Jesus Only Had to Die Once to Pay for Our Sins
Hebrews 9:24: "For [Jesus] Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands [see note below*], which ['holy places made with hands'] are the figures [types, likenesses, representations] of the true [real, or actual, holy places in heaven]; but [after his resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ entered] into heaven itself [and sprinkled his own blood on the mercy seat there], now to appear [and he now appears] in the presence of God for us [on our behalf]:"
Hebrews 9:25: "Nor yet that he should [neither should Jesus] offer himself [as a sacrifice for sins] often, as the high priest [does when he] entereth [enters] into the holy place [in the temple here on earth] every year with blood of others [meaning animals, such as calves and goats];"
Hebrews 9:26: "For [because] [if Jesus were to 'offer himself often,' or frequently,] then must he often have suffered [he would have suffered many, many times] since the foundation [beginning] of the world: but now once in the end of the world [in the Christian dispensation, or gospel age] hath [has] he [Jesus Christ, the Son of God] appeared [on earth, in human form] to put away sin [to remove our punishment for sin] by the sacrifice of himself [referring to his death on the cross]."
The Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to John the Baptist, was the "Lamb of God' (John 1:29), died on the cross--only once!--to pay for the sin of the world. As a result, earthly sacrifices for sin are no longer necessary or acceptable to God.
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*In Hebrews 9:24, the term holy places made with hands refers to the Holy of Holies, a place in the tabernacle of Moses (in the Old Testament) and in the temple that was built by King Solomon (in the New Testament) where the Jewish high priest would enter once a year and sprinkle the blood of animals on the mercy seat to atone (pay) for the sins of the Jewish people
It's Hypocritical to Judge Others for the Same Kinds of Sins That We Commit
The apostle Paul originally wrote this to the Jews who were condemning Gentiles [non-Jewish people] for committing sins that were similar to their own.
Romans 2:1: "Therefore thou art inexcusable [you are without excuse, or you cannot be excused] [for your own faults or sins], O man [or woman or child], whosoever thou art [whoever you are] that judgest [judges] [others]: for wherein [in what case or instance, or 'for whatever reason'] thou judgest [you judge] another [person], thou condemnest thyself [you make yourself guilty before God]; for thou that judgest [you who judge others] doest [do] the same things [commit the same sins] [as the people you're judging]."
Romans 2:2: "But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth [a true moral standard] against them which commit such things [such as those sins listed in Chapter 1 of Romans, verses 18-32--see https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+1&version=KJV]."
Romans 2:3: "And thinkest thou this [do you think], O man [or woman or child], that judgest them which do such things [or 'who commit sins like those referred to in the previous verse'], and [who] doest [do] the same [things, or 'commit the same sins'], that thou shalt [you shall] escape the judgment of God?"
It's not right to judge others' sins when we commit the same sins ourselves. And no matter who we are (Jew or Gentile), we'll all stand before God on judgment day.
Jesus Heals Ten Lepers But Is Only Thanked by One
Luke 17:11: "And it came to pass, as he [Jesus] went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of [in the middle of, between, or along the border of] Samaria and Galilee."
Luke 17:12-13, 14: "And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers [see note below*], which stood afar off [at a distance, as required by law]: And they lifted up [raised] their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he [Jesus] saw them [the lepers], he said unto them, Go [and] shew [show] yourselves unto the priests."
Luke 17:15-16: "And it came to pass, that, as they [the lepers] went [away, to see the priests], they were cleansed [cured, healed]. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back [toward Jesus, or turned around], and with a loud voice glorified [praised] God, And [he] fell down on his face at his [Jesus'] feet [which means that he lay down, stretched out, face down, at Jesus' feet], giving him thanks: and he [the leper] was a Samaritan [an inhabitant of Samaria]."
Luke 17:17-18: "And Jesus answering [responding to what had just happened] said, Were there not ten [lepers] cleansed? but where are the [other] nine? There are not found [any of them] that returned to give glory to God, save [except] this stranger [the Samaritan]."
Luke 17:19: "And he [Jesus] said unto him [the man who had returned to thank him], Arise [get up], go thy [your] way [to the priest, in obedience to the law, to prove that you have been healed]: thy faith hath [has] made thee [you] whole [healthy, well, or 'restored your health' ]."
This is a reminder that when our prayers are answered, we should remember to give thanks to God.
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Commenting on the above, especially verses 17-19, Matthew Henry wrote:
"… See here, (1.) How rich Christ is in doing good: Were there not ten cleansed? Here was a cure by wholesale, a whole hospital healed with one word's speaking. Note, There is an abundance of healing cleansing virtue in the blood of Christ, sufficient for all his patients, though ever so many. Here are ten at a time cleansed; we shall have never the less grace for others sharing it. (2.) How poor we are in our returns: 'Where are the nine? Why did not they return to give thanks?' This intimates that ingratitude is a very common sin. Of the many that receive mercy from God, there are but few, very few, that return to give thanks in a right manner (scarcely one in ten ), that render according to the benefit done to them. (3.) How those often prove most grateful from whom it was least expected. A Samaritan gives thanks, and a Jew does not. Thus many who profess revealed religion are out-done, and quite shamed, by some that are governed only by natural religion, not only in moral value, but in piety and devotion. This serves here to aggravate the ingratitude of those Jews of whom Christ speaks, as taking it very ill that his kindness was so slighted. And it intimates how justly he resents the ingratitude of the world of mankind, for whom he had done so much, and from whom he has received so little. 2. The great encouragement Christ gave him, [Luke 17:19]. The rest had their cure, and had it not revoked, as justly it might have been, for their ingratitude, though they had such a good example of gratitude set before them; but he had his cure confirmed particularly with an encomium [a formal expression of praise]: Thy faith hath made thee whole. The rest were made whole by the power of Christ, in compassion to their distress, and in answer to their prayer; but he [the Samaritan] was made whole by his faith, by which Christ saw him distinguished from the rest. Note, Temporal [earthly, worldly] mercies are then doubled and sweetened to us when they are fetched in by the prayers of faith, and returned by the praises of faith."
