Distorting the Truth

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.

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Walking in Truth

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 1:4).

I truly believe that after my children took their first breath, they each (yep, all of them) wailed, “Okay world, I’m ready to take you on.” God blessed them by creating in each of them strong bodies, strong passionate hearts, and strong minds to think, will and direct.

Then God, in a manner, stepped aside after creating them, and granted each a free will. He allows them, and all of us, the choices that affect our physical bodies, our emotions, our thoughts. If we choose to submit to the power offered to us through His Spirit, only then can we truly follow the plan He outlines for each of us in His word—the truth (every word of it).

We can’t successfully do it without Him. We’ve seen the distressing results of bodies that have succumbed to every unhealthy desire, tongues that spoke hurtfuln and harmful words, and rampant emotions that led to depression or even tragedy.

Why wouldn’t I want my children to walk in the truth? Today there are more and more people who are living in acceptance of the lies of the enemy and moving further and further away from the truth. In order to walk in the truth, they would be walking against the flow. It may not be as severe as in some countries where believers, even young children, are beheaded for refusing to denounce their faith. Nonetheless, in today’s world, holding firm to unpopular biblical truths can be quite distressing.

To me there is still no greater joy, because living true to the convictions defined in His word can lead to a life without inner-conflict, contented and gratifying here on earth, and a promise that we’ll be together for a phenomenal eternity.

Faith vs Religion

Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32).

Whenever I am referred to as being religious, in my heart I feel insulted. I am not offended by the person who said it because most likely he/she meant it as a compliment, but I would prefer being thought of as a believer whose faith is in the Lord, Jesus Christ. To me, religion is man-made and filled with man-made restrictions.

Jesus Himself had nothing good to say about the religious. He called them vipers and described them as white-washed tombs.

Religion equals constraints, limitations, and the guilt that comes with never doing or being enough. Religion adds hundreds of thou-shalt-nots to the freedom and assurance that we can experience in living in the grace that is freely given though faith in Christ Jesus.

And if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Compelled

 

For when I preach the gospel I cannot boast since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel (1 Corin 9:16).

I really, really dislike the feeling of being “obligated” to do things. If I do something, or give something, or say something, I would like it to be from the heart, not because of guilt or duty. The flip side is also true. If something is good, I really, really enjoy sharing it, especially with those I love.

When I am walking closely with the Lord, it’s impossible to keep quiet about God’s activity in my life. The word “compelled” in this verse tells us that Paul’s heart was so full of joy and the understanding of the full meaning of the gospel that it spilled out of him.

In the words of Jesus, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Let my heart be filled with your Spirit, Lord, so that no bitterness, but only love , flows out.

 

Alone with God

In His public ministry, He never taught without using parables; but afterward when He (Jesus) was alone with His own disciples, He explained everything. (Mark 4:34)

With my apologies to various authors C.S. Lewis, Paul Harvey, maybe others, who have written about how the enemy endangers our relationship with God. When he can’t find something with which to tempt us, he keeps us busy, busy, busy with nonessential activities and needless random thoughts.

God desires our fellowship. He wants us to be part takers of the good things that are found in His word. Although His word never goes out void, just like any relationship, if we only communicated with occasional, random texts, we would not have anywhere near the relationship that we would have by spending time alone with that person.

Through His word and prayer, we can know God intimately. It is where His truth comes alive in our soul.

“When He was alone with His own, He explained everything. “

Knowing God

It has been said that the Creator placed within each of us a yearning for Him. After reading a verse in Colossians, I am wondering if He placed more than a yearning, but also a knowledge of Him within each person—from the most primitive to the most sophisticated.

I’d like to examine some of these scriptures then end with one of my favorite stories about Hellen Keller. At least that’s my plan, but I am open to where the Lord leads, so be sure to read to the end.

Romans 1:20 states, for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and deity; so that they are without excuse. To me, this means that everyone should know God or at least, know about Him through the amazing things He created.

Colossians 1:22-23 says, You have been reconciled through Christ’s death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach, so continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven. My footnote says that Paul was using a hyperbole (exaggeration), but this same idea of everyone having heard the gospel (Christ’s redemptive death, burial, and resurrection) appears elsewhere.

Titus 2:11 states, for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared (is revealed) to all men.

I would think that there are indigenous from primitive lands that have not heard the complete gospel message, but I also believe that we have an amazing God who would not leave anyone in the dark. With that lead-in, here’s my Helen Keller story as one example.

Helen was blind and deaf from the age of two. She had basically lived a life of isolation. Years later, after her teacher, Anne Sullivan, had taught her the gift of language, she thought Helen should have some spiritual knowledge as well. I have no idea how Anne explained God to Helen, but Helen’s reply is amazing. “I’ve known Him all along; I just never knew His name.”

Pure in Spirit

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

The topic for my most recent bible study was purity — not just sexual, but more so the motives of our heart. Coincidentally, today’s reading from Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, was also about purity. He says that when our hearts are left to their own devises, what proceeds from them are evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornications, false witnesses, blasphemies and that list of ugly things noted in Matthew and 2 Corinthians. Whoa! I don’t do THOSE things, but…

Without the Holy Spirit, we are constrained only either by cowardice (would I really act on my thoughts if I was more brave!?), or that we are constrained by living in a civilized society (so grateful for the morality set in place by our forefathers).

Sometimes I question my motives like am I being manipulative or prideful or selfish. Those I don’t like, but they are “acceptable sins” if there is such a thing. But when we let the Holy Spirit penetrate our heart, we’re appalled at how evil we really are. The Spirit of God uncovers our self-exoneration and excuses and makes us sensitive to things we never recognized, let alone admitted before. We begin to realize how much we need the kind of cleansing that only comes from Him.

Proverbