The Old Testament is Dying

Picture2If you’re a Christian, look at your Bible. Does the fake gold trim still gleam on the first 3/4 of your Bible? Flip through the pages; do you still hear that crisp crackle of virgin pages? Do some of these pages still stick together, pure and fresh as the driven snow?

Have you ever read Deuteronomy, perhaps the grandest book in the entire Bible? Do you know the Old Testament law, from Leviticus? If you do, you’ll realize how sincere Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, was when he pledged to reimburse all whom he’d wronged at 400% each (Luke 19:8; cf. Lev 6:1-7).

Listen to this:

[T]he Old Testament is dying. Much needs to be said about this claim to explain it, let alone establish it, but for me let it gloss it further by stating my firm belief that for many contemporary Christians, at least in North America, the Old Testament has ceased to function in healthy ways in their lives as sacred, authoritative, canonical literature.

These individuals — or in some cases, groups of individuals (even entire churches) — do not regard the Old Testament in the same way (or as highly) as the New Testament, do not understand the Old Testament, would prefer to do without the Old Testament, and for all practical purposes do exactly that by means of their neglect and ignorance of it, whether in private devotion or public worship or both.

All of that is what I mean by the shorthand claim “The Old Testament is dying.” Indeed, in many circles, the claim “The Old Testament is dying,” as stark as it is, is not nearly stark enough. “The Old Testament is dead” is far more accurate.

One Old Testament scholar has lamented,

. . . there remains a distressing absence of the Old Testament in the church. It is possible to attend some churches for months without ever hearing a sermon from the older testament, which represents well over three-fourths of what our Lord had to say to us. This vacuum is unconscionable for those who claim that the whole Bible is the authoritative Word of God to mankind.

Well . . . ?

Don’t be a Fraud

Hypocrisy is a problem. Always has been. Always will be. But, don’t let that make you all warm and fuzzy inside. Don’t bask in the comfortable glow of a shared failure. God hates hypocrisy. God hates a fraud.

  • Are you a fraud?
  • Do you go through the external motions of worship, without sincerity from your heart?
  • Do you think God is pleased with empty externalism?
  • Do you have an actual covenant relationship with God, through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ? Or, is it all a sham? A fraud? A show?

The good news Jesus lived, suffered, died and rose again to bring to you can solve all that, and can give you perfect peace (cf. Romans 5:1ff).

If you’re a Christian who has lost the love for the Lord you once had, read the Scriptures, pray to the Lord, and ask him to help you. Go to your church (you do have one, don’t you?), and let the preached Word of God change your heart. Take comfort in the fellowship of your Christian brothers and sisters. Talk to your Pastor about your struggles. You won’t be bothering him – it’s why he’s there!

Here are some brief thoughts from Proverbs 15:8. My children tried to distract me halfway through the video, but I soldiered on anyway!

Eager for Corruption

The prophet Zephaniah wrote his little book during King Josiah’s reign in the southern kingdom of Judah (ca. 640 – 609 B.C.). Josiah was a godly man (2 Chr 34:1-5) who implemented a whole host of religious reforms. The rot had spread far in his day. It was so bad, in fact, that a priest stumbled upon the law of Moses in the temple, and brought it forth in wonder – he’d never heard of it before (2 Chr 34:13-21)!

Not good! It makes you wonder what on earth the Israelite priests thought they were doing every day . . .

But, the reform appears to have been superficial and external, in many cases. Zephaniah tells us so. He doesn’t mince words (Zeph 3:1-8):

 Woe to her that is rebellious and defiled,
    the oppressing city!
She listens to no voice,
    she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord,
    she does not draw near to her God.

Her officials within her
    are roaring lions;
her judges are evening wolves
    that leave nothing till the morning.
Her prophets are wanton,
    faithless men;
her priests profane what is sacred,
    they do violence to the law.
The Lord within her is righteous,
    he does no wrong;
every morning he shows forth his justice,
    each dawn he does not fail;
    but the unjust knows no shame.

“I have cut off nations;
    their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets
    so that none walks in them;
their cities have been made desolate,
    without a man, without an inhabitant.
I said, ‘Surely she will fear me,
    she will accept correction;
she will not lose sight
    of all that I have enjoined upon her.’
But all the more they were eager
    to make all their deeds corrupt.

The Jewish leaders are corrupt predators. Her judges, who ought to be upholding justice and righteousness (founded on God’s word), and instead “evening wolves.” Her priests are apostates who don’t know the Lord.

Nevertheless, God is still there, showing forth His justice. Yet, “the unjust knows no shame.” He has shown His favor to Israel. He has destroyed pagan nations, and utterly annihilated enemies. Surely, Israel will reverence, respect and obey Him! Right?