(Source: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/luke/17.html, "Verses 11-19")
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*If you're wondering what leprosy is, Albert Barnes describes it as follows in his commentary on Matthew 8:2:
"There came a leper - No disease with which the human family has been afflicted has been more dreadful than that which is often mentioned in the Bible 'as the leprosy.' It first exhibits itself on the surface of the skin. The appearance is not always the same, but it commonly resembles the spot made by the puncture of a pin or the pustules of a ringworm. The spots generally make their appearance very suddenly. Perhaps its appearance might be hastened by any sudden passion, as fear or anger … The spots commonly exhibit themselves at first on the face, about the nose and eyes, and increase in size a number of years, until they become as large as a pea or a bean.
"There are three kinds of leprosy, distinguished by the appearance of the spots - the white, the black, and the red leprosy. These spots, though few at first, gradually spread until they cover the whole body.
"But, though the 'appearance' of the disease is at first in the skin, yet it is deeply seated in the bones, and marrow, and joints of the body. We have reason to suppose that in children it is concealed in the system for a number of years until they arrive at the age of puberty; and in adults for three or four years, until at last it gives fearful indications on the skin of its having gained a well-rooted and permanent existence. A leprous person may live twenty, or thirty, or even fifty years, if he received the disease at his birth, but they will be years of indescribable misery. The bones and marrow are pervaded [spread through all parts] with the disease. The malady [disease] advances from one stage to another with slow and certain ruin. 'Life still lingers amid the desolation;' the joints, and hands, and feet lose their power; and the body 'collapses,' or falls together in a form hideous and awful. There is a form of the disease in which it commences at the extremities: the joints separate; the fingers, toes, and other members one by one fall off; and the malady thus gradually approaches the seat of life. The wretched victim is thus doomed to see himself dying 'piecemeal [gradually],' assured that no human power can arrest [stop] for a moment the silent and steady march of this foe to the seat of life.
"This disease is contagious [easily spread to others] and hereditary [inherited]. It is easily communicated from one to another, and is transmitted to the third and fourth generation. The last generation that is afflicted with it commonly exhibits the symptoms by decayed teeth, by a fetid [foul-smelling] breath, and by a diseased complexion.
"Moses gave particular directions by which the real leprosy was to be distinguished from other diseases … In compliance with the laws of the land, Jesus directed the man that he had healed to make the customary offering, and to obtain the testimony of the priest that he was healed. The leprosy has once, and but once, appeared in America. This loathsome [repulsive] and most painful disease has in all other instances been confined to the Old World [Africa, Asia, and Europe], and chiefly to the Eastern nations [like China, Korea, and Japan].
"It is matter of profound [deep] gratitude to a benignant [kind and benevolent] God that this scourge [plague] has been permitted but [only] once to visit the New World [the Americas]. That awful calamity was on the island of Guadeloupe, in the West Indies, about the year 1730, and is thus described by an eye-witness: 'Its commencement [the beginning of the disease] is imperceptible [hard to notice]. There appear only some few white spots on the skin. At first they are attended with no pain or inconvenience, but no means whatever will remove them. The disease imperceptibly [gradually] increases for many years. The spots become larger, and spread over the whole body. When the disease advances, the upper part of the nose swells, the nostrils become enlarged, and the nose itself grows soft. Tumors appear on the jaws; the eyebrows swell; the ears become thick; the points of the fingers, as also the feet and the toes, swell; the nails become scaly; the joints of the hands and feet separate and drop off. In the last stage of the disease the patient becomes a hideous spectacle, and falls to pieces."
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/matthew-8.html, "Verse 2")
Preaching the Gospel
In a letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 1:17: "For [Jesus] Christ sent me [Paul] not to baptize [as my main objective], but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words [not with human wisdom and great speaking ability (like Greek philosophers), but by the power of God (through the influence of the Holy Spirit)], lest the cross of Christ should be [or 'so the cross of Christ (referring to Jesus' crucifixion) won't be'] made of none [no] effect [to the salvation of mankind]."
1 Corinthians 1:18: "For the preaching of the cross [of Christ; i.e., the gospel message that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins] is to them that [are about to] perish foolishness [meaning that to people who are not saved and will end up in hell and be tormented forever in the lake of fire, the preaching of the cross is a stupid, ridiculous concept, unworthy of belief]; but unto us which are saved [from the power of condemnation and sin, referring to born-again Christians, whose sins have been forgiven by God and who will go to heaven when we die,] it [the preaching of the cross] is the power of God [unto salvation and eternal life]."
Commenting on the beginning of verse 18, Albert Barnes wrote:
"… To the great mass of the Jews, and to the pagan [non-Jewish] philosophers, and indeed, to the majority of the people of this world, it [the preaching of the cross] has ever appeared foolishness, for the following reasons:
"(1) The humble origin of the Lord Jesus. They despise him that lived in Nazareth; that was poor; that had no home, and few friends, and no wealth, and little honor among his own countrymen.
"(2) they despise him who was put to death, as an impostor, at the instigation [prompting] of his own countrymen, in an ignominious [a humiliating] manner on the cross - the usual punishment of slaves.
"(3) they see not why there should be any particular efficacy [effectiveness, success] in his death. They deem it incredible that he who could not save himself should be able to save them; and that glory should come from the ignominy [public shame or disgrace] of the cross …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/1-corinthians-1.html, "Verse 18")
Jesus Didn't Spend Much Time With Unbelievers
Matthew 13:54: "And when he [Jesus] was come into [or arrived in] his own country [specifically, the city of Nazareth, where he had lived while growing up], he taught them [his countrymen, the people in his neighborhood] in their synagogue, insomuch that [so that] they were astonished [amazed], and said, Whence hath this man [from where did Jesus get] this wisdom, and [the ability to perform] these mighty works [miracles]? [Answer: From Almighty God, not from the devil, as some may have believed (per Matthew 12:24).]"
