11. How Can a Loving God Allow So Much Suffering?


How can a loving God allow so much suffering in the world? This is a great question.


First, I think it is important to point out that a large portion of suffering in the world is the direct result of human choice. Theft, violence, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse fill homes and streets in every town and city in the world every single day.


Where, how, and when should God intervene to prevent this kind of suffering?


If God simply removed everyone who did something abusive, there would eventually be no people left in the world. If He removed evil, powerful leaders, the vacuum left behind would just be filled by someone else.


If He took away the free will of everyone who did something abusive, the world would be full of robots with no capacity for authentic love or kindness or compassion.


Of course, there is also a great deal of suffering in the world due to things like death, disease, and scarcity. The Bible says God introduced these things into the world as a result of sin. For example, after Adam and Eve sinned in Genesis, God told them they would “die” and that the agricultural productivity of the ground was “cursed.” Likewise, the apostle Paul said in Romans that the creation was “subjected to futility” by God and is now in a state of “corruption.”


However, I would argue that God doing this actually diminished human suffering overall, not increased it.


Now, maybe you’re thinking to yourself: “Hold on. Did you just say God introducing death and scarcity into the world diminished human suffering? That makes no sense.”


Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

Let me try to explain with two illustrations that, ironically come from cartoons.


In the first cartoon, the grim reaper went on vacation so no one could die. Two guys got in a bar fight and one shot the other in the head. To their brief astonishment, he didn’t die. Then the fight continued. This realization quickly spread around the world until all the restraints typically associated with the fear of death were cast off and the world was plunged into anarchy until the grim reaper returned and resumed his function.


We have countless examples from history of how wickedly people treat each other just in the absence of law enforcement. How much more would this be the case in the absence of physical death?


In the second cartoon, the human race invented machines that performed all labor so well that there was no scarcity or discomfort and no need for anyone to work. Society gradually became more and more indulgent of every carnal appetite. Subsequently, human beings became dumbed-down pleasure addicts until their machines finally broke down and they had to start civilization over from scratch.


Now imagine putting these scenarios together – no death and no scarcity. The potential for evil in the human heart to be realized outwardly would multiply exponentially. I think life might literally become hell on earth. So the root problem with the world is not external, but the corruption inside our own hearts.


The good news for those who know Jesus Christ is that someday, after God’s final judgment, there will be a future with no death or scarcity for those who have been restored into relationship with Him.


The apostle John wrote of that time in Revelation 21:2-6


“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among [mankind], and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”


“And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new… I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.’”


If you’d like to learn more, you can check out my free book available at the link provided.












12. Does Marriage Prepare Us For Eternity?


In general, a man values respect and success. He instinctively understands hierarchies (such as in companies, ministries, or governments) and where he fits into them. He wants to build something significant and rule over a domain. He wants to impact the world around him.


However, he is called to do this with kindness and selfless motives. When he builds an organization, his goal should be to serve others, not exalt himself. When he leads others, he should value the people more than his position. Learning how to lead and cover a relational wife trains him how to do this. It is how he forms God’s character and becomes who he was created to be.


In general, a woman desires love and security. She understands relationships and wants to feel close and connected to others. She wants to be seen as valuable, beautiful, and worthy of being pursued. However, she is also called to fill a position in God’s kingdom, both in this age and in the next. God’s kingdom is built upon order and hierarchy. There will always be things to build and accomplish and rule over. Learning how to show respect for a husband and submit to his leadership trains her for this.


God thinks long-term in His dealings with us. This 70 to 80 year life is very short compared to eternity. This life is largely about training and preparation for our eternal positions. The choices we make and the characters we develop now will be with us for eternity. God gave us headship and submission in marriage because it was the best possible way to mold us into the image-bearers we were intended to become.


Have you noticed in Ephesians 5 that husbands and wives are both commanded to do the opposite of what comes naturally to them? Respect comes naturally to men, but they are commanded to love (vs. 25). Love comes naturally to women, but they are commanded to show respect (vs. 33). This is how God transforms us. True obedience is not doing something because it comes naturally, but because we want to please God.







13. Can Women Have Authority? Part 1


Relationships are the most valuable things in the universe. Women possess an innate appreciation for this truth since they are generally more relationship-oriented than men. This equips women to become excellent stewards of authority when they also learn to assimilate pursuits that sometimes come more naturally to men, such as building, defending, and respect for hierarchy.


Stewarding authority also has a lot to do with wisdom and there seems to be a special connection in the Bible between women and wisdom. It was the desire for wisdom, pursued in a forbidden way, that caused Eve to disobey in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6). And in the book of Proverbs, a book all about wisdom, wisdom is personified as a woman (chapters 3-4, 8-9) and it culminates with a woman (chapter 31).


It is important to recognize that marriage is the only context where headship and submission applies. The Bible does not say that every man is the head of every woman. A woman can be a pastor, a president, or a CEO. She can have authority over countless people. The only thing a woman can never be is the head of her husband.


This is because authority that bears spiritual fruit requires grace from God. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how gifted or talented of a leader a woman is; she still does not have grace to be the head of her husband. Nor does it matter how much her husband prefers to follow; he does have grace to be the head if he chooses to believe God for it.


If a woman stewards authority over other people, like a CEO or a pastor does, it does not mean she is answerable to her husband for how she operates in those roles. He can counsel her and pray for her, but the authority is hers, not his. A husband’s position as the head only gives him authority in the area of their marriage and family. There may be some overlap between her family life and her other roles, but God can give couples wisdom to navigate through unclear areas when they ask Him for it. Headship and submission can look a little bit different in every marriage. God gives grace for each couple to apply His word to their unique relationship, personalities, and circumstances.








14. Is A Wife Analogous to the Holy Spirit

If a husband represents Christ to his wife, how does a wife represent God to her husband? When God was about to create Eve, He called her Adam’s helper. The same Hebrew word for Helper (ezer) is used to describe God as our Helper in several passages such as Psalm 70:5 and Psalm 121:2.


In fact, the role of a helper is such an important aspect of God’s nature that it is a primary title given to a member of the Trinity. Jesus repeatedly called the Holy Spirit “Helper” in John 14-16 (NASB translation).


The etymology of the Greek word used for the Holy Spirit in this passage means called to one’s side, just as Eve was taken out of Adam’s side. The Holy Spirit may provide the best model for how wives relate to their husbands.


Sometimes God relates to us as a King or a Master – He gives specific commands and expects obedience (ex. Luke 17:10). However, when God relates to us as a Helper, it is different. A Helper does not give commands. Instead, He gives counsel. He makes suggestions and offers support. He doesn’t step out in front to lead; He comes alongside and encourages. 


This is an incredible aspect of God’s nature. God is infinitely wise so He could easily tell us exactly what to do in every situation. But instead He comes in humility and offers assistance. When we dig our heels in and ignore the Holy Spirit’s help (as we all have) He does not become resentful. He may be grieved, but He accepts our decision and does not abandon us. He stays with us and works to bring about redemption. He still tries to guide us into as much blessing as possible on the lesser, harder path we chose. God’s ability to not hold a grudge over a bad decision, but continue helping us in humility, is truly amazing.


My wife has modeled this to me many times. She knew deep in her heart that some choices I made were not right. She communicated it clearly and respectfully and I wouldn’t listen. Even though it affected her deeply, and even though I did not recognize I had done anything wrong for a long time, she did not become bitter. She continued to support me and encourage me.


When the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts, He is gentle and reasonable, not pushy or demanding. Have you noticed that? Even when He rebukes us or convicts us, we can feel that He loves us and wants what’s best for us. Many times when my wife has spoken to me about things I didn’t want to hear, I had that same feeling. I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking through her.


The helper ministry may be the most beautiful, gentle, and humble way that God relates to people. And the Bible designates this aspect of God’s nature for wives to emulate as the most effective way to bless and guide their husbands.


If you’d like to learn more, you can check out my free book available at the link provided. Thanks for watching.









15. How Should a Couple Make Major Decisions?


When a couple faces a major decision, I believe there is no single formula for how to handle it. Instead, there are different biblical principles that could apply depending on the situation and how God is leading each spouse at that time. Here are several possibilities for how God may lead a husband and wife through a major decision together:


One, there are multiple options within God’s will. There is room for discussion, personal preference, and compromise.


Two, the husband and wife are in agreement about how the Lord is leading them. Unity comes easily and they proceed together.


Three, the Lord impresses upon the wife to submit to her husband’s lead. She knows her husband is being led by the Lord. This is a picture of Christ acting as the head of the church. Ephesians 5:22-24 applies.


