Did Jesus Die Because of Love or Obedience?

I’m not sure why I read the comments under Christian YouTube videos because more often than not they’re malicious. But I ran across one a few months ago that interested me.

The comment said something to the effect of: “Why are Christians so happy that Jesus died? I mean, an innocent person dying because of something someone else did wrong? That’s not justice. That’s disgusting. Am I missing something?”

It’s a valid question. An innocent person dying for a guilty person isn’t justice. So why can we rejoice about it?

I pondered that, and it didn’t take me long to come to a conclusion.

Jesus loved us. That’s why He died to redeem us. He wanted to do it. So we rejoice in the depth of His love.

As I continued to think about it, planning a blog post on the subject, you can imagine my consternation when I ran across this post on Facebook a few weeks later:

“It wasn’t because Christ loved us that He died, He was being obedient to the Father.”

A comment on the post added, “We never said Jesus didn’t love us only that His love didn’t take Him to the cross.”

So, if that’s true and Christ died out of mere obedience to His Father, then my whole argument for the righteousness of Jesus’ death kinda falls apart. At supper that night, I alternated holding a spoon and a pencil as I worked through some of my thoughts on the subject. I read some stuff online, talked to my family about it (because I have some great theological arguers in my family), and this blog post is the result.

I’m still going to argue that Jesus died for us because He loved us. Here’s why.

We know that obedience is born of love, respect, or fear. We can rule out fear because we know Jesus and the Father love one another perfectly.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.

-1 John 4:18a

So if Jesus died primarily out of obedience to the Father, He must have died because He loved and respected the Father.

And there are many verses that speak of God sending Jesus to die for us. The famous John 3:16–“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” That could give a person the idea that it was God’s love that motivated Him to redeem us, and Jesus’ love didn’t enter the equation.

And this one:

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

-1 John 4:9-10 NKJV (emphasis mine)

But to claim that these verses say only the Father’s love motivated Jesus’ death is to, at least partially, divorce Jesus from the Trinity.

When Jesus came to the earth, He was the one and only God-Man. He was fully Man, yes, but also fully God. The Father’s motivations were His motivations.

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

-John 5:19 NKJV

The Son of God on earth did exactly what He saw the Father do. The love the Father has for us is the same love Jesus has for us because the Two of them, with the Holy Spirit, are One.

(Do we comprehend that fully? No. If God didn’t blow our minds sometimes, He wouldn’t be worth worshiping.)

But to make a distinction between the Father’s love and Jesus’ love is hardly worthwhile. The Father was willing to let His Son suffer because He loved us. The Son was willing to suffer because He loved us.

[Jesus said:] “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

“As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. …

“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.

“No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

-John 10:14-15, 17-18 NKJV

Jesus didn’t have to die. The Father commanded Him, but He “laid it down of Himself” because He wanted the same thing as His Father.

Jesus IS the Good Shepherd, so He lays down His life for His sheep.

Now what about that verse that says Jesus “learned obedience”? Well, let’s have a look at it.

[Jesus], in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear,

though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.

-Hebrews 5: 7-8 NKJV (emphasis mine)

This was “in the days of Jesus’ flesh.” Jesus hadn’t been a Man before; that was new. Before this, He had always experienced perfect communion, perfect unity with His Father.

Now Jesus had become the God-Man. And the Man-part of Him had to learn obedience. While the God-part of Him was still fully aligned with His Father’s will, the Man-part of Him cried out in anguish, pleading that the pain be taken away.

And Jesus’ Man-part, like all other men and women, had to learn obedience. When our wills pull us away from God’s will—when we want something contrary to what God wants—we have to choose to obey.

So did Jesus.

Now as a writer I fully embrace the notion of multiple motivations. We humans are complex creatures. How much more complex is the God-Man!

So I believe Jesus died for us because He loved us. But when it came down to facing the cross, His flesh did what any flesh would do—it cowered away from the prospect of such unfathomable pain. And thus, when His flesh tried for the upper hand, He had to learn obedience.

But His heart was fully motivated by love.

As my dad so succinctly put it:

Why would Jesus’ primary motivation be something He had to learn (obedience) rather than something that was part of His essence (love)?

As I read a few online articles on this subject, I ran across one on Desiring God. It brought out another interesting point, saying that Jesus’ death was about vindicating God’s righteousness. See, for millennia “in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed” (Romans 3:25).

God’s righteousness was at stake because He’d been letting sin slide by unpunished.

Now the easiest way to vindicate His righteousness would be to say, “That’s it. From now on all humans pay for their own sin. Those who were previously kind of righteous that I let slide by, well, they all go to hell now. They can count themselves blessed that they had several hundred years’ delay before their punishment.”

But God didn’t do that.

God vindicated His righteousness by paying for all those sins Himself.

Because He loved us.

Truly, Christ’s cross is the most powerful picture of pure love anywhere in earth below or heaven above.

-Miss Darcy

The Father’s Older Son

I’ve always identified more with the Older Brother than with the Prodigal Son.

Don’t stone me yet. I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’ve never thought the Older Brother perfect. I know he said he’d done everything the Father ever asked, but I’ve never quite believed that. He had to slip up sometimes. Besides, he clearly had some severe “heart issues.”

I know theologians say the Older Brother represents the Pharisees, and heaven knows I don’t want to be a Pharisee.

And I have one decided difference from the Older Brother: I have always been glad whenever anyone comes to the Father.

But I used to wonder if it were wrong for me to relate more to the Older Brother, and then I heard an elderly lady teach Sunday School. She said, “I believe we can all find ourselves somewhere in this story.” And she made an interesting point. The Bible never specifies whether the Older Brother came to his senses. Because the story may have a different ending for every “older brother.”

(For anyone who might have stumbled across this post and wonders who on earth I’m talking about, see Luke 15:11-32.)

I think both brothers had the same problem.