Matthew 13:55-56: "Is not this [person, referring to Jesus] the carpenter's [Joseph's] son? is not his mother called Mary [who, according to the Bible, was a virgin when she conceived and gave birth to Jesus (see Luke 1:34, 35 and Matthew 1:24-25)]? and [are not] his [Jesus'] brethren [brothers], [called] James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence [from where] then hath this man [Jesus] [gotten] all these things [i.e., wisdom and the ability to perform miracles]?"
Matthew 13:57-58: "And they [the people who had gathered in the synagogue] were offended in [by] him [Jesus--because he had no formal education and came from a working-class family, and consequently, they considered him to be no better than them]. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save [except] in his own country, and in his own house [household, family]. And he [Jesus] did not [do] many mighty works there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief."
The above verses are a perfect illustration of the saying "Familiarity breeds contempt," which (according to online dictionaries) means that extensive knowledge of or close association with someone or something leads to a loss of respect for them or it.
Preach the Gospel With Kindness
Paul wrote this in a letter of advice to Timothy, who was a minister of the gospel:
2 Timothy 2:24: "And the servant of the Lord [Jesus Christ, referring mainly to ministers (preachers) but also to all born-again Christians] must not strive [argue, quarrel, fight] [with others]; but [instead] [must] be gentle unto all men [people], [and] apt [qualified] to teach, [and] patient,"
2 Timothy 2:25: "In meekness [mildness, humility] instructing [teaching] those that oppose themselves [to the truth of the gospel; i.e., unbelievers, or those who resist and deny biblical truth or who embrace (accept, believe) error or false teaching]; if God peradventure [perhaps] will give them [i.e., 'those that oppose themselves'] repentance [a change of mind] to the acknowledging [acceptance, belief] of the truth [of the gospel];"
2 Timothy 2:26: "And [hoping] that they [the unbelievers and followers of false teachers] may recover themselves out of [or 'may come to their senses and escape or be rescued from'] the snare [trap, net] of the devil, [as these people are sinners] who are taken captive [captured] by him [Satan, the devil] at his will [see note below*]."
Sinners are more likely to repent and be saved when the Bible is taught, and the gospel is delivered, in the proper way (i.e., with kindness and humility). This is because people's reactions vary depending on how things are said.
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Here, from "The Biblical Illustrator," are some reasons why we should use kind words when speaking to others:
"Kind words never blister the tongue or lips, and we never hear of any mental trouble arising from this quarter. Though they [the kind words] do not cost much, yet they accomplish much. They help one's own good nature and good will. Soft words soften our own soul; angry words are fuel to the flame of wrath, and make it burn more fiercely. Kind words make other people good-natured. Cold words freeze people, and hot words scorch them; and bitter words make them bitter, and wrathful [angry] words make them wrathful. There are such a number of other kinds of words, that we ought occasionally to make use of kind words. There are vain [useless] words, and idle words, and silly words, and hasty words, and empty words, and profane [irreverent, disrespectful] words, and boisterous [rowdy, unruly] words, and war-like words. But kind words soothe and comfort the hearer; they shame him out of his sour [disagreeable], morose [gloomy], unkind feelings. We have not yet begun to use kind words in such abundance as they ought to be used …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/2-timothy/2-24.html, "The Biblical Illustrator: Kind words")
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*Bible commentators disagree on the meaning of the phrase at his will in verse 26. Here are excerpts from two of those commentaries:
"… At his will; ezwgrhmenoi, which we translate at his will, may as well be translated to his will; and so the will of God may be meant, and the whole referred to the first sentence thus, may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil to the will of God; and that is the sense some make of it: but it seems more proper to refer it to the participle, taken captive, for that is next it; and so it signifieth the miserable state of sinners, who are captives at the devil's command and will, that if he saith to them, Go, they go; if he saith, Come, they come; if he saith, Do this, they do it."
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/2-timothy/2-26.html, "Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible")
"… Who are taken captive by him at his will.--These words have been variously interpreted by commentators. The meaning that, on the whole, seems most satisfactory, represents the captive to sin waking up from his deathly slumber and escaping the toils of the evil one, for the purpose of carrying out for the future the will of God. The rendering of the whole verse would be as follows: 'And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil--being held captive by him--to do His (God's) will.'
"It must be remembered that the first pronoun in this sentence, 'being held captive by him,' referred here to the devil, and the second pronoun in the sentence, 'to do His will,' referred here to God, are represented in the Greek by two distinct words …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/2-timothy/2-26.html, "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers")
Colossians 3:21: "Fathers [and mothers, too], provoke not your children to anger [don't make them annoyed or angry by teasing or finding fault with them, being too strict and demanding, punishing them out of anger rather than love, etc.], lest they be discouraged [or they'll become depressed and disheartened (having no hope or enthusiasm) and will stop obeying and trying to please you]."
Regarding the phrase lest they be discouraged, one Bible commentator wrote:
"… Too many instructions, too many 'don'ts', too exacting a standard will only lead to discouragement, rebellion and reluctant eye-service [obedience only when being watched]. Not enough instruction will lead to doubt and uncertainty, and even despair. Children need to know what they should do, but also why they should do it or not do it. They are common sense creatures."
