of the world?

 • Does it distract me from the Lord and my relationships with others? Serving, praying, reading Bible, ministry, etc.

 • Does it cause me to say, think, or do things that are contrary to Jesus and his life?

Notes

1.www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight.html
2. www.Twilightgear.net/Twilight-news-and-gossip/stephenie-meyer-reveals-details-of-new-dream-about-edward-cullen/2493, March 29, 2009.
3. Steve Wohlberg, “The Menace Behind Twilight,” SCP Journal: Vol. 32:2-33:3 (2009), p. 27.
4. Ibid., 28.
5. Ibid.
6. Personal conversation with the author, May 2010.
7. Michael O’Brien, “Twilight of the West,”www.studiobrien.com/writings_on_fantasy/Twilight-of-the-west.html
8. I am indebted to Steve Wohlberg’s article cited above for this insight.
9. Stephenie Meyer, Twilight (New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2005), 288.
10. Meyer, Twilight, 342.
11. Meyer, Twilight, 414.
12. http://www.truthinlovetomormons.com/basic_mormon_doctrine/doctrine/theo/fall.htm
13. www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight_faq.html
14. “As God now is, man can become. As man now is, God once was.” James E. Talmadge, Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976). See also Oscar W. McConkie, Jr., God and Man (Salt Lake City, UT: The Corporation of the Presiding Bishop, 1963), 5. Cited in Russ Wise, “Mormon Beliefs About the Bible and Salvation,” www.probe.org/mormon-beliefs-about-bible-salvation.
15. Stephenie Meyer, Eclipse (New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2007), 68.
16. Douglas Wilson has written a series of insightful reviews of Twilight at Credenda: www.credenda.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=author&id=64&Itemid=127
17. Lev Grossman, “Stephenie Meyer: A New JK Rowling?” TIME Magazine, April 24, 2008, www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1734838,00.html). Cited in Marcia Montenegro, “A Girl and Her Vampire: The Frenzy Over Twilight.” www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_Twilight.html
18. spesunica.wordpress.com/
19. bit.ly/9m4Nje
20. Meyer, Twilight, 268.
21. www.radicalparenting.com/2009/05/14/the-new-bible-Twilight-mini-article/
22. spesunica.wordpress.com/is-Twilight-anti-christian-yes/
23. bit.ly/aSKdWl/
24. I am indebted to the wisdom shown in the comment by Jae Stellari on spesunica.wordpress.com.
25. O’Brien, “Twilight of the West.”
26. www.ericbarger.com/twilight.carlile.pdf

 

© 2010 Probe Ministries

About the Author

Sue Bohlin is an associate speaker with Probe Ministries. She attended the University of Illinois, and has been a Bible teacher and conference speaker for over 35 years. She is a frequent speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women’s Connections), and serves on the board and as a small group leader of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ centered outreach to those dealing with unwanted homosexuality. Sue is on the Bible.org Women’s Leadership Team and is a regular contributor to TheTapestryBlog.com. She is also a professional calligrapher and the webmistress for Probe Ministries; but most importantly, she is the wife of Dr. Ray Bohlin and the mother of their two grown sons. Her personal website is suebohlin.com.

What is Probe?

Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at

www.probe.org.

Further information about Probe’s materials and ministry may be obtained by contacting us at:

Probe Ministries
2001 W. Plano Parkway, Suite 2000
Plano TX 75075
(972) 941-4565


info@probe.org
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Copyright information

You Were On The Cross

30 Mar

You Were On The Cross

Music Link: http://youtu.be/fNUVj_sxTRE

A Meditation On Sin, The Price, and The Man Who Paid For It…

My Peace

23 Mar

My Peace  –  John 14:27   “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives  do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”     

There is a leading theme in Scripture, that theme is the idea of peace. Those who study, teach and write about the Bible say there are more then 400 direct references to “peace” in the Bible. Just reading the Bible from beginning to end, you’ll find in the first book Genesis it opens with peace in the Garden, (there was right relationship with God and mankind), to the last book Revelation ends with peace in Eternity. God made a way for our sins to be forgiven by acknowledging our sins and by repentance, and trust in what Jesus Christ did at the cross (1Cor. 15:3,4) to bring reconciliation between man and God. Those who trust in Christ can have peace in their hearts because they put their faith in Him.

As Christians we worship a God who represents, and is called a God of Peace. ( 2 Cor. 13:11, Hebrews 13:20, Phil. 4:9, Rom. 15:33).

The instructions and applications of ‘peace’ in the bible are numerous, addressing every situation in life, relationships, economic, and of world affairs. At the heart of it’s meaning–’Peace’ means harmony. It is the presence and experience of right relationship. Yet we live in a world that is filled with anything but peace.

Most people want peace, and pray for peace, but somehow peace eludes our everyday lives and existence. One may wonder, with so much biblical instruction from God, why is there so little peace in our world. It’s no big stretch of the imagination that good and evil exist, and evil exists because of sin, and a battle is raging on. But, Someday the Prince of Peace will come and peace will reign for His people. But right now, the reasons for why there is no peace is simply this: 1. The opposition of Satan, and 2. The disobedience of man, so peace does not characterize this world. The fall of angels and the fall of man are the reasons why we have no peace in this world.

What happened to the peace on earth occurred in the beginning as told in Scripture from Genesis when man sinned, the thoughts and behavior were contrary to the glory and character of God, and God’s command was transgressed against (Gen. 2:16,17), and fellowship with God was then broken. (Gen 3:1, 3:12,13).

It is through the cross of Christ that God has provided a way for forgiveness for our sins (Isaiah 53:5,6; 1 Cor. 15:3,4), and our fellowship with God can be restored. It is because of what Christ has done for us. It can not be earned, and does not come from ourselves, but is a gift of God. Eph. 2:8,9. It is by Grace we are saved, (God’s unmerited favor) that we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. This produces grateful hearts and thankfulness. Christ is the mediator of a new covenant (Heb. 9:15). God gives us peace of mind and hearts. We respond in obedience to God, and seek for righteousness. Peace comes from knowing God is in control.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! “  Isaiah 24:3

My Peace – http://youtu.be/Pc2RUO1OK_4

My Peace I give unto you

It’s a peace that the world cannot give

It’s a peace that the world cannot understand

Peace to know, Peace to live,

My Peace I give unto you.