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Q&A: Can men wear feminine clothing — and vice versa?


Q: Can men wear feminine clothing? and vice versa?

The definition of "feminine" or "masculine" when it comes to clothing is constantly changing. God's Word does address what we would call "cross-dressing" (cf. Deut. 22:5) but obviously clothing styles have changed drastically since that time so it's impossible to say "women should wear this and men should wear that."

We need to be careful not to narrow down the issue to trivial matters like whether it’s better for women to wear dresses than wear shirts and pants, or for men to wear jeans instead of shorts. What God is MOST concerned about is the heart. He created the two genders to be fundamentally different and it is a departure from God’s creative order for us to blur the lines in any way (clothing included).

So, when God addresses the issue of men wearing clothing traditionally worn by women, He is addressing the heart of man first and foremost. Man's unwillingness to submit to God's gender distinctions is just another act of rebellion and wickedness on man's part, and God condemns all acts of rebellion against His creative order.

Q&A: Can you give me some tips on how to worship?

Q: Can you give me some tips on how to worship? I'm a new believer and I haven't got a clue. 

It's important to understand the difference between worshiping God and the WAYS we express our worship. Most people focus on the expressions of worship and neglect the heart of worship. Let's talk about the heart of worship first.

What is worship? Well, the first thing we learn from the Bible is that worship is a spiritual act.

"God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24 (ESV)

Jesus spoke the words quoted above, and He said that we must worship God "in spirit." But what exactly does that mean? The Apostle Paul gives us insight in his letter to the Romans:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 (ESV)

Here Paul says that our "spiritual act of worship" is presenting our very lives to God as a "living sacrifice." Under the Old Covenant the people of God would sacrifice animals for various reasons, and one of those reasons was to show a person's complete devotion to God. Under the New Covenant we don't sacrifice animals — instead we sacrifice OURSELVES. But it's a "living sacrifice" meaning that we don't die physically. A living sacrifice is one where we come to God and offer our lives to Him — to live for Him and to serve Him with all our hearts.

So, according to the Bible, to worship God spiritually means to offer yourself daily to the Lord and for His purpose. This is worship.

Now, let's talk about EXPRESSIONS of worship.

It's important to remember that expressions of worship ARE NOT WORSHIP. It's just the way we express our worship. Some expressions of worship include:

  • Singing
  • Lifting hands
  • Kneeling
  • Shouting to the Lord in praise
  • Some groups even include dancing to express their worship

These are all acceptable expressions, but they are NOT themselves worship. Worship comes from the heart, not from the hands or mouth or feet. Anyone can do any of the things listed above and still not worship God.

Think of it this way: Imagine you asked me to define "love" between a husband and wife, and I responded by saying, "Love is kissing and embracing." But wait...people can do those things without being in love. Kissing and embracing can be expressions of love, but they are not what love is. Love comes from the heart — not the body.

So let's review. Worship is the act of offering oneself to the Lord in surrender to His Lordship.

We can express our worship in many ways but we must never allow those expressions to become worship. Worship comes from the heart.

Q&A: Are the Jews still God's chosen people?

 Q: Are the Jews still God's chosen people?

Actually, that's kind of a loaded question and one that is impossible to answer with a simple yes or no.

The Bible tells us that God first chose Abraham and made him many wonderful promises, including the fact that through his offspring all nations would be blessed. (Galatians 3:8) These promises were then repeated to his son Isaac and later to his grandson, Jacob, who was  renamed Israel. So, when we speak of Israel as God's chosen people, we're really saying that God chose Abraham and his descendants after him through his son, Isaac.

So, why doesn't it seem as if Israel is a favored nation today? 

At this time in history God is working through the Church (the Body of Christ) and those who belong to Jesus are also referred to in the Bible as God's "chosen." (1 Peter 2:9) However, that doesn't mean God has abandoned Israel. Far from it.

No other nation in the world was set apart for God in the same way as Israel, and God still has future plans for them. In fact, much of what the Bible has to say prophetically about Israel remains to be fulfilled. And when Jesus returns physically to this earth, He will return to Israel. 

But God's timetable for Israel has been put on hold during what we call The Church Age. Once the Church is removed in the Rapture (outlined in 1 Thessalonians 4) God's special timetable for Israel will begin once again, ushering in the culmination of His plan for that nation and its people. 

So, although both Israel and the Church are referred to in the Scriptures as "chosen," there are significant differences between the two. Israel possesses a physical kingdom. The Church possesses a spiritual kingdom. The promises God made to Israel in the Law of Moses are physical blessings. The promises made to the Church through Jesus Christ are spiritual in nature. (Ephesians 1:3) Israel is not the Church and the Church is not Israel, yet both have a very special place in God's plan of redemption.

Q&A: If God created all things "good" then where did sin and evil come from?

Q: If God created all things "good" then where did sin and evil come from?

