13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:13–16, NKJV)
Americans continue to debate the legality of abortion. We ought to be discussing its morality. God establishes what is moral, not men and women. It is immoral to take innocent life (Gen. 9:6). One cannot read today’s passage without being impressed by the truth that the unborn child is known by God. Truly, new life in the womb is a marvelous work of God. David was in his mother’s womb (“me”) – not his mother’s body in his mother’s body. Unseen at conception, new human life is seen by God. God gave this new life a safe place to grow and develop before birth. The womb is the mother’s (“my mother’s womb,” v. 13), but the life in it was David’s (“my substance,” v. 16). This week a woman openly discussed her abortion and encouraged women to share their abortion stories online using #YouKnowMe. The New York Times quoted her saying, “We need to be as loud as they are, but with the truth. That’s the only thing we have.” The truth is, God knows you. He knew you in your mother’s womb. And, He knows your unborn child, too. We must honor all human life, including the unborn. God does.
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8, NKJV)
We “love” everything from ham sandwiches, ice cream, and chocolate, to cars, sports teams, friends, and family. The English language does not do a very good job of differentiating the meanings and usages of the word love. People generally use “love” to describe a strong affection, attraction, warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion. But these meanings do not begin to approach the biblical meaning and practice of love (agape). “God is love,” and He has shown us what love really is by giving His Son to die for us unloving, unlovable, “ungodly” sinners (see 1 John 4:8-10). God’s love is active goodwill toward us (“demonstrates”). It is unselfish in its scope (“toward us”), and sacrificial in its depth (“Christ died for us”). God’s love toward us is the pattern Jesus teaches us to follow in loving God, our neighbors, our brethren, and our enemies (Matt. 22:37-39; 1 John 4:7, 11; Matt. 5:44-45). And, since Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” to love Jesus we must demonstrate active goodwill toward Him by obeying Him unselfishly and sacrificially (John 14:15). When we love as God has loved us, we know the love of Christ and are filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:17-19).
33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. (1 Corinthians 15:33–34, NKJV)
Sin deceives, corrupts and destroys. The temptation to fulfill the lusts of the flesh immediately and repeatedly lures the naive to their own destruction, and captures those who are very familiar with the depths of Satan (Rev. 2:24). It is foolish to convince ourselves that evil companions have no impact on us. If light and salt influence the world for righteousness, then darkness and bitterness have their corrupting influence, too (Matt. 5:13-16). Being a Christian means having drastically different values and practices from those who do not follow Jesus. We do not live by the motto, “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” even though many around us do (1 Cor. 15:32). We must not define and measure righteousness by those who do not know God. The Lord does that for us in His word. Jesus commands us not to sin precisely because we know the truth (Jno. 8:31-32). We need to wake up and not sin. If we slumber and let the world influence us to sin, then we will die with the world (1 Thess. 5:5-10).
30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (1 Corinthians 15:30–32, NKJV)
Our hope in Christ transcends this life. His empty tomb forever declares Him to be the Son of God with power over death, assuring us that we will be raised by His power in the last day (Rom. 1:4; John 5:28-29). Lives lived without hope in Christ are pitiable. There would be absolutely no reason to suffer deprivation or sacrifice one’s safety for the sake of Christ if the dead are not raised. What a pitiful existence that would be (1 Cor. 15:19-20)! The hedonistic culture of Corinth indulged the desires of the flesh because, after all (as the unbelievers reasoned), “tomorrow we die.” Indeed, that philosophy would be appealing “if the dead do not rise” (v. 32). But, such a view of life cannot and will not satisfy the soul (Matt. 16:26; Psa. 42:1). Our longing for meaning in life is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jno. 14:6). So, be strengthened in your faith and do not give in to fleshly allurements. Neither yield to false doctrines that deny the resurrection of the dead. Jesus was raised, and we shall be, too. Suffer every danger and sacrifice every comfort necessary to gain Christ, and attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:7-11).
Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:29, NKJV)
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use this verse to support their practice of baptizing for the dead. Was Paul referring to vicarious baptism of the living on behalf of the dead? If so, then some insurmountable problems arise. The Bible says there is one baptism, yet this would mean there are two baptisms – one for the living and one for the dead (Eph. 4:5). Personal faith in Christ and repentance are required before the great commission baptism (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Yet, the LDS practice consigns faith and repentance to choices the dead person must make in the spirit world. (Why should we think a living person can be baptized for a dead person, but not also believe and repent for the same dead person?) The great commission baptism is personal, but baptism for the dead is by proxy. Paul was not teaching proxy baptism. His context was the resurrection of the dead. Here is his point: If the dead are not raised, why are people being baptized on account of them? Why were people allowing a hope of resurrection lead them to be baptized “if the dead do not rise at all” (cf. 1 Cor. 15:12-19)? If there is no resurrection of the dead, just “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32). But, the dead will be raised, and our hope of eternal life in Christ is sure. This great truth was persuading people to be baptized. It ought to persuade you to baptized, too.
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life… (Philippians 2:14–16, NKJV)
Murmuring and grumbling is the “complaining” we are commanded not to do in this passage. It speaks especially of a secret displeasure that is not openly declared. Yet, as is the nature of whispering, such mutterings rarely remain private. They have the potential of erupting into open disputes that tarnish the “blameless and harmless” character we are to possess and present to the world. As “lights in the world” we cannot be complainers and hope to influence the lost. We ought to learn from Israel’s example and refuse to “complain, as some of them complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10:10). Israel’s history in the wilderness was marked by repeated complaints that angered the Lord and that destroyed many, many lives (Num. 11:1; 14:1-38; 16:1-5). Instead of being a complainer, be a fixer. Instead of murmuring behind the scenes about a problem, become part of the solution. Rather than generating disputes that undermine effectiveness in a church, in the home, or at work, illuminate the path of peace and spiritual progress by “holding fast the word of life.” When we do that, we will not be complainers, we will be lights in the world.
22 Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old. 23 Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding. 24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him. 25 Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice. (Proverbs 23:22–25, NKJV)
As we honor our mothers this Mother’s Day for their loving devotion and tender care, it saddens us to know of mothers who do not love their children, and of children who disrespect (despise) their mothers. When we were young our mothers taught us good words of truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding. A mother’s wise words of truth do not dry up as she grows older. A godly mother is a vessel from whom blessings flow into the lives of her children (2 Tim. 1:5). Far from discounting, disregarding and despising your mother, show her respect and loving regard by listening to her and by seeking her advice. Yes, you are an adult who will make your own decisions, and you should always hold to God’s truth. That is as it should be. But, shouldn’t your bond with her get stronger with age? So, honor your mother today with cards, calls and gifts – she will love that. And, honor her every day with kind words and gratitude for her undying love for you. This will lift her heart and gladden her spirit more than you know. By doing so you will be a wise child who pleases the Lord.