Four, the Lord impresses upon the husband to listen to his wife’s counsel. He knows his wife is being led by the Lord. This is a picture of the Holy Spirit acting as the Helper.


Five, the Lord impresses upon the wife to submit to her husband’s lead, but she does not know whether her husband is being led by the Lord. She only knows the Lord is asking her to submit to him.


Six, the Lord impresses upon the husband to defer to his wife. He does not know whether his wife is being led by the Lord. He only knows the Lord is asking him to defer to her. This may have been the case with Sarah and Abraham in Genesis 21:12.


Seven, the Lord impresses upon the wife to submit to her husband’s lead even though she knows he is not being led by the Lord. He is either deceived or he is intentionally disobeying. However, the Lord asks her to entrust herself to His care and pray for her husband’s heart. 1 Peter 3:1 applies. This is a picture of how the Holy Spirit continues to love us and pursue relationship with us even when we are disobedient. 


Eight, the Lord impresses upon the husband to defer to his wife even though he knows she is not being led by the Lord. She is either deceived or she is intentionally disobeying. However, the Lord asks him to lay the situation down before Him and pray for his wife’s heart. This is a picture of how Jesus treats His church when we resist His will for us. This also how God led the prophet Hosea to treat his wife. 


We can only control our own response to a major disagreement, not our spouse’s. Whatever he or she does, scripture exhorts us to still represent God to them. If a husband believes his wife should submit to him about a particular decision, but she is unwilling, he should accept it without becoming bitter, just as Jesus frequently does with His church. Then he should seek God for his next step. Likewise, if a wife believes her husband should listen to her counsel, but he is unwilling, she should accept it without becoming bitter, just as the Holy Spirit frequently does with us, and seek God for her next step.


With many decisions, the process is actually more important than the outcome. If one or both spouses honor God and each other in how they walk through the decision-making process, they can be victorious in His eyes regardless of what decision is made.


If you’d like to learn more you can check out my free book available at the link provided. Thanks for watching.






16. How Can A Wife Change Her Husband?


1 Peter 3 gives a specific strategy for a specific kind of situation with a specific goal in mind. This strategy is tailored according to how men are designed and motivated. The first two verses state: 


“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, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”


The Situation is  a husband is being disobedient to God.

The Strategy is a wife’s chaste, respectful, submissive behavior toward her husband.

The Goal is the husband’s repentance.


Why is this strategy effective? Men tend to value respect, leadership, and hierarchy. When a man is treated with unconditional respect by his wife, even when he doesn’t deserve it, it can awaken something inside of him. It can remind him of his calling to be a noble, sacrificial leader.


When men are made responsible for other men, they usually consider it a sacred charge. For example, if a man is made the captain of a ship and the ship is sinking, he is the very last one to disembark. He makes sure everyone else gets to safety first because that is his duty. He doesn’t even have to be a particularly moral man. He considers it an honor to be entrusted with a position of such authority and he acts accordingly.


Next, verses 3-6 state:


“…let [your adornment] be… the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands… without being frightened by any fear.”


These verses discuss the battle between fear and faith that a wife is likely to experience while executing the strategy God gave in verses 1-2. There is incredible vulnerability in treating someone with undeserved respect who has a measure of authority over you. It is very easy to become fearful that nothing will ever change. A woman who chooses to employ this strategy for changing her husband really has nothing to hope in except God. She relinquishes all of her own tools and methods.


The passage encourages a wife to adorn herself with a gentle and quiet spirit because at times she will be filled with loud, fearful thoughts. Therefore, the only way to persevere in this strategy is to somehow become quiet before the Lord so He can sustain her with His peace. By the way, the posture of having a gentle and quiet spirit is equally valid for men when battling against fear or anxiety.


God’s kingdom works oppositely to how the world and the flesh lead us. We humble ourselves to be exalted. We give to be entrusted with more. We serve to become leaders. We bless when we are cursed. Along these same lines, wives treat disobedient husbands with chastity, respect, and submission in order to change them.


The world and the flesh tell wives to become forceful, fearful, controlling, or manipulative. God tells a wife to respect her husband as the head of their marriage and pray that he feels the burden of leadership God has placed on his shoulders. God tells a wife to share her input with her husband honestly, gently, respectfully, and pray for God to change his heart.


If you’d like to learn more, you can check out my free book available at the link provided. Thanks for watching.








17. Spiritual Maturity Part 1: What is the Foundation of Christianity?


What Is Spiritual Maturity? How does the Bible define it?