This is a really challenging question and all the more because we are talking about angels (a subject about which we know precious little), plus we usually attempt to reconcile such things with our own reality as human beings. And yet angels are "higher beings" than are humans (according to Psalm 8:5) and therein lies the mystery.

But Jesus gives us an interesting tidbit of insight when He spoke about Satan saying:

John 8:44 (ESV)
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 

The wording here is most interesting. Jesus referred to Satan as "...a liar and the father of lies." When the Bible refers to someone as the "father" of something it speaks of that person as the originator or starting point for something. For example, Abraham is called "the Father of the Jews" since the Jewish race began with him. (Luke 1:73; Romans 4:1) 

This term is also used prophetically to speak of Jesus in a popular passage from Isaiah:

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Did you notice that Isaiah said that Jesus would be called "Everlasting Father"? This is not because He is being confused with God the Father, but rather it means "Father of the everlasting" or, if you will, "father of eternity" which biblically means the originator of all eternity.

So, when Jesus calls Satan the "father of lies" in John 8, He is saying that Satan is the originator of lies. That means lying and deception started with him. How? We aren't told since no evil existed before...but that is what makes Satan so evil. He originated it before it ever existed.

Ezekiel 28:14-15 (ESV)
You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. 

So, the origin of sin is a fascinating study but all biblical evidence points to Satan as the mysterious originator of sin, lies and deception. 

Pastor Paul

Q&A: If I'm really saved WHY do I keep sinning?

Q: I just can't figure out how it is possible that my sins are forgiven if I keep repeating them — even though I hate repeating the same sins. If I trusted in Jesus 100% wouldn't I stop sinning? 

A: This is an incredibly common question. There is a strong assumption among believers that salvation ought to bring about a sinless lifestyle. It does not. However, there's more that needs to be said. Coming to Jesus can bring victory over sin, and the last thing I want to do is to cause someone to become comfortable with their sinful habits. So, let's figure this thing out.

The reason we need to have a thoroughly biblical understanding of this issue is because Satan absolutely loves to get a hold of the hearts of those who struggle with sin. As "the accuser of the brethren" he is then free to accuse and condemn the tender-hearted believer, causing them to doubt their salvation and become tormented with thoughts that they can never be saved.

If this is something you've been struggling with I want you to pay close attention to the passage I'm going to share here.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 (ESV)

This passage makes it clear that Jesus died for us while we were the most undeserving. When sin was our master, when we were immersed in darkness and enemies of God  that's when He laid down His life for us. There was absolutely nothing in our lives that was deserving of redemption, and yet that is when He paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. And when we come to Him with faith in His finished work on the cross He showers us with salvation and gives us His Holy Spirit. Praise God!

But this is where the trouble comes in. Now that you've accepted Jesus as your Savior, there ought to be some kind of change in your behavior, right? I hear all those amazing testimonies about people coming to Christ and being set free from all kinds of sinful practices. So why are you still struggling with sin? 

These are the thoughts that believers become obsessed with, but instead of reaching biblical conclusions, the questions just spin round and round in their hearts and minds and they eventually fall to the satanic suggestion that all this evidence only proves that they were never saved in the first place — and probably never will be.

But what they fail to realize is that they've been suckered into believing that salvation is something we earn — though they would probably never use those words. Most of the people with whom I correspond about this question are able to confess all the right things. They believe with all their heart that Jesus died to pay the penalty of their sin, and most of them freely and passionately confess that salvation is a free gift that cannot be earned. The problem comes because they've added something to salvation at the end and it goes like this: Jesus saved me by dying on the cross, but I must keep myself saved by living a holy life and always walking in victory over sin.

Sound familiar?

I can't even begin to tell you how common this is. But the problem is that when you boil it all down you still end up with a salvation that is earned by works. Even if that salvation comes at no cost in the beginning, if you have to do anything along the way to keep yourself saved, it's still a works-based salvation. There's no getting around it.

In almost every case where I meet someone struggling with this question they almost universally say this to me: "Pastor, I absolutely hate my sin!" My response to that is: "So, where do you suppose that hatred of sin comes from? Did you think you came up with it on your own? And did you hate your sin before you came to Jesus?" New Christians simply don't realize that their hatred of sin is one of the most powerful indications that they've been saved. That hatred of sin comes from God's indwelling Holy Spirit living within you. 

So here's the deal: All Christians struggle with sin. It's part of what it means to be a born-again Christian. And you will continue to struggle with sin until the day you are released from your body of flesh. But there is hope. You just need to realize that the power to overcome sin does not come from you. Instead it is found in Jesus Christ and it is activated BY FAITH. So stop giving in to the enemy and doubting your salvation, Put your complete and total trust in Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross. Don't be lured into looking at all your failures — keep your eyes on Jesus.

