John Bradshaw - Suicide, Evil Spirits, and the Wages of Sin
John Bradshaw: Welcome to "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written. This is where we answer your Bible questions. And if you have one that you'd like to share with us, please do email us: [email protected], [email protected] I'm John Bradshaw, and with me from It Is Written, Pastor Wes Peppers. Wes, thanks for joining me.
Wes Peppers: Oh, Pastor John, it's good to be here once again.
John Bradshaw: This is fun.
Wes Peppers: It's absolutely a blessing.
John Bradshaw: And it's good to dig into the Bible.
Wes Peppers: Absolutely.
John Bradshaw: Where do we begin?
Wes Peppers: Yeah, let's go to our first question here with, from Lilian. She says, "In Matthew 8:28-34 Jesus sent away demons from that man. Does that mean that evil spirits...exist in human beings"? Okay, Lilian, good question. It means they can. It doesn't mean that they do, as a matter of course. It doesn't mean that every human being has evil spirits within her or within him. And sometimes, you know, there may be some things that we see in the world today that look demonic but are not because they may be perhaps mental illness. It may also be there's a lot of stuff that we explain away that is demonic activity. What you find in the Bible, I'm gonna read the story that you mentioned, at least part of it. "When He was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two possessed with devils", another passage, it says one, "coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way". In another account it talks about them living among tombs, chained and cutting themselves, and so forth, and unclothed. Here's the thing. If you give Satan a toehold, before long he'll make it a foothold. You've heard this said, I'm sure. And you don't want it to become a stronghold. And it can. Demon possession is real. And even if it's just not demon possession, it's demon, demonic activity or demonic oppression. We live in a world where there is a great controversy raging. Angels of God surround you. Thank God they do. Demons seek access to you. Sometimes, people basically invite demonic presence into their lives by some of the things they do or dabble with. What might that be?
— Well, a lot of things, occult-type things, just a good old-fashioned Ouija board, you know. You invite God's presence, I just did a seminar...
— Not God's presence.
— I'm sorry, Satan's presence, that's right. I just did a seminar on spiritualism where I talked about various forms of modern media, movies, and video games, and different things, where, when those activities are present, like witchcraft and sorcery, those kind of things, it's almost an invitation for the devil to come into our hearts.
— Oh yeah.
— And when he does that, he begins to have access to us in other ways, and so we really wanna close out anything in our life that God forbids in His Word, to close the door to Satan, and say, "No, you can't come in through this avenue".
— Demons are real; demon possession is still real. Now, keep this in mind, though: "Greater is He that is in you", 1 John 4 and verse 4, "than he that is in the world". So don't fear. Call on the name of Jesus; it is a mightier name than any demon or demonic activity. Don't play with it. Take it seriously. Be seriously connected to Jesus. Question for you, Pastor, this is from Kevin: "How do I free myself from the snares of Satan (talked about in Psalm 91 and verse 3)"?
— That's a great question, and I'm sure that many people have the same question. They're struggling with various sins and temptations. And while we're here, I wanna say that the snares of Satan are not sins. Temptation is not sin. It's when we yield ourselves to that thing. If we choose to step into that trap, or we choose to yield ourself to that sin, or to that temptation, that's when it becomes sin. And the good news is that God wants to deliver us. And the Bible says very clear that He has made "a way of escape".
— And so it really talks about that right there in Psalm 91. It says in verse 1, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty". So we spend time in prayer; we spend time in Bible study; we have faith in the promises of God and claim them and ask God fulfill them in our lives. It may not be that as we do that, every sin is eliminated immediately. But God begins to work, and He begins to take one issue at a time. And so, the important thing is that we're yielding ourselves to God, and we're giving Him permission to work in our lives.
— Now, sins are forgiven immediately.
— That's right, that's right.
— Yeah, forgiven immediately. But some things... look, you've had this experience. There's been some sin in your life, and you've confessed it and never gone back. There are other things, they go deep.
— And you gotta work this through. And that's just a part of Christian growth. So you're under the Lord. You busy yourself in prayer and reading the Bible and living a life focused on God, inviting Jesus into your life. You can be sure that He will be greater than the temptations that trouble you in this life. I'm really encouraged by a question that says, "I wanna live for Jesus, don't wanna live the old life".
— That's right. Doesn't mean it won't be a struggle. But God has already given us the victory. We just have to keep trusting Him day by day.