Neither of them really knew their father.

I mean, they sort of knew he was kind and gentle. After all, it shows a lot of nerve for the Younger Son to go to his father and say, “Give me my portion of the inheritance.” In effect saying, “I’d just as soon you were dead because the only thing I care about is your money, not you.”

And the Father didn’t rebuke him! He just counted up his assets, gave the Younger Son his portion in cash, and let the young man pack up and take off.

Huh? What kind of father does that?

The Younger Son didn’t realize what kind of father he had until he’d spent all his money and found himself wishing he could eat pigs’ food because he was so hungry.

Then it occurred to him that he would do better to go back and ask his father to take him as a hired servant.

Now you might expect the Younger Son to give up the idea at once because wouldn’t his father be more likely to spit in his face than even take him as a servant? But apparently the Younger Son knew his father enough to decide the venture was worthwhile.

And we all know how it ends. With the most beautiful picture of love you could ask for. The Father sees his wayward son in the distance and runs to meet him. In a culture where respect for parents was paramount, this Father disregards what others would call dignity and runs to welcome the insolent brat who left home years ago.

Doesn’t everyone want that kind of love?

See, I was raised on the Bible by good, loving parents. And I’m not ashamed or unhappy about that. I’m thankful that I decided to follow Jesus at an early age. It’s saved me a lot of scars that I know I’d have otherwise.

I’ve never done the things associated with “Prodigal Son” behavior.

And I know sin is sin. It’s like leprosy. Doesn’t matter if you have one open sore or twenty. The disease is gonna kill you sooner or later if you don’t get treatment.

I got my “treatment” early, before the disease of sin had left visible scars. I came to the Father’s house, and it’s a good place to call home. The Father is kind and gentle, and I love Him. I’m well provided for, and I have worthwhile work to do.

But Jesus said, “To whom much is given, from him much will be required.” (Luke 12:48) Surely I have been given much. Surely it is my duty to work hard for the Father’s kingdom.

And when the “prodigals” come home, I rejoice and am glad with them because the Father’s love and mercy are so wondrous. How can I not delight in seeing it on display?

Yet deep inside me, a tiny little part of me wonders if that kind of love is for me too. I mean, I know my Father loves me, but my conversion wasn’t like that. My past isn’t like that. Grace hauled me out of a miry pit of a child’s pride and selfishness, not a pit of drugs and fornication. (Granted, we know the former is really one with the latter, but still.)

So I try to be a good “older brother,” but sometimes I still feel like I’m on the outskirts, not the center of the Father’s love.

But the Father loved the Older Brother too.

When the Older Brother was being pig-headed, standing outside the house and refusing to join the celebration for his younger brother’s homecoming, the Father didn’t leave him standing there alone. He didn’t even send a servant to say, “Get in here and act like a son of mine should.”

No, he went out to his oldest son.

Just as he ran to his foolish younger son, he stepped away from his place as host of the celebration and went to talk to his foolish older son.

And in the midst of the older son’s complaints about how good he’s been and how the wicked younger son doesn’t deserve to have the fatted calf killed for him, I have always been fascinated by one line. The Older Son complains, “You never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.” (Luke 15:29)

I always think, “Did you ever ask?”

This is the Father who gave the Younger Son his inheritance prematurely. Did the Older Brother really think the Father would say no if he asked for a young goat?

Looks like the Older Brother was just as big a fool as the Younger.

But what did the Father say in return to his oldest son’s objections?

“Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.” (Luke 15:31)

All that he has. The Father didn’t say, “It will be yours.” He said, “It is yours.”

The Father’s estate belonged to the Older Brother. But instead of taking on the quiet, glad confidence of a good landowner, it seems like he’d been working with a sullen attitude all these years. When all the Father had was his.

So that means all my Father has is mine too.

All the riches of His love and grace and peace, courage and hope and strength, all of His blessings; they are mine. If I’ll just accept them and use them. If I’ll just go to the Father and say, “May I have some?” Do I really think He’s gonna refuse me?

Look at what else the Father said: “Son, you are always with me.”

Day in and day out. The Older Brother could have had the most special relationship that a son ever had with a father. Yet he didn’t because he didn’t appreciate his father. Oh, he was a dutiful son, always trying to obey, whether for the right reasons or not.

Yet he didn’t truly know his father, didn’t have the loving relationship that was his for the asking.

That loving relationship with my Father that I crave, it’s mine for the asking.

Sure, it’s good that I complete my work in His kingdom. It’s good that I obey His commandments. But I’m also invited to “come away by myself” with Him. To truly know Him and love Him, and receive the love He so richly lavishes on His children. Because I’m His child too, just like the “prodigals.” He loves each of us.

And, just for the record, the Older Brother was probably a lot closer to perfect than I am. One thing about coming to Christ so young is that I’ve discovered new temptations after my conversion. I’ve struggled with the fact that I’ve succumbed to my “worst” sins after I chose to follow Jesus.

But the Father still loves me.

That isn’t going to change.

So, for all the “good Christian church kids” who might somehow feel that our testimonies aren’t as good, or even that God loves His other children more than us, that’s nonsense. It really is. Our Father has everlasting lovingkindness to lavish on us. And He invites us to experience it.

Brothers and sisters, it doesn’t matter when or how we came to follow Christ. We make distinctions between ourselves that God never does. All that matters to Him is that we come. He really loves us. The Father loves all His children.

Even you.

Even me.

-Miss Darcy

Day of Adultery

Let’s play pretend.

Suppose that some individual got the bright idea to create a new holiday. And further suppose that the country had so completely lost its mind as to accept and embrace this new holiday.

So is born the Day of Adultery.

It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a day to cheat on your spouse without it being wrong because we have a holiday to make it okay.

(Stick with me.)

