One of the most beautiful verses in the Bible is found in the opening words of Romans 8. The first verse reads, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Unfortunately, many people use this as a license to sin. Rather than killing sin, they keep sin as a household pet.
In June of 2010, Norman Buwalda, a 66 year old man from Ontario was killed by his Siberian tiger. Many people in his community feared that the animal was a danger to Buwalda and their community as a whole, but what everyone else saw as danger, Buwalda viewed as his pet. What was an ordinary practice of Buwalda interacting with the tiger turned deadly. For some unknown reason, the tiger that he loved turned on him and killed him.
For many of us, to even think of keeping a massive tiger as a pet is a fearful venture that we are unlikely to pursue. We are much more likely to have pet sins as opposed to pet tigers. While we would not conceive of having a deadly cat as a household pet, we often do something just as dangerous, we invite sin into our lives, homes, families, and expect a different result than what Norman Buwalda received. The Bible is not silent on this matter. In fact, just after Romans 8:1 appears Romans 8:13 – “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Once again, the apostle Paul says similar words to the church at Colossae in Colossians 3:5-11:
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  On account of these the wrath of God is coming.  In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
The Greek word, “νεκρόω” is translated in the ESV as “put to death.” In older translations, such as the King James, νεκρόω is translated as mortify. The ongoing practice of mortification of the flesh and the evil deeds of the flesh is mandatory in the Christian life. John Owen, in his famous work titled, Of The Mortification Of Sin In Believers, writes, “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” The idea of keeping a man-eating cat in your home may seem ridiculous, but how many of us keep man-eating sins as pets? We must not use grace as a license to play with deadly sins.
What does this daily mortification of sin (killing sin) look like? According to Paul in Romans 8:5, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” In Romans 8:5-8, Paul explains that to “set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” He goes on to describe the inability of the unsaved man to submit to God’s law. However, in Romans 8, the very next paragraph begins, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit.” Paul is pointing out that the children of God have the ability to please God, and we must choose to do so by the power of the Spirit and the mind that is focused on obedience to God (Romans 12:1-2).
Certainly if Norman Buwalda had treated the tiger like a wild animal he would not have died that day in 2010. They believe that he left one common door open in the enclosure allowing the tiger to seize the opportunity to kill Buwalda. How many people today will be overtaken by the sin of adultery, pride, materialism, or evil passions of the flesh because they will leave one door open to their pet sin? Rather than keeping the sin as a pet, it should be put to death. Your pet sin is not your friend. Kill it. Killing sin is hard work. Killing sin requires time in prayer. Killing sin requires time in God’s Word. Killing sin requires submission to the Holy Spirit. Killing sin is not an option to consider, it’s mandatory. Either we are to be killing sin or our sin will be killing us.
These words by Owen should serve as a warning and helpful reminder as we make decisions today that will impact the rest of our lives. We must choose today to stop feeding our pet sins. What seems small, harmless, and fun today will eventually gain size and strength and kill us.
Today, multitudes of teenagers are walking through life in the shadows. They wear dark clothing, paint their fingernails different shades of darkness, dye their hair dark colors, and seem to always have their faces toward the ground. I refer to this pattern as the “Wilted Flower Syndrome.” There are even Barbie-like dolls with an appearance of darkness currently on the shelves of major retail big box stores being marketed to your daughter. Statistics inform us that a large number of teenagers are seeking medical help for depression and anxiety issues with suicide as one of the top five causes of death for teenagers.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “About 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by age 18 according to the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Girls are more likely than boys to experience depression. The risk for depression increases as a child gets older. According to the World Health Organization, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability among Americans age 15 to 44.”
In many cases, these teenagers come from stable homes with caring parents who seek to show them attention and provide a good home for them. What is the cause for the great numbers of teenagers who seem to be wilted rather than blooming? While I am not scientist or medical professional, I do think the link may be related to the information teenagers are consuming each day through a variety of media outlets.
