31DaysOfPurity2-0130Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day ten:

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

Sin enslaves. It promises joy and life but delivers only deeper and deeper levels of captivity. Freedom from sin and its ugly consequences seems like nothing more than a mirage or an empty promise when, time and time again, you present yourself to sin as its obedient slave. You hear yourself saying things like, “I just can’t help it” or “I tried but couldn’t do it.” The enemy will do everything in his power to convince you that you are enslaved to sin. He will do all he can to make you believe you are powerless to conquer it.

There is just a grain of truth in what our Accuser says: In your own strength you are, indeed, powerless. But if you are in Christ you have been set free from sin’s enslavement. You no longer have to live in your own strength—you can now live in the strength of another. The power of sin has been broken in your life. The Son has set you free from your slavery. And now he invites and commands you to live in the joy of that freedom. Be free!

Father, thank you for setting me free in Christ. I confess that far too many times I have presented myself as an obedient slave to sin. I have failed to take hold of the freedom Christ has won for me; I have crawled back into my prison cell and back into my chains. Yet I know and believe that sin is no longer my master. Convince my heart that I belong to you and that sin no longer owns me. Help me to live in the freedom that Christ has purchased for me.

What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).

Todays devotional was prepared by Mike Leake. Mike is associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Jasper, IN. He and his wife, Nikki have 2 children (Isaiah and Hannah). Mike is the author of Torn to Heal and regularly blogs at mikeleake.net.

Slow Train ComingOkay. I have never been a big fan of Bob Dylan. I know, I know! He supposed to be one of the greatest songwriters ever but his work never really did much for me. That is until 1979.

When I first heard that Bob Dylan had a new album back then, I just kind of ignored it. But then I heard “Gotta Serve Somebody” on WLVA in Lynchburg, VA, and  I couldn't believe I was hearing truth like this on a secular radio station. It was certainly an enlightening moment.

Fast forward to this morning. I checked my email and saw this in my inbox from Desiring God,

What Bob Dylan Got Right

In contrast to most of Bob Dylan's work, I love John Piper's work. God has used John Piper's work in a profound way to draw me closer to Himself and to realize that the Christian life is not about rules and regulations but about loving God with everything I am and enjoying Him and not just all of the benefits He has blessed me with. When we become a slave to Him, that is where true freedom lies.

HeathcareLast week, Todd Friel of Wretched TV and Wretched Radio addressed the healthcare debate in the most unique fashion I have heard to date, and I must admit, it is the most powerful and most of what I will discuss here will draw from those discussions. He gave seven arguments in favor and seven against. Many of those who support the Democrats plans for healthcare reform have raised the question about how Jesus would have handled the healthcare debate? I agree that is a fair question. As Christians, the basis upon which we build our worldview should always be the standard of The Bible for as the writer of Hebrews has rightly said in chapter 4 verse 12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The Apostle Paul exhorted the young pastor Timothy to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2) This is why doctrine and expository Bible study are so critical in all areas of life. Even Christ Himself in his Gethsemane prayer gave credence to the power and sanctifying power of the Word of God in John 17:17. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

As such, let’s approach the healthcare debate from a Biblical worldview. The fundamental question is whether or not it is the part of the function of government to provide universal healthcare coverage for all of its citizens and if so, how is that universal coverage to be provided? Let’s take a closer look at both sides of the debate.

First let’s look at seven arguments in favor of universal healthcare:

  1. Jesus and the Apostles were involved in healing the sick.

That is absolutely true. What we need to understand is the reason why Jesus healed the sick. Matthew 9, Mark 2, and Luke 5 record the story of the man sick with the palsy, but notice that the first thing Christ did was not to heal the man. He told him that his sins were forgiven. When the ones around thought that he blasphemed the name of God when He declared the man’s sins forgiven, Christ said in Matthew 9:6 “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” The healing miracle was to demonstrate Christ’s identity as God Himself more than the temporal physical need of the man who was healed. Christ, not man, is the focus of the miracles in order to support the message of salvation. Christ’s miracles of healing also demonstrate His compassion for the poor and the infirmed, but are not in any way a mandate in support of universal healthcare.

  1. Jesus said, “Love the poor.”

Absolutely! Not doubt about it! This is why every church should have some sort of benevolence ministry, first to its members, and then for the community at large. Todd posed the question, do you really know of any Christian who says, “I hate the poor! Let them all die in the street and stop being a burden to society!” Of course not! But when you understand the Biblical definition of who are the poor in reality, it does change the perspective on who we are called to help. The poor are those who are actually on the streets maybe living in a box due to circumstances beyond their control, such as illness or calamity and are totally unable to care for themselves, the truly destitute. It is not people who may be living in a small apartment with a microwave, air conditioning and a car and just want a higher standard of living.

  1. Romans 13 promotes “general welfare.”

This is actually an excellent point. Romans chapter 13 defines the role of government. But I challenge you to read it and find any reference to universal healthcare. Government is established to protect its citizens from attack and to punish those engaged in crime. This includes establishing justice, ensuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense and as stated above, promoting the general welfare. But even the Federal Government with all of it’s power and influence is not big enough to solve a problem the size of healthcare and run that industry with the efficiency that the healthcare industry can run itself, if it were allowed to do so.