Naturally, this holiday meets resistance. Only the most wanton actually celebrate it. But before long, someone gets the idea to have a “flirting party” on the Day of Adultery. Couples come, and everyone trades spouses all around.

They say it’s fun to have someone new to flirt with and have dinner with. It sharpens your skills, and you might learn a few new tricks–to use with your own spouse later, of course. It’s actually good for your marriage, see?

Besides, it’s fun to flirt without the pressure of a real relationship, ya know? It builds confidence.

Well, as the flirting parties catch on, before long everyone is either hosting them or attending them.

Including churches.

Because where could be safer to host a flirting party than in church?

You’re with other Christian people so nothing can go too far. If you’re at the church’s party, you won’t be at some less-upstanding flirting event. And it’s not like they’re kissing or anything. Just dressing in nice clothes and enjoying the attention of someone other than their spouse, for a change.

It’s an outreach ministry. They share the gospel during the evening, and everyone is encouraged to invite their non-Christian friends.

And, come on, your real spouse is there. This kind of thing couldn’t possibly get out of hand.

Of course, there are some who insist churches should have nothing to do with a holiday that supports adultery, but we all know they’re being legalistic. There’s no adultery going on at these flirting parties.

Part of me finds this imaginary scenario impossible. The Church would never do something so stupid!

But the other part of me finds it extremely believable.

Because we do it every year.

(Yeah, you knew where this was going, right?)

On October 31, everyone celebrates a holiday originally steeped in Satanic practices.

Costumes? They were to scare off or fool the demons who roam on Halloween so they wouldn’t bother you.

Giving treats to people who knock on your door? That was because you didn’t know if the visitor was human or demon—and of course you don’t want to get on a demon’s bad side.

Jack-o-lanterns? Those were to ward off evil spirits.

Now you’ve probably heard all that.

We like to think that while the holiday started bad, that’s not how it is today.

According to former Satanic priest, John Ramirez, Halloween is still very much alive as the devil’s holiday.

You really need to read this man’s story. God’s power to redeem is shown awesomely in his life.

He has very interesting things to say about Halloween:

Costumes? They change your identity in the spiritual world and give the devil license to attack you.

Giving treats to people who knock on your door? Mr. Ramirez likens that to the way Satan gives us things that are fun and pleasurable, all the while intending to destroy us.

Jack-o-lanterns? Those are an invitation to a specific demon to enter your house.

But we’re Westerners. We have a modern civilization. We’re not superstitious.

We don’t believe in all that stuff.

Yeah, well, just because you don’t believe in gravity doesn’t mean it won’t affect you.

Don’t you think it’s weird that we claim to be followers of the Light, yet we celebrate a holiday of darkness in our churches?

Do you see witches and warlocks celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus?

Doesn’t it seem weird to try to mix spiritual light and spiritual darkness? What are we aiming for—some kind of foggy middle ground? You can’t see in the dark. You can’t see well in a fog.

Oh, we’re good at justifying Halloween and spin-off parties. But those same justifications work pretty well for those flirting parties.

If we wouldn’t celebrate the Day of Adultery in the church, even a modified version, why do we think it’s okay to host a modified celebration of the devil’s high holiday? It’s playing with fire.

So you want to make a difference at Halloween, show people a better way?

Good. Just don’t try to do it by mimicking the devil’s practices.

Host a prayer meeting. Host a hymn-singing or worship service. Fast and pray. Read Scripture aloud for three hours straight.

John Ramirez recommends churches host a family movie night. No costumes, no candy. Just a good movie and the gospel message.

We can’t compete with the world and the devil if we’re only offering the same things. Not that Jesus has to compete. He’s far-and-away the best. We need to do a better job of showing that.

Brothers and sisters, we’re children of Light. Why do we flirt with the darkness?

-Miss Darcy

The Antichrist and Constrictor Snakes

The book of Daniel is categorized as a book of prophecy, but it’s partly history as well. Second Thessalonians is categorized as an epistle, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed it’s almost half prophecy. Today I read chapter 2, and the prophetic part captured me, which is perhaps unusual because I tend to look for practical, everyday things in the Bible.

Paul writes about the coming of the “lawless one,” whom Christians often refer to as the Antichrist. Paul calls him “the man of sin, the son of perdition.”

who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

-2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NKJV)

Obviously, the lawless one has not come yet because no one has yet been able to exalt himself above all that is worshiped. People around this globe are still busy worshiping all manner of things. But lawlessness is already at work in this world. If you haven’t noticed, just check the news.

But one day, God will take away all restraints (see 2 Thess. 2:7). And when the Lord GOD stops restraining wickedness, then…

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,

and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,

that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

-2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 (NKJV)

The Lord will remove restraints and Satan will raise up the lawless one. The Antichrist, as we call him, will promise peace and prosperity. Satan will empower him to work amazing signs, perform miracles (maybe even miracles that look “good”), destroy his enemies, and appear to be a mighty man with an incredible unseen force at his disposal.

Think of it: destructive power, maybe healing power, and magical mind-blowing powers, all in one smooth-talking, charismatic man.

Talk about a wow-factor.

This guy will look impressive. But he will also be wicked. No code of ethics. No rudimentary morality. No magnanimity. He’ll promote sin and call it good.

A “man of sin” working “all unrighteous deception.”

People will flock to him. They won’t see the wickedness. Or the danger.

Check out verse 8: “whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and with the brightness of His coming.”

There’s a wow-factor for you. This invincible lawless one will be unable to withstand the Lord’s very breath and the awesome brightness that surrounds the Lord.

The lawless one will be utterly destroyed.

And what of those who followed him? They perish with their leader.

The lawless one’s followers will take pleasure in unrighteousness. They’ll reject the truth because it would hamper their lifestyles.

They will not love the truth that could have saved them. They will prefer the lie.

And God will say, “If the lie is what you want, that’s what I’ll give you.”

This lawless one will bring with him strong delusion, the Scripture says.

