Monday, November 7, 2016

Is depression a sin?

Is depression a sin?
This question was submitted online. You can submit your questions here.
This question is a difficult one depending on how you define “depression”. I am not trained in a medical or counseling field, so my answer will not have the depth that some may desire.

The way I perceive it, there is a difference between “depression” and just “being depressed”. This post will briefly examine both of these conditions.

What is depression? and is it a sin?
The U.S National Library of Medicine defines “depression” in this way:
Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods.True clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer. 
The exact cause of depression is not known. Many researchers believe it is caused by chemical changes in the brain. This may be due to a problem with your genes, or triggered by certain stressful events. More likely, it's a combination of both. 
Some types of depression run in families. But depression can also occur if you have no family history of the illness. Anyone can develop depression, even kids. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001941/)
If one has a clinical mood disorder such as depression, it would not be inherently sinful. Many people have different psychological disorders that are outside of their control such as being “bi-polar”, “obsessive compulsive” or numerous others. In these cases, one’s  disorders may result in a plethora of problems. These problems, without treatment, may not be controlled by oneself.

It is often difficult for Christians to seek out medical help for mental disorders. Christians want to believe that through prayer, study and willpower that they can overcome depression and other problems. In some cases this may be true, but God has also blessed us with trained medical professionals that will often be able to help someone through a particular disorder. 

If you believe you have clinical depression, it would benefit you to seek out professional help. A medical professional will be able to give you the tools necessary to help you overcome this particular disorder. A legitimate mental disorder is not necessarily a sin, but often depression will lead one to try to self-medicate through drugs or drunkenness (which is sinful). It is important to get help.

In conclusion, depression is not sinful, and it is not a sign of weakness to seek out medical help and confess that you have a problem. Medicine and Doctors are a blessing that God has provided to help those with legitimate problems. Utilize the blessings that God has provided. Although clinical depression is not inherently sinful, if it takes over one’s life and one refuses to get help, it may provide a strong temptation to do something that is wrong.

In some cases depression can even lead to suicide. God loves you and needs you to be alive and well so you can help him “seek and save the lost!”.

What to do if you think you have depression?
Bruce Hennigan at Focus on the Family wrote these points when answering this question:
When you feel depression beginning to take hold of your life, try to do the following:
  • Make sure you're still reading the Bible and praying. You have the power, in Christ, to do what God wills.
  • Thank God for loving you and bringing you through the bout of depression. God's Word, not your present emotional outlook, is your authority.
  • Try not to make a major decision while in a depressed frame of mind.
  • Thank God for taking care of you and loving you even when you can't feel it or see it. This exercises your faith and strengthens you.
Here are a few additional thoughts to keep in mind for those struggling with depression:
  • At times, depression can relate to emotions that have been ignored or pushed away for years. Be willing to face them through Christ's strength. As Matthew 5:4 says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
  • Though not advisable in every situation, medication may provide needed physical help for people struggling with depression. Talk to a doctor about it.
  • Reaching out for Christian counseling can provide support, help you address underlying causes of your depression, and help you develop a plan of action. (http://www.focusonthefamily.com)
Is it a sin to be “depressed”?
Being depressed is not always the same as suffering from “depression”. Many things can cause one to be temporarily depressed. I have seen people walk around sulking after their team lost the super-bowl. As I am sure you can see, just being “bummed out” does not necessarily mean you have depression or that you are sinning. However, there are times that constantly being depressed (when not caused by legitimate medical condition) would be sinful.

What is causing us to be depressed?
This is an important question to ask when “feeling blue”. One may see the sin in the world or observe a social injustice and feel depressed, this would probably be an acceptable time to be “down”, but one should not be "down" forever and instead focus on the hope that is in Christ. Temporary worry, is normal, but constant anxiety may be from a lack of trust in God. The Apostle Paul wrote:
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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7).
At times one may be depressed because of pride. Many selfish people will get upset and depressed when they do not get their way. This would be a time in which being depressed is sinful. 