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/colossians/3-21.html, "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible")
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Also commenting about discouragement, Albert Barnes wrote:
"Lest they be discouraged - Lest, by your continually finding fault with them, they should lose all courage, and despair of ever pleasing you. There is much sound sense and practical wisdom in this observation of the apostle. Children should not be flattered, but they should be encouraged. They should not be so praised as to make them vain and proud, but they should be commended when they do well. The desire of praise should not be the principle from which they should be taught to act, but they should feel that the approbation [approval] of parents is a desirable thing, and when they act so as to deserve that approbation, no injury is done them by their understanding it. He who always finds fault with a child; who is never satisfied with what he does; who scolds and frets and complains, let him do as he will, breaks his spirit, and soon destroys in the delicate texture of his soul all desire of doing well. The child in despair soon gives over every effort to please. He becomes sullen [bad-tempered], morose [unhappy and quiet], stupid, and indifferent to all the motives that can be presented to him, and becomes to a great extent indifferent as to what he does - since all that he does meets with the same reception from the parent."
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/colossians-3.html, "Verse 21")
Romans 10:17: "So then faith [in God and his promises] cometh [comes to us] by hearing [the gospel, or message of salvation], and hearing [the gospel, or message of salvation] [comes] by the word of God [being preached and/or read]."
Knowing what's in the Bible gives us faith to believe that God's word is full of wisdom and truth. That's why preaching is so important--not only for salvation but also for our Christian growth. Hopefully, you're in the habit of attending church services and/or listening to sermons, either in person or online, on a regular basis.
Paul's "Thorn in the Flesh"
In a letter to the Corinthian church, 14 years after he was caught up to the third heaven (the dwelling place of God)], the apostle Paul wrote:
2 Corinthians 12:7: "And lest I [Paul] should be exalted above measure [or 'so that I wouldn't be filled with spiritual pride'] through [because of] the abundance of the revelations [all the things that I saw and heard while in heaven], there was given to me [with permission from God] a thorn in the flesh [probably a bodily affliction (infirmity or pain) of some kind; many people have tried to guess, but nobody knows for sure exactly what it was], [by] the messenger of Satan [one of Satan's angels (i.e., a demon, or devil)] [who was sent] to buffet [attack] me, lest I should be exalted above measure."
2 Corinthians 12:8, 9: "For this thing [the thorn in the flesh] I [Paul] besought [urgently requested, begged] the Lord [Jesus Christ] thrice [three times] [through prayer], that it might depart [be taken away] from me. And he [Jesus] said unto me [Paul], My grace is sufficient for thee [you, meaning that Jesus said 'no' to removing the 'thorn,' but instead he promised to support Paul in his trials and help him withstand his discomfort and pain]: for my [Jesus'] strength is made perfect in [your] weakness. Most gladly therefore will I [Paul] rather glory [take pleasure] in my infirmities [physical and/or mental weaknesses (diseases, afflictions, etc.)], [so] that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:10: "Therefore I [Paul] take pleasure in infirmities [physical and mental weaknesses], in reproaches [contempt and scorn (criticism and disrespect) from others], in necessities [of life, in this case referring to a lack of basic things like food and shelter], in persecutions, in distresses [difficulties that I (Paul) encounter] for [Jesus] Christ's sake [or on behalf of the gospel]: for [because] when [through my own efforts] I [Paul] am weak [without strength], then [with God's help] am I [or 'I am'] strong [and able to endure (patiently and courageously withstand) those things]."
Albert Barnes expressed some interesting thoughts about humility and prayer (including why God may not answer our prayers) in his commentary on the above verses. Here are the excerpts:
Heading: "Verse 7"
"To buffet me - … The general truth taught in this verse is, that God will take care that his people shall not be unduly exalted by the manifestations of his favor, and by the spiritual privileges which he bestows on them. He will take measures to humble them; and a large part of his dealings with his people is designed to accomplish this. Sometimes it will be done, as in the case of Paul, by bodily infirmity or trial, by sickness, or by long and lingering disease; sometimes by great poverty and by an humble condition of life; sometimes by reducing us from a state of affluence [being rich] where we were in danger of being exalted above measure; sometimes by suffering us to be slandered and calumniated [accused falsely, lied about], by suffering foes [enemies] to rise up against us who shall blacken our character and in such a manner that we cannot meet it; sometimes by persecution; sometimes by lack of success in our enterprises [business dealings], and if in the ministry, by withholding his [Holy] Spirit; sometimes by suffering us to fall into sin, and thus greatly humbling us before the world.
"Such was the case with [King] David and with [the apostle] Peter; and God often permits us to see in this manner our own weakness, and to bring us to a sense of our dependence and to proper humility by suffering us to perform some act that should be ever afterward a standing source of our humiliation; some act so base, so humiliating, so evincing [revealing] the deep depravity of our hearts as forever to make and keep us humble. How could David be lifted up with pride after the murder of Uriah [the husband of Bathsheba]? How could Peter after having denied his Lord [Jesus] with a horrid oath? Thus, many a Christian is suffered to fall by the temptation of Satan to show him his weakness and to keep him from pride; many a fall is made the occasion of the permanent benefit of the offender. And perhaps every Christian who has been much favored with elevated spiritual views and comforts can recall something which shall be to him a standing topic of regret and humiliation in his past life. We should be thankful for any calamity that will humble us; and we should remember that clear and elevated views of God and heaven are, after all, more than a compensation for all the sufferings which it may be necessary to endure in order to make us humble."
Heading: "Verse 8"
"Thrice - … The probability … is, that Paul on three different occasions earnestly besought the Lord Jesus that this calamity might be removed from him. It might have been exceedingly painful, or it might, as he supposed, interfere with his success as a preacher; or it might have been of such a nature as to expose him to ridicule; and he prayed, therefore, if it were possible that it might be taken away. The passage proves that it is right to pray earnestly and repeatedly for the removal of any calamity. The Saviour [Jesus] so prayed in the garden [of Gethsemane]; and Paul so prayed here. Yet it also proves that there should be a limit to such prayers. The Saviour prayed three times; and Paul limited himself to the same number of petitions and then submitted to the will of God. This does not prove that we should be limited to exactly this number in our petitions; but it proves that there should be a limit; that we should not be over-anxious, and that when it is plain from any cause that the calamity will not be removed, we should submit to it.