Delusion. When someone holds to a belief in spite of evidence that invalidates that belief. It can be associated with mental disorders. It implies a harmful deception.

But this lawless one’s delusion is so strong human reasoning will not be able to see it. Without God Himself helping them, people will be incapable of seeing past this strong delusion.

Those who had the opportunity to receive the truth and instead chose to pretend a lie was true–those people will be helpless.

They won’t even realize it. That’s part of delusion.

You know, I’d hate to drown or burn to death. But you know what creeps me out worse?

The coils of a giant constrictor snake. It strikes without warning. It coils around its victim in a matter of seconds. First the feeling of terror and helplessness. You can’t breath as these dry, cool, unfeeling scales wrap around you. Circulation is cut off. Your organs are dying for oxygen and nourishment. Blood pressure explodes. Your heart arrests, and you die. It takes only a short time, but what a horrifying short time.

That is how I picture the lawless one’s strong delusion.

The victim doesn’t see it coming. Long ago they rejected the truth, so they can’t hope to recognize the lie. It wraps them, squeezes them, keeps squeezing until they die.

There’s one difference between them and the constrictor’s victim. The victims of the delusion don’t even know they need help.

Brothers and sisters, can you fathom the horror? Billions of people deceived by this lawless one, and nothing can save them from impending destruction. Only God could help, but eventually He will leave them to their own devices. And they will be destroyed.

Today, the devil already has thousands of delusions wreaking havoc. But today, God is still working and has not yet withdrawn all restraints.

Oh, should we not pray with tears that God will break down lies? That there may be fewer who reject the truth, fewer who die not knowing they need help?

Friend, if you read this and do not believe in Jesus, will you take an honest look at who He is? Will you dare to read the Bible? Will you dare to ask God to reveal Himself to you? (Perhaps you don’t even believe He exists, but I know from personal experience He will not hide from you if you seek Him honestly.)

Will you dare to look at everything you believe and evaluate it ruthlessly to see if there are gaps in the logic, questions left unanswered, feelings left unresolved? This may be a surprise, but Jesus can satisfy all of that. No logical person wants to be deceived. So take a good, long, hard look. It can’t hurt.

And it might just turn your world upside down. In the best possible way.

-Miss Darcy

Euthanasia and Crazy Aunts

I did a dumb thing last week–I attempted to watch an old Cary Grant film, Arsenic and Old Lace. I say “dumb” because if I had been completely honest with myself, the premise was against my better judgment. But I’d heard so many people say, “It’s so funny!” “Cary Grant makes such great faces!” “I laughed my head off!”

I like to laugh as much as the next person. I like black-and-whites. So I thought I’d try it. Which shows I’m just as easily influenced as anyone, and I must be more on my guard.

If you’ve never seen the movie, the premise is Cary Grant’s character, Mortimer Brewster, visits his brother and two old-maid aunts in the old family home. Everyone thinks the aunts are sweeter than sugar-syrup, the kindest little old ladies you ever hope to meet. But Mortimer discovers his aunts have a warped sense of kindness.

They have developed a habit of poisoning old men who have no family left because they feel so sorry for the lonely old men. At least, that’s the reason they give Mortimer when he demands to know why there’s a dead body in the windowseat. I didn’t watch the whole movie, so I never discovered if they had another underlying reason.

I admit, the first part of the movie, before we got to the poisoning part, was quite funny. And I agree that Cary Grant makes spectacular faces. Excellent actor.

Yet I couldn’t laugh, uninhibited. I sometimes have a morbid sense of humor, but this went beyond morbid. Crazy old ladies who have now poisoned twelve men is not funny.

These two were insane. Obviously. Some insanity results from chemical imbalance in the brain, trauma to the brain, or deterioration of the brain.

And some insanity is the direct result, or the partial result, of demonic oppression. Serial poisoners are demonically insane.

So I’m watching these two cute old ladies defend their actions to their nephew, apparently convinced that their multiple first-degree murders are perfectly fine. A good deed, in fact. And I’m supposed to laugh at Mortimer’s shock and horror?

I could laugh at Mortimer’s brother who believed he was Teddy Roosevelt. I could laugh at one of the first scenes where the poster-child for bachelordom is getting a marriage license.

Or if the movie had been an exploration into human nature, perhaps I could have watched, albeit in horror, and learned from it what I could. I’ve read the movie’s synopsis, and I think some of the underlying themes do make a good point.

But I was expected to laugh at demonic insanity and the havoc it caused. And I found that slightly horrifying.

All that said, I liked one line in the movie very much.

Mortimer Brewster told his aunts that their “kind deeds” were not only illegal, but also wrongWhich shows you a great deal about society then compared to society now. Our current society seems to believe that if we can just get something legalized, it will change from being wrong to being right.

If the majority decides what’s right and what’s wrong, then the Holocaust wasn’t wrong in Germany because the majority believed it was right. (Or at least said they did, perhaps out of self-preservation.)

And the movie begged the question: Is it ever right to kill a human to save them from suffering?

A child who will be born into an Indian slum–abortion would mean he never has to live in misery.

A girl trapped in sex slavery–the easiest way to “release” her would be to give her enough pills for a fatal overdose.

A soldier rendered a quadriplegic in battle–maybe he wouldn’t want to live without the use of his arms and legs.

An old woman dying from terminal cancer–why bother with sufficient morphine? Just give her too much and let her die.

What those two demonically insane aunts were doing in the movie–we call that euthanasia these days.

Mercy-killing.

We humans–who openly admit that “nobody’s perfect,” who constantly affirm that “everyone makes mistakes”–we think we have the knowledge and wisdom to decide when a person should live or die.

Stupid? I think so.

But maybe those who believe euthanasia is okay can’t help themselves. If serial-killing for the sake of kindness is demonic madness, then supporters of euthanasia must be deceived by the devil. So cold logic, however convincing, may never change their minds.

Their mental eyes have to be opened first. And only one Person can do that. Jesus.

I never thought of that before. I didn’t think of human euthanasia much at all, except to think it’s wrong and “How can people do that?” It never dawned on me as strongly as it did after watching Arsenic and Old Lace that the only way to stop euthanasia is to pray.

To pray God will bind Satan’s deception. To pray God will open people’s eyes so they can truly understand the reasoning against euthanasia. To pray God’s Truth will blaze so brightly it shines through even the blackest of Satan’s deceptions.

-Miss Darcy

His Child

Sitting in their favorite coffee shop, Marc stared across the table at his girlfriend. Her words echoed around the vacuum they had created in his brain. “What did you say?”

“I’m pregnant, Marc.” Lily clutched the edge of the table as she leaned forward. “What are we going to do?”

He still couldn’t grasp it. “But, how? I thought you took—”

“Of course I did!” Tears flooded her blue eyes. “And I’m the first girl in the history of contraceptives to have it not work.” She blinked furiously and sniffed. “But the important thing is what are we going to do about it?”

“I don’t know.” He held out his palms to ward off the disaster barreling toward him. “I’m not ready to support a child.”

She drew back. “And you think I am?”

“No, but, Lily, I have three more years of college.”

“So do I.” She looked away, wrapping her arms around herself. “But because I’m the girl, it’s my problem.”

“Lily, no—” He reached for her hand.

She ignored him and grabbed her purse off the floor, slinging its strap over her shoulder. “Fine. If you can’t handle a child, you don’t have to. But get this.” She met his gaze, her eyes star-bright with tears and emotion. “We’re done.”

“Lily.” He stood as she did and grabbed her arm.

She twisted free and hurried between the tables, her boot heels clicking on the tile.

Vaguely aware he didn’t want a huge scene, Marc dropped into his chair. He sipped his latte and found it too sweet. He needed to go home. In the morning he’d call Lily, when she’d had time to calm down.

~

Marc called Lily three times over the course of the morning. He left a voicemail each time. She didn’t answer. At lunch time he sent a text.

“Lily, call me, babe. I’m sorry about last night. I was too shocked. We need to talk. We can handle this. I love you!”

He even paid attention to punctuation. In a minute, she replied.

“Drop it, Marc. You are so close to getting your number blocked. I’ll call you when I’m good and ready.”

Marc dropped the phone in his lap, propped his elbows on his knees, and rested his forehead on his hands. God, what do I do?

Where had that come from? Marc hadn’t done any serious praying since, oh, about the time he and Lily started sleeping together. They’d both known it was wrong—they were good church kids. Even now, no one knew their relationship wasn’t on the straight and narrow.

And now he would come whining to God because his own sin had landed him in more trouble than he could handle? Yeah. He’d always looked down on people who did that.

Now here he was, sorry for his sin, but mostly just because he’d been caught. Well, maybe it was a little genuine. Still, he wouldn’t drag God into this. He’d get himself and Lily straightened out, and then he’d get things right with God.

~

That night he went to the Wednesday night Bible study for young adults at his church. He smiled and greeted his friends like always, taking his usual seat. Except Lily wasn’t beside him.

“Hey, Marc, where’s Lily?” Pastor Dan asked.

“Um.” Lily would kill him if he hinted at the truth, but he hated to lie bold-faced in church. “She’s not feeling too good. Better put her on the prayer list.”

Pastor Dan wrote Lily’s name on the whiteboard under “Sick.” Lily was sick at heart, no doubt. Marc wished she’d call him.

The lesson was about opening up to brothers and sisters in Christ. Confessing faults. Praying for each other. Accountability. A community to lean on.

Marc kinda wanted to talk to Pastor Dan after class. But he couldn’t yet. Couldn’t shatter Pastor Dan’s image of him. Couldn’t face God the way Pastor Dan would expect him to.

Maybe he’d open up next week, once he and Lily had figured out what to do.

~

Marc woke up late Thursday morning. Call her.

That’s what he wanted to do. Call Lily and promise to do the right thing—provide for his child, even marry Lily if that’s what she wanted. He’d thought it over for hours last night. They could make this work.

Call her.

“I can’t,” he argued aloud. “She said she’d do the calling. Cool your jets, Marc.”

He tossed back his blankets and sat up. He reached for his phone, hoping he’d somehow slept through a call from her last night.

He hadn’t.

Call her.

He pulled up their texting conversation. He wanted to send just three words: I love you.

But she’d told him in no uncertain terms to leave her alone. Marc stood and headed for the shower.

~

It was four in the afternoon when Marc’s phone started playing Lily’s ringtone. Finally. He slammed his textbook shut and swiped his finger across the phone screen. “Babe, I’m so glad you called.”

“Problem solved, Marc.” Her voice held a cheerfulness even he could tell was fake. “I had an abortion this morning.”

Oh, God! An invisible fist socked his chest. He couldn’t breathe. “What?” he choked out.

“I. Had. An. Abortion.” She clipped the words.

“Why?” He finally gulped air into his lungs. “Lily, why’d you do it?”

“Because you said you weren’t ready, and I couldn’t raise a child on my own, idiot.”

Oh, God! Marc’s whole body felt sick. “But—”

“Don’t start, Marc. If you wanted something different, you should have said so before. Not now.”

“You told me not to call you!”

“And you didn’t love me enough to help me even when I said I didn’t want help.”

Female logic. No sense. Yet it doubled his guilt. “I’m sorry, Lily.”

“Sorry? Yeah.” She gave a hard laugh. “If you want to help, you can pay half the bill.”

“Pay for the murder of my own child?”

“So now it’s your child? Now that I’ve had the mortification of an abortion? You weren’t so quick to claim it Tuesday night.”

Oh, God, I’m a fool. An idiot.

