- What is the sin that does not lead to death?
- Is Hebrews 10:25 being followed when Christians worship online?
- Did God ever get upset with Jesus?
- Can God actually see our future? If such is the case, why did he say to Abraham, “Now I know”?
- Is plastic surgery a sin?
- Why did God tell Mary what to name Jesus?
- How do we ask for forgiveness and to forgive someone in our past who has done us so wrong?
The answers to these questions were originally live-streamed from my office on April 1, 2020. However, the live-streaming presented some problems towards the end. The video lagged and many lost the signal completely. Therefore, I’ve deleted the video and instead will put the questions and answers in written form here for your study.
What is the sin that does not lead to death?
The passage which mentions the sin that does not lead to death — as well as the sin that leads to death — is 1 John 5:16-17. When one examines the immediate context of 1 John 5:13-18, and also examines 1 John 1:7-9, it is clear John was talking about sins Christians commit which are forgiven by God because the Christians walk in the light, confess their sins before God penitently and thus do not keep on sinning willfully and rebelliously (cf. Heb. 10:26-31), and thus can know for certain that eternal life is theirs. Sins of which faithful Christians confess and repent are sins that do not lead to death. Sins which unfaithful Christians willfully and rebelliously commit without repentance stay unforgiven, and thus lead to death (cf. Rom. 6:23).
Is Hebrews 10:25 being followed when Christians worship online?
A careful study of Hebrews 10:25 is needed in order to correctly answer this question. The command is to not “forsake” the assembly, “as is the habit of some.” “Forsake” comes from the Greek word egkataleipo, which literally means to abandon, desert, totally abandon, utterly forsake. The Hebrew Christians to whom the writer of Hebrews was originally addressing were being heavily persecuted for their Christian faith (cf. Heb. 10:32-34), leaving an opening for Satan to tempt them to abandon their Christian faith (and thus abandon the church’s assemblies) and return to Judaism. As part of exhorting them to stay faithful, the Hebrew writer was commanding them to habitually abandon assembling together as some already had done, which would then lead into willful sin (Heb. 10:25-26).
The temporary suspension of physically assembling together for worship in favor of worship in homes via online technology which many churches are doing in order to help curb the COVID-19 pandemic is not even close to the habitual abandonment and desertion of assembling altogether condemned by the Hebrew writer. I should know, because when I was younger I had in fact totally abandoned going to worship assemblies for years, which was part of the willful sin that I allowed to reign in my life resulting in my complete abandonment of the Christian religion as a whole for a time. Back then I slept in on Sunday mornings, which is the opposite of what I see Christians doing today when they get up on Sunday mornings, dress nicely as many do even though they’re in their living rooms instead of a church building, and gather around their televisions or computers to willfully, joyfully, and purposefully worship God. If this pandemic had happened during the time of apostasy in my life, I would have simply added to the list of excuses I already had for why I wasn’t going to go to church. In contrast, I see many faithful Christians not even thinking of making the pandemic an excuse to not worship God; instead they are joyfully worshiping together in their homes and using technology to still be able to sing and pray alongside their brethren.
The fact that God actually only condemned the habit and total abandonment of assembling together for worship in Hebrews 10:25 shows his wisdom in giving us allowances for things that come up which are out of our control. If he had worded Hebrews 10:25 in such a way that gave an absolute requirement to assemble for worship with no exceptions whatsoever, then not only would a pandemic not be a reason to avoid worship assemblies; we would be required to assemble for worship even if we or a loved one were sick or a tornado was bearing down on the church building. Yet since the command is actually addressing the habit of not coming to church and the total abandonment of assembling together, then we see that God allows for and understands when unusual circumstances come up which would prevent us from assembling even though we want to do so, including circumstances such as how many churches are responding to this pandemic.
Did God ever get upset with Jesus?
My 8-year-old daughter asked this question, and I’m very proud of her for doing so. The answer is “No,” and the reason is because God is pleased whenever anyone obeys him (John 14:23). Not obeying God is the definition of sin (1 John 3:4). Jesus never sinned (Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Thus, God was never upset with him (John 4:34; 6:38; 17:4).