Wrong. Instead, the prophet concludes with this:

But all the more they were eager
    to make all their deeds corrupt.
How sad. And yet, in the rest of this chapter, Zephaniah explains how God intends to rescue and redeem His people from themselves. He will purge the hypocrites and idolaters from their midst, and create a pure people for His name from among the Israelites (Zeph 3:11):
On that day you shall not be put to shame
    because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;
for then I will remove from your midst
    your proudly exultant ones,
and you shall no longer be haughty
    in my holy mountain.
This is real mercy and grace. People deserve destruction and annihilation for their sins. God withholds it, just because He can. People don’t deserve favor and kindness from God, and cannot ever earn it. God extends it anyway, just because He wants to. This is the same mercy, grace, love and kindness every Christian has in union with Jesus Christ.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God (Rom 5:1-2).
You can have this peace, too. Read about the Good News of Jesus Christ here.

What is Sin . . . Really? (Part 2)

sinRead the rest of the series.

Sin is more than an external action. It is also a thought. It is also a state of being; a status or condition. You are either pregnant or you are not. You are either a male or a female. You are either a condemned sinner in God’s universe – an individual made in God’s image who stands guilty and has the status of “criminal” . . . or you are not.

So much is clear. But, is there still another layer here? After all, why do people break God’s moral law? What is at the heart of this transgression? What drives the sinful action? That is, what is the motive?

This matter of intent is important. It lies at the heart of our legal system. The difference between murder and, say, involuntary manslaughter is the issue of intent. In the former case, you plan to kill somebody and you do it. In the latter scenario, you kill somebody in the heat of a sudden passion. Both are wicked and wrong. But, we all recognize that murder carries greater condemnation. We recognize this because we understand that intent means something.

Moral value is assigned to the act, thought or state based on the intent of the action. That criterion is motive. An act is “sinful” (i.e. “tainted with, marked by, or full of sin”[1]) because of the wicked motivation which drives the behavior. So, consider yourself:

  • What makes you lust after a co-worker?
  • Hate your Christian brother (i.e. “neighbor”)?
  • Cheat on your taxes?
  • Covet money?
  • Forsake the local church?
  • Close your eyes to the cares and needs of your Christian brethren?
  • Never read the Scriptures?
  • Watch pornography?
  • Value your career over your responsibilities to your own family?
  • Love yourself more than you love your spouse?
  • Shirk your responsibility to raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
  • Fail to live up to your God-given responsibilities as a mother or father?

It should be clear there is an intent, a motive and a drive which produces (1) a sinful action, (2) a sinful thought or (3) the state of “sinfulness” and condemnation in the unregenerate. The act, thought or state is merely the fruit of something far deeper. One theologian observed, “It may be admitted along with the speculative ideals that sin is an action of the will – either an overt omission or commission – but back of the will is the evil heart.”[2]

The act, thought or state of sin is not “sinful” in and of itself – it is merely the fruit of some other poisonous tree. My question today is – what is that tree?

There have been several answers. We’ll focus on three:[3]


This view hold that sin is really about lust. There are physical desires which every man recognizes are part of the material world, and there are spiritual virtues everybody recognizes are higher, nobler and more virtuous. Sin is a capitulation to the physical lusts (i.e. “sensuality”) at the expense of spiritual truth.[4]

This view is clearly wrong-headed. There are many sinful actions which have nothing to do with physical lust. Pride, discord, jealousy, envy and arrogance (to name a few) are certainly not about lusting after physical things. This concept of sin also tends to favor aestheticism; that is, the idea that a monk living in the desert is somehow more “spiritual” than the Christian who lives in the city. This is nonsense.[5]


We prefer God to ourselves. We want what we want, not what God wants. We are petulant, spoiled and wicked children who want a Burger King god – one who makes things our way. After all, God commanded His people to love Him supremely (cf. Deut 6:5). Christ sought the Father’s will, not His own. A true Christian does not live for Himself, but for the Lord. Satan’s main point of attack in the Garden of Eden was an appeal to selfish independence. The antichrist himself, the “man of sin,” is so named because he will exalt himself against God.[6] “[S]elfishness can be understood as the root cause of all other expressions of sin.”[7] One theologian wrote, “[W]hen selfishness is considered as an undue preference of our interests to God’s interests, we have in selfishness the essence of all sin.”[8]

This view has a lot to commend it. But, I don’t believe it quite goes far enough. There is still another layer to this onion.

  • A man does cheat on his wife because he is selfish.
  • He does cheat on his taxes because he is selfish.
  • He does forsake the local Christian church because he is selfish.
  • He does forsake his personal study of the Scriptures in favor of his career and his own narcissistic ambition.
  • He may even forsake his duties as a father, son and husband because he is selfish

But, there is something deeper:

  • Why does a man cheat on his wife?
  • Why does he cheat on his taxes?
  • Why does he forsake his local church?
  • Why does he neglect his own responsibilities as a father?

In effect, I’m asking:

  • Why does a man reject God in favor of his own self-interest?
  • Why is a man selfish?

