The Christian Inventory (Ephesians 1:7-12)

Ephesians 1:7-12 reveals 3 permanent possessions every Christ has in Christ. 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:7–12, ESV)

OUTLINE:

I. Redemption (v. 7) 

A. price of redemption: “In him we have redemption”

1. paid by the Beloved: “through his”

2. paid with blood: “blood”

B. result of redemption: “the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace”

II. Revelation (vv. 8-10) 

A. capacity for revelation: which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight

B. content of revelation: “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

III. Inheritance (vv. 11-12) 

A. inheritance secured: “In him we have obtained an inheritance”

1. secured by God’s predestination: “having been predestined”

2. secured by God’s purpose: “according to the purpose”

3. secured by God’s providence: “of him who works all things”

4. secured by God’s plan: “according to the counsel of his will”

B. inheritance realized

1. realized hope: “so that we who were the first to hope in Christ”

2. realized glory: “might be to the praise of his glory”

How to Use Your Spiritual Gift in the Local Church

Sermon Audio

Sermon Handout [Rom 12.3-6]

How do we use our spiritual gifts in the local church? Romans 12:3-5 reveals 3 requirements for the use of spiritual gifts in the local church.

3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 

Romans 12:3–5 (ESV)

I. The spiritual gifts require a plurality (v. 3a)

To be effective as a church we need a plurality of gifts at work. No one has every gift, but everyone has some gift. This is why a plurality is required.

A. plurality illustrated by Paul (“by grace given to me”)

The plurality of the gifts is perfectly illustrated by the apostle Paul. If Paul, who  persecuted the church (Phil 3:6) & murdered Christians (Acts 7:8) was gifted and used by God, don’t you think God can use you as well? Of course he can, and He does.

B.  plurality implied by Paul (“everyone among you”)

Paul not only illustrates the plurality of gifts in the church, he implies it. He is speaking to “everyone” about the gifts b/c every Christian has a gift. If the Spirit is at work within you, then God intends for you to be at work within the church. When you come to church you are not a consumer, God has gifted you to be a service provider.

II. The spiritual gifts require humility (v. 3b)

Just as no Christian is excluded from the gifts, no Christian is excluded from this requirement.  Humility is our responsibility.

A. responsibility of humility (δεῖ)

As Christians, humility is our responsibility, and it is the first step in mind renewal Rom 12:2). The world is pining for self-esteem, but Paul says get over yourself if you want to be useful to God. You cannot be impressed with yourself and useful to God at the same time (James 4:6).

B. reality of humility (“sober” & “according to faith”)

Humility comes through wise & sensible thinking about who we are, and who God has made us not exaggeration or deprecation. Paul’s point is that instead of measuring ourselves by others, we need to soberly evaluate if we are being faithful with the gifts and faith that God has given to us. Forget about how you compare w/ others. Humbly live your life to be faithful with what God gave you.

III. The spiritual gifts require diversity (vv. 4-5)

A healthy church will be full of people who are different than you and serve differently than you.  God has not only saved us from diverse backgrounds, but he has also given us diverse gifts.

A. functional diversity

We need a functional diversity of gifts at work in the church. We often assume that if people aren’t serving as we are serving, they aren’t serving at all.  Instead, we should assume that they are doing what we have not been gifted to do.  Don’t get irritated with people when they don’t serve like you, expect it & encourage it.  This is God’s design & we need this just as much as you need your hand & your heart to serve different functions.

B. unified diversity

At the same time, our functional diversity must be a unified diversity We may all function in diverse ways, but we must be unified by the same Lord & the same love for one another.

Jesus Publicly Accepts His Ministry as a Substitutionary Atonement (Mark 1:9)

a. Jesus appeared

In verse 9 we read of Jesus’ public submission to His ministry.  There Mark writes, “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.”  Here Mark introduces us to the main character of this entire account: Jesus.  Mark tells us that Jesus arrived on the scene “in those days.” What were these days?  These were the days of John’s ministry.  So, Jesus came into the picture at the height of John’s ministry when John was in the wilderness baptizing thousands.  From Luke’s account we learn that Jesus was about thirty years old (Luke 3:23).  Mark additionally tells us that Jesus came from “Nazareth of Galilee.”  It is interesting that Mark would make sure to add that Nazareth was in Galilee.  This would be like me telling someone that I am from Brandon, FL.   The only reason that I would add “Florida” would be because the person I was talking to did not know where Brandon is.  This is exactly why Mark adds “of Galilee.”  Nazareth was obscure little village that no one outside of the region would have known.  Mark’s Roman readers (See Introduction) surely wouldn’t have known anything about Nazareth.  In fact, Nazareth isn’t even mentioned in the Old Testament.  Because of its obscurity we do not know a lot about Nazareth.  But we do know a few details about Nazareth.  It was located approximately 70 miles north of Jerusalem in the hills west of the Sea of Galilee.  Due in part to this remote location Nazareth was just an insignificant agricultural village with a meager population during Jesus’ time.  Nazareth is first mentioned in the Bible as the home of Mary and Joseph (Luke 1:26-27).  Jesus was born in Bethlehem rather than Nazareth because of the census.  However, Jesus’ family eventually returned home to Nazareth where Jesus grew up.