“Marc, I never want to see you again. Do you hear me?”

“Lily, please.” He was a wreck. He couldn’t handle this.

“Don’t you dare try to speak to me or contact me. Ever. I hate you, Marc Johnson!”

The phone beeped in his ear. He laid it beside him on the couch. Lily couldn’t hate him more than he hated himself. He had allowed his own child to be killed.

His child.

Why hadn’t he called her this morning? Why hadn’t he supported her when she first told him?

Idiot! Moron! Sorry excuse for a man!

He sank to his knees and slumped forward until he lay prone on the carpet. Tears burned his eyes, scalded his face. A sharp-cornered lump swelled in his throat.

Oh, God! Oh, God, what have I done?

~

Alone in her bedroom, Lily cradled a soft pillow against her body. Her violated, robbed, hurting body. Her soul was so empty. Every heartbeat stabbed her with physical pain.

She had lost Marc, and her baby, and God.

Tucking her face under the corner of the pillow, she sobbed.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Every day thousands of unplanned pregnancies end in hopelessness. In many–perhaps most–cases, the father of the unborn child is all for the abortion, or at least indifferent. But it ends up hurting him, too. The fathers’ stories are often left untold, but if you’d like to read some true cases, I refer you to Silent No More’s testimonies. Check the “Fathers of Aborted Children” box, and click the search button.

P.P.S. I would be utterly remiss if, after telling of the hopelessness, I did not tell of the hope offered in Jesus Christ. It is indeed wrong to take a baby’s life in the womb, just as it is wrong to kill a grown person in cold blood, but for all sin Jesus offers forgiveness.  “For God did not send His Son into the world to bring condemnation, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)  No matter what the sin, Jesus’ blood can carry it far away from you, “as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12)  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  If anyone reading this has lost a child to abortion, I pray you will run to Jesus. His love is the kind that never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

It’s All About Souls

The devil has many talents. He’s a great liar–Jesus called him the father of lies, in fact. (see John 8:44) Which means he can cook up the best ones. The ones we’ll be dead-sure are the truth unless we’re submerged in the Word of God daily.

He’s a great accuser. He can heap guilt like nobody’s business.

And he’s a top-notch master of distraction.

Oh, yeah. He knows that for some of us Christians, the lures that ensnare the world won’t necessarily work on us.

“Alcohol? Are you kidding? Drunkenness is strictly condemned in the Bible, and besides, it’s bad for your health.”

“Cheat on my husband? Are you out of your mind? I’d sooner die.”

“Try drugs? Well, I guess that would let you take me to hell in a hand-basket.”

Oh, no, we’re too spiritual to fall for such tricks. (Okay, we think we are. You and I both know we see that kind of junk happening in the church so often it’s terrifying. But you know what I mean. Most of us think we’re above that.)

So Satan distracts us from the most important things by consuming us with good things.

Yeah, things that are in themselves good.

Such as a sound knowledge of good doctrine. We can get so caught up in pursuing theological excellence that we miss who Jesus came to save.

Or we get so consumed by Bible prophecy that we forget our lives are here, now. And we are supposed to be about Jesus’ business.

Or we get so concerned about the best plan to grow our church, that we forget what the Church–Jesus Bride–is comprised of.

Take note that all of these distractions (and these are only a measly three examples) are good things. Good doctrine, studying Bible prophecy, and growing our church fellowships are all worthy pursuits–if, and only if, we never allow them to override our main concern.

In the end, it’s all about souls.

“for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

-Luke 19:10 (NKJV)

When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

-Matthew 9:12-13 NKJV (emphasis mine)

 

We forget, in our pursuits of so many good things, that Jesus’ main purpose in coming to earth was to atone for the sins of all the souls who ever lived.

We get so caught in our own agendas that we divide our forces and cripple our ability to reach this world. We even shoot bitter words at our own brothers and sisters, wounding their souls, making ourselves the enemy. (see Psalm 64:3)

Brothers and sisters, what are we doing? What are we doing?

How have we missed that our Redeemer’s main concern is souls?

Bringing souls to Jesus for salvation from sin. For healing of the deepest wounds. For strength to overcome any bondage from Satan.

All we can do is quibble over predestination or freewill; post-Trib or pre-Trib rapture; hymns or contemporary music to draw in new church members.

When all around us souls are dying, going to spend eternity in hell. Souls are bleeding in secret because this world and the enemy have struck them so many times. Souls are drowning in addictions and destructive behaviors.

God have mercy. What are we doing?

I’ve seen so many older brothers and sisters whom I respect. I should be able to look up to them. But somehow they seem to have missed this principle. Or at least, they haven’t managed to pass it on with any passion.

It’s all about souls.

We can be so quick to judge one another.

So focused on our own convictions, our own ideas, we can’t accept our brothers’ and sisters’ differences. Without taking the time to know our brethren, we write them off as the problem.

Granted, sometimes our fellow churchgoers are a problem. I firmly believe that Christians have a responsibility to hold one another accountable. (I mean, would you rather hear your faults pointed out by God when you stand before His throne? I think I’d rather hear it now from a sister in Christ who loves me.)

But we forget to speak in love. We go blundering in and pierce the souls of our own brethren. What are we doing?

I have friends I love deeply. I see areas in their lives which I think need growth. But I know them, so I’ve gotten a glimpse of their hearts. I see hearts that love God fiercely. That desire passionately to follow Christ and grow more like him. That long to see souls saved and thriving in grace.

I see a mirror of my own heart. Flawed as only each individual and God can know. But striving to follow our King and join His work.

How can I speak condemning words to them when they are just like me? How can I refuse to work alongside them?

I’m not a person easily brought to tears. But I could cry when I see a church so distracted that it cannot fulfill its main purpose–to join Christ in winning souls.

What are we doing?

How have we let ourselves become so distracted?