— Okay. Okay, Twanda asks this question: "Joseph married an Egyptian woman in the Old Testament". Ah! "Was she a believer in God/Jesus"?
— Well, that's a great question.
— The Bible doesn't say specifically that. But we can gather some pieces there. I would guess that maybe she didn't start that way because she was Egyptian, but maybe through the influence of Joseph she became a believer. Obviously, she became his wife. He was a godly man, and he would've wanted a godly wife. So most likely at some point, she probably converted to that. Many Egyptians did because of the Israelites' presence there.
— She has a name in the Bible. Her name is Asenath. Her father was a priest, not a priest of God. I'm hopeful that no one says, "Well, Joseph married an unbeliever, so it's okay for me".
— That's right.
— A couple of things. Joseph was in Egypt. He couldn't visit the local church where there was, you know, 50 lovely ladies in the choir. You know, he wasn't able to do that. So he didn't have a lot of choice. So for one thing, he didn't have a whole lot of options.
— That's right.
— Secondly, I'd like to think that he acted in accordance with the will of God, you know? Maybe God placed it on his heart and said, "This is the woman you ought to marry". So it's not a smart thing, if you've married outside faith of Jesus, it's not the, necessarily the end of the world. If you've done it, it's a bit late to reverse course. But I wouldn't plan that. You know, you don't wanna hear your kids say, "I've met this boy, or girl, and he/she doesn't believe like we do, but is a great person". Now, that's a snare.
— Yeah, that's right.
— That's a snare. And you don't wanna get involved with that. Better to marry in faith in God, and... and God can guide a person to do that. I would encourage people just to say to God, "I'd rather marry nobody than someone who's not gonna help me to honor You".
— That's right.
— Okay, got a question for you. This is from Robert: "Many people say we don't need to follow the health laws in the Bible, but they pray for good health". His question is, "Isn't that hypocritical? The Bible says God is the same today, yesterday, tomorrow, and forever". And we might have a word added there, Robert, but we get the point.
— Sure. I would say, Robert, I think you're very insightful; that yes, I do believe it is hypocritical. If we want good health from God, then God has provided principles for us to live by that bring good health. Now, sometimes in the world that we live in, the food isn't as nutritious as it used to be, and there's a lot of factors in our environment, because sin has broken down the earth, that sometimes even when we do follow the principles, people still get sick. There's no guarantee that if you eat this way, you'll never get this disease or never get that disease. We all still are going to die because we're under the curse of sin. But certainly science has proven, the Bible says that when we follow God's principles, it gives us a better chance to fight disease and to be healthier on this life and to be happier, and that's really what God wants. God just doesn't want us to be healthy, although He does; He wants us also to be happy. And health brings happiness. So certainly those principles are good for us even today.
— It needs to be kept in mind that a great amount of the food that people eat today is garbage.
— Now, if someone were to say to me, "It's my birthday, and I'm eating a big ol' piece of chocolate cake," I think what I would say would be, "Happy birthday".
— That's right. That's right.
— You know.
— We went to our friends' house. It was their wedding anniversary. They served me a soda. And I enjoyed the soda. I would probably say, "Good for you". But, man, that stuff is garbage.
— Y'know, what I'm saying is, if someone wants to make an exception in their diet for the sake of fun or whatever, then once in a while, no problem. But that's not what's happening in the United States and any other first-world country. People are wallowing in garbage, eating sugar like you wouldn't believe, drinking soda like you wouldn't believe, eating meat and fried food and fat and just garbage. Diabetes, type II diabetes rates are skyrocketing. And along with blood pressure, cardiovascular incidents cost 600,000+ deaths a year. Cost those many lives a year, I should say. So it's wise to be thinking about this. Pray for good health? Yeah, pray. Pray and do. Pray and do something about it. Get some exercise. Walk. Don't park out in front of Walmart. Park further away and actually walk. Take the stairs once in a while. Get on an exercise program. We want you around for the long haul. Do your very best; do your best. I know some people are terribly ill, and, well then, that's where you are, but we wanna encourage you to do your best for Jesus and honor Him with your body. That, I think, is an interesting question from Robert. Got one for you from Darren: "What does the Bible say about righting wrongs"? Ooh! "I know Zacchaeus said he would pay it back, but some things like bullying can't be bought. Is it better to leave some things alone"? Pastor Wes, what sayest thou?