The Garden of Eden and Modern Society
The book of Genesis begins with the beauty of God’s expansive creation. The commentary of God’s creation was that God saw that it was good. It was paradise on earth. Yet, in the midst of the Garden, the devil approached Eve in the form of a serpent and tempted her. If you take a close look at his attack, it was truly brilliant. Satan attacked Eve through the “eye gate” and the “ear gate.” He attacked Eve through the eyes by causing her to look at the forbidden tree. He didn’t want her to look at it in the same way. He was twisting her perspective. Satan also attacked Eve through her ears. Not only did he direct her eyes, but he lied to her through her ears. He spoke a lie and twisted God’s word about the forbidden fruit. Eve at the fruit and gave it to her husband and he likewise disobeyed God.
As we read Romans 5:12, we see the New Testament commentary on that horrible event of sin. As we go back and revisit Genesis, we see that what started off as good in the eyes of God ended badly! The book of Genesis started with creation and ended with a curse. It began with divine blessing and ended with decadence, depravity, defiance, and death. All of this was the result of a massive attack of Satan that came to Eve through her eyes and ears. As we consider the “wilted flowers” of our society, could it be that Satan is attacking the teenagers through the eyes and ears as he once did Eve in the Garden?
Modernity is both a blessing and a curse. We can be thankful for comfortable automobiles, medical advancement, heating and air, and a multitude of other blessings that we can attribute to modern technology. However, like anything good, Satan will attack it. We see that through the information technology that we have come to use on a normative basis. Consider the following statistics of media intake in America.
|Child Television Statistics
|Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television
|4-6 year olds were asked to choose TV or fathers – this % chose TV
|Hours per year the average American youth spends in school
|Hours per year the average American youth watches television
|Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18
|Number of 30 second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child
|Source: BLS American Time Use Survey, A.C. Nielsen Co.
These statistics and others among similar studies point to the potential source of depression, anxiety, and discouragement among the children of our culture. After all, why would teenagers who don’t buy their own food, clothes, transportation, furniture, television (and other media devices), or pay rent – fall into a massive depression? Could it be that they have been listening to Satan? And how would they be communicating with the devil? No, it isn’t through Ouija boards or a cultic séance. The medium of this contact could very well be the technology that has become commonplace in our lives – television, iPad, iPhone, iPod, and other screen devices. Before you think this is an article written by some angry alarmist, keep reading and consider the connection between the attack of Eve in the Garden and the way our culture uses technology.
Through devices such as an iPad or an iPhone, teenagers can receive many images through the eyes. Some of these images can be good, but as we are honest with ourselves, many of the images the teenagers are receiving in rapid fire succession are not for their good. They show them images of success that they are to live up to. They provide them role models to follow. These images provide standards of waist sizes and skin tone. The image is a powerful tool, and Satan knows it. Remember, he pointed out the image of the forbidden fruit to Eve many years ago.
These devices also have long surpassed the Walkman and Gameboy devices from the 90’s. The point is, these HD devices provide stunning imagery alongside great sound at the touch of a button. While Satan provides images to view, he also speaks lies into their ears. Satan hates the truth and is known as the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Our generation is a connected generation with wires coming out of ears and fingers on screens the majority of an average day. Satan carefully weaves his lies into popular music and it he delivers his message with power, privacy, and proficiency. Before long, like Eve in the Garden of Eden, teenagers have the forbidden fruit in their hands and soon thereafter they feel entrapped by their sin. This pattern causes their beautiful minds which are gifts from God to become a dark wilted flower.
The Responsibility of Parents
Deuteronomy 6 provides us as parents with the responsibility of caring for our children. It is our duty to protect our children from culture. It’s time for us to realize that we must protect the eyes and ears of our children from this present evil age. We must address this issue and place boundaries on who can and cannot speak into the lives of our children. Rather than just providing tablet devices with open Internet capabilities to children, we must create filters and actively manage their intake of movies, music, and written forms of media.