There are a handful of passages that speak to this. I am going to draw primarily from three: Hebrews 6:1-2, Philippians 3:4-11, and Romans 12. These passages each identify various steps on the road to spiritual maturity. There is some overlap between them, so I’ve combined them into one expanded list.


1. Repentance from Dead Works (Hebrew 6:1, Philippians 3:4-9)

2. Faith in God (Hebrews 6:1, Philippians 3:9)

3. Knowing God (Philippians 3:10)

4. Sanctification / Mind Renewal (Hebrews 6:2, Romans 12:1-3)

5. Walking in Unique Gifts & Calling (Philippians 3:10, Romans 12:6-8, Hebrews 6:2)

6. The Fellowship of Christ’s Sufferings (Philippians 3:10)

7. Being Conformed to Christ’s Death (Philippians 3:10, Romans 12:14-21)


This list presupposes that an initial surrender of overt, willful sin took place at conversion. Also, each of these steps is an area we hopefully continue to grow in our entire lives so I don’t want to give the wrong impression that one step must be fully conquered before moving on to the next.


Step 1: Repentance from Dead Works (Hebrew 6:1, Philippians 3:4-9)

The writer of Hebrews identified “repentance from dead works” as the “foundation” of Christianity. Every time we do something that appears quote “good” or “Christian” or “spiritual”, but subconsciously seeks to feed our sense of self-worth or compensate for underlying guilt, we perform a dead work.


This does not mean we shouldn’t exercise discipline. It does not mean we should stop praying, reading scripture, or gathering with other believers if we do these things out of guilt or self-righteousness. But it does mean being honest with God and others about the condition of our hearts and asking Him to change us.


We can also use parenthood or our careers as dead works – really anything we rely on to help us feel acceptable through performance apart from God. However, dead works are especially toxic when infused with religion and spirituality. Dead works are at the heart of every false religion. Even atheists want to feel like good people and often expend a tremendous amount of effort to convince themselves they are.


In Philippians 3:4-9, Paul listed several factors from which he might have derived self-worth – his nationality, his family of origin, his impeccable moral behavior, his career advancement, his respectability in the eyes of his peers. Yet he gave up finding any value whatsoever in these things, saying:


“…those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ… I have suffered the loss of all things so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law [i.e. dead works]…”


Dead works are serious and dangerous. In a way, they are more deadly than overt sin because they are so deceptive. They have the appearance of righteousness. They cause some believers to think they are growing closer to God when they are actually pushing Him away. They cause other believers to think they can never be good enough for God and give up following Him under a cloud of condemnation.


Because repentance from dead works is so foundational, it is often the most heavily attacked area of a believer’s life. Satan constantly pressures us to try to earn God’s acceptance through moral performance, and then gets us to pressure others (including our children) in the same way. The way to combat this is found in the next step – Faith in God.


Dead works are ingrained in our fallen nature even from childhood. When I was four years old, I stole several dollars’ worth of quarters from my dad’s home office. For the next two days, I felt physically sick with guilt. I was afraid to expose my sin to my father, so I secretly brought the money to church the next Sunday and put it in the offering, hoping to alleviate my guilt.


It seemed to work. I began to feel better. My relationship with my father had not been restored since I was still hiding something from him. But at least I could reason to myself that I was not a bad person since I ultimately gave the money away to a holy cause.


This is the quintessence of a dead work. It hides the truth of our condition. If I had the courage to tell my dad the truth, he would have reacted exactly as God does – he would have forgiven me and reaffirmed his love for me.


Incredibly, God kept my pursuing my little 4-year-old heart. The senior pastor of this large church happened to see me put the money in the offering and mailed a letter to my parents praising their son’s virtuous character! When my parents read it and began telling me how proud they were of me, I knew I was a fraud. God gave me a wonderful opportunity to come into the light and confess my sin, but I still chose not to out of fear. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful illustration of the deceptive nature of dead works.


If you’d like to learn more, you can check out my free book available at the link provided.








18. Spiritual Maturity Part 2: Do I Really Know God?


What Is Spiritual Maturity? How does the Bible define it?


As stated in Part 1, we are drawing primarily from Hebrews 6:1-2, Philippians 3:4-11, and Romans 12


In part 1, we covered step 1: Repentance from Dead Works.

In this video, we’ll cover steps 2 and 3: Faith in God and Knowing God.