There are countless reasons that may cause one to “feel blue”, some would be sinful and some would not. Wayne Jackson wrote:
But the Bible certainly acknowledges that life’s complications can be depressing (the word is used so elastically). We are even commanded to “weep with those who weep.” This means that we sympathize with their grief, rather than trying to convince them that such sorrow is sinful. 
What Christians do, however, with their grief may demonstrate either strong faith, or it may result in a debilitating depression. Therefore, we must give serious thought to this question. There is no simple “yes” or “no” answer. (https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1212-is-it-a-sin-for-a-christian-to-be-depressed)
Conclusion:
Clinical depression is more than just an attitude problem, it may at times be a serious medical condition that requires the attention of a medical professional. A mental disorder is not inherently sinful, but one needs to use wisdom and make sure they get help when they need it. 

Just because you are “feeling depressed” does not mean that you have a serious medical condition. Do some honest self-evaluation and try to pinpoint the cause and then work to overcome it. Talk to a Christian friend, church elder or preacher and seek out help. Anxiety, worry and feelings of depression can overwhelm a person to a point where they are no longer serving God.

by Cliff Sabroe (Bible quotes from NASB95)

Monday, August 29, 2016

What does the word “Sabaoth” mean?

You may have read this word before in your Bible and just assumed that it was the word “Sabbath” spelled differently, but that is not the case. This word is found twice in the New Testament in Romans 9:29 and James 5:4.
  • And just as Isaiah foretold, "UNLESS THE LORD OF SABAOTH HAD LEFT TO US A POSTERITY, WE WOULD HAVE BECOME LIKE SODOM, AND WOULD HAVE RESEMBLED GOMORRAH.” (Romans 9:29 NASB)
  • Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. (James 5:4 NASB)
The word “Sabaoth” is a transliteration of a Greek word which was a transliteration of a Hebrew word. The word is often translated as “hosts” or “armies”. This word emphasizes the power of God. God has the power to provide for his followers and to punish the wicked. This is the case in James 5:4, God hears the cries of the mistreated and thus, He is angry. James’ point is, “you do not want to make the Lord of “Hosts” (armies and angels) mad!

The word “sabaoth” does not mean “Sabbath”,  but instead it is a word that represents the great power of Almighty God.

By Cliff Sabroe (Quotes from NASB, Image from Reddit)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Does (1 Peter 3:18-20) teach that Jesus went to hell and preached to dead people?


Answer: No. Please read the following points that expound upon this difficult passage in 1st Peter.

The Passage:
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine long-suffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. (1 Peter 3:18-20)
Background of the Passage:
There were many people at this time who were slandering Christians. Christians should not be “troubled” by this (3:14). Instead we should use it as an opportunity to teach about Christ in a gentile, godly way (3:15-16). This does not mean that we will not “suffer”(17), but instead, we can use our suffering for good. In the later part of chapter 3, Peter emphasizes that God is a caring God, and He even cares about those who are persecuting His followers. In (3:18) we read that Christ died for the “unjust”, He “preached” to the unjust (3:19) and that God will provide salvation to those who follow Him (3:20).

Three Important Questions from this Passage:
  • What does it mean that Christ was “alive in the Spirit”?
  • Who are these “spirits in prison”?
  • When did Christ “preach to them”?
What does it mean that Christ was “alive in/by the Spirit”?
Jesus’ flesh was dead at the cross. His dead body was placed in the tomb. His spirit, however, was very much alive. Jesus, as spirit, has always existed (John 1:1). The Holy Spirit was also involved in resurrection of Christ (Romans 8:11). So Peter is saying that either Jesus as an eternal Spirit has always been alive or that He was made to live post death through of the Holy Spirit. Both thoughts reflect the same idea; Jesus, as an eternal being was not killed.

Who are the “spirits in prison”?
In a similar way to Jesus being alive in the Spirit while dead in the flesh, Jesus preached to those spirits “now in prison”. “Now in prison” is assumed to be a synonym with “in the grave”. The people that Jesus preached to in the Spirit, during the time of the writing of this letter were dead. These would be those who died during the flood (vs. 20).

When did Christ “preach to them”?
Keeping the context in mind, Jesus “in His spirit” preached to those spirits who are now in prison (dead). He did not do this during His time in the tomb, but through Noah, during the time of Noah (1 Peter 1:11). Jesus pre-existed and was working in the world prior to coming to earth in the flesh. The pre-incarnate Jesus preached to people (who died in the flood) through the preaching of Noah on Earth.