Wes Peppers: Those are some great questions. Certainly we want to right the wrongs that we can. He mentions Zacchaeus here. Thank you, Darren, for that question. And Zacchaeus returned four-fold what he had taken from people. And so, there are some situations where we can and should do that. There are some situations that maybe we shouldn't.
John Bradshaw: You ever done that?
Wes Peppers: And so... Yes.
John Bradshaw: You ever gone to somebody later and said, "You didn't know, but, and here's..."? I used to have, I had a job at a gas station once, and the man, when I visited him, after I'd become a Christian, I did some mental arithmetic, and I went back to him, and he about fell over. In fact, what he said to me was interesting. He said, "Man, that gas station was good to me. I never missed the money. You didn't need to bother". And that was just the devil, I think, saying...
Wes Peppers: Sure.
John Bradshaw: ..."Why even go through that"? But I needed to, you know?
Wes Peppers: Yes.
John Bradshaw: I needed to make that wrong right.
— And it can impress upon the heart of the person...
— ...a Christian witness. Especially if they're not a believer, it can really impress upon them the importance of doing the right thing, and they may begin to think about your faith. In other situations, it may not be as healthy to do so.
— Can you think of that kind of situation?
— Darren mentioned bullying.
— I would say, as far as you can, reach out to the person and say "I'm sorry". Even if you gotta find them on Facebook and send 'em a message. Write 'em a letter: "I'm sorry".
— Sometimes it can just stir up bad memories. But I think that's worth saying, "I'm sorry". You might've slandered somebody. They didn't know. Don't scratch a scab off an old wound. Just let that sleeping dog lie. This is a little tricky, but I'm gonna share this with you. I heard of a fellow, who, married for 20 years, and somewhere in that 20 years, he committed an indiscretion. No one knew. No one was going to know. He felt bad. He repented. He told God how sorry he was. He went to his wife, and he said, "There's something I need you to know". She divorced him.
— I'm not telling people to keep secrets. You need to do what God tells you to do. But that was a time it wasn't healthy; it wasn't helpful. No one knew. You know, it was just eating him up. He thought that if he shared the burden, it would lighten his load. It made his load a whole lot worse. So there are times, if no one knows, and sharing it is only gonna cause harm, why bother? You don't want someone coming up to you and saying, "Oh, I need to tell you how I hated you because I didn't like the suit you wore. I didn't like the way you walked". This is probably better: to not to know the person hated you.
— Can you think of any other examples that we covered?
— When I was in high school, I bullied a lot of people. And as I got older, I became a Christian. I went back to them and apologized, and they said, "Man, we cannot believe how your life has changed".
— And so it can, depending upon the circumstance. It really depends upon the situation. And you have to be very, very careful about this. If it's something private that you've done, you've put it away; you've confessed it, there's no need to do that. If it's something that you did intentionally towards a person, they're aware of it; you've had contention, that's the time to go and confess. And so you really have to gauge it case by case. Use the principles of Scripture to guide you. And God will bless you in that.
Wes Peppers: My friend Kevin became a pastor later in life. Earlier in life he was a drug user. And in order to find money to buy drugs, he robbed houses. He remembered which houses he robbed. He said he went back to the street and, one by one, knocked on the door. "I'm so sorry, don't know if you remember. I took... Here's the money to repay it". He said they were floored.
John Bradshaw: Every person was forgiving and thankful.
Wes Peppers: It's a powerful testimony of God's goodness.
John Bradshaw: It's a powerful testimony of God's goodness, and it's great that you are joining us. This is "Line Upon Line". Got a question for us? Email us: [email protected] We'll be back in a moment with more "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written.
John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw, and he is Wes Peppers. And together we are answering your Bible questions. Thanks for submitting them. If you have one: [email protected]
Wes Peppers: Pastor John, it's great to see you again here after the break, where our first question here is from Cai. And he says, "I'm trying to learn why suicide is a sin. Can you explain that to me"?
John Bradshaw: Yes. Let's discuss for a moment that suicide is a massive problem. I can imagine right now that there are people viewing, and you have suicide in your family. Imagine that. And I can't imagine how difficult that can be. I think of the people that I have known, not a lot, thankfully, who have taken their lives and how that's negatively impacted families. What we want to say is that it's always worth going forward. It may seem as though tomorrow is dark and bleak. It's not; it's really not. And if you can have faith in God, faith in the Jesus who died for you, faith that He will forgive your sins and give you a new life and a new heart, then you can see past the darkness. Depression can be a monster. Loss can be a terrible thing. Financial ruin can just leave you feeling bereft of any reason to put one foot in front of another. But God loves you. And there's a purpose for you in this world and in the world to come. Why would suicide be a sin? That's because it's self-murder. You're taking a life. You're ending a life. That's the short of it. So it's not something you wanna do. It's not something you wanna excuse. It's not something you wanna feel comfortable with. It is something you ought to think of in the context of what God said in the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not kill", or, better translation: "Thou shalt not murder". Self-murder, it's a difficult thing, suicide.