This leads us to the next option; the best option

Rejection of God’s Authority

At the heart of all this is a willful rejection of God. You commit sinful acts, think sinful thoughts, and are born by nature as a child of wrath in the state of sin because you are in rebellion against God.[9] Even one theologian who advocated for selfishness as the poisonous tree wrote, “this selfishness is simply man’s desire for autonomy.”[10]

  • You are a terrorist insurgent, and God is the law keeper.
  • You are a criminal in God’s universe, and Jesus is the Righteous Judge
  • You are a seditious rebel, and it is God who you are fighting against

Because this is true, sin is really more than an act, a thought or a state of being. It is a willful desire for complete independence from God. This unending quest for autonomy manifests itself in:

  1. the wicked condition of spiritual degeneracy and depravity
  2. the evil thoughts, lusts and intents of the human heart and mind, and
  3. criminal actions which are against God’s law

Adam and Eve’s great sin was the start of it all. That sin was that “they became, in their understanding, their own authority, and their fallen descendants ever since that time have claimed a similar autonomy from God.”[11] A “willful ambition against God” was also Satan’s sin, and it is ours, too.[12] When you get down to brass tacks, Adam and Eve were disobedient – “[h]ence infidelity was at the root of the revolt.”[13] The Apostle Paul confirmed this:

Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous (Rom. 5:18-19).

Adam’s trespass led to condemnation; his disobedience resulted in a fundamental change in status. He and his wife lost their status of moral innocence and gained the new status of “rebellious criminal.” Christ’s perfect righteousness is designed to reverse this tragedy for all who repent and believe in Him and His Gospel. Disobedience did this. What is disobedience but a deliberate rejection of authority?

  • Men are commanded to love God with all they have (cf. Deut 6:5),
  • He has given us a holy book, a “perfect treasure of heavenly instruction” which “reveals the principles by which God will judge us,”[14] and tells us precisely how to love Him,
  • An action, thought, or pattern of life which is opposed to God’s command is deliberate disobedience and “active opposition to God.” Indeed, “sin is the result of a free but evil choice of man.”[15]

The Psalmist wrote the same thing:

Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision (Ps 2:1-4).

People are born in rebellion against God, and their entire life is spent desperately trying to cut the ties which bind them to the Father and the Son’s jurisdiction and authority.

The poisonous tree which produces the fruit of sinful actions, sinful thoughts and a sinful status before God is a quest for independence, for autonomy – a deliberate rejection of God. “In short, it is failing to acknowledge God as God.”[16]

What does this mean for you? What does this mean for Jesus and His sinlessness? Until next time . . .


[1] Merriam-Webster (s.v. “sinful”).

[2] Lewis S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, 8 vols. (reprint; Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1976), 2:254.

[3] See Erickson (Christian Theology, 596-598) for short summaries of these theories.

[4] See Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 vols. (reprint; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2011), 2:140-144 for a detailed discussion of this view, and its various flavors.

[5] John Calvin remarked, “the common idea of sensual intemperance is childish,” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge [reprint; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2012], 2.1.4.

[6] These points are from Augustus H. Strong, Systematic Theology, 3 vols. (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1907), 572.

[7] Rolland McCune, A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity, 3 vols. (Detroit, MI: DBTS, 2009), 2:57.

[8] Theissen (Systematic Theology, 247).

[9] “Now there is no doubt that the great central demand of the law is love to God. And if from the material point of view moral goodness consists in love to God, then moral evil must consist in the opposite. It is separation from God, opposition to God, hatred of God, and this manifests itself in constant transgression of the law of God in thought, word, and deed,” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, combined ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996], 2:232).

[10] McCune (Systematic, 2:57).

[11] Robert Reymond, A Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, revised ed. (Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 1998), 445.

[12] See the discussion by Chafer (Systematic, 2:242-248). “All human beings acting independently who are not concerned to fulfill the divine purpose for them are re-enacting this same sin, and their destiny is that of the devil and his angels (Rev 20:10-15), unless they come under the saving grace of God,” (2:248).

[13] Calvin (Institutes, 2.1.4.).

[14] 1833 NHCF, Article 1.

[15] Berkhof (Systematic, 2:231).

[16] Erickson (Christian Theology, 598).

What is Sin (Part 1)?

sinRead the series so far.

This seems to be a simple question, with a simple explanation. I’m willing to bet when you read this question, you immediately started thinking of sin as an action in contradiction to an established norm. You aren’t alone – I did the same thing. We instinctively answer this question as if sin is an act. Even the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the closest thing we have in America to a recognized lexical standard, defines sin as, “an offense against religious or moral law.”[1]

It is true that a sin is a transgression against a moral law. From the Christian worldview, the very idea of objective morality, and the universal human ability to differentiate between the concepts of “right” and “wrong” are proof that:

  1. there is a Creator,
  2. we are His creatures – created in His image,
  3. He defines morality and the concepts of “good” and “evil,” and
  4. all human beings are subject to His rule and, therefore, His law.