Furthermore, it is our duty as fathers and mothers to teach our children to know God through His Word. In times of distress, doubt, discouragement, and defeat – we should teach our children to find their hope in God through Jesus Christ. As the Psalmist rightly declares, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). As statistics tell us that 70-88% of all college students by the end of their freshman year walk away from the faith of their parents, we must take our role seriously. It must be known to our children before they leave our homes that Jesus is more than a suit and a tie on Sunday to us. We must live out our theology in the home and provide substantial evidence to corroborate our faith in Jesus. If our children see a disconnect between our doctrine and duty – they will likely grow disconnected from the church.
I can’t promise that media management will cause all wilted flowers to bloom. What I can promise is that consistent media management will honor God and seek to accomplish Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Satan will use media intake to accomplish 2 Corinthians 4:4 – to blind the minds of children to the gospel. It is our duty as parents to shine the light of the glorious gospel of Christ into the darkness that our teenagers often dwell in. As we think about media and the influence it has on children, we must ask ourselves a really important question. Who has the right to influence my child? Remember, if we neglect to influence our children, Satan is waiting at the curbside. He is interested in connecting your child to other teachers of neopaganism, secular humanism, atheism, and most of these teachers are found through the door of postmodernism.
Don’t just sit back, stand up! Don’t remain silent, speak up! Don’t surrender, move up! Your child is worth it. God has entrusted you with your child and you must honor Him.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Josh Buice
What actually happened in the Garden of Eden? When Adam and Eve sinned against God – everything changed! Often we fail to realize what that one sin did for humanity. In many cases, we fail to recognize the depth to which that single sin plunged all of humanity. When we realize what actually occurred in the Garden of Eden – it will make our salvation through Jesus Christ much more special!
Gen. 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.Gen. 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?Gen. 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:Gen. 3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.Gen. 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:Gen. 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.Gen. 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.Gen. 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Following the creation of Adam and Eve – the first two humans on earth – God provided clear instructions for their behavior within the Garden. It was lush and perfect without any spot or blemish. The Garden was as God intended this earth to be. It was a place free of smog and polluted water. It was a perfect place for God’s creation to live a wonderful life through all of the provisions created by the hand of God.Eve was tempted by the Serpent and everything changed due to her choice to sin against God. After she sinned, she took the forbidden fruit to Adam and he sinned too. It was then that their eyes were opened and they saw things in a different way than before. Due to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden, everything literally changed. Below is a listing of things that were altered by the sin of our distant relatives – Adam and Eve.1. Sin Altered the Sight of Man
Gen. 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
They saw their nakedness that was intended to be a beautiful thing by the hand of God as something that was dirty and needed to be covered up. Therefore, since sin had affected all of their person both physically and spiritually – they sought to make ways to cover up their bodies through the leaves of the Garden. Sin took something that was beautiful and turned it into something that was dirty and shameful.2. Sin Altered the Relationship Between Man and God
Gen. 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden
Just as the Serpent intended, the relationship between mankind and God had been torn apart due to sin. The very creation of God was now running from God rather than toward God as a result of their sinfulness. That is what is still taking place in our present day. According to Paul in Romans 3:10-11, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Paul makes it clear that due to our sinfulness, we as unrighteous beings are not seeking after our God prior to salvation – much like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.3. Sin Cursed God’s Creation
Gen. 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:Gen. 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.Gen. 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.Gen. 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
The entire world was cursed by the sin that occurred in the Garden of Eden. God spoke to the Serpent, Eve and Adam. He told them all of the curse that was to be expected as a result of their sin. To the Serpent, God foretold of the crushing blow that he could expect through the Cross of Christ which would come through the seed of the woman. To Eve, God promised sorrow and pain through child birth. To Adam, God promised difficult days of labor upon the thorns and thistles of the ground. The entire creation of God had received a curse.4. Sin Brought the Harvest of DeathThe children that came forth from their parents Adam and Eve were born with a natural sinful desire. They did not need to be taught to sin after birth, they were actually born sinners. David told of this truth as he wrote in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Therefore, as a result of their sinful hearts, Cain actually became angry one day and killed his brother Able.
