1 Corinthians, chapters 4-6

“Whoever is joined to the Lord is one with him in spirit.”
~1 Corinthians 6:17

Bible prophecy says it would be harder to cultivate self control during the time of the end. (2 Tim. 3:1,3)
If even the Apostle Paul felt he was at war with himself, how can I keep my body morally pure? (Rom. 7:19,22-24)
God’s Word warns me not to trust my own heart. (Jer. 17:9)
Instead, I can pray to Jehovah to create in me a new heart- one that is consistently loyal to him. (Ps. 51:10)
I can also pray for holy spirit to have the strength to resist temptation. (Rom. 8:26; Phil. 4:6,7)
I need to remember that my actions affect others, many of whom could be discouraged if I carry on a fleshly course. (2 Cor. 6:3,4)
Jesus said one should not even entertain the idea of infidelity. (Luke 16:10; Rom. 13:14)
It is comforting to know that despite my shortcomings, God is willing to patiently help me be a better person. (Ps. 130:3; 1 Cor.6:19,20)

Acts, chapters 23 & 24

“At the same time [Felix] was hoping that Paul would give him money. For that reason, he sent for him even more frequently and conversed with him. But when two years had elapsed, […] he left Paul in custody.”
~Acts 24:26,27

How can a Christian distinguish between giving a bribe and tipping an official to ensure a service is rendered?
The Bible clearly condemns bribing. (Ps. 15:1,5)
But what could be considered a bribe in one country, could be considered a customary tip in another.
I remember a traffic officer in Mexico who would not release us until my aunt (not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses), implied she would give him a tip.
On other occasions in which my husband and I were pulled over, we accepted citations for minor traffic infractions instead of handing over any cash.
But it is true that many government officials, especially in developing nations, do not make enough money to live on, so whether or not a Christian decides to tip one is a matter of personal conscience. (Mark 12:17; 1 Cor. 10:31-33)
It would be blatantly wrong to give something with the intent of evading justice or seeking preferential treatment over others(Deut. 16:19; Matt. 7:12)
Despite his reputation for corruption, Felix as governor did have a legal right to hold Paul indefinitely without handing him a verdict. (Watchtower. 2001, December 15. “I Appeal to Caesar!”)
If Paul had caved in to bribing him, he would have been breaking Roman law.
As Christians, we find comfort in knowing that Jehovah will bring ultimate justice and he cannot be bought. (Deut. 10:17)

Mark, chapters 9 & 10

“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if ever a woman after divorcing her husband marries another, she commits adultery.”
Mark 10:11,12

Jesus added the exception that a divorce can be legitimate before God if the betrayed spouse files “on the grounds of sexual immorality.” (Matt. 5:32; 19:9)
In Jesus’ day, Jewish culture did not allow women to file for divorce.
If a man cheated on his wife, he was not considered an adulterer.
A woman who cheated on her husband was an adulteress, and the man whom she sinned with would be committing adultery against her husband.
But they did not consider it possible for a man to commit adultery against his wife. (Watchtower July 15, 1995, pp. 18-19, parr. 12-13. “Christian Women Deserve Honor and Respect.”)
With his statement on God’s view of marriage, Jesus pressed his followers to rid themselves of the double standard.
By using the example of a woman who “divorces her husband,” he was dignifying women, giving them that freedom of choice.
Many traditional cultures today still urge female victims of adultery to overlook their husband’s infidelity.
Sometimes their friends and family will excuse the male’s behavior by saying that it is typical in all men, arguing they did not really hurt anyone.
When a social circle does that to a victim, they are isolating her and taking away her will power to do what is right in her heart.
They may go so far as to shame her instead of the culprit, blaming her for his moral fallout.
As true Christians, we must learn to react to others’ suffering the way Christ did: with sensibility and respect, putting their needs before our own expectations.