But, that’s not the whole story. It isn’t enough to craft a definition based on external actions and call it a day. Is sin just about externalism? Is it possible to think about something, and commit a sin? Is temptation still a sin, because it’s purely an internal lust? To get down to brass tacks, consider this:

  • Can you lust after a co-worker, as long as you don’t act on the thought?
  • Can you plan to murder the nosy neighbor next door, even if you don’t ever carry out this dastardly deed?
  • Can you pretend to be nice to a Christian brother, while inwardly you hate him?

If sin is simply an outward action, the answer to each of these is, “Yes!” Unfortunately, some popular theology texts do define sin as externalism. Consider these examples:

  • Charles Ryrie: “[S]in is missing the mark, badness, rebellion, iniquity, going astray, wickedness, wandering, ungodliness, crime, lawlessness, transgression, and a falling away.”[2] This is not really a definition at all; it’s a list! But, do you notice how these descriptions are more about external action than anything else?
  • Emery Bancroft: He defines sin as (1) missing the mark of the divine standard, (2) a lapse from God’s requirement, (3) a perversion of what is right, (4) a passing over of the boundaries of God’s law, (5) an affront to God, (6) unfaithfulness, (7) an offense, (7) a failure in duty and (8) disobedience.[3] Again, this isn’t really a systematic definition at all – it’s a redundant list.

Back to externals – is sin more than an act? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed the Old Covenant law as it was meant to be understood.[4] It was not meant to be a checklist; it was a Covenant to be obeyed from the heart. This is why Jesus said:

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. (Matt 5:21-22).

You might not really shoot your nosy neighbor (or his annoying dog) twice in the chest with your trusty 9mm, but if you thought about it, you’re just as guilty. I’m being slightly silly, but you get the point. Here is a more pedestrian example:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matt 5:27-28).

Yes, it is true you didn’t sleep with your co-worker. But, you thought about it. A lot. You are just as guilty.

It seems as if It seems sin is much more than mere action. Behold this good definition of sin from a conservative Baptist theologian:

Sin is any lack of conformity, active or passive, to the moral law of God. This may be a matter of act, of thought, or of inner disposition or state. [5]

There is a lot which could be written from this, but I’ll focus on a few components:

  1. Sin is an action
  2. It is also a thought
  3. It is also a matter of status (i.e. disposition or state)

The last bit is particularly important. You can commit a sinful action. You can think a sinful thought. But, sin is also described in Scripture as a state of being. “Acts of sin spring from a principle or nature that is sin.”[6] We are born by nature as children of wrath, which means we’re born as sinful people, in active rebellion against our Creator. As the 1833 New Hampshire Confession of Faith put it:

We believe that man was created in a state of holiness, under the law of His Maker; but by voluntary transgression fell from the happy and holy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice, being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, wholly given over to the gratification of the world, of Satan, and of their own sinful passions, therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse.[7]

Consider also the Apostle Paul’s words:

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Rom 6:15-18).

Sin here is not an abstract action. It is a state of being. In this passage, it is a taskmaster people are naturally enslaved to – a master who only brings death. In contrast, God is the good master who distributes righteousness to His slaves.

So, when you think about sin, remember it is much more than an action. It is also a thought in your mind and heart. It is also a status which brings eternal damnation and everlasting condemnation, unending hostility and anger from the Holy God who made you, fashioned you, sustains you and calls you even now to repentance and faith in His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.

But, is there something even more fundamental, more basic, to the idea of “sin?” There is. For, now, however . . . ciao.


[1] Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 2003), s.v. “sin,” 1a.

[2] Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1999), 243-244.

[3] Emery Bancroft, Christian Theology, second revised ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), 218-226.

[4] See Leon Morris, The Gospel of Matthew, in PNTC (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), 112-113. D.A. Carson quibbled a bit, and wrote, “The contrast between what the people had heard and what Jesus taught is not based on distinctions like casuistry versus love, outer legalism versus inward commitment, or even false interpretation versus true interpretation, though all of them impinge collaterally on the text. Rather, in every case Jesus contrasts the people’s misunderstanding of the law with the true direction in which the law points, according to His own authority as the law’s ‘fulfiller’ . . . (Matthew, in EBC, vol. 8 [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984], 148).

[5] Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), 596.

[6] Henry C. Theissen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949), 244.

[7] 1833 NHCF, Article 3, quoted in William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith, revised ed. (Valley Forge, PA: Judson, 1969), 362.


This is What Heresy Sounds Like

I was early for a dentist appointment. I didn’t like the idea of sitting idly in the waiting room, listening to bad elevator music, so I darted into a used bookstore across the way. I found a curious little volume entitled The Christ.

The author, Charles Guignebert, passed away in August of 1939, just five days before the thunderclouds of war burst open upon the continent. He’d been Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Paris since 1919. He was also a theological liberal, and likely a complete unbeliever. I cannot be certain, of course, but the odds don’t look good. Not at all.