Conclusion:
We as Christians are special people who are partakers of a special salvation. God wants all to be partakers of this salvation. In fact God has always offered salvation to the lost. Through the preaching of Christ through Noah, or Christ’s death on the cross, God wants all to be saved.

By Cliff Sabroe - Quotes from NASB95

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Should I “tithe”? How much should I give?

What does it mean to “tithe”?
While under the Law of Moses, the Israelites were commanded to give a tenth of what they earned back to God. The term “tithe” means “tenth”. The text of Leviticus reads:
 “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord. If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman's staff, shall be holy to the Lord” (Lev. 27:30-32 ESV).
Should a Christian “tithe” today?
The commandment to give a tenth was for Israel for a specific purpose. This command falls under a law/covenant that we are not under today. The Old Testament Law was given to the Nation of Israel (the Jews) in order to separate them from the rest of the nations of the world and to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah. All of the laws, the requirements, the feasts, the sacrifices, the priesthood, how to worship, the Sabbath and more, were designed to lead one to the Messiah (Jesus). Now that Jesus has come, that system has been done away. Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote the Galatians: 
But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:23-26 NAS).
The Old Testament Law was like a math tutor hired to get a student ready for a test. Once the student masters the material and takes the test, the tutor is no longer needed. The student may look back at what he learned, but ultimately, the tutor's purpose has been fulfilled.

Are Christians supposed to give?
Yes! Several passages show that giving should be part of the Christian’s life and part of the activity of the assembled Church. In 1 Corinthians 16 the Apostle Paul encourages the church in Corinth to give every Sunday.
 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper... (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).
Although the command in this passage is specifically for one church to gather funds to help Christians in another region, it seems that a pattern is being established for the church to give when they meet. Notice, he says that he also “directed the churches of Galatia” to do this.

How much should I give?
No where in the New Testament is an amount or percentage specified. God wants us to be generous givers and God knows our hearts. If we are pushing ourselves to greater generosity all the time, God will be pleased. The second letter to the church in Corinth reads:
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord,  (2 Corinthians 8:1-3 NAS). 
Paul complemented the giving of the Macedonian Christians, because they gave “beyond their means”, this is a great example for us as well.

How should I give?
Oftentimes it is hard for us to give. We selfishly want everything for ourselves and have a hard time sharing. God never wants us to give with a bitter heart.  We must give cheerfully and plan ahead on how much we are going to give. God does not wants our “leftovers”.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV).
Conclusion:
God has given us so much! Let’s always be generous people who cheerfully give to others and back to Him.


By Cliff Sabroe
Image from Forbes

Monday, April 25, 2016

Is it a sin to judge? Please explain Matthew 7:1.

One passage of Scripture that both Christians and non-Christians are familiar with is (Matthew 7:1). It reads “Do not judge so that you will not be judged”. This article is going to answer four questions regarding this passage.
  1. What is the context of (Matthew 7:1)?
  2. Is judging always sinful?
  3. When is judging wrong?
  4. When is judging allowed?
What is the context of Matthew 7:1?
This verse falls in the middle of Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount”. The main idea of this sermon is found in (Matthew 5:20) which states “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven”. The scribes and Pharisees would often bind heavy burdens on people, judge them hypocritically and condemn sinful actions while they themselves were guilty of sinful attitudes and thoughts. The Pharisees would often hold people to a standard that not even they could keep. When you observe the verses following the 7:1 this becomes more clear. 
“For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye”.
Jesus’ statement is intended to be absurd. The illustration is of one trying to remove a splinter out of another’s eye while have a large beam protruding from their own. This is how the Pharisees and scribes carried themselves. They were so concerned about the sins in everyone else’s lives that they could never see the giant sins in their own.

Is judging always sinful?
Got expects us to make what we would refer to as “judgment calls”. He also at times requires us to notice and deal with the sins in another’s life. The idea of approaching a person when they are sinning does go against our normal feelings of “mind your own business”, but as Christians, we are to help others leave sin and follow Christ. At times, to help a person out of a sinful situation you must “judge” a behavior as wrong. In the following passages it will be observed that “judging” is a requirement.
  • “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.“So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:18-20)
  • "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)
  • “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” (Galatians 6:1)
  • "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother” (Matthew 18:15).
In all these passages we are told to identify sin in the lives of others. This is not to be done in a mean or cruel way, but nevertheless a person must “judge” in these situations.