"The Saviour in the garden knew that the cup [of suffering] would not be removed, and he acquiesced [reluctantly accepted God's will]. Paul was told indirectly that his calamity [the 'thorn in the flesh' referred to above] would not be removed, and he submitted. We may expect no such revelation from heaven, but we may know in other ways that the calamity will not be removed; and we should submit [to the will of God]. The child or other friend for whom we prayed may die; or the calamity, as, e. g. [for example], blindness, or deafness, or loss of health, or poverty, may become permanent, so that there is no hope of removing it; and we should then cease to pray [stop praying] that it may be removed, and we should cheerfully acquiesce in the will of God. So David prayed most fervently [passionately] for his child when it was alive; when it was deceased [dead], and it was of no further use to pray for it, he bowed in submission to the will of God …"
Heading: "Verse 9"
"And he said unto me - … It is one of the instances in which the fervent prayer of a good man, offered undoubtedly in faith, was not answered in the form in which he desired, though substantially answered in the assurance of grace sufficient to support him. It furnishes, therefore, a very instructive lesson in regard to prayer, and shows as that we are not to expect as a matter of course that all our prayers will be literally answered, and that we should not be disappointed or disheartened [discouraged] if they are not. It is a matter of fact that not all the prayers even of the pious [devoutly religious people], and of those who pray having faith in God as a hearer of prayer, are literally answered. Thus, the prayer of David … was not literally answered; the child for whose life he so earnestly prayed died. So the Saviour's request was not literally answered … The cup of suffering which he so earnestly desired should be taken away was not removed. So in the case before us … So in numerous cases now, Christians pray with fervour [intense and passionate feeling] and with faith for the removal of some calamity which is not removed; or for something which they regard as desirable for their welfare which is withheld. Some of the reasons why this is done are obvious:
"(1) The grace that will be imparted if the calamity is not removed will be of greater value to the individual than would be the direct answer to his prayer. Such was the case with Paul; so it was doubtless with David; and so it is often with Christians now The removal of the calamity might be apparently a blessing, but it might also be attended with danger to our spiritual welfare; the grace imparted may be of permanent value and may be connected with the development of some of the loveliest traits of Christian character.
"(2) it might not be for the good of the individual who prays that the exact thing should be granted. When a parent prays with great earnestness and with insubmission [lack of submission, disobedience] for the life of a child, he knows not what he is doing. If the child lives, he may be the occasion of much more grief to him than if he had died. David had far more trouble from [his son] Absalom than he had from the death of the child for which he so earnestly prayed. At the same time it may be better for the child that he should be removed. If he dies in infancy he will be saved. But who can tell what will be his character and destiny should he live to be a man? So of other things.
"(3) God has often some better thing in store for us than would be the immediate answer to our prayer Who can doubt that this was true of [the apostle] Paul? The promised grace of Christ as sufficient to support us is of more value than would be the mere removal of any bodily affliction.
"(4) it would not be well for us, probably, should our petition be literally answered. Who can tell what is best for himself? If the thing were obtained, who can tell how soon we might forget the benefactor and become proud and self-confident? It was the design of God to humble Paul; and this could be much better accomplished by continuing his affliction and by imparting the promised grace, than by withdrawing the affliction and withholding the grace. The very thing to be done was to keep him humble; and this affliction could not be withdrawn without also foregoing the benefit. It is true, also, that where things are in themselves proper to be asked, Christians sometimes ask them in an improper manner, and this is one of the reasons why many of their prayers are not answered. But this does not pertain to the case before us."
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/2-corinthians-12.html, "Verses 7-9")
Having a "Love of Money" Can Wreck Your Life
1 Timothy 6:8: "And having food [things to eat and drink] and raiment [clothing and shelter] let us be therewith content [satisfied with those things]."
1 Timothy 6:9: "But they that will [those who have a strong desire or craving to] be rich fall into temptation [to do wicked things] and a snare [trap], and into many foolish and hurtful lusts [desires], which drown men [and women and children] in destruction and perdition [ruin--of their happiness, virtue (moral excellence), reputations, and souls]."
1 Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is the root [source, basic cause] of all [kinds of] evil: which while some [people, including professing Christians] coveted after [it (money), because they were greedy and had an insatiable (uncontrollable) desire to be rich], they have erred [wandered away, departed] from the faith [of Christ, or the Christian religion], and pierced themselves through with many sorrows [or 'have caused themselves much heartache, pain, and sadness']."
One Bible commentator went into great detail explaining verse 9. He wrote:
"'But those who want to get rich': Here is the danger of seeking wealth as the prime end of life …
"'Fall into temptation and a snare': All men are tempted, but this is the person who has fallen into a state of temptation, that is who is yielding to one temptation after another. The term 'snare' means a 'trap'. The word 'fall' is also in the present tense, suggesting a continual falling. This desire to be rich at all costs brings one temptation to compromise after another. Thus they are tempted to sacrifice morality, principles, honesty, kindness and friendship to get ahead. 'When top priority is given to amassing riches, such things as honesty, generosity, and helpfulness have to take second place, or third or fourth place!' …
"'And a snare': 'The idea here is that they who have this desire to become rich become so entangled that they cannot easily escape. In their efforts to make money, they can no longer be free men. They find themselves entrapped in temptation to lie, cheat, steal, to sell products they know to be harmful' … Please note also that many people who desire to get rich-never reach the goal. For every greedy person who reached the top there are thousands who found themselves entrapped in one bad business deal after another, or falling for one scam after another. There are many people in our current society who are willing to take advantage of and exploit the person who wants to get rich quick.