I picked up the book and looked at the jacket synopsis. The publisher proclaimed Guignebert’s tome was the “classic presentation of the historical origins of Christianity.” I skimmed down past the usual rapturous fluff and spotted the following endorsement:

Many critical scholars remain in [Guignebert’s] debt – Christian Century

Ah, the Christian Century. That publication was about as subtle with its theological sympathies as Breitbart News is with its politics. But, I always enjoy a good bit of heresy, especially when it’s on sale for $1.00.

I opened the book, careful to avoid the cloud of stale dust which burst forth from its pages, and skimmed the first bit of the introduction. Here is what I found:

Since Jesus did not want to found a new religion, he did not found Christianity. However, without knowing it, he did father the faith of which he is the center and the Church which was soon to be accounted him. This paternity, in fundamental contradiction with all that he beelieved, desired, and expected, would have driven him to dispair if he had but foreseen it (p.2).

I can’t wait to read this book. It’s right behind Harry E. Fosdick’s Christianity and Progress on my list. Both works are rank heresy. Christians up for a challenge can learn from heresy.

I spotted one more thing, though – something truly awful. On the inside flap of the book, I saw a little message jotted in neat, block letters:

Happy Easter ’90. Kareen, I hope this will help you in your search for Jesus. Love, Jim.

Let me spare you the suspense, Jim. This book did not help Kareen. It depicts a Jesus the New Testament knows nothing about. It reflects the hostility of satanic unbelief, and the hyper-critical skepticism of liberal elitism. Heresy can be useful. It challenges presuppositions, and forces you to strengthen your own convictions. But, it isn’t what a new or prospective believer needs.

I wish Jim had found something better for Kareen.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

What a stupid question . . .

Ponder this bit of wisdom from J. Gresham Machen:

Clear-cut definition of terms in religious matters, bold facing of the logical implications of religious views, is by many persons regarded as an impious proceeding. May it not discourage contribution to mission boards? May it not hinder the progress of consolidation, and produce a poor showing in columns of Church statistics? But with such persons we cannot possibly bring ourselves to agree. Light may seem at times to be an impertinent intruder, but it is always beneficial in the end.

The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases, regardless of their meanings, or shrinks from “controversial” matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life. In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity & Liberalism (New York, NY: Loiseaux Bros., 1923; reprint; CrossReach Publications, n.d., Kindle ed.), KL 41-47.

Joshua 11:20 in the Septuagint

josh11(20)This isn’t the best title to entice a tired reader, but it’s the best I could do! In my devotions the other day, I ran across Joshua 11:20. Here it is, with the immediate context:

So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same; Even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses (Joshua 11:16-20, KJV).

This verse means what it reads. You cannot escape it. You cannot wish it away. You cannot “contextualize” it and change the meaning of the words. Look at all the English translation you like (e.g. ESV, NLT, NIV, NASB, NET, ISV, LEB, KJV, NKJV, Tyndale, NRSV, RSV), and you won’t find an escape hatch. But, more on that later. For now, I wanted to post my own translation of this verse from the Septuagint.

The LXX, or Septuagint, is the Greek translation of the Old Testament Hebrew which dates from perhaps 200 B.C. and was the Bible the early church, including Jesus Christ, used and quoted from.

Here is my own translation of Joshua 11:20 from the Greek Septuagint (the PDF is available here):

Greek Text:

ὅτι διὰ κυρίου ἐγένετο κατισχῦσαι αὐτῶν τὴν καρδίαν συναντᾶν εἰς πόλεμον πρὸς Ισραηλ ἵνα ἐξολεθρευθῶσιν ὅπως μὴ δοθῇ αὐτοῖς ἔλεος ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα ἐξολεθρευθῶσιν ὃν τρόπον εἶπεν κύριος πρὸς Μωυσῆν

English Translation:

Joshua 11:20 (LXX): “for because of the Lord it came to pass that their heart was strengthened in order to meet Israel in battle so that they would be annihilated. That is, so that mercy would not be granted to them – even so that they would be totally destroyed, just as the Lord said to Moses!”

Detailed Translation:


ὅτι: (1) Classification – the conjunction is expressing the intentional cause, the grounds, of the preceding statement (Josh 11:19)

διὰ: (1) Classification – the preposition is expressing reason

κυρίου: (1) Case – in the genitive case because it is the object of the preposition διὰ

ἐγένετο: (1) Translation – this construction is common in narrative literature, and its general sense is to move the events along. The normal gloss is “it came to pass,” or something of that nature (cf. BDAG, s.v. “1646 γίνομαι,” 4.f.).

κατισχῦσαι: (1) Classification – an anarthrous, simple infinitive which complements and completes the thought of the verb ἐγένετο. (2) Voice – a simple active, indicating the subject (the heart of Israel’s enemies) is performing the action of the infinitive. Of course, it was “because of the Lord” (διὰ κυρίου) that their heart did this in the first place! (3) Tense – context suggests a constative aorist, describing a simple historical event in the past.