Gen. 4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
Paul later told of this curse as he wrote under Holy Spirit inspiration. Romans 5:12 sates, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Therefore, the children (Cain and Able) who were born to Adam and Eve were sinners due to their relation to their parents. All of humanity had been plunged into the depth of sin due to the decision of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.Therefore, we must realize that every last one of us are sinners as well. Paul explained in great detail in Romans the extent of the sinfulness of man. Unfortunately, many people today believe that man is pretty good and that he simply needs God’s help to rescue himself from sin. According to the Word of God, man cannot save himself in his condition of sin and that the Cross of Calvary was a rescue mission – not merely assistance to fallen humanity. Look at what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 3:9-18.
Rom. 3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;Rom. 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:Rom. 3:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.Rom. 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.Rom. 3:13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:Rom. 3:14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:Rom. 3:15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:Rom. 3:16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:Rom. 3:17 And the way of peace have they not known:Rom. 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Paul’s point is clear – both Jews and Gentiles are sinners! How sinful? According to Paul, all of humanity has become utterly sinful and crooked. He says in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Therefore, nobody can argue with what Holy Scripture says – all of humanity is guilty of sin.Conclusion:Due to one sin that occurred in the Garden of Eden – all of humanity was altered greatly! Rather than just having a bad day that resulted in a small mess, all of humanity was stained with sin that tarnished everything from man’s worldview to his personal will and desires. While man once sought after God and had perfect fellowship with Him in the Garden, after the fall, man was hiding from God (Adam and Eve) and continuing to run away from God (Romans 3:11). All things changed in the Garden. It has been labeled “Paradise Lost” in years past. Sin took man and made him the enemy of God. It took a lush and perfect place like the Garden of Eden and made it into a thorn infested garbage dump. Today, we see the effects of sin through murder, sexual predators, polluted water, garbage dumps, smoggy cities, and through a multitude of violent crimes between fellow humans. Sin literally transformed everything!Where is the answer? The answer is not in the Government. It is not in Psychology. It is not in the knowledge and intellectual power of mankind. The answer to the curse of sin is found in the man Jesus Christ. He was the perfect lamb of God (John 1:29). There is not one other way to salvation except through Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” What the first Adam lost, the second Adam (Christ Jesus) restored. Paul wrote these words in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” He also penned down these words in Romans 5:14-15:
Rom. 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.Rom. 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
Praise the name of Jesus Christ our Lord!Rev. Josh Buice
Each night my wife and I read our daughter Karis one or two stories from the Bible. The other day I was away at the office, and when it came time for the afternoon nap, my wife read her the story about David and Goliath. As usual, Karis started asking questions about the main characters. One question in particular caught my wife by surprise, and later became the subject of our conversation over dinner. Karis asked, “Why does that giant not love God?” This question leads to a loaded theological answer that is the foundation upon which we will teach our daughter the truth about sin in the upcoming years. That question regarding Goliath is a question that we must all wrestle with! The answer to that question is found in Holy Scripture in various passages that point out the depravity of the human heart.
Romans 3:10-18 – For it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 5:12 – Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
We all as humans have been born with a nature that is bent toward sin. That nature (related to Adam) has prompted us to choose sin whereby we miss the holy mark of our infinitely perfect God. For that – we are led down a path of sinfulness and rebellion. That is why Goliath was a rebel against God and His people, and that is precisely why men, women, boys, and girls today turn their backs on God and live lives of rebellion.It is our prayer that God will enable us to teach Karis about the truth of sin and God’s marvelous grace through these Bible stories. It is also our prayer that God will save her at an early age and use her for His glory for many years!
For His Glory!
Pastor Josh Buice