"'And many foolish': Greed will move a person to make unwise choices, and such desires are foolish in the sense that they do not yield the happiness they promised. In addition, people infected by greed often live in an unreal world, a world in which they demand that every desire they have be fulfilled and that the things they possess bring them happiness. It is foolish to believe that money can make us happy and it is equally foolish to believe that we deserve that every desire we have be fulfilled in the exact way in which we demand. Added to this, greed creates the false illusion that material possessions bring with them security and safety.
"'And harmful desires': Greed is often very harmful to oneself and others. 'They do great damage to one's character and spiritual life … [and] they destroy relationships that are rich and full' …
"'Which plunge men into ruin and destruction': The term here rendered 'plunge' or 'drown' refers not merely to a person drowning, but of a wreck, where the ship and all that is in it go down together … The terms 'ruin' and 'destruction' refer to utter ruin. Some believe that the distinction here is between the ruin in this life, that is, the total ruin of happiness, virtue, reputation, marriage, family and the destruction that awaits in eternity. 'It gives the picture of these lusts overwhelming the man, like the waves covering a sinking ship, and plunging him into perdition' …
"The ruin mentioned in the above verse also would involve personal unhappiness and misery, for the person who desires to be rich above all else, is never satisfied even if they become rich … In reaching this goal they often have sacrificed everything else that is of true and lasting value … Life is tragic for the person who has plenty to live on but nothing to live for."
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/1-timothy/6-9.html, "Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible")
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Also commenting on 1 Timothy 6:9, Matthew Henry wrote:
"… It is not said, those that are rich, but those that will be rich, that is, that place their happiness in worldly wealth, that covet it inordinately [excessively], and are eager and violent in the pursuit of it. Those that are such fall into temptation and a snare, unavoidably; for, when the devil sees which way their lusts carry them, he will soon bait his hook accordingly …"
(Source: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-timothy/6.html, "Verses 6-12")
God Wants Sinners to Repent (Change Their Behavior)
In a vision, while the Jewish people were being held captive in Babylon as punishment from God for disobeying his laws, God said to his prophet Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 33:10: "Therefore, O thou [you] son of man [referring to Ezekiel], speak unto the house of Israel [i.e., the descendants of Isaac's son (Abraham's grandson) Jacob, who was renamed Israel by God]; Thus [shall] ye [you] speak, saying, If our transgressions [offenses, crimes, wrongdoing] and [the guilt for] our sins be upon us, and we pine away in [suffer the penalty threatened for and/or become weak, depressed, or discouraged because of] them [our transgressions and sins], how should we then live?"
Ezekiel 33:11: "Say unto them [the Jews], As I live, saith [says] the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked [or, in this case, sinners]; but [I prefer] that the wicked [person] turn from his [or her] [evil or sinful] way and live [remain alive]: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house [household, children, descendants] of Israel?"
God hates sin and encourages everyone, not just Jewish people, to repent.
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Concerning the definition of repentance, one Bible commentator wrote:
"… We must correctly distinguish regret, remorse, and true repentance. Regret is an activity of the mind; whenever we remember what we"ve done, we ask ourselves, 'Why did I do that?' Remorse includes both the heart and the mind, and we feel disgust and pain, but we don"t change our ways. But true repentance includes the mind, the heart, and the will. We change our mind about our sins and agree with what God says about them; we abhor ourselves [feel hatred and loathing] because of what we have done; and we deliberately turn from our sin and turn to the Lord for His mercy.
"When Peter remembered his sin of denying Christ, he repented and sought pardon; when Judas remembered his sin of betraying Christ, he experienced only remorse, and he went out and hanged himself …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/ezekiel/33-10.html, "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable")
Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is the substance [foundation] of things hoped for [i.e., faith is our basis for believing that things which have been promised will eventually come true], [and it is also] the evidence of things not seen [i.e., faith is also our belief that what we have been told is true, even though we don't have visible proof of it]."
Faith is important because, according to Ephesians 2:8-9, we can't be saved without it. This means that before anyone can become a Christian, he or she must believe that the facts and promises contained in the Bible are true.
Biblical examples of faith include the following:
The substance of things hoped for:
-- Believing the promise that born-again Christians will have a home in heaven someday.
The evidence of things not seen:
-- Believing, without proof, the gospel message (i.e., that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day) and that we must be "born again" in order to be saved from hell.
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If you want to be born again (or saved) but don't know what to do, please read one or more of the gospel tracts in the "Printable Gospel Tracts" section of my website. Here's the direct link to that page: http://www.mansioninheaven.com/PrintableGospelTracts.html.
Proverbs 11:22: "As [like] a jewel of gold [an ornamental ring] in a swine's snout [a pig's nose], so is a fair [attractive, beautiful, good-looking] woman which is without discretion [good taste and judgment, common sense]."
Salem Bible Church's commentary on this verse is entitled "An Attractive Pig?" In it, we learn not to "judge a book by its cover," or be fooled by a person's outward appearance. Just as a pig dressed up in fine jewelry is still a pig, a person without discretion may be beautiful (or handsome or cute) on the outside but have a nasty and repulsive personality.
Under the section of the commentary labeled "The Four Comparisons," Pastor Delany says:
"5. The little piece of jewelry is grossly insufficient to overshadow the pig's real problem: he's dirty and ugly and disgusting.
"a. So too with the woman without discretion. Her looks and clothes will never overshadow her real problem: she's ugly on the inside!
"b. Nothing will change that but the new birth--or if she is saved and has an ugly spirit--repentance!
"c. This proverb illustrates a truth about human nature. We are inclined to try to cover up… and make self LOOK good… rather than BE good. Good looks, fancy clothes, or expensive jewelry will never overshadow an ugly heart."
If you want to read more of the pastor's commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-11-index/proverbs-11_22/.
How and Why We Should Praise and Worship God
Psalm 95:1-2: "O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock [source] of our salvation. Let us come before his presence [or 'before him'] with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms [songs of praise]."