αὐτῶν: (1) Case – the personal pronoun is possessive, indicating the heart in question belong to Israel’s enemies

τὴν καρδίαν: (1) Case – an accusative subject of the infinitive κατισχῦσαι

συναντᾶν: (1) Classification – an anarthrous, simple infinitive which complements the prepositional phrase

εἰς: (1) Classification – the preposition is expressing purpose. Why was their enemies’ heart strengthened? So that they would sally forth into battle against Israel and be destroyed!

πόλεμον: (1) Case – in the accusative case because it is the object of the preposition εἰς


πρὸς: (1) Classification – the preposition is either expressing association (“battle with Israel”) or opposition (“battle against Israel”). (2) Translation – I opted to leave this completely untranslated, because it’s basically superfluous.

Ισραηλ: (1) Case – in the accusative case because it is the object of the preposition πρὸς

ἵνα ἐξολεθρευθῶσιν: (1) Classification – this is a standard purpose clause. (2) Voice – a simple passive, which indicates the subject (Israel’s enemies) receive the action of the verb.

ὅπως: (1) Classification – the conjunction is expressing purpose. I believe it’s acting in apposition to the preceding purpose clause, further explaining God’s intentions here – therefore I translated it with “that is . . .”

μὴ: This is a simple negation

δοθῇ: (1) Voice – a simple passive, which indicates that mercy is something being dispensed (or in this case, not being dispensed!) to Israel’s enemies

αὐτοῖς: (1) Case – a dative of direct object, signifying Israel’s enemies are receiving the action of the verb

ἔλεος: (1) Case – the subject nominative of the sentence

ἀλλ᾽: (1) Classification – the conjunction is expressing emphasis. It makes no contextual sense to translate this to express contrast (“but”), because the preceding subjunctive purpose clause is already negative. I think it serves to just heighten the sense of God’s divine condemnation, so I translated it as “even.”

ἵνα ἐξολεθρευθῶσιν: (1) Classification – this is a standard purpose clause. (2) Voice – a simple passive, which indicates the subject (Israel’s enemies) receive the action of the verb.


ὃν τρόπον: (1) Translation – this construction is usually expressed in English with the gloss “just as . . .” (Friberg, s.v. “27075 τρόπος,” 1).

εἶπεν: (1) Voice – a simple active, indicating the Lord performed the action of the verb. (2) Tense – context suggests a constative aorist, describing a simple historical event in the past. (3) Mood – a declarative indicative.

κύριος: (1) Case – the subject nominative

πρὸς: (1) Classification – the preposition is expressing association

Μωυσῆν: (1) Case – in the accusative case because it is the object of the preposition πρὸς

The Personal Testimony of Charles T. Studd

This salvation testimony is so wonderful, I thought I’d share it. Originally published in a 12 volume set of articles known as The Fundamentals (1910-1915).



I was brought up in the Church of England and was pretty religious—so most people thought. I was taken to church and baptized the right day, and after a time I was confirmed and took communion. But I did not know anything about Jesus Christ personally. I knew a little about Him, as I may know a little about President Taft, but I did not know Him. There was not a moment in my life when I ever doubted that there was a God, or that Jesus Christ was the Saviour of the world; but I did not know Him as my personal Saviour. We boys were brought up to go to church regularly, but, although we had a kind of religion, it was not a religion that amounted to much. It was just like having a toothache. We were always sorry to have Sunday come, and glad when we came to Monday morning. The Sabbath was the dullest day of the whole week, and just because we got hold of the wrong end of religion. A man may get hold of the wrong end of a poker, and I got hold of the wrong end of religion and had to pay dearly for it. We had lots of ministers and lots of churches all around us, but we never saw such a thing as a real convert. We didn’t believe much in converts in those days. We thought that the Chinese and Africans had to be converted; but the idea of an Englishman being converted was absurd, because it made him out a heathen before he was converted.

My father was just a man of the world, loving all sorts of worldly things. He had made a fortune in India and had come back to England to spend it. He was very fond of sports of all kinds. He would go into regular training that he might go fox hunting, but above all he was an enthusiast on horse racing. He was passionately fond of horses to begin with and when he saw fine horses he would buy them and train them, and then he would race them. He had a large place in the country, where he made a race course, and he won the biggest steeple-chase in London three times. At last he got hold of a horse better than anyone he had ever had, and so certain was he of winning the race that he wrote to a friend in London and said, “If you are a wise man you will come to the race tomorrow and put every penny you have on my horse.”

Unknown to my father this man had been converted. Mr. Moody had come to England and had been preaching. Nobody believed very much at that time in a man getting up to preach the Gospel unless he had two things—the title of Reverend, and a white tie round his neck. The papers could not understand such a preacher as Mr. Moody, who had neither, and of course they printed column after column against him. But they could not help seeing that he could get more people to his meetings than half a dozen archbishops, and that more were converted than by twenty ordinary ministers. Of course they did not put the right construction on things. They said that Mr. Sankey had come over to sell organs, and Mr. Moody to sell his hymn books. My father read the papers day after day and these things tickled him immensely. I remember one evening he threw the paper down and said, “Well, anyhow, when this man comes to London I am going to hear him. There must be some good about the man or he would never be abused so much by the papers.”