The fact that Jesus came from such a small town should be striking to us.  Remember, this appearance may seem to be a bit anticlimactic, but Mark is introducing us to the one “who is mightier.”  In vv. 7-8 John vividly portrayed this one “who is mightier” and His divine ministry.  Everyone who heard John would have been waiting for this “One,” and now Mark tells us that He has arrived.  And it is more than just a little conspicuous that He came from such a small town.    The people would have probably been very confused about this.  How could the Messiah come from Nazareth?  When Philip told Nathanael, who would become one of Jesus’ own disciples, that Jesus was from Nazareth Nathanael asked if “anything good can come out of Nazareth?”  (John 1:46)  So what is the significance of Jesus being from Nazareth?  In Matthew’s account of the Gospel we are told that Jesus “lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: ‘he shall be called a Nazarene.’” (Matthew 2:23) If you are paying attention then you might be wondering how this could be if Nazareth was never mentioned in the Old Testament.  Well, Matthew is not necessarily referring to just Jesus’ home town.  You see, Nazareth was sort of like the “low rent” district.  Nazareth was the place that everyone made fun of (insert the section of your home town that everyone makes fun of here).  Therefore, when Matthew says that it is a fulfillment of prophecy that Jesus was called a Nazarene he has in mind the fact that Jesus would be mocked and detested.  This would fulfill the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 53:3.

This aspect of Jesus’ ministry was often overlooked by the people of his day.  When John said that a mightier one was coming they thought that this mightier one would come in great splendor, overtake the Romans, and establish His earthly kingdom in Jerusalem.  They did not understand that before Jesus could return and set up his earthly kingdom He had to come as a Nazarene and die as a sacrifice for sinners.  This will be an important theme as we continue in the book of Mark.

 

b. Jesus was baptized by John

From Mark’s description of Jesus we start to get a glimpse of what Jesus’ ministry would be all about.  He would be mocked and hated.  He would bee the despised One of Isaiah 53:3.  But despite this, Mark makes it clear to his readers that Jesus willingly accepted this ministry.  In verse 9 Jesus publicly submits to this ministry by being baptized by John in the Jordan River.  You may be thinking “wait a minute where do you get that from?  Jesus never says anything like that!”  Let me see if I can explain it by first posing a question.  Why was Jesus baptized?  John was “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” but surely Jesus did not need to repent.  Jesus had never sinned. This is why the apostle Paul said that Jesus “knew no sin.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He was perfect in very way. He had no sins to confess; He was “the Holy and Righteous One.” (Acts 3:14)  So why was he baptized by John?  This is the very same question that John asked.

In Matthew 3:14 we see John’s reaction to Jesus coming to be baptized.  It says:

John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

In the next verse (3:15) Jesus answers John and reveals to us why he needed to be baptized:

But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

Jesus told John to “Let it be so now” even though John was the sinner and Jesus was sinless so that they would “fulfill all righteousness.”  When Jesus speaks of “all righteousness” he is talking about God’s plan and purpose for Jesus’ life and ministry.  Thus, Jesus was not being baptized as a sign of repentance, but instead was being baptized in order to submit Himself to His God-appointed ministry.  Specifically, Jesus was submitting to His role as a sacrifice for sinners.  He came to take the place of sinners, to be their representative in order that He might redeem them.[1]  And it all started with His baptism.  By His baptism He was identifying Himself with sinners.

By publicly being baptized by John Jesus was accepting his role as a representative for the human race.  In the Old Testament Isaiah spoke of this role in Isaiah 53:11:

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

Here Jesus is the righteous one; God’s servant.  Through His ministry many will be accounted righteous because he will bear their iniquities.  In the New Testament Peter spoke of this same thing in 1 Peter 3:18:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…

Jesus came to suffer for sins. He was the righteous sacrifice for the unrighteous.