Psalm 95:3: "For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods [i.e., he is greater than everyone and everything else that is worshiped anywhere in the universe]."
Psalm 95:4-5: "In his hand [under his control] are the deep [unseen, underground] places of the earth: the strength of the hills is [or 'the hills and mountains, all the way to the top, including everything within them (precious metals, etc.), are'] his also. The sea [and everything in it] is his, and [or 'because'] he made it: and his hands formed the dry land."
Psalm 95:6: "O come, let us worship [Almighty God] and bow down [our heads, to show respect for him]: let us kneel before the LORD [who is] our maker [creator]."
Regarding the phrase let us kneel before the LORD our maker in verse 6, Albert Barnes says:
"… All the expressions here employed [in verse 6--i.e., worship, bow down, and kneel] denote a posture of profound reverence in worship, and the passage is a standing rebuke of all irreverent postures in prayer; of such habits as often prevail in public worship where no change of posture is made in prayer, and where a congregation irreverently sit in the act of professedly worshipping God. People show to their fellowmen the respect indicated by rising up before them: much more should they show respect to God - respect in a posture which will indicate profound reverence, and a deep sense of his presence and majesty. Reverently kneeling or standing 'will' indicate this; sitting does not indicate it."
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-95.html, "Verse 6)
Galatians 3:13: "Christ hath redeemed us [or 'Jesus has set us (human beings) free'] from the curse of the law [God's law, which the apostle Paul refers to as a curse because our punishment for disobeying God's law is never-ending torment in the lake of fire], [by] being made a curse for us [which happened (i.e., Christ was made a curse and redeemed us) when Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins--the sinless Son of God paying the sin debt for all mankind, per Hebrews 10:10, 11-12]: for it is written [in Deuteronomy 21:23], Cursed is every one that hangeth [hangs] on a tree [in this case, referring to Jesus' crucifixion]:"
Commenting on the above verse, Albert Barnes wrote:
"… The sense of the passage before us is, therefore, that Jesus was subjected to what was regarded as an accursed death. He was treated in his death As If he had been a criminal. He was put to death in the same manner as he would have been if he had himself been guilty of the violation of the Law. If he had been a thief or a murderer; if he had committed the grossest and the blackest crimes, this would have been the punishment to which he would have been subjected. This was the mode of punishment adapted to those crimes, and he was treated as if all these had been committed by him. Or, in other words, if he had been guilty of all these, or any of these, he could not have been treated in a more shameful and ignominious [humiliating] manner than he was; nor could he have been subjected to a more cruel death. Since it has already been intimated [implied], it does not mean that Jesus was guilty, nor that he was not the object of the approbation [approval or praise] and love of God, but that Jesus' death was the same that it would have been if he had been the vilest of malefactors [or 'the worst kind of criminal'], and that that death was regarded by the Law as accursed.
"It was by such substituted sorrows that we are saved; and he [Jesus] consented to die the most shameful and painful death, as if he were the vilest criminal, in order that the most guilty and vile of the human race might be saved … It may be observed, also, that the punishment of the cross was unknown to the Hebrews in the time of Moses, and that the passage in Deuteronomy 21:23 did not refer originally to that. Nor is it known that hanging criminals alive was practiced among the Hebrews. Those who were guilty of great crimes were first stoned or otherwise put to death, and then their bodies were suspended for a few hours on a gibbet. In many cases, however, merely the head was suspended after it had been severed [cut off or removed] from the body … Crucifixion was not known in the time of the giving of the Law [to Moses], but the Jews gave such an extent to the Law in Deuteronomy 21:23 as to include this mode of punishment …
"The force of the argument here, as used by the apostle Paul, is, that if to be suspended on a gibbet [hung on a gallows] after having been put to death was regarded as a curse, it should not be regarded as a curse in a less degree to be suspended Alive on a cross, and to be put to death in this manner. If this interpretation of the passage is correct, then it follows that this should never be used as implying, in any sense, that Christ was guilty, or that he was ill-deserving, or that he was an object of the divine displeasure, or that he [God] poured out on him [Jesus] all his wrath. He [Jesus] was, throughout, an object of the divine love and approbation. God never loved Jesus more, or approved what he did more, than when he gave himself to death on the cross. God had no hatred toward him; He had no displeasure to express toward him. And it is this which makes the atonement so wonderful and so glorious. If God had been displeased with Jesus; if the Redeemer had been properly an object of God's wrath; if Jesus, in any sense, deserved those sorrows, there would have been no merit in Jesus' sufferings; there would have been no atonement. What merit can there be when one suffers only what he deserves? But what made the atonement so wonderful, so glorious, so benevolent [well-meaning and kindly]; what made it an atonement at all, was that innocence was treated as if it were guilt; that the most pure, and holy, and benevolent, and lovely being on earth should consent to be treated, and should be treated by God and man, as If Jesus were the most vile and ill-deserving. This is the mystery of the atonement; this shows the wonders of the divine benevolence; this is the nature of substituted sorrow; and this lays the foundation for the offer of pardon, and for the hope of eternal salvation."
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/galatians-3.html, "Verse 13")
Proverbs 6:32: "But whoso [whoever] committeth adultery [commits adultery, or has sexual relations] with a woman [he is not married to, meaning another man's wife] lacketh [lacks] understanding: he that doeth [does] it [commits adultery] destroyeth [destroys] his own soul [life]."
Proverbs 6:33: "A wound and dishonour [disgrace, shame] shall he get; and his reproach [expressions of disapproval and/or disappointment from others for what he has done] shall not be wiped away [from their memories]."
According to Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church, verses 30-35 in Chapter 6 of Proverbs are grouped together in his commentary because they all address the subject of adultery. In them, King Solomon "… teaches his son about long lasting consequences of the sin of adultery. His hope is that his son will listen and spare himself from guilt and shame."
