Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).
One of the enemy’s most effective weapons today is the perversion of the truth–making evil seem attractive, or good, or even ambiguous. This is not a new strategy. It all started a few years back in the Garden of Eden, and it is flourishing in our world today. You can fill in the examples, but let’s refocus and look directly at God’s word.
People often point out “contradictions” in the Bible. I have personally questioned concepts many times and have found over and over and over again, that I was pulling a phrase totally out of context. Has anyone ever repeated something you may have said and without “the rest of the story” the meaning not only changed, but was even the opposite? The enemy delights in twisting God’s word and having us blindly believe it.
Much of the Old Testament concerns the Jewish law, over 613 rules, impossible for the even the most devout Jewish high priest to follow. Many of these Jewish rules are good guidelines for our health, for cleanliness, or like the Beatitudes, for our own righteous behavior. Some, like animal sacrifice for atonement, are fortunately unnecessary because of Jesus’s sacrifice that totally paid the price for our redemption. Because of grace we are free from those laws.
Contradictions? No, just a different context.
God wants us not only to comprehend the truths of His word, but to apply them in our lives. It is the formula for joy, peace and confidence for every believer.
I love those who love Me; And those who diligently seek Me will find Me (Prov 8:17).
In discussions with other believers, the topic of God’s will never fails to eventually come up. God, for sure, wants us to know His will, to desire to do and say things that align with His word. But more than even that, He wants us to grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son. In other words, not to just seek His will, but to KNOW Him.
To understand concepts like this, I have to relate it to my experiences, in this case, as a wife. When my husband and I first began building a relationship, we learned things about each other—likes, dislikes, annoyances…. Later, as our relationship grew, we learned about each other on a much deeper level—what we valued, what was in our hearts. Because of this, we could each anticipate how the other might react to a situation.
The great thing about our perfect Father is that the more we know, the more amazed we are. He is the author of every good thing, the very definition of love. And as knowledge of Him grows, it is both astonishing and humbling to be considered His dearly beloved child.
Go and sin no more (John 8:11).
At present I attend two ladies’ Bible studies, both different in a number of ways, but in both the word “judge” came up. In one, the focus was on a person; in the other, as an action. In a well-known scriptural passage, the adulterous woman was brought before Jesus and He was asked, “What do you say?”
The goal of these religious leaders was to trap Him, but His response neither dismissed her sin, nor condemned her. He turned to the accusers and said, “Let the one who never sinned throw the first stone.”
Whenever we point the finger of judgment (accusation) at someone, three fingers are pointing back to us. The ONLY sinless person, the ONLY one who has the right to judge said, “I do not condemn you.” The woman hadn’t even asked for forgiveness!
God’s character is one of both love and justice. Aren’t you glad!? He doesn’t dismiss our unrighteousness (justice); but He doesn’t use it to condemn us (love). Rather His motive is to draw us into an even closer relationship with Him.
So where do I fit into this scenario? Here is my role as a judge—DON’T. And as an unrighteous woman—Go (without condemnation) and sin no more.
For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14).
In one of Priscilla Shirer’s studies she notes that there are two mistakes that we make concerning the enemy. One is that we overestimate his impact on our lives and are therefore laden with much fear and anxiety. The other is that we underestimate the impact of his influence.
I would guess that in our sophisticated culture that we don’t recognize that many of our societal and personal problems are coming from Satan, the father of lies, the master deceiver. How many “forbidden fruits” are now thought to be not only acceptable, but even worth pursuing? In our culture, he doesn’t work in black and white, but in shades of gray, slyly whispering, “How could this be wrong?” or “Don’t you have rights?” or “Did God really mean that?”
Our relationship with the Lord is vital for a clear vision and the only way to evaluate situations with discernment. As a child of God, we have defensive weapons to protect us, and offensive weapons to unleash power through the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and prayer because greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.
Now God saw all that He had made, and indeed, it was very good! Thus the heavens and the earth were entirely completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested (Gen 1:31-2:2).
Although no work by God can be called small or insignificant, the creation of the heavens and earth “in all their vast array” had to be one monumental task. What do you do after you complete an immense work? If I am satisfied with my effort, after a well-deserved sigh, I sit down, put my feet up, and rest—mission accomplished, satisfied that it is good, relax and peacefully rest.
THE most monumental task was accomplished by God through His Son. Let’s look at what Jesus did as noted in Hebrews:
After he had provided a cleansing from sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Highest Majesty.
His mission was accomplished. It was finished, done, totally complete.
Through our faith in the work of the Son, our purification from sin is finished, done, entirely complete. We need not, nor can’t, add one thing more. It is more than enough. We can rest assured that it is very good.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Col 3:23).
The other day I heard the following part of a sermon preached by the Reverend Martin Luther King:
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”
I did not check the rest of his message to identify the scripture about which he was speaking, but when Colossians 3:23 came to my mind, I began thinking that every success principle discovered by man can be paired with a principle from scripture.
Our God is good. He wants us to be joyful even when we are hard at work. In fact, His joy gives us strength (Neh 8:10).
So instead of reading a list of the 10 Best Things to Do for a Contented (Successful, Joyful…) Life, search The Book and you can write your own.
Each one should test his own actions then he can take pride in himself alone, without comparing himself to someone else (Gal.6:4).
Since this was written about 60 A.D. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who compares myself to others. Whether I’m better or worse than anyone else is so very meaningless. Both the vanity or the self-condemnation—totally meaningless.
We are told a number of times in scripture to examine ourselves, not to compare ourselves with others, but to examine ourselves by God’s standards. Where is my heart? What are my motives? Am I seeking to do God’s will? Am I trusting Him? Am I living and moving in the faith in Christ whom I profess?
Should we fall short (not if, but when), we still have the assurance of salvation as a safety net. But also what joy comes at times when we examine ourselves and know that we are on track.