You may be wondering “why do we need someone to make a sacrifice for us?”  The answer to this is that we need someone to make a sacrifice for us because we have all sinned (Romans 3:23).  Not only that, but we have sinned against an infinitely good God.  The result of this sin is punishment; specifically death (Romans 6:23).  This death includes physical death (our bodies die), spiritual death (we are separated from God), and eternal death (we are punished in hell for all eternity).

In order to avoid this three-fold death our relationship with God must be reconciled.  Because God is a just God he cannot just ignore our sins.  They must be punished.  This is where Jesus’ sacrifice comes in.  He came to provide the needed infinitely good sacrifice for those whom He was representing.   By being put to death he made the payment that we owed for sin.  Additionally, his infinite righteousness was credited to our account so that we can now have a relationship with an infinitely righteous God.  Through this work alone we can be reconciled to God.  This is why Jesus had to identify himself with sinners, and his baptism was the first step in this identification.  It was the first step in a ministry that He knew would ultimately lead to His death.  And yet he willingly accepted this ministry.  He gave up his place at the right hand of the Father.  He accepted the limitations of a human being.  He subjected Himself to the scorn of being a “Nazarene.”  And ultimately, He submitted Himself to dying the death of a criminal on the cross.  This is what Jesus was publicly accepting, and submitting Himself to when He was baptized by John in the Jordan.

The question we would ask is why would He do this?  The answer is two-fold.  First, Jesus submitted Himself to this ministry out of love for His Father.  This submissive love is most clearly demonstrated in Jesus’ last time of prayer before being arrested.  This prayer is recorded for us in John 17:

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.  (vv. 1-5)

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (vv. 24ff)

The second reason why Jesus submitted to this ministry that would lead to His death is so that we might be saved!  Jesus told his disciples that he “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

In light of this incredible act on the part of Jesus let me encourage you in two ways.  First, let me encourage you to have the same submission attitude that Jesus had.  The Father gave Him a ministry that involved being lowered to the point of death on a cross, and he willingly accepted this ministry because He loved the Father and He loved other.  Similarly, God has placed you where you are in life and gifted you in specific ways so that you can bring Him glory.  You need to have the attitude of Jesus and out of love for the Father and for other accept this task from the Lord.  There is nothing mysterious about it.  There are no secrets ways to determine what task God has given you.  It is very simple.  All you need to do is get involved.  Out of love for the Father, seek His glory by serving Him.  Out of love for others, seek their good by serving them.  In everything you do have an attitude of submission, and a desire to see God glorified.  If you do this then you will be submitting to the task that you were made for.

However, before you can submit to your God-given task, you must first be reconciled to God.  So let me implore you with the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21:

We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This is why “Jesus came” and “was baptized.”  He came to provide forgiveness through His death and resurrection.  You can receive this forgiveness by identifying yourself with Jesus through faith. Repent from you current life of sin, and belief in Jesus so that you will be saved.  This is the promise of the Gospel message and this was the amazing ministry that Jesus publicly submitted to by being baptized by John in the Jordan River.


[1] Hiebert, The Gospel of Mark, pg. 32.

Why Should You Worship the God of the Bible? (audio)

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to preach on the topic of worship.  Specifically, I dealt with the question “Why should you worship the God of the Bible?”  It is certainly not an exhaustive treatise on the subject, but hopefully it is sufficient.  You can Download Here: Why Should You Worship the God of the Bible?

OR

You can stream it here: http://gbcb.org/site/audiodownloads.asp?sec_id=140002342

The Devastating Nature of Sin – Mark 6:14-29 (pt. 4)

Mark 6:14-29

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

IV. Sin is devastating because it has disastrous results. (vv. 27-29)

As we have observed the effects of sin in Herod’s life we can clearly see that sin is devastating.  It distorts your thinking.  It leads you to do disgusting things.  It forces you to violate your conscience.  Finally, in vv. 27-29, we will see that sin is devastating because it has disastrous results.  These verses tell us what happened after Herod violated his conscience, “And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.” After being trapped by his wife, Herod sent his executioner to John’s cell with orders to bring back his head.  And this is exactly what happened.  The girl got John’s head on a platter and took it to her mother.  She finally had what she wanted.

It is important that we notice just how disastrous the result of Herod’s sin was.  First of all, it was a gruesome thing to cut of a man’s head.  Just think about how disgusting that would have been.  Secondly, John was dead.  There was no taking back this sin.  Once Herod commissioned John’s death there is nothing that he could have done to take it back.  This is illustrated by the fact that John’s disciples came and laid his body in a tomb.  Even if Herod had felt guilty afterwards there was nothing that he could have done to change what happened.  John’s head was with Herodias, and his body was in a tomb.  Thus the results of Herod’s sin were gruesome and final.  It was disastrous.