If you want to read Pastor Delany's commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-6-index/proverbs-6_30-35/.
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GotQuestions.org has an excellent article about adultery. It's entitled "What is the biblical punishment for adultery?'" and can be found here: https://www.gotquestions.org/punishment-for-adultery.html.
The Resurrection of Jesus
Matthew 28:1: "In the end of the [Jewish weekly] sabbath [which took place every Saturday], as it began to dawn toward [Sunday,] the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary [i.e., wife of Cleopas, and mother of James and Joses] to see the sepulchre [the tomb in which the crucified Jesus had been buried]."
Matthew 28:2-3, 4: "And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended [came down] from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door [of the sepulchre], and sat upon it [the very large, heavy stone]. His [the angel's] countenance [outward appearance] was [bright and shining] like lightning, and his raiment [clothing] [was as] white as snow: And for fear of him [or 'due to fear of the angel'] the keepers [the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb] did shake [tremble], and became as dead men [i.e., they probably fainted from fright, because they were terrified by what had just happened]."
Matthew 28:5-6, 7: "And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye [don't be afraid]: for I know that ye [you] seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen [from the dead], as he said. Come, see the place [in the sepulchre] where the Lord lay [or 'where Jesus' body had been lying']. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he [Jesus] goeth [goes] before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you."
Matthew 28:8-9: "And they [the women] departed [left] quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word [good news] [that Jesus was alive]. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail [which meant 'rejoice']. And they [the women] came and held him [Jesus] by the feet [i.e., they came and laid face down on the ground, touching his feet, showing their respect, honor, love, and affection,], and worshipped him."
In a letter to the churches of Galatia, the apostle Paul wrote:
Galatians 2:21: "I [Paul] do not frustrate [disregard, reject, make void] the grace [unmerited (undeserved) favor] of God: for if righteousness [justification, salvation--the only condition that is acceptable to God] come [or comes to us] by the law [of Moses (i.e., because we obey ceremonial [religious] and/or moral laws, such as the Ten Commandments); in other words, if we can earn salvation by doing good works], then [Jesus] Christ is dead in vain [meaning he died needlessly, for no reason]."
This verse applies not only to the Galatians but also to everyone else in the world.
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The GotQuestions article entitled "What is righteousness?" explains what righteousness is and how we get it: If you want to read the article, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/righteousness.html.
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Concerning the phrase if righteousness come by the law, Albert Barnes said:
"If justification can be secured by the observance of any law - ceremonial or moral - then there was no need of the death of [Jesus] Christ as an atonement [i.e., sacrifice for sin]. This is plain. If man by conformity [obedience] to any law could be justified before God, what need was there of an atonement? The work would then have been wholly in his own power, and the merit would have been his. It follows from this, that man cannot be justified by his own morality, or his alms-deeds [acts of charity, good works], or his forms of religion, or his honesty and integrity. If he can, he needs no Saviour; he can save himself. It follows also that when people depend on their own amiableness [friendly disposition], and morality, and good works, they would feel no need of a Saviour; and this is the true reason why the mass [large number, majority] of people reject the Lord Jesus. They suppose they do not deserve to be sent to hell. They have no deep sense of guilt. They confide [trust] in their own integrity, and feel that God ought to save them. Hence, they feel no need of a Saviour; for why should a person in health employ a physician? And confiding in their own righteousness, they reject the grace of God, and despise the plan of justification through the Redeemer. To feel the need of a Saviour it is necessary to feel that we are lost and ruined sinners; that we have no merit upon which we can rely; and that we are entirely dependent on the mercy of God for salvation. Thus feeling, we shall receive the salvation of the gospel with thankfulness and joy, and show that in regard to us Christ is not 'dead in vain.'"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/galatians-2.html, "Verse 21")
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Charles Spurgeon, another Bible commentator, summarized the verse like this:
"… If a man [or woman or child] can be saved by his [or her] own works, and willings, and doings, then Christ's death was an unnecessary piece of torture; and, instead of being the most glorious manifestation of divine love, it was a shameful waste, putting upon Christ a terrible burden of suffering which was totally unnecessary."
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/galatians-2.html, "Verses 16-21: Galatians 2:21")
Was Jesus Really Crucified on Friday?
Matthew 12:38: "Then certain [some] of the scribes [teachers of the Jewish people and interpreters of the law] and of the Pharisees [members of a Jewish sect (religious group)] answered [Jesus], saying, Master, we would [like to] see a sign from thee [you] [i.e., a sign from heaven, in the form of a miracle] [to prove that you are the Christ, or Messiah, and have been sent by God]."
Matthew 12:39, 40: "But he [Jesus] answered and said unto them [the crowd], An evil and adulterous generation [referring to the Jews, many of whom--at that time--were unfaithful to their spouses and/or God] seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it [to the 'evil and adulterous generation'], but [except] the sign of the prophet Jonas [Jonah]: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man [Jesus] be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth [i.e., Jesus meant that he would be in the grave, or tomb, for three days and three nights between his crucifixion and resurrection, which was the same amount of time that Jonah spent inside the whale]."
Matthew 12:41: "The men [inhabitants] of Nineveh [capital city of the Assyrian empire] shall rise [as witnesses] in judgment [on judgment day] with this generation [of Jews], and [their example, or the example of the Ninevites] shall condemn it ['this generation']: because they [the people of Nineveh] repented at the preaching of Jonas [who was only a prophet, or messenger, of God]; and, behold, a greater [one] than Jonas [Jonah] is here [referring to himself (Jesus), who was and is the Son of God--second person of the Trinity (which means one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost)] [and the Jews wouldn't even repent at his preaching]."
Many people believe that Jesus was crucified on Friday, but according to Jesus' statement in Matthew 12:40, that's not true. There are other theories about when he died, and they are discussed in the article entitled "On what day was Jesus crucified?". If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/three-days.html.