  1. Justice.

The problem here is in how that those who are in favor universal healthcare define justice. Literally, Justice, according to the Bible, is punishment for breaking the law not getting people things so they can have a nice quality of life or even equality for all. Solomon said in Proverbs 21:3, ”To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” The Lord is most glorified in execution of justice, but we must understand that justice is not based on our comfort, convenience, or cost of living! It is in the conviction of the guilty.

  1. The Kingdom of God.

This is an eschatological argument of bringing the Kingdom of God to this earth. As I stated in point number 2, every church needs to be involved in some sort of benevolence ministry, but when you read the Bible and how it describes the end times, it is clear that things are not getting better, but are getting worse and will continue to do so until Jesus Himself comes to make all things new and fully redeem them to Himself. Our job is not to make this world a better place to go to Hell from! Jesus’ last words to His disciples were not to go into all the world and provide better healthcare! They were to preach the Gospel to every creature and it is of utmost importance to know what that is and to do it!

  1. Equality.

Equality and fairness are not Biblical principles. If they were, all of us would have no hope of salvation and God should have incinerated Adam and Eve as soon as they fell. The Biblical concept is that all of us were born into sin and only because of the grace and mercy of God do we even have the opportunity to even draw a breath!

  1. Greed and dishonest gain of the healthcare industry.

If any company is reaping their profit dishonestly, they should be prosecuted and punished accordingly (all part of that justice thing!). But the problem with painting with such a broad brush impugns the character of individual providers of whom the majority are honest people who chose this line of work to help their fellow man live a better lifestyle. It also promotes the idea that any company making a profit has done so by shady means and is not entitled to it. If a company cannot make a profit, it has no means of expanding and therefore cannot take on new business. Since every business is either in the process of growing or shrinking, the inevitable result is that if the company is not making a profit, it is shrinking. Shrinking business leads to layoffs, overworked employees who do remain, and in many cases, an implosion of the business itself. The Bible in Ephesians 4:28 teaches “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” It is out of the abundance of profit from where all charity flows.

Now let’s look at seven arguments against universal healthcare:

  1. Do not steal.

In order to pay for universal healthcare, the government must take wealth from one entity and give it to another. No matter how you slice it, that is stealing and the Bible is clear on it. Again, Ephesians 4:28 teaches “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”

  1. The Apostle Paul taught the principle “if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

The full reference is found in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” This also applies to insurance. If a person is not willing to work for it, he should not receive it. The Bible is clear on this matter and teaches that work brings about wages. It’s the old sowing and reaping principle. Healthcare is not a “natural right” as enumerated in either the Bible or our founding documents.

  1. End of life issues and Abortion.

Under this legislation, those facing the possible end of life are not going to get the care that they may receive now and even those who have a curable condition may not in fact be deemed viable enough to warrant care by the system. The other issue on the table is that taxpayer funded abortions are in fact not excluded from the bill. Psalm 139:13 (English Standard Version) tells us, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Each one of us was fashioned by the hand of God and therefore has great worth. Because of this, God is serious about life and any issues of life and death are His alone.

  1. Rationing.

Closely related to end of life issues is the issue of deciding who gets healthcare and if they do receive it, limiting a person and their doctor’s ability to choose what is best for them. There is no possible way that a universal system can equally give the best possible care to every covered individual. Therefore, some criterion must be put in place in order to determine where those benefits are better spent. This would in effect deny an ill person the care he may truly need because he does not meet some arbitrary standard. The Bible teaches that each people group is of equal value to God Himself. Paul in Galatians 3:28 teaches, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Rationing deems a particular people group as more deserving of healthcare based on an arbitrary bureaucratic standard.

  1. The Old Testament pattern is ownership (personal property rights) with mercy and safety nets for those who meet the Biblical definition of “poor.”

With ownership comes responsibility. The Bible is clear on it’s teachings of stewardship (and that is much more than just tithing, my Fundamentalist friends!). God has entrusted us with what we do have and we are to manage that to His glory and that includes charity! God has allowed us to “own” (I use the term very loosely because the Bible teaches that all of creation is the Lord’s) our possessions and as such we are responsible for managing them to the best of our ability. Luke chapter 16 is a great example of an unjust steward and a great discussion of stewardship in general.

  1. Debt.

Closely related to ownership is the concept of debt. In Romans 13:8, Paul teaches, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” The healthcare plan on the table will add in excess of 1 trillion dollars to the national debt, the likes of which our grandchildren will still be dealing with, which leads to the last point,

  1. Inheritance.

Proverbs 13:22 “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.” After the stimulus bill we have already endured this year, if this healthcare bill passes in its present form, there will be very little left for our grandchildren to inherit except the debt for our own irresponsibility.

In conclusion, what must be done to solve our healthcare problems? While I have ideas on the matter, a workable solution will only come from a civil discussion on the merits of the issues and not from hyperbolic fear mongering from either side of the aisle. There do seem to be a few reasonable voices on both sides and I can only hope that somehow these voices will be heard, but given the track record of politicians in Washington, I choose to place my hope in the Sovereign God of the Bible. And whatever plan emerges from all that is happening today, we can rest assured that He is the one who has allowed it and will work all things together for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose! (Romans 8:28)