Protecting Against Deception – Part 7

If you received e-mails with the following questions, what Scripture would you answer with?

“We have three children, and my husband does not want any more. What about vasectomies and tubals?”


“We believe permanent measures are wrong, but what about natural family planning?”

Our discussion of Satan’s deception against children began in last month’s Dad’s Corner (Part 6). I encourage you to read that article and the whole series.

To respond to the questions about having children or not having them, one has to begin with Who/who is in charge of planning families. The world tells Dad and Mom to decide how many children to have. However, God’s very first recorded command to mankind is, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth . . .” (Genesis 1:28). God has not told man to stop; as a matter of fact, after the flood, He reiterated it twice: “. . . Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1); “And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply . . .” (Genesis 9:7).

Nowhere in the Bible does the Lord tell a husband and wife to plan how many children to have. This issue of the number of children is critical to each family. If God intended for parents to make that decision, would He have left that direction, whether explicit or implicit, out of the Bible? “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What Scripture says is that children are an heritage (Psalms 127:3) and that we are to go and multiply (Genesis 9:1).

I have had a few men justify limiting children by saying that God tells us to plan as in Luke 14:28: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” Yes, planning is good as long as we are being consistent with all Scriptural commands. Oftentimes Scripture can appear to say one thing when just one verse is considered. However, Scripture must be evaluated in context, and the context of Luke 14:28 is a discussion of the faith of being a disciple of Jesus.

The two verses prior to 14:28 are: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27). The Lord is teaching us about the true cost of being His disciple. In essence, this verse is teaching the exact opposite of us planning a family; we are being challenged to have the faith to let Jesus control our lives. Do we have the faith to receive the good gifts He wants to give?

A practical application of Luke 14:28 is that thinking about the future is good. There is an important difference, though, between planning for what the Lord chooses to send us and planning to hinder His will for our lives. Proper application of Luke 14:28 in regard to family size would be for the couple to say, “Lord Jesus, we are committed to being good stewards and not wasting money so we will be ready for any children You choose to send us.”

In 2 Kings 13:15-19 there is an account of Elisha and Joash, where the wicked king of Israel came down to Elisha. Elisha told Joash of an arrow that Joash shot out the window: “. . . The arrow of the LORD’S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them” (2 Kings 13:17). Elisha then told Joash to smite the ground with the arrows. When Joash quit after striking the ground with the arrows only three times, we are told that Elisha was angry because Joash only smote the ground three times and not five or six. What Joash didn’t know is that each time he struck the ground it represented a victory the Lord would give him over the Syrians. He felt he had struck the ground enough and quit.

Sadly, many, many families tell the Lord “enough” when they fail to trust Him for the future and how He desires to use their family to glorify Him. “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth” (Psalms 127:4). Families seem content to settle for fewer children, not realizing that children are like arrows in our hands to reach a lost and fallen world.

The most common reason we hear for not wanting more children is that the parents believe more children will be a hindrance. There is no doubt children will greatly impact a person’s life, but so much depends on a person’s frame of reference. Have we “got Jesus” as some have a rabbit’s foot in the pocket, and now we can live life to the fullest with no fear of hell, or are we purchased by the blood of the Lamb and here to glorify Him with our lives in whatever way He chooses to use us?

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). If our heart’s desire is to wholeheartedly follow the Lord Jesus, families will find that children are the opposite of being a hindrance; they become part of a family’s credentials. “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly” (Titus 1:6).

Some would say they are concerned about being able to provide for more children. How does the Lord Jesus speak to that concern? “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:30-34). Little comment is needed because the Lord clearly states that we are to trust Him to provide for our needs.

A number of times in the past, when I told my dad that the Lord was blessing us with another baby, he asked, “Where is the money going to come from for another child?” I would say, “The Lord will provide for what He sends our way.” And He has. We are told to deny ourselves and follow Him. He will provide.

Yes, they may “cost us,” but aren’t we bought with a price and stewards of His money? Would the Lord give us children if He didn’t want us to have them? Would He give us children if He wouldn’t provide for them? Of course not. Isn’t it a matter of faith and learning to depend on Him?

A side note here: What is the solution if a family trusts the Lord with family size and yet they struggle financially? A dad must fervently seek the Lord to find out why needs aren’t being met. “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). When we have faced difficulties without answers, I turn to my Lord with a fast for as long as I can handle it. God has always answered. Children are a great stimulus to improve our walk with Christ. They sure have been in mine.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as “natural family planning” condoned in Scripture. Any understanding of a normal husband and wife relationship and human physiology cries out against this misguided concept. I have had some support this notion by referencing 1 Corinthians 7:5: “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not. . . .”