— It's a very challenging thing, and, you know, many times the family members are left behind.
— And they're struggling. And they're wondering if, maybe if they contributed to that. And so it impacts so many people. And God always makes a way of escape. And, you know, one thing that a lot of the family members will often feel when that person does commit that, is that means maybe they're automatically lost.
— Mm. I'm glad you mentioned that.
— Yeah. And we don't know how God judges those situations. You know, sometimes people, they do the act, and they don't, maybe they don't die right away, and they realize this was a mistake. They call out to God; they're crying for help. And, you know, they realize that this was not the best thing. And so we don't ever know what happens. And we have to leave that with God. It's not an automatic "that person's lost".
John Bradshaw: No, and keep in mind, too, many people take their own life because of mental illness.
Wes Peppers: That's right.
John Bradshaw: Because whatever is going on inside their head, you know, they're not balanced there; they're not seeing life right.
Wes Peppers: Mm-hmm.
John Bradshaw: It could be because of medications. So, let's hold out hope... and allow God to be the judge.
John Bradshaw: That's right.
John Bradshaw: We don't wanna be the judge here. But what I do wanna do is read to you a phone number.
Wes Peppers: Mm-hmm.
John Bradshaw: 800-273-8255. 800-273-8255. That is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you need to call it, or if you need to share that number with somebody, please do. Talk to a pastor. Talk to a friend. Often, the simple antidote for suicide... not antidote, the simple prevention for suicide is to talk and to share your feelings and to then learn that there are people who care and love you and will provide support for you. So yeah, we call it a sin. But we don't want to rush to judgment because it's impossible to know intimately the circumstances of that situation. So let's leave that in the hands of God and be hopeful.
— There is help, and there is hope.
— That's right; that's right. Okay, question for you, Allen says, "If the Bible says we will not have children in heaven, how do we reconcile this with Isaiah 11:6-9, where 'a child leads a wolf and a leopard?' and so forth. If there's no children in heaven, where did these kids come from"?
— Sure. The Bible indicates that however we went into the grave, we come out, certainly with a glorified body. But if a child dies, they'll come out a child. And so the Bible here is speaking about growing up in heaven.
— And so, I believe there are many children that died at birth; they'll be placed in their mothers' arms. And there's also the passage, similarly in Isaiah, where it says that the children will grow up quickly like a calf in a stall.
— And so there's lots of growing to do, spiritually in our understanding of God and our understanding of heaven, but certainly, for some physically as well. And the good news is, is that whether we're adults or whether we're children or somewhere in between, whenever we come out, we'll have that glorified body that God promised us...
— ...that Jesus also had.
— How encouraging is this?
— Very encouraging.
— So many parents, they lose children. Man, that's...ah!
— That's gotta be the worst thing. And you go to funerals, these little tiny caskets. Or you go to cemeteries, these little graves that were dug. And what a great thing: One day there'll be a resurrection, and there'll be a reunion.
— That's right.
— And the parents who have grieved for years and years and years will be reunited with their beloved children.
— Oh! You can have hope. What a great thing! God is good. There's gonna be a resurrection one day. And we look forward to that with real hope in our hearts.
— That's right.
— That's an encouraging question.
— All right, all right. Another question for you. This is from Alan: "Revelation 13:18... 'Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.' The 'a' in 'for it is the number of a man,' is it an added letter by the translators"? That's a good question. And I think we've got a pretty good answer for you here. If you were to look at this in the Greek, you would discover that there is no indefinite article. In Greek, there is no indefinite article. So the literal translation could be something along the lines of "it is the number of person"; "it is the number of a person", either way. So, yeah, "it is the number of man"; "it is the number of a man," could be one or the other. Now, when you look at this, in the big picture down at the end of time, we know that there is an antichrist power.
— That's not a man. But there's somebody at the head of this thing...
— That's right.