Matthew, chapters 14 & 15

“[…] Out of the heart come wicked reasonings […].”
~Matthew 15:19

Do I ever try to justify unethical behavior to myself when tempted to do something wrong?
It is human nature to have a sinful inclination, but if I am not careful, I could end up a slave to my own whims, and also end up hurting those who matter most, including God. (Jer. 17:9)
Instead of entertaining sinful notions, it is wiser to not let them nest in my heart to begin with. (Prov. 4:23)

Proverbs, chapters 22-26

​”Like a silver glazing over a piece of earthenware are affectionate words from an evil heart.”
~Proverbs 26:23

Christians should be wary of people who try to hit on them with bad intentions.
In a world of moral decadence in which most single adults try to have as many sexual experiences as possible, a kind, friendly Christian’s virginity or integrity may be seen as an attractive barrier that can be challenged and overcome (Gal. 5:16,17,19-21).
Like in first-century Christian times, the practices of the world are not the practices of God’s people (1 John 2:15-17).
Christians should therefore check their associations periodically to make sure they are not lending themselves to be used by an immoral person’s fleshly desires (1 Cor. 10:12; 15:33).
When that person’s true intentions are manifest, a true Christian will have to face the consequences of having deserted his or her faith (Rom. 14:12; Gal. 6:7-9).

Ruth, chapters 1-4

“I will do for you everything that you say, for everyone in the city knows that you are an excellent woman. While it is true that I am a repurchaser, there is a repurchaser more closely related than I am. Stay here tonight, and if he will repurchase you in the morning, fine! Let him repurchase you. But if he does not want to repurchase you, I will then repurchase you myself, as surely as Jehovah lives.”
~Ruth 3:11-13

By the time the widowed Ruth approached her benefactor, Boaz to request he perform brother-in-law marriage with her, it is obvious he had already given the matter significant thought.

Through his reply, one can infer that he had taken enough notice of Ruth to ask others about her personality and reputation, and he had also taken into account her personal circumstances (Ruth 3:17).

He did not, however, rush into a relationship with Ruth, since he recognized that there was another man who legally had first choice regarding marrying Ruth and acquiring her first husband’s inheritance (Ruth 4:3-6).

Boaz, despite his power and feelings, did not overstep this law.

He took into account God’s instructions regarding the marital arrangement, setting a fine example for us, demonstrating that true love is based on principles.

Joshua, chapters 6-8

“Israel took the livestock and the spoil of that city for themselves, according to the orders that Jehovah had given to Joshua.”
~Joshua 8:27

In God’s instructions regarding the siege of the previous city, Jericho, God had ordered Israel to devote everything to destruction.
Only precious metals were to be spared and offered into God’s tabernacle (Jos. 6:17-19).

It’s under these circumstances that the story of Achan and his household takes place.
Motivated by greed, they stole a garment and money, hiding it in their tent (Jos. 7:1, 21).
Consequently, when Israel initially attacked the neighboring city of Ai, Jehovah was not with Israel and they lost thirty-six men (Jos. 7:5, 11, 12).

It is curious that once the other Israelites removed the wrongdoers from among themselves, God proceeded to allow his warriors to partake in the spoil (Jos. 8:2).
But neither Achan nor his household saw any of it, for their sin was considered high treason and they were punished by death (Jos. 7:25).
Had they waited a few more days serving Jehovah faithfully, they would have rightfully had all the spoil they wanted.
Their impatience, however, coupled with their greed and blatant disregard for God’s explicit instructions, led Achan and his household to tragedy.

Despite enduring all the trials through the desert, Achan stands out as an example of stealing,  cheating, bad parenting and general deceit.

How sad it would be for us who serve God today to miss out on his promises because we put fleshly interests before our spiritual health.

To listen to an Audio Play about the first few days Israel experienced in the Promised Land, click here and select “Jehovah Delivers Those Calling Upon His name.”
Achan’s story begins 39 minutes into the play.

Deuteronomy, chapters 28-31

“But if you will not listen to the voice of Jehovah your God […] Jehovah will cause the disease to cling to you…”

~Deuteronomy 28:15,21

Did God punish Israel’s unfaithfulness by striking them with disease?

In isolated cases, God did intervene and directly punished some people with health problems in order to get them to change their course of action.

Examples of this are the story of Pharaoh in Abraham and Sara’s day, or the case of Miriam, Moses’s sister (Ge. 12:17; Nu. 12:9,10).

In most cases, however, the diseases the Israelites suffered were not a direct blow from God, but rather a result of bad decision-making and straying away from God’s high moral and hygienic standards (Pr. 7:21,27; Rom. 1:26,27; Gal. 6:7,8).

Another factor contributing to Israel’s physical ailments came to be the constant wars that were waged against it.

Jerusalem was besieged for several years before being burnt down by the Babylonians in 607 b.C.E. and then again by the Romans in 70 C.E.

The attacks Judea suffered fulfilled God’s warning that if his People constantly disobeyed him, he would not protect them from their enemies.

As a result, they suffered terrible famine and pestilence, just as Jehovah had warned them through Moses (De. 28:25-44).