I want to be discreet because we know children sometimes read the Corners, but this is not teaching natural family planning. The closest one can get to supporting family planning from this verse would be that if the family’s life is in such chaos and trouble, the husband and wife would fast and abstain for a time. However, I’m confident the vast majority of couples are not fasting when they think they are “applying” this verse.

Then we have e-mails from people asking us whether “permanent” means to limit children is a sin. With Teri’s depression, we permanently cut off the possibility of more children. I wrote about that in a previous Corner (We’re Reversed a Bad Decision), and so I won’t go into that here except to say the God changed our hearts as we studied Scripture.

Tubals and vasectomies are considered permanent means of surgically “breaking” something that was healthy. Doctors are given skills to heal and restore, and those should not be used to destroy something God-given and wonderful.

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). This verse tells us clearly that believers are purchased by the blood of Jesus. Our bodies are not our own to do what we want to do with them. We are to be good stewards of Jesus’ property.

God would not give us permission to “break” something that He has control over. He would simply choose not to give us more children if that was His will. We have to face the reality that surgical sterilization is taking control over something we don’t want God to control. This is difficult to say. Please understand, I speak out of love, and I am not being judgmental. I wonder if sterilization might be analogous to one aspect of suicide. Both take into control what God intended to be under His control. What do you think?

Any time we go against God’s will, it is sin, and worse, when we take permanent measures, it likely takes away any future option of a change of heart. God was so merciful in giving Teri and me children after I repented and had a reversal. However, I’ve talked to many families who haven’t been able to have children even after a reversal. Don’t presume upon His grace. Certainly, don’t take permanent measures to limit children.

When we travel, we often encounter families who trust the Lord to decide how many children they will have and to provide for babies that He sends. I frequently sense a spirit of faith and peace in their lives. I have spoken with so many families who surrendered this area to the Lord Jesus, and they rejoice at what He has been doing in their lives ever since. Regularly, we will receive e-mails from a family who first chose to limit their family size, but then the Lord changed their hearts. We rejoice with them when they write to tell us that they are expecting a baby.

If you have chosen to limit children, seek the Lord to see if your reasons for limiting children are selfish—most are—and if so, repent. The world has deceived families saved by the blood of Jesus. Please, please, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness. …”

Nothing Between

For many years, I was in bondage. It was a subtle bondage, and most people wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong with what I was doing. However, what comes between my Lord Jesus and myself is bondage.

It began innocently enough many, many years ago by simply enjoying a Pepsi with my meal if we went out to eat. After a period of time, probably when we had a little more financial stability, I decided a Pepsi would be a treat when I cleaned house. So I started buying 24 packs of Pepsi at the grocery store, enabling me to have a cleaning-day supply at home.

I remember one day when I was pregnant talking to Steve on the phone while he was at work. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I was tired. I told him a Pepsi would be a nice pick-me-up for some extra energy. He said, “Sure. Go ahead.” That one little statement from Steve was all I needed to push my way into having a Pepsi every afternoon—for that caffeine boost.

More time passed, and there was a day when I was weary in the morning. My solution was a Pepsi right then, and before long it was not only an afternoon habit but a morning one as well. If there was a special occasion, Steve might buy me a 2-liter so I could sip on Pepsi throughout the day. When we were out and around, I would get a soda from a convenience store if we stopped for gas or just because it sounded good.

In my mind I justified my Pepsis. I worked hard taking care of a large family and homeschooling. I needed energy boosts, and I felt I deserved a treat. Sometimes the Pepsi was an escape from the pressure and problems of the day rather than turning to the Lord for His comfort.

Are you familiar with the words to the beautiful hymn “Nothing Between”? It says:

Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
Naught of this world’s delusive dream;
I have renounced all sinful pleasure—
Jesus is mine! There’s nothing between.

Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor;
Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.

Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;
Habits of life, tho harmless they seem,
Must not my heart from Him ever sever—
He is my all! There’s nothing between.

There was “something between” for me. While it appeared to be a harmless habit of life, it had become a sinful, worldly pleasure for me because it had become so important. During the day, I thought about when I would get another Pepsi. I hoped when we were out that we would stop at the convenience store so I could buy a big drink from the soda fountain. If I didn’t have a Pepsi, I’d get a headache, so I was always trying to prevent that from happening.