-Miss Darcy

Interrogating God

I’m sure we’ve all heard the argument, “How could a loving God allow _______?” (Fill in the blank. There are plenty of options.)

We may have even asked similar questions:

  • “God, what purpose is there in this child having leukemia?”
  • “Lord, we wanted this baby. Why did it have to die after a premature birth?”
  • “God, why don’t you stop the violence of militant Muslims?”

But some people take it further than voicing a genuine question from a grief-wrung heart. They declare, “A loving God would never let that happen. Therefore, I don’t believe God exists.”

I saw a video of a noted atheist, whose name I cannot recall, being interviewed about his beliefs.

He was asked, “What if there is a God? What will you say to him when you die?”

His response was one of those times I got a kinda sick feeling, like my very bones were horrified.

He said, “I’ll say, ‘Child cancer? What’s with that?” He named a couple natural disasters. “How could you let that happen if you claim to be a good God?'”

I can’t remember the rest of it, or how he phrased it. I just stood there in shock listening to all the questions he intended to use to interrogate God on Judgment Day. Until finally my brain couldn’t take anymore, and I quit watching.

Well, I must say, the guy’s brazen enough. Certainly confident in his own importance.

But let’s back up a minute. Usually when people ask that question, “How could a loving God allow _______?” they’re talking in a rather vague way about the God of the Bible. They’ve heard the Bible says God is good and loving, then when tragedies tear this world apart, they say their disbelief in a good, loving God is justified.

Apparently, they’ve missed all God’s other qualities. His justice, His might, His infinite wisdom, His blinding glory, His unapproachable majesty. At least, the atheist on this interview did.

The average height for a human is somewhere around six feet. The average lifespan is somewhere around eighty years, not long in the whole span of time. A human has to eat every day, breath several times every minute, sleep a certain amount each week, and be at least somewhat protected from the elements in order to live at all.

Yes, we have marvelous brains, and, yes, we are marvelous creatures–astounding testimonies to God’s power.

But we aren’t near as stunning as we think we are.

The Lord GOD created the stars–huge, pulsing masses of super-hot gases. He created more galaxies than we can even hope to discover, each composed of billions of stars. Yet He calls each star by name.

The Lord established laws of physics that we can’t fully wrap our minds around. We know why the apple falls down–gravity, of course. Yet no one can confidently define gravity or tell where it comes from.

God created matter out of tiny atoms, so small we’ve yet to see them, and packed them with devastating power. We’ve harnessed that power somewhat. And still we don’t fully understand the mystery.

The Lord is clothed with light so bright that when Moses only glimpsed it, his face glowed. (Remember, we’re saying if the God of the Bible exists, so we have to assume everything written about Him in the Bible is true.)

So, this atheist is saying that if he stands before the God who holds the stars, the God who created the atom, the God who controls the winds and storms, the God whose very essence is blinding, holy glory, he will interrogate God?

I seriously doubt it.

Maybe he will stand and gape.

Maybe he will fall to his knees and hide his face in his arms.

Maybe he will stand silent while his heart implodes in dismay.

I don’t know what he’ll do. (I don’t know what I’ll do when I stand before God’s majesty, and I am God’s daughter.)

But I know he won’t be interrogating God with all the sharp, clever, well-phrased questions he has prepared.

When this atheist discovers that the God of the Bible does indeed exist (you can say if instead of when if that suits you better), he won’t have a word to say. He’ll have no defense for his disbelief. He will have no defense for any of his sin.

Only the blood of Jesus can give us the right to stand before God’s holiness uncondemned.

Friend, if you are one of those who plans to interrogate God if you one day find He exists, I pray with all my heart that God will pull out all stops to bring you to your knees now, while you still walk this earth. You don’t want to have to fall on your knees for the first time after you die.

-Miss Darcy

Doubt and Facts

Sometimes I doubt my salvation. It is not a nice feeling. It’s a sick, wretched feeling.

My head knows I’m saved. Deep in my heart, I know I’m saved. But sometimes the devil fills my heart with fear, and I don’t feel saved.

Thank the Lord my salvation doesn’t depend on feelings. It is based on facts.

Fact 1: all humans sin.

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, opening the worst “Pandora’s Box” you ever heard of, all humans have been born with a nature that wants to sin. Just ask anyone who’s raised children, or even worked with them a significant amount. No one has to teach a child to bite, hit, kick, or selfishly hoard his toys. He does it because that is his nature.

But if you’re looking for a checklist of sins, here’s a simple one based on the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20):

  • Lying, even “white lies.”
  • Disrespecting your parents.
  • Desiring what isn’t your own.
  • Stealing.
  • Murder, and hatred counts as murder in God’s standards (see 1 John 3:15).
  • Failing to love, honor, and serve God above all other persons or things.

Fact 2: God is holy.

He is so holy we can’t really comprehend it. His very nature is righteousness and justice, so our sinfulness repels Him.

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”

-Isaiah 6:3 (NKJV)

But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.

-Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)

Fact 3: God loves sinners anyway.

“For God so loved the world…”

-from John 3:16 (NKJV)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us…

-from Romans 5:8 (NKJV)

A holy God who loves sinners. That’s a painful position. God can’t just gloss over sin and ignore it forever. His holiness will not allow it. Yet He loves us wicked people.

So He did the unthinkable.

Fact 4: Jesus died for sinners.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and therefore part of God, wrapped Himself in human flesh and came to earth. He lived on this planet as a Man, surrounded by sin, even tempted by sin, yet never sinning (see Hebrews 4:15). He was innocent.

If an innocent person takes the punishment of a guilty person, justice is satisfied and the guilty person can go free.

Jesus died at the hands of the rulers of His time on earth. The Romans executed Him by crucifixion, one of the most agonizing deaths known to mankind. But Jesus had done nothing wrong. And He was the Son of God: He could have easily escaped. It wasn’t really the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus.

Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice to appease a holy God who cannot abide sin. The Lord God laid all the sin of the world on Jesus Christ, and punished Jesus for sin He never committed.

So that we sinners could go free.

who Himself [Jesus Christ] bore our sins in His own body on the tree,

-1 Peter 2:24a

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood [Jesus] entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

-Hebrews 9:12 (emphasis mine)

Jesus Christ bore our sins–our sins–in His own body on the cross, and with His own blood obtained eternal redemption. He saved us forever.

Fact 5: Jesus rose again from the dead after three days in the tomb.

This fact sets Jesus apart from every other “holy man” who has walked on earth. This fact proves that Jesus is who He says He is. It proves He has the power to deliver us from sin.

This fact means that Jesus has conquered death, the ultimate consequence of sin. It’s so important that the Bible says:

And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

-1Corinthians 15:17 (NKJV)

Fact 6: through faith, we obtain the salvation Jesus offers.

This gift of forgiveness of sin does not automatically apply to every person, just because Jesus died. You have to place your faith in Jesus. You can’t do anything else to save yourself.

What does that mean, “place your faith in Jesus”?

It means to acknowledge you are sinful and cannot clean yourself. To believe Jesus’ sacrifice, and that alone, pays for your sin. To accept in your heart Jesus’ death and resurrection on your behalf, and to turn your life over to Him through gratitude.

After all, if you acknowledge that your sin put Jesus on the cross, surely you will no longer want to engage in it.

Jesus’ sacrifice alone can save us. When we accept it by faith.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

-Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)

“Not of works.” If you’ve read much on my weblog, you know I talk often about how a Christian should live. How we are to shun the world and follow Christ. How we are to hate sin and pursue righteous living.

Which brings me to my seventh fact.

Fact 7: good works can never save us.

Nothing we do is capable of saving us. Nothing.

Faith alone saves us. So what do the good works have to do with anything?

Take the story of a woman in the Bible who believed Jesus could heal her. She told herself, “If I just touch the hem of His garment, I will be made well.”

She believed that with all her heart. But until she actually touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, she was still sick. The moment she reached out and touched, she was made well. (see Luke 8:43-48)

And Jesus told her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well.”

Contradiction? No. Until her faith moved her to action, it was useless.

Until our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice moves us to action, it is useless. Until our belief in Jesus leads us to turn our backs on this world and our sinful desires, to throw ourselves on Christ’s grace and commit to serving Him, our so-called faith is not true faith at all.

True faith is all-consuming.

And when you surrender to Jesus because of His sacrifice on your behalf, that’s what Christians call “getting saved.”

I didn’t have a dramatic salvation experience. Nor was it exactly a neat, concise prayer as happens to many. (You can read my full testimony here.)

But I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ.

His sacrifice alone can save me. Not my good behavior or “being perfect.” I rely on His mercy every day, and through His strength I strive to obey Him. Because I love Him, oh, so much. He deserves to own every bit of me.

I hear sermons where the preacher warns against sitting in the church, sometimes for years, pretending to be or even thinking you are a Christian. I’m not criticizing their preaching–they speak the truth. But the devil will use anything, even a good sermon if he can. And he does. Almost every time. Sometimes he’s more successful than others.

Praise God my salvation doesn’t depend on my feelings. It depends on Christ’s blood. When the devil torments me with the suggestion that maybe I’m not really saved after all, I can point to the cross and say, “Yes, I am saved because Jesus makes me clean!”

Friend, if you’re not saved, I hope this makes it clear how you can get saved. There is no shame in coming to Jesus. None!

Congratulations if you read this far!

-Miss Darcy

Life Is Too Short to Be…

A few days ago, I ran across one of those sweet, “inspirational,” slightly sappy Facebook sayings that bug me for multiple reasons.

But, to spare you, I’ll focus on the main reason. At first it seems like a nice little message about avoiding negative people and investing in friendships that uplift you. Then it ends with–

Life is too short to be anything but happy.

Oh, really? You mean my personal happiness is the most important thing in the world? Let’s take this to its logical conclusion: If life is too short to be anything but happy, then my happiness is my first priority no matter who I have to crush to make myself happy.

No.

No, my happiness is not supposed to be my first priority. Jesus didn’t come to live on this inglorious planet among sinful people, and then die a ruthless, brutal death for those selfsame sinners, just so I could be happy on this earth.

Jesus came to give us much more. Blessings more rich, more lasting, more powerful than a mere feeling of happiness.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

-Ephesians 2:4-6 (emphasis mine)

We were dead because of our sins. Dead men walking, bound for hell. But Christ came to wash away our sin and set us free to live and sit together with Him in the heavenly places. That’s an awesome gift.

When you turn your life over to Jesus, He promises never to leave you. He offers peace, strength, and joy (not the same as happiness). But He also promises trials, pain, heartache.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

-2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV)

All you have to do is desire to follow Jesus and you’ll suffer persecution. Imagine what happens if you actually succeed!

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

-John 16:33 (emphasis mine)

Jesus never promised that lovely feeling of happiness. In fact, He promised the opposite.

But it is worth it to live for Jesus.

To serve Him on this earth. To speak with God unashamed. To rest in knowing our physical death will take us to Paradise. To have the comfort only our Creator can give when this life crushes us.

I guess those trite little “you need to be happy” mottoes frustrate me because they’re cheap. They cheapen the powerful grace of God. Yes, my life has been full of wonderful happiness, interspersed with very real pain. But who can tell whether the pain did not do me good?

God does give us happiness. But the truest joy, which transcends happiness, is found in knowing you are doing right, knowing you are completely at peace with your Creator. Watch out for sweet-sounding messages.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

-Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)

Life is too short to be anything but fully—and I meant utterly, nothing-held-back—surrendered to Jesus Christ, our Savior.

-Miss Darcy