Well, father went up to London the next day according to promise, and met his friend. This man had been over to Ireland when Mr. Moody was there, and as he was about to leave Dublin had missed his train. God was even in that, missing a train. It was Saturday night, and the man had to remain over Sunday. As he was looking about the streets that evening he saw the big bills advertising Moody and Sankey, and he thought, “I will just go and hear those Americans.” He went and God met him; he went again and God converted him. He was a new man, and yet when my father wrote that letter he never said anything about it. When they met and drove along in a carriage father talked of nothing but horses, and told this man if he were a wise man he would put up every penny he had on that horse. After father had finished his business he came back to this friend and said, “How much money have you put on my horse?” “Nothing.” My father said, “You are the biggest fool I ever saw; didn’t I tell you what a good horse he was? But though you are a fool, come along with me to dinner.” After dinner my father said, “Now, where shall we go to amuse ourselves?” His friend said, “Anywhere.” My father said, “Well, you are the guest; you shall choose where we shall go.” “Well, we will go and hear Moody.” My father said, “Oh, no, this isn’t Sunday. We will go to the theater, or concert.” But the man said, “You promised to go wherever I chose.” So my father had to go. They found the building was full and there were no seats in the hall except special ones. This man knew he would never get my father there again, so he worked himself into the crowd until he came across one of the committee. He said to him, “Look here; I have brought a wealthy sporting gentleman here, but I will never get him here again if we do not get a seat.” The man took them in and put them right straight in front of Mr. Moody. My father never took his eyes off Mr. Moody until he finished his address. After the meeting my father said, “I will come and hear this man again. He just told me everything I had ever done.” My father kept going until he was right soundly converted.

That afternoon my father had been full of a thing that takes possession of a man’s heart and head more than anything else—that passion for horse racing; and in the evening he was a changed man. It was the same skin, but a new man altogether inside. When we boys came home from college we didn’t understand what had come over him, but father kept continually telling us that he was born again. We thought he was just born upside down, because he was always asking us about our souls, and we didn’t like it. Of course, he took us to hear Mr. Moody, and we were impressed a good deal, but were not converted.

When my father was converted of course he could not go on living the same life as before. He could not go to balls, card parties, and all that sort of thing. His conscience told him so, and he said to Mr. Moody: “I want to be straight with you. If I become a Christian will I have to give up racing, and shooting, and hunting, and theaters, and balls?” “Well,” Mr. Moody said, “Mr. Studd, you have been straight with me; I will be straight with you. Racing means betting, and betting means gambling, and I don’t see how a gambler is going to be a Christian. Do the other things as long as you like.” My father asked again about the theater and cards, and Mr. Moody said, “Mr. Studd, you have children and people you love; and now you are a saved man yourself, and you want to get them saved. God will give you some souls and as soon as ever you have won a soul you won’t care about any of the other things.” Sure enough, we found to our astonishment that father didn’t care for any of those things any longer; he only cared about one thing, and that was saving souls.

He took us to hear Mr. Moody and other men, and when Mr. Moody left England my father opened his country house, and held meetings there in the evenings. He asked ministers and business men from London to come down and speak to the people about their souls. The people would come for miles to attend the meetings, and many were converted. One of these gentlemen came down to preach one day and as 1 was going out to play cricket he caught me unawares and said, “Are you a Christian?” I said, “I am not what you call a Christian. I have believed on Jesus Christ since I was knee high. Of course I believe in the church, too.” I thought by answering him pretty close I would get rid of him, but he stuck tight as wax and said, “Look here, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. You believe Jesus Christ died?” “Yes.” “You believe He died for you?” “Yes.” “Do you believe the other half of the verse—‘shall have everlasting life?’” “No,” I said, “I don’t believe that.” He said, “Don’t you think you are a bit inconsistent, believing one half of the verse and not the other half?” “I suppose I am.” “Well,” he said, “are you always going to be inconsistent?” “No,” I said, “I suppose not always.” He said, “Will you be consistent now?” I saw that I was cornered and I began to think, “If I go out of this room inconsistent, I won’t carry very much self-respect.” I said, “Yes, I will be consistent.” “Well, don’t you see that eternal life is a gift? When somebody gives you a present at Christmas, what do you do?” “I take it and say, ‘Thank you.’” He said, “Will you say ‘Thank you’ to God for this gift?” Then I got down on my knees and I did say “Thank you” to God. And right then and there joy and peace came into my soul. I knew then what it was to be born again, and the Bible, which had been so dry to me before, became everything.