— ...who is a man. So the Bible translators were moved by God to translate this in that way. So, you could look at this in both ways. The number six hundred threescore and six, 666, is it the number of man? Okay. Is it the number of a man? There's certainly a man leading the antichrist power in the end of time. And when you take a look at one of his official titles, granted, bestowed by the church down through time, you see that the numerical value of that in Roman numerals adds up to 666.
— That's right.
John Bradshaw: And that's legitimate, and it's valid. So, "man," "a man," I think it can sort of roll however you would like to translate that. But it works both ways. So, I don't think it's anything that should trip you up.
Wes Peppers: Also a key is that when, if you don't include the article, and it just says, "the number of man," it's not talking about man, humanity, but it specifically says the man who leads the beast.
John Bradshaw: Yes.
Wes Peppers: So there is that direct connotation and context there.
John Bradshaw: Yeah, amen. Ryan asks the question, "Why is everything affected by Adam and Eve's disobedience? Why not just humans? How or why did plants and animals and water and skies get affected"? That's a good question.
Wes Peppers: It's a very good question. And the reality is that sin impacts everything that it touches. And so when Adam and Eve sinned, they were the lords of the earth. And so everything that was involved in their life was impacted. The earth came under a curse.
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Wes Peppers: And God even says that in Genesis when He says that the soil would be cursed, and that the fruit would not yield the way that it did before. And so the entire... and all the way through the Bible, Paul talks about this in Romans, it talks about it in the book of Revelation, but ultimately, when sin is removed, the curse will be removed. And so, I don't know if you have anything you wanna add to that, but...
John Bradshaw: No, sin came into the world, and everything was affected.
Wes Peppers: That's right.
— The earth was cursed. Boom! There it is, and that's where we are; it's a sad thing. Earth made new, though: no curse, no sin. We're looking forward to that.
— Okay, question here for you from Rodney: "Why did God, who is the Creator of everything good and who is love, choose death as the only punishment when Adam and Eve disobeyed? Why not spanking or stand in the corner or 30 days' hard labor? Why all of that and then death"? You know, Wes, as we think about this, it's not that God said, "Okay, what do we do? Ah! We'll kill them". It wasn't that.
— That's right.
— Death is an inevitable consequence to sin. Why is that so?
— It's very clear. And God is the life source of the universe. When I choose to sin, the Bible says in Isaiah that sin has "separated you from your God". So when I choose, I choose. It wasn't God's choice. God is the same forever. He's always there for us. But when I sin, I choose to separate myself from Him. So it's almost like I'm detaching or unplugging myself from the life source of the universe. Now, when I do that, there's not God number two or God B or C over here that I can plug into. He is the only One. And if we are not attached to Him, the natural consequence is death. So it's very simple. Sin is a serious thing that brings death. Does it bring death immediately? Well, it does bring spiritual death. And so I have to plug myself back into Christ, into God, by confessing my sin and restoring that relationship with Him. So it's very simple. Sin cuts us off, and there is no other life source outside of Him.
John Bradshaw: "He that hath the Son hath life".
Wes Peppers: That's right.
John Bradshaw: "He that hath not the Son of God hath not life". We don't have time for another question. So let me ask you a question.
Wes Peppers: All right.
— >John Bradshaw: We gotta go quickly with this. Alan asks, "What about the 'average Joe sinner'? Will God destroy people...who aren't terrible people", they didn't murder, do anything like that, "they just didn't do everything right. They went to church on Christmas and Easter, maybe Mother's Day". They were good people, average Joe sinner. Why would they be destroyed by God?
Wes Peppers: Well...
John Bradshaw: There's no such thing as an average Joe sinner.
Wes Peppers: Yeah, that's right, there's no sin that's average. There's no sin that's less than another. God does talk about varying degrees of punishment.
John Bradshaw: Yes.
Wes Peppers: Some may experience more than others. But God looks at the heart. He understands the heart. And God's not gonna send someone to hell who will respond to His love. And so those that are there have chosen to be there. They have chosen to reject God and to rebel against Him. God is fair; God is just; God is good.
John Bradshaw: That's right.
Wes Peppers: And the answer is always Christ.
John Bradshaw: That's right. If you have Jesus, salvation. No Jesus? No salvation, no matter what kind of average Joe you might be. Hey, thanks for joining us. This has been fun. It's a quick half hour, isn't it? We'll do it again soon. With Wes Peppers, I'm John Bradshaw. This has been "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written.