Can God actually see our future? If such is the case, why did he say to Abraham, “Now I know”?
God can see our future, as taught throughout Scripture. One example of many which could be cited is what God said to Israel through the prophet Isaiah when he challenged Israel’s false gods to see the future as he could (Is. 41:21-23). In chapter 45 of Isaiah we see an example of God seeing the future in that through Isaiah he foretold of the Persian king Cyrus’s reign more than a century before Cyrus was born, even going so far as to identify Cyrus by name. God does indeed have the power to “declare the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done” (Is. 46:8-10).
So why did he say to Abraham, “…for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me” (Gen. 22:12)? Remember that Moses wrote that God “tested” Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22:1). If a teacher gives a test to a student, it is because the teacher wants to ascertain what he does not yet know: how much the student has learned from the teacher. Being omnipotent, God certainly has the power to decide not to know something for the purposes of testing us. That is what he did with Abraham. He wanted to know just how faithful and loyal Abraham had grown to become over the years. Being omniscient, he could have easily already known this by foreseeing how Abraham would have responded to his command to sacrifice Isaac. Yet he wanted to “test” Abraham, and thus used his omnipotence to deny himself the foreknowledge of how Abraham would respond to his difficult command.
Is plastic surgery a sin?
It depends on the situation, and more specifically the purpose behind wanting the procedure. Is one going under the plastic surgeon’s knife out of medical or psychological necessity? For example, to repair a damaged facial structure obtained from an injury and thus gain back self-confidence and physical ability, or some other type of medical or psychological need? I find nothing in Scripture to prohibit that.
On the other hand, is one having the procedure out of a desire to be sexually alluring? Is one wanting plastic surgery out of inherent vanity? There are scriptural principles which would speak against that (1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:3-4; Matt. 18:6-9), and one would be prudent to heed those principles should they be relevant to one’s reasons for wanting the procedure.
God knows the reasons behind one’s decision to undergo plastic surgery, and many times other people do not know those reasons. We must not judge according to appearance, but judge with right judgment (John 7:24). Love would give others the benefit of the doubt rather than make a negative assumption as to why they would do something that may seem on the surface to be questionable (1 Cor. 13:7), and the Bible does condemn being a meddlesome busybody (2 Thess. 3:11; 1 Tim. 5:13; Prov. 26:17). It would be better for us all to encourage and support each other instead of unrighteously judge or devour each other when we likely do not know the reasons behind the decisions others make.
Why did God tell Mary what to name Jesus?
No specific reason is given in Scripture. However, it would be good to note that the name “Jesus” literally means “Jehovah is salvation.” Thus, it is likely God chose the name “Jesus” to give mankind a message as to his Son’s purpose for coming, which was to save mankind.
How do we ask for forgiveness and to forgive someone in our past who has done us so wrong?
It is always good to start with humility. When asking God to forgive you or help you forgive someone who has wronged you, it always helps to remember that you yourself are far from perfect and you have wronged others just as others have wronged you.
Luke 17:3-4 is also a good passage to keep in mind. In these verses Jesus commands us to forgive on the condition of repentance. Even if the wrongs are continually done and yet are still continually accompanied by repentance, forgiveness is required. This would also mean that forgiveness would not be required if the wrongdoer does not repent. After all, God himself has never forgiven anyone who has not first repented.
With that said, it must also be pointed out that God shows love and kindness even to those who are unrepentantly evil (Matt. 5:44-45), and we are called to be like him in this way (Matt. 5:46-48). Thus, one should not think, “Ah, he has wronged me and he has not repented! That means I don’t have to forgive him! And THAT means I am allowed to hate him and treat him terribly!” No, even without forgiveness you are still required to love your enemies, bless them, and be kind to them (Matt. 5:44). After all, that’s what God did to you when you were still his enemy. Aren’t you glad he offered you his hand even while you were still in your sins (Rom. 5:6-8)?