One day when I was in London, a friend asked me to come to tea with him and his wife who were Christians. After tea, when we were talking about the Bible around the open fire, this friend said, “Have you heard of the wonderful blessing Mrs. Watson has got lately?” I said, “Why, she has been a Christian a long time.” He said, “Yes, but she is quite different now.” I had heard people talking about getting other blessings besides conversion, but I would not believe it. Then my friend opened his Bible and showed plainly enough from the Scriptures that there were other blessings besides conversion. Then he said, “Have you these other blessings?” I said, “No, I have not.” I was just angry because I wanted to know what I was going to do for God. We knelt down and asked God very simply that God would give us all He had for us. When I went back to my room I got hold of “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life.” That night I just meant business, and it seemed to come so plain—old truths, it may be, but they seemed to grip me that time. I had known about Jesus Christ’s dying for me, but I had never understood that if he had died for me, then I didn’t belong to myself. Redemption means “buying back” so that if I belonged to Him, either I had to be a thief and keep what wasn’t mine, or else I had to give up everything to God. When I came to see that Jesus Christ had died for me, it didn’t seem hard to give up all to Him. It seemed just common, ordinary honesty. Then I read in the book: “When you have surrendered all to God, you have given him all the responsibility, as well as everything else. It is God who is responsible to look after you and all you have to do is to trust. Put your hand in His and the Lord will lead you. It seemed quite a different thing after that and in a very short time God had told me what to do and where to go. God doesn’t tell a person first by his head; He tells him first by the heart. God put it in my heart and made me long to go to China.

There were lots of difficulties in the way. Possibly some of you have difficulties in your way. Don’t you turn aside because of the difficulties. There was not one of all my relatives but thought that I had gone clean mad. My elder brother, who was a true Christian, said to me one evening, “Charlie, I think you are making a great mistake.” I said, “There is no mistake about it.” He said: “You are away every night at the meetings and you do not see mother. I see her, and this is just breaking her heart. I think you are wrong.” I said, “Let us ask God. I do not want to be pig-headed and go out there of my own accord. I just want to do God’s will.” It was hard to have this brother, who had been such a help, think it was a mistake. We got down on our knees and put the whole matter in God’s hands. That night I could not get to sleep, but it seemed as though I heard someone say this verse over and over, “Ask of me and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” I knew it was God’s voice speaking to me. When I got to China I knew why He said that verse so often. Winning souls out there is the same thing as here, only more difficult. The devil comes to one and says, “Why don’t you go home? You can save more souls there than here.” But I had received marching orders to go to China and I had God to give them as plain to go back. Not only did God make it right with the brother, but the night I was leaving home God made my mother willing that I should go to China.

My father made me become of age at twenty-five. I was twenty-three when I went to China; and for two or three years it seemed as if God kept me walking up and down that country. Finally I was sent to a station where there had been a riot. Every missionary’s house had been knocked down, and they had been sent away; but the British consul was there, although he had been nearly killed. When a friend and myself got into that town we meant to hold the fort. When the consul saw us it was as though he had seen a couple of ghosts. He said, “However did you get here? There are guards in every gate of the city to prevent any foreign devil from coming in.” We said that God had brought us in and told him what we had come for. He said, “No; you cannot stay here; I can give you a passport up or down the river, but no foreigners are allowed here except myself.” After a little he said, “If you would like to stay in that hovel there you can; but there is not room for more than one.” Then we began to discuss which should stay. My friend was going to be married and I was not, but he wanted to stay. Finally, the consul asked us to dinner, and in the midst of dinner he turned to me and said, “Studd, will you stay with me?” That settled the matter. I didn’t know why God had sent me to that place until some time afterwards.

One day when I was reading the harmony of the Gospels I came to where Christ talked with the rich young man. Then God seemed to bring all the vows I had made back to me. A few days later the post, which came only every half-month, brought letters from the solicitor and banker to show what I had become heir to. Then God made me just ordinarily honest and told me what to do. Then I learned why I had been sent to that particular place. I needed to draw up papers giving the “power of attorney,” and for that I had to have the signature of one of Her Majesty’s officers. I went to this consul and when he saw the paper he said, “I won’t sign it. You don’t know what you are doing.” Finally, he said that he would give me two weeks to think it over and then if I wished he would sign it. I took it back at the end of two weeks and he signed it and off the stuff went.

God has promised to give a hundredfold for everything we give to him. An hundredfold is a wonderful percentage; it is ten thousand per cent. God began to give me back the hundredfold wonderfully quick. Not long after this I was sent down to Shanghai. My brother, who had been very ill, had gone right back into the world again. On account of his health the doctors sent him round the world in search of better. He thought he would just come and touch at Shanghai and see me. He said he was not going to stay very long for he was mighty afraid he would get too much religion. He took his berth for Japan about the next day after he arrived. But God soon gave him as much religion as he could hold and he cancelled that passage to Japan and stayed with me six months. When I saw that brother right soundly converted I said, “This is ten thousand per cent and more.”