Hebrews 6:1 and Philippians 3:9 identify the second step of maturity as “faith toward God” or “faith in Christ”. Faith in God does not just mean believing He exists; it is agreement with the Bible about what He has done and what He is like.


This means believing our sins are really forgiven, He really loves us, and our relationship to Him is the foundation of our purpose and value. When we believe this from our hearts, dead works are no longer necessary — there is no reason to work for something we already have.


Jesus said in John 15:9-10, “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.” Christ loves us exactly as the Father loves Him – infinitely. It never changes or wavers in the slightest. Our obedience or disobedience to His commands doesn’t affect it one iota. It only affects whether we “abide” in it, which means we allow our lives to be directed and shaped by it.


Step 3 is knowing God.

The apostle Paul in Philippians 3:10 sets apart “…that I may know Him…” as distinct from other steps. This refers to knowing God relationally and experientially. It means having a unique personal history together. Like any relationship, it means two-way interaction.


Relationship with God can be hard to define since He is invisible and inaudible, but it is probably more familiar to each of us than we might initially realize. For example, ask yourself the following questions:


• Have you ever experienced God giving you wisdom about a situation in your life?

• Has He changed your desires or priorities over time?

• Has He ever orchestrated circumstances in a way that His hand was evident?

• Have you ever gone to church and the message “coincidentally” addressed exactly what you were going through?

• Have you ever felt His presence in a palpable way?

• Has He ever opened your eyes to a sinful pattern you were previously oblivious to?

• Has He ever healed you from a past emotional wound?

• Has He ever comforted you during a time of grief?

• Has He ever empowered you to overcome a fear or anxiety or bitterness that previously seemed insurmountable?

• Has He ever guided you through an important decision, perhaps by imparting a sense of peace or clarity about what to choose?

• Has He ever touched you with overwhelming emotions during a time of worship?

• Has He opened your mind to understand a scripture you did not previously understand?

• Has He shown you how to pray for someone by guiding your thoughts during the prayer?

• Has He given you just the right thing to say to a hurting friend in need of encouragement?

• Have you ever had a dream you felt was from the Lord?

• Has He ever spoken something timely and personal to you through His word, during prayer, or through other believers?


Most believers have experienced several, if not all, of these. Knowing God is our source of life. It is what enables us to live out every other step. It is how biblical truth moves from our minds to our hearts.


No matter how much we agree intellectually with correct doctrines, we will only give up dead works to the extent we experience how much God loves and values us. We will only find freedom from guilt to the extent we experience His forgiveness. We will only be sanctified or fulfill our calling to the extent we experience His grace at work in our lives.


I’m not saying there isn’t a place for exercising faith when our feelings or experiences don’t seem to line up with biblical truth. But there is nevertheless a maturation that only takes place as a result of time and experience.


Christians are often encouraged to read our Bibles, spend time in prayer, and assemble in community. However, we are not as frequently told why to do these things. These are primary vehicles through which God’s Spirit interacts with us. They are food and water. We cannot grow spiritually without these things any more than we can grow physically without eating or drinking.


If you’d like to learn more, you can check out my free book available at the link provided.











19. Spiritual Maturity Part 3: Does God Restrict Me?


What Is Spiritual Maturity? How does the Bible define it?


In this series, we are drawing primarily from Hebrews 6:1-2, Philippians 3:4-11, and Romans 12


In parts 1 and 2, we covered Repentance from Dead Works, Faith in God and Knowing God.


In this video, we’ll cover step 4: Sanctification and Mind Renewal (Hebrews 6:2, Romans 12:2-3)


The author of Hebrews listed “instructions about washings” as an important maturity step. This refers to being washed spiritually, which is called sanctification. Sanctification means letting go of sinful habits and attitudes and replacing them with righteous ones.


Similarly, the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:2, “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Mind Renewal refers to letting go of false, worldly beliefs and replacing them with righteous ones.


Let’s break up Sanctification / Mind Renewal into four categories:


1) Exercising Self-Control

2) Responding to Conviction

3) Viewing God Accurately

4) Viewing Ourselves Accurately


Part of sanctification is exercising self-control. This is why “self-control” is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Self-control means repeatedly rejecting sinful thoughts, words, and actions and instead choosing righteous ones until they become habitual. This pursuit is greatly affected by what media, relationships, and biblical teaching (or lack thereof) we let into our lives.