Next, you need to immerse yourself in a biblical understanding of all these things. I would strongly suggest that you listen or watch the teachings below, which all deal with the subject of sin in the life of the believer. They can be found on our CCO website in the study of Romans. The messages you need to focus on are these:

Romans 6 (Part 1) :1-14 - Baptized Into Christ's Death
Romans 6 (Part 2) :15-23 - Freedom From Sin
Romans 7 (Part 1) :1-13 - Sin and the Law
Romans 7 (Part 2) :14-25 - "Who Will Deliver Us?"
Romans 8 (Part 1) :1-17 - Life in the Spirit

God bless you as you grow in Christ.

Pastor Paul

Q&A: Are we ALWAYS to obey the government — even if it's corrupt?

Q: Romans 13:1-2 tells us to be subject to the governing authorities. How far does that go? Does it mean that if another Hitler were to rise to power we are commanded to follow him and do everything he tells us? I find this difficult to come to terms with.

Many times throughout the history of Christianity true believers have found it very difficult to live under and support certain government bodies. And we should have difficulty when those authorities become corrupt and ungodly.

Let's start by remembering what Paul wrote in Romans 13:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Romans 13:1-2 (ESV) 

It's important to remember that when Paul wrote those words the ruling government at the time was run by a man who was literally out of his mind— Emperor Caesar Nero. He used to set Christians on fire at night to light his garden.

When Paul wrote that we should obey the governing authorities he was well aware of the corruption that had taken place in men's heart due to sin, and he knew full well that some of the worst of those men had and would continue to rise to power in government. However, in Romans 13 Paul was not saying that the governments of men are the final voice of authority for believers. The fact is, we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, and as such we are obedient to a higher authority than any man-made government. Jesus is our final authority and the most powerful government official must ultimately bow the knee before the King of kings.

So, that is how we are to interpret Paul's remarks in Romans 13. We are told to obey the laws of the land insofar as they do not overstep the revealed will of God. When that happens we are under no obligation to comply.

There's actually a biblical precedent for this in Acts chapter 4. The disciples of Jesus were forced to appear before the Sanhedrin who demanded that they cease and desist in their proclamation of Jesus Christ as Messiah. Do you recall their response?

But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20 (ESV)

They appealed to a higher authority, and so must we if the governing authorities were ever to ask us to do something that was contrary to God's Word and/or will. This is called "civil disobedience" and it has its place, but Christians ought never to enter into such a thing lightly. We are to always be respectful and honoring to those who have positions of authority over us. It is only when we are asked (or commanded) to violate God's Word that we have the freedom to respectfully decline.

I hope that answers your question.

Q&A: Questions about Alcohol, the Bible and Christians Drinking

Q: What does God think about alcohol? Did Jesus turn water into actual wine? Is it right that some Christians drink?

The topic of alcoholic drink is one that can easily get Christians lathered up on both sides of the debate. Some decry any and all use of alcohol and others insist they have liberty in Christ to imbibe on occasion.

The bottom line is that the Bible does not denounce all drinking of alcohol, but it passionately condemns drunkenness. The warnings given in the Word about "strong drink" are many and there are also some narratives in the Bible of ill-fated outcomes as a result of unrestrained drinking.

A good example of one of the biblical warnings concerning drinking says: Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. Proverbs 20:1 (ESV)

I would add that to ignore the plethora of biblical warnings is also "not wise."

Did Jesus turn water into actual wine?
Yes He did. (Believe me, they didn't serve grape juice at weddings.) It was real wine, and even though it was often served watered down, it was still the real deal.

Is it right that some Christians drink?

As much as some would like me to give a one-size-fits-all response to this question, I cannot.  The question itself stems from a faulty premise which is that alcohol is the thing that is bad or evil. It is not. The human heart is the evil component in this equation, often producing a troubling lack of control. That coupled with the potentially devastating effects of alcohol have produced untold suffering and heartache in people's lives for countless centuries. It would be exceedingly foolish to fail to take into consideration all the needless pain that simply drinking alcohol has caused. But let me reiterate: alcohol is not the villain here — it is the sinful heart of man that fails to see danger when it presents itself. And alcohol brings a boatload of potential danger along with it.

So, rather than say this is right or that is wrong let me instead say that drinking alcohol is potentially unwise for the vast majority of people. The chances of being "led astray" by alcohol are pretty high and anyone who refuses to recognize that possibility is a fool in light of the Bible's many warnings. The Bible says: The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. Proverbs 22:3 (ESV) Alcohol coupled with the human heart is one big danger zone that I believe is best to avoid. And personally I do.

For those Christians who feel the liberty to drink

I have a simple question for believers who feel the freedom to drink on occasion: Are you aware that others are watching how you live? Are you also aware that some of those who are watching are not free to do what you do, and would be quickly overcome if they were to follow your example?

I have to confess that my heart is grieved when I see Christians raising a glass of some alcoholic beverage in pictures plastered all over social media. This reckless lack of concern for their weaker brothers and sisters in Christ is both shocking and saddening. If you are one who feels the freedom to drink, let me remind you that you do not have the freedom to cause your brother in Christ to stumble. The Apostle Paul said, "It is good not to...drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble." Romans 14:21 (ESV) Caring for others ought to come before the exercise of your freedom.