When is judging wrong?
According to Matthew chapter 7,judging would be wrong if it is done hypocritically, we must first remove the “plank from our own eye”. Judging another is also sinful when a persons intentions are being doubted or if a conclusion is drawn solely by the appearance of another (just because a person “looks like a sinner” does not mean they are). When we make judgments that God would not make we are sinning. Another point to consider is that we must make sure we are not passing judgment in a boastful or ungodly way (if our ego is inflated through passing judgment on another we are sinning). 

When is judging allowed?
We can pass judgment if it is done in a godly way with godly intentions. At times we have to confront a person in sin and identify sin in their life. This is acceptable if it is done in a loving way. If you are going to judge, make sure you judge in the same way that you would want to be judged; make sure that your standard of consistent judgment is the Word of God.

Conclusion
God is final judge in all things, only He can be a completely righteous judge. Remember, you are not God! God judges man according to His standard, the Bible. If we allow God’s Word to judge the actions of another as sinful, in a loving and godly way, that is acceptable. Just always be sure to make sure you consistently apply God’s Word to yourself and not just others. 

By Cliff Sabroe - Quotes from NASB95 Bible

Monday, April 4, 2016

What is gluttony? Why is it a sin? ...What does the Bible say about food?

Food is a Blessing
  • (Matthew 6:11) “Give us today our daily bread”.
  • (Matthew 6:31) “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’”.
  • (Exodus 16) - Manna was from Heaven.
  • (James 1:17) “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above”.
  • (1 Timothy 4:3-4)“...foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving ... For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving”.
Food Can Be a Curse
We were all created with a physical appetite. Our appetite is a good thing, but like any “natural desire” it is a problem if we are controlled by it. (2 Peter 1:6-7) states, 
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control...”
What is Gluttony? (The Sin Nobody wants to Talk About)
Gluttony is "the habitual gorging of food and drink”. It is characterized by overeating with a complete lack of self-control. 

What does the Bible say about Gluttony?
“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.” (Pro. 23:20-21)
“He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.” (Pro. 28:7)
“One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." (Titus 1:12).
Gluttony is not being overweight. (You can be skinny and enslaved to food or overweight and not). It is not eating a big meal (like thanksgiving), for even Jesus participated in feasts. It is not eating certain types of food (like junk food or fast food). Gluttony is being controlled by your appetite, to the point where you no longer have self-control when it comes to your food.

Conclusion:
Food is a great blessing from God, but it can also be a curse if we allow it to lead us to the sin of gluttony. Let us make sure we are the ones in control and not our appetites.
Do a self-evaluation. Could you give up food if needed? Do you find your life enslaved to constant (not occasional) food cravings? There are no verses that state it is a sin to have a certain BMI, or to enjoy food or even eat big meals. Christians, however, should be characterized by self-control in all areas of their lives.

By Cliff Sabroe

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My spouse is not a Christian...am I supposed to divorce him/her and marry a Christian instead? I

The Bible speaks to this question in a couple of different places. It seems that during the First Century it was common (as it also is today) for one person in a marriage to become a Christian, while the other stayed an unbeliever.

A Christian husband or wife would always desire their spouse to be a Christian too. Sadly, there are some marriages in which only one chooses to believe. Some have thought (for many different reasons) that it would be better to divorce the unbeliever and marry a believer. This post will answer whether or not this is advisable.

Verses on a Christian being married to a non-Christian:
  • "...if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away" (1 Corinthians 7:12-13).
  • "In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior" (1 Peter 3:1-2).
Answer:
  • Just because one's spouse is not a Christian, is NOT cause for a divorce.
  • It is possible for the unbeliever to later become a Christian through the teaching and example of their believing spouse.
  • If you are married to a non-Christian, love your spouse with the love of Christ, set a good example in all that you do. Show your spouse how important God is to you, teach them when you have the chance, and Lord willing, one day they will choose to follow God too.
Post by Cliff Sabroe - Scripture quotes from NASB 95. Picture from LifeHopeandTruth