Proverbs 24:16 says “a righteous man [or woman] falls seven times, and rises again”. People do not form new habits instantly; it’s simply impossible. It takes time and practice. Therefore, there is no shame in stumbling as long as we get up and keep going. God is very patient and gentle with our sincere attempts to grow in righteousness.


2. Responding to Conviction

Conviction is a wonderful gift. It is the most loving thing God can possibly do when we are in sin and don’t realize it. Or maybe we do realize it, but we don’t realize how serious it is.


Conviction is cause for rejoicing. It is like a wise doctor seeking you out on his own initiative and telling you you have a very early, very treatable form of cancer. Then he offers to remove it for you first thing tomorrow morning free of charge. Wouldn’t you be filled with gratitude toward such a doctor?


God never convicts us without providing grace to overcome. The very fact that He is convicting us means He is also offering us the power to change. This is why conviction is cause for celebration even though it may initially feel grievous.


There is an awesome picture of this in Nehemiah 8. When Ezra began reading God’s law to the people they were deeply convicted. They began to weep because they had disobeyed for so long. However, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Levites said to them:


“This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep. …Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. …Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.”


After this word, they celebrated with a great festival. The people understood that God’s goal was not to weigh them down with sorrow, but to offer them a new beginning. Conviction stands in stark contrast to Satan’s counterfeit – condemnation – which points out a problem but offers no lasting solution. Condemnation leaves us ashamed and discouraged, but conviction is accompanied by hope.


When we ignore God’s conviction (as we all have), it is like telling the wise doctor we don’t want to address the cancer he found just yet. Instead, we tell him the operation sounds inconvenient and uncomfortable. We’re not ready to give up the lifestyle that caused the cancer in the first place. So we put it off. The longer we wait, the more serious it becomes. The operations required to remove it grow more numerous, painful, and expensive. Eventually, it becomes deadly. The cancer of unrepented sin can kill our relationships, our calling, and even our faith. Therefore, a major part of Christian maturity is learning to embrace and celebrate God’s conviction.


3. Viewing God Accurately

God is not a Restrictor, but a Fulfiller. He does not withhold good things from us; He protects us with wise boundaries. There is nothing in the universe God cannot give us or would not give us. Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” James 1:17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” The ironic truth is that the vast majority of sins Christians commit are in pursuit of things God already plans to give us!


Here is a list of several common sins followed by short descriptions of the godly desires they seek to fulfill:


• Sexual Immorality – Godly desire for sexual fulfillment

• Witchcraft – Godly desire to connect to the spiritual realm, since God is a spirit, as are we.

• Greed / Jealousy – Godly desire to steward wealth/possessions, provide for loved ones, exercise generosity; enjoyment of a home, food, travel, experiences, and everything money can buy.

• Pride / Envy – Godly desire to be affirmed and feel valuable or significant

• Fear / Anxiety – Godly desire to make wise plans and see them fulfilled

• Substance Abuse – Godly desire for encouragement, refreshment, and relief from pain or stress

• Unforgiveness – Godly desire for healing and a restored relationship

• Idolatry – Godly desire for any good thing that is not prioritized above our desire to know God and obey Him


Satan’s tactic since the beginning of creation was to offer a forbidden shortcut to something God already planned to give. In Genesis 3, he said to Eve, “In the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” God wanted Adam and Eve’s eyes to be opened eyes (ex. Ephesian 1:18). He wanted them to be like Him (ex. Ephesians 5:1). He wanted them to discern good and evil (ex. Hebrews 5:14). Each of these attributes would have increased in them the longer they walked with God.


Satan tried the same thing with Jesus. He offered Him authority over the earth if He would bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:9), even though God already planned to give Jesus this authority.


Sin is often pleasurable. The Bible doesn’t deny this. Hebrews 11:25 says Moses chose to abstain from “the passing pleasures of sin”. However, the path to freedom often feels like bondage at first, and the path to bondage often feels like freedom at first. If we were allowed to indulge our most base desires (lust, greed, pride, etc.) as much as wanted for as long as we wanted, it might initially feel like freedom, but it would quickly grow into an addiction, resulting in slavery. Not only would it no longer fulfill us, but we would need it in ever greater measures just to feel ok.


However, if we trust God’s boundaries and pursue the good things we desire His way, our ability to enjoy them is richer and deeper. By learning how to make God our primary source of fulfillment, the joy we derive from all our secondary desires is magnified.