This was true with Herod’s sin, and it is true with all sin.  So many times we get caught up in the lure of sin, and we forget about the results.  However, sin always has disastrous results.  There are numerous illustrations of this: King David; Killers in Prison. Additionally, the bible teaches that sin ultimately leads to spiritual death (Romans 6:26; Ephesians 2:1).  In fact, the results of sin are so disastrous that Jesus had to come and die on a cross in order to redeem us.

Everything around us screams out that the results of sin are disastrous, and yet usually pay no attention.  We get so caught up in the sin that we forget about the disastrous result.  This is what happened to King Herod, and look at what happen.

Conclusion:

Before we close out our look at the sin of King Herod I want to jump forward to an event that occurred a few years after the death of John the Baptist.  I want to look at the last time that this Herod is mentioned in the bible.  We find this reference in the book of Luke.  In Luke 23 Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod (because he did not want to deal with the problem).  Luke 23:8-11 tells us what happen when Jesus was brought before Herod:

When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate.

Here we see the ultimate proof of sin’s devastation.  Because of His sin Herod rejected the only One that could possible save him from his sins, Jesus.

Sin is clearly devastating:

  1. Sin is devastating because it distorts your thinking. (vv. 14-16)
  2. Sin is devastating because it leads you to do disgusting things. (vv. 17-18)
  3. Sin is devastating because it forces you to violate you conscience. (vv.19-26)
  4. Sin is devastating because it has horrible results. (vv. 27-29)

My prayer for all of you is that you will understand how devastating sin is, and you stay away from it.  If you are a Christian this means that you will continue to follow Jesus, and depend on the resources He has given you to gain victory over sin.  If you are not a Christian this means that you must turn to Christ to be forgiven of you sins, and consequently given the resources to battle sin.

The Devastating Nature of Sin – Mark 6:14-29 (pt. 3)

Mark 6:14-29

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

III. Sin is devastating because it forces you to violate you conscience. (vv. 19-26)

We have seen that sin is devastating, first of all, because it distorts your thinking.  Secondly, sin is devastating because it leads you to do disgusting things.  Now, in verses 19-26, we are going to see that sin is devastating because it forces you to violate your conscience.  We are going to see this principle as the story of John’s death progresses.

In vv. 19-20 Mark makes it clear that Herodias and Herod had differing opinions when it came to John the Baptist.  V. 19 tells us that Herodias held a significant grudge against John.  In fact, the phrase literally means that “she had it out” for John.  In fact, she held such a grudge against John that she was not satisfied with him simply being imprisoned.  She wanted him to be put to death.  Her only problem was that “she could not,” and v. 20 tells us why.  It was because Herod feared John.  As Mark puts it, “Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe.”  From this we see that in some since Herod feared John.  As one commentator put it, “Herod is pictured as superstitiously fearing John because he knew that John’s life was holy and his was wicked.”[1] His fear did not lead him to act upon John’s message, nor did it prevent him from arresting John.  However, he did fear John because he recognized that John was righteous and holy.  Here there are two words used to describe John, “the first describes his blameless relations toward his fellow men; the second portrays his character of total separation unto God.”[2]

Not only did Herod have a superstitious fear of John, but he was also entertained by John.  At the end of v. 20 Mark says that “when he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.”  In other words, he did not understand what John was talking about but he got a “kick” out of hearing him speak.  Mark does not tell us why this was, but I don’t think that it is a stretch to assume that Herod was entertained by John because John was such an unusual character.  Herod was used to the high society of palace life, and John was certainly not a part of that world!  Additionally, Herod was used to being surrounded by “yes men,” and John certainly was not that!  In fact, Herod had never seen anything quite like John before, and this was intriguing to Herod.

Because of Herod’s fear of and interest in John he would not have John put to death.  No matter what Herodias did she apparently was not able to convince Herod to change his mind on this matter.  However, v. 21 tells us that “an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and leading men of Galilee.”  In other words, there was a big party with a lot of powerful men in attendance, and this was going to give Herodias the opportunity to get what she wanted.  In v. 22 the plot thickens when “Herodias’s daughter came in and danced.”

With respect to the identity of this girl, this was Herod’s step-daughter.  Her name was probably Salome, and at this time she was probably in her late teens.  With respect to the dance, the exact nature of the dance is left to our imaginations.  But it is certainly the kind of “low class” act that would have pleased a group of drunken males, for Mark tells us that the dance “pleased Herod and his guests.  And the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.’”   (This, by the way, is another example of sin leading you to do disgusting things.)