Jesus foretold of future world-spread disease when asked about the Last Days:
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another food shortages and pestilences…” (Luke 21:10,11).

Although we cannot avoid the fulfillment of these prophecies, we can be sure they point to a time when Christ does away with physical suffering, for he promised “your deliverance is getting near,” (Luke 21:28).

In the mean time, we can protect ourselves from many avoidable diseases by simply following God’s high moral and hygienic standards and living a healthy lifestyle.

Deuteronomy, chapters 23-27

“You must not bring the price paid to a female prostitute or the price paid to a male prostitute into the house of Jehovah your God to fulfill a vow, for both of them are something detestable to Jehovah your God.”

~Deuteronomy 23:18

This is essentially a law against money laundering.

The principle that God doesn’t want dirty money calls to mind the story of Judas and the 30 silver coins he got from betraying Christ (Matt. 27:5).

After committing a grave sin, a person might feel compelled to right a wrong through financial methods.

But serious wrongdoing can only be erased before God if there is a turning of the heart (Eze. 18:31).

More important than the amount a person or entity donates to a charity are the spirit and means that were used to acquire that money.

Was it whole-hearted honest labor? Was it through the sale of something dear and valuable?

If we are living morally unclean lives, we cannot just buy a seat in the house of God’s true worship. Salvation would be a mere illusion (Eze. 7:19).

Religions hold a great deal of the blame, as they habitually accept considerable donations from organized crime members, a sin for which they will be held accountable (Rev. 18:4,5,8,24).

Numbers, chapters 4-6

[…] In the case of a man who becomes jealous and suspects his wife of unfaithfulness; he should make his wife stand before Jehovah, and the priest must carry out toward her all this law.

~Numbers 5:30

This passage stirs up negative feelings in me, so this post might come off as more subjective than others.

When an Israelite man suspected that his wife had been unfaithful to him but there were not enough witnesses, he had to bring her to trial before the priests and Jehovah.

There he was to offer “a grain offering of jealousy,” his wife had to publicly swear that she had been faithful to him, calling a curse upon herself in the case that she was lying, and then the priest would pick up dust from the tabernacle floor, put it in clean water and have her drink the water (Nu. 5:14-26).

I have read this passage a few times but have a hard time reconciling why God would put a woman through what seems to me an abuse of power and public humiliation when it was just as likely that she was innocent.

I therefor decided to investigate this law in more detail in order to gain a better understanding of it.

The law called on God to act as ultimate judge. The water she drank did not have special powers; it simply symbolized that the oath had been taken before Jehovah in a sacred place.

It was normal back then, even more so than it is today, for a sexually active woman to bear children.

But the curse the woman called down upon herself asked God to intercept this natural process by making her barren.

If the woman’s ‘abdomen swelled and thigh fell away,’ she would henceforth be incapable of having children, meaning God had found her guilty and he had punished her himself (Nu. 5:27).

This act of divine intervention would be the equivalent of a miracle- a negative miracle, seeing it from the woman’s perspective.

Now, obviously for this curse to be tested out, the husband had to have sexual relations with his wife. If she did not swell up and eventually ‘conceived and produced offspring,’ that would be testament of her innocence (Nu. 5:28).

I still have trouble assimilating the trauma and social stigma this exposed a woman to, the frustration she must have felt if she suspected him of being unfaithful, not having a law to process that, plus the lack of a way to identify the male adulterer in cases where the woman was in fact an adulteress.

However I have to note that there is a great deal of wisdom behind the law which basically required the man to lie down again with his wife.

From a marriage perspective, when a couple lies down together after a serious argument, it triggers something in one’s psychology that presses one to forgive the spouse and move past that obstacle in the relationship. It is what is colloquially called “make-up sex.”

Also the time that passed while trying to conceive allowed the couple to try to work their problems out over several months, instead of just recurring to divorce or stoning.

At this point I would like  to note that jealousy in itself is and always has been a sin, so if the accused woman bore a child, her husband was publicly regarded as having been wrong (Gal. 5:19,20).

And that can be pretty hard on a guy’s ego.

There are a lot of ‘what-if’ scenarios that must have arisen when this law was enforced, questions that modern fertility tests would answer for us impartially and without the need for divine intervention.

Certainly Mosaic Law did have its limitations, and where these laws fell short, justice became a matter of faith (Rom. 8:3).

For “there is only one who is Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and to destroy. But you, who are you to be judging […]?” (Jam. 4:12).