It is true that not all of our desires will be fully or even partly fulfilled in this life. This is where an eternal perspective is vital. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says:


“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”


This life is very short compared to the endless millennia we will exist beyond it. The depths of joy, peace, love, fulfillment, etc. we will experience in the future is far beyond anything we can imagine right now. Having an eternal perspective is crucial when we must lay down a deeply-felt desire, either temporarily or permanently, in order to follow Jesus.


Part of sanctification is learning the Lordship of Christ, which means to see Him as our King and Judge. It means we would do or surrender anything we knew with confidence He was asking of us, even if it involved pain or sacrifice, because He created us and paid for us. We belong to Him and we are accountable to Him.


4. Viewing Ourselves Accurately

Paul wrote in Romans 12:3, “…I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment…” Another part of Sanctification / Mind Renewal is replacing trust in ourselves and our abilities with dependence on God. The truth is that we are all far more dependent on God’s grace and protection than we realize. If God gave the enemy full access to us, allowing him to orchestrate any temptation he wanted for as long as he wanted, we would all fall headlong into bondage. The perfect combination of temptations, wounds, and weaknesses is all that stands between us and the sin we think we could never commit.


We also have no ability to accomplish anything of eternal significance apart from God’s empowerment. This is why Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:5, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.” God exalts the humble (James 4:10), displays His strength through our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and makes wise the simple (Psalm 19:7). However, he opposes the proud (James 4:6), debases human strength, and nullifies human wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). He even does this with His own children – not just the lost. If we feel self-confident and capable to accomplish what God is calling us to, we are not ready. However, if we feel vulnerable and aware of our weaknesses and limitations, that is the safest place to be.


If you’d like to learn more, you can check out my free book available at the link provided.








20. Spiritual Maturity Part 4: Why Am I Here?


What Is Spiritual Maturity? How does the Bible define it?


In this series, we are drawing primarily from Hebrews 6:1-2, Philippians 3:4-11, and Romans 12


In parts 1 through 3, we covered Repentance from Dead Works, Faith in God, Knowing God, Sanctification and Mind Renewal.


In this video, we’ll cover step 5: Walking Out Our Unique Gifts & Calling, which is the next step identified by all three passages (Philippians 3:10, Romans 12:6-8, Hebrews 6:2)


In Romans 12:6-8, Paul exhorts every believer to “exercise” our spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ.  In Hebrews 6:2, the writer lists “laying on of hands”, which is frequently associated in scripture with being commissioned for ministry or bestowed with spiritual gifts (ex. 1 Tim 4:14, 5:22, 2 Tim 5:22). And Philippians 3:10 identifies “the power of His resurrection”, which is a reference to spiritual gifts since scripture repeatedly points to them as the evidence that Christ rose and ascended into heaven (Ephesians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 1:6-7, Luke 24:49).


How do gifts or a calling relate to spiritual maturity? Let’s divide the answer to this question into four parts:


1) Our Calling is Natural

2) Our Calling is an Inheritance

3) Our Calling is a Friendship

4) Our Calling Takes Time


1. Our Calling is Natural

Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit.” When a branch becomes mature, it does not have to strive to bear fruit. Nor does it become anxious about whether it will produce enough. It simply abides in the vine and fruit comes naturally. In the same way, bearing eternal fruit is a natural consequence of becoming mature in Christ and living out the things He puts in our hearts to fulfill.  


Our calling is often connected to our dreams and passions. God does not ask us to be someone we’re not or exercise gifts we don’t have. He does not squeeze us into someone else’s mold. He helps us discover the unique purpose He created us for and live it out.


Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Notice the verse does not say God gives us what we desire; it says the desires themselves come from Him. As we mature, God shapes our desires to align with the purposes He created us for.


The things we dream about when we mature are often very different than the things we dreamt about when we were younger. The world and the flesh have a way of drawing us after things God never intended for us. They evoke dreams of people being impressed with us, recognizing us, and affirming us. However, godly dreams seek to serve others in humility, not draw attention to ourselves. Colossians 3:3-4 says our true life and the glory God ascribes to us is not actually recognizable in this age. It is hidden. It will only be fully revealed when Jesus is revealed at His second coming. It states:


“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”


2. Our Calling is an Inheritance

Paul told the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:13-14) that the Holy Spirit was given “as a pledge” of their inheritance. And Jesus said the Holy Spirit’s role is to empower us to be His witnesses (Luke 24:48-49, Acts 1:8).