Apparently the girl hesitated for a moment when Herod extended this offer, so in v. 23 “he vowed to her, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give to you, up to half of my kingdom.”  This vow is ludicrous, and it is another example of Herod’s sin.  First of all, Herod was a vassal of the Roman Emperor.  His kingdom was not even really his own, and he certainly did not have the right to give any part of that kingdom to someone else.  But that didn’t really matter to Herod because he had no intention of giving this girl a part of his kingdom.  Herod was just trying to impress his guest.  This was all about pride, and he had no idea of the trap that he was falling into.

A trap is exactly what Mark describes in vv. 24-25, “And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”  Herod had taken the bait, and now Herodias was finally going to get what she wanted.

It is interesting to see how Herod responded when he realized that he had been fooled.  V. 26 tells us that he was “exceedingly sorry.”  This is a word that speaks of a deep grief.  Jesus used this word in Mark 14:34 right before his betrayal when he said to his disciples “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”  By using this word Mark clearly indicates that Herod was deeply troubled at the prospect of killing John.  You might even say that his conscience was telling him not to kill John.  This is, in fact, how our consciences work.  As one professor of mine put it, “the conscience is like the warning light for the soul.”  Unfortunately Herod ignored this warning light.  The rest of v. 26 tells us that “because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her.”  In other words, he did not want to be embarrassed in front of all his guests.  His sin had gotten him into this situation, and now was forcing him to violate his conscience.

Sin will do the same thing to our consciences.  Over time sin will dull our conscience.  You have seen this happen before.  You do something that you know is wrong, and after the first time you feel extremely guilty.  But then the second time the guilt is not as great.  And slowly over time you don’t feel guilty at all.  This is how it works.  Sin dulls our conscience, and a life pattern of sin leads to us violating our conscience over and over.  This is a big deal because God has given us a conscience as an aid to help us obey Him.  If we are ignoring our conscience then we are not properly using the aid that God has given us.

Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.”  This was certainly the case with Herod.  His sin forced him to violate his conscience, and it will do the same thing do us.  In fact, Hebrews 10:22-23 tells us that the only way we can be cleansed of an evil conscience is through the work of Jesus:

and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.


[1]James A. Brooks, vol. 23, Mark, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1991), 105.

[2] Hiebert, 167.

The Devastating Nature of Sin – Mark 6:14-29 (pt. 2)

Mark 6:14-29

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

II. Sin is devastating because it leads you to do disgusting things. (vv. 17-18)

In addition to distorting your thinking, sin is devastating because it leads you to do disgusting things.  Look at vv. 17-18.  This is where Herod’s distorted view of Jesus began.  In these verses we see the events that led up to the death of John, and consequently we see the process by which Herod’s thinking became flawed.  It all started with a sinful lust that led him to do disgusting things.  Vv. 17-18 explain, “For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

Here we see why John was in prison.  It was because he had preached against Herod’s marriage to Herodias.  And rightfully so!  Herod had literally stolen his brother’s wife. One commentator explains:

For Herodias” sake, his brother Philip’s wife” – Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, a half-brother to Antipas, thus his niece.  She had married her uncle here called Philip, and they had had a daughter named Salome.  Philip had been disinherited by his father, Herod the Great, and lived with Herodias in Rome as a private citizen.  While visiting his brother in Rome, Antipas became enamored with Herodias, who, as an ambitious woman, agreed to marry Antipas on the condition that he would divorce his wife, a daughter of the Nabataean king Aretas IV.[1]

This was a disgusting love triangle and it all started with Herod’s lust for his brother’s wife.

Herod’s actions were certainly sinful when he married Herodias.  This is why John preached against it.  Herod had claimed to be a convert to Judaism, for political reasons, and Leviticus 18:16 & 20:21 clearly prohibited this. Thus, it was politically damaging for Herod to have John out there preaching against his sin.  This is why Herod had John arrested.

In these verses we have an example of how sin leads you to do disgusting things.  It was Herod’s lust for Herodias led him to marry her.  So it all started with one little sin.  In his heart Herod’s lusted for her, and this is where that sin took him.  In Matthew 5:28 Jesus explains this in a bit more detail: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Herod did not deal with this and look at the disgusting things it led him to do.  He married his brother’s wife, and then unjustly imprisoned John when John revealed his sin.

This is how sin works.  If you do not deal with the sin in your lives it will lead us to do disgusting things.  When we understand this principle it is a little easier to understand why, in Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus went on to say,

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

At the very first hint of sin we must deal with it!  We must flee from it!  Because if we don’t it will lead us to do some disgusting things.


[1]Hiebert, 165-166.