While I greatly enjoyed drinking my Pepsi, I was truly in bondage. I fought spiritual battles over my Pepsi—defending it one moment and feeling condemned the next. I would drink a Pepsi telling the Lord that it would be my last one, but the next day I’d find myself rationalizing it again.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Paul understood what was important spiritually, and he took steps to keep his body in subjection. I knew that my body wasn’t in subjection. It was ruling me instead of me ruling it.

I knew the amount of soda I was consuming wasn’t good for my health or my teeth. It was an unnecessary expense, and if I didn’t have a Pepsi, I was guaranteed a caffeine headache. I planned to stop drinking Pepsi many times but would end up deciding I’d wait for another day.

Twice I succeed in getting off the caffeine for several weeks or a couple of months only to end up back on it. I thought I could start drinking the Pepsi again, and keep it in moderation. Although I would begin with small amounts, before long I was back to where I had been before.

I remember a friend telling me about how she had stopped smoking. She was trying to stop but was out gardening when a very strong urge to smoke hit her. She cried out to the Lord and said, “If You want me to stop smoking, Lord, You will have to take this craving from me.” And He did.

I thought to myself. “Lord, if You will do it for her, You can do it for me.” That’s how I started praying. However, in my life the Lord hasn’t zapped me from my sinful directions into a righteous path, although I keep hoping it will work like that. It would be so much easier.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). This verse showed me that the Lord doesn’t stop making the temptation a temptation. Rather He provides the way of escape. Then I have to decide if I will take the way of escape or give in to the temptation.

“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:13). Here I saw again that I had to make a choice. What would I yield to—righteous or unrighteousness?

In my spiritual battle with my sin, I knew the Lord was telling me the Pepsi had become an idol in my life. That was evidenced by my wanting to stop drinking it but not being able to and by the focus it had taken for me. Finally, the Lord’s conviction of my sin was so strong that I said in my heart, “It isn’t worth it. I don’t want anything between my soul and the Savior.”

I made the decision to stop yielding to unrighteous, and God’s grace was sufficient. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

On December 31, 2006, I drank my last Pepsi. It was a miserable two days as I suffered through the caffeine withdrawal, but I kept crying out to Him for His grace and strength. The joy I have experienced this past year and a half since being freed me from my bondage is completely worth the discomfort of the withdrawal.

The sodas had become a habit for me. I would drink a soda—when I was happy, when I was sad, in the morning, in the afternoon, on special occasions, when we were running errands—there was almost always a reason to have a soda, and it was all part of the habit of my life. After getting off the Pepsi, when I hit those habitual times, I longed for a soda at first, but every time I put my thoughts on how much I desired the Lord Jesus and how much I didn’t want to be back in bondage. I asked for His help as the days went by. I knew from my previous attempts at freedom that I could justify starting again and soon be back into the old habits.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Experientially, in the release from Pepsi drinking, I found this to be true, but only as I yielded to righteousness and chose to take the way of escape from the temptation. It didn’t happen automatically. The desire wasn’t removed from me. I had to fight a spiritual battle with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ. The way of escape was to care more about the Lord Jesus than about my sinful pleasure.

I want to make it clear as I bring this Mom’s Corner to a close that I am not saying drinking a Pepsi is sin. Instead, I am telling you how something that isn’t inherently sinful in itself became sin for me because of the focus it had taken in my heart. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). I knew the Lord was convicting me that I shouldn’t continue the Pepsi habit in my life. I was aware that it wasn’t pleasing to Him. Yet, for a long time, I allowed my flesh to rule my heart.

I share this story because I know many of those who read the Mom’s Corner are in bondage to something. It might be what others would call sin, but it might be like my Pepsi drinking—something that no one else would consider wrong. From the moms who share their spiritual struggles with me, I know that this list could include soda, coffee, smoking, other treats, an addiction to the computer or TV, and many others. Each of us knows our own hearts. We are aware of what it is that comes between us and our Savior. Don’t think that because you have tried for freedom before that you just give in to it, live with it, justify it, and say it’s the way you are. I had tried before as well. It took becoming more and more miserable in my sin for me to get to the place where I would choose the way of escape.

My heart’s desire is to encourage each of us to be free. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Hardly a day goes by that I don’t rejoice in my freedom and liberty from the flesh. I never want to return to that bondage; the joy of nothing between is too sweet. Would you be free as well?