We normally think of our inheritance as salvation, eternal life, or a place in heaven. That is part of it, but it is also more than that. We are heirs of His Kingdom. This means our inheritance includes the spheres of influence we are called to impact in this life.


Maturing in Christ can involve a gradual expansion of influence. First, we are given authority over our own hearts. The Lord begins showing us what He wants to do in that sphere and invites us to labor with Him. If we are faithful, He may expand our influence, for example, to family members, friends, and coworkers.


A person’s calling is multi-faceted. We can be called to get married and raise a family. We can be called to exercise certain spiritual gifts or lead a particular ministry. We can be called to a certain field or industry in the marketplace. We can be called to minister to a specific age group, ethnic group, city, or geographical area.


There is nothing more threatening to the enemy’s kingdom than mature Christians. Mature Christians change the world around them. Their prayers and acts of obedience help destroy demonic strongholds that enslave family members, friends, and coworkers.


The journey into spiritual maturity is the most valuable pursuit a human being can undertake, but Satan has many Christians convinced the pursuit of hobbies, money, comfort, or human affirmation is somehow more worthwhile. The truth is many Christians do not reach the maturity we are called to. Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 that some believers’ lives will bear no fruit and they will be judged for this, even though they are still saved. Likewise, Jesus said many who receive the gospel remain unfruitful because “the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19)


3. Our Calling is a Friendship

Would a father treat his six-year-old son like a peer? Would he discuss in depth his marriage, his career goals, or his trials? Of course not; he would only share what is appropriate to the boy’s age. The fact that the boy is only six years old does not cause the father to love him less, but it does affect how he relates to him. It affects how deep and mature of a friendship bond they can share.


Jesus relates to us in the same way – in accordance with our maturity level. This is why it took three and half years of spending nearly every waking moment together before Jesus could say to the disciples:


“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)


The essence of friendship with Jesus is Him sharing what He is doing, or wants to do, around us. He lays His burdens, dreams, and desires on our hearts. This is also a foundation of our calling. Calling and friendship go together.


I have heard pastors quote this verse and say that Jesus has called everyone who is saved His friend. If that is true, why did it take so long before He could call the disciples His friends? In this context, being Jesus’ friend is more than just being saved. It is an indicator of spiritual maturity.


Notice how John 15:15 says being a “slave” comes before friendship. A prerequisite to our calling is submitting our lives to the Lordship of Christ, which means we would do or surrender anything we knew with confidence He was asking of us, even if it involved pain or sacrifice. John 14:21 confirms this:


“He who has My commandments and keeps them [Lordship] is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him [deepening friendship and maturity].”


If we spend our whole lives as spiritual children we can miss out on friendship with Jesus, forfeit our inheritance in this age, and greatly diminish it in the age to come. We can also set ourselves up for a difficult judgment when we appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, as Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 and 2 Corinthians 5:10. 


4. Our Calling Takes Time

God is very patient and careful about opening doors to our calling. Why? Because if there is anything we want more than closeness with Him, we are not yet mature enough to have it without turning it into an idol. Many Christians have found out the hard way that if we don’t learn to be content before stepping into our gifts/calling, we won’t be content afterward without feeding our flesh. We will start deriving our self-worth from the good things we are accomplishing and the human affirmation we are receiving (dead works). We will drift into pride and self-sufficiency, which Satan is immediately ready to exploit.


When Moses was about 40 years old, he considered himself “a man of power in words and deed”. He mistakenly thought it would be obvious to his brethren that “God was granting them deliverance through him” (Acts 7:22-25). However, from God’s perspective, Moses was a long way off from being ready for such a responsibility. At eighty years of age, God finally called Moses to do the thing he felt ready for at forty. Only this time Moses knew he was totally inadequate and had nothing but God’s presence to depend on (Exodus 3:11-12). He was finally ready by God’s standards.


Spiritual maturity, like physical maturity, is inseparable from one key ingredient – time.

While it is certainly possible for time to pass without maturing (Hebrews 5:12-13), the opposite is not true. It is impossible to mature without time passing. It does not matter how passionately we worship, how diligently we study scripture, how zealously we minister to others, or how consistently we fast or pray. All these things are a good investment of time, but they can never be a replacement for time.


If you’d like to learn more, you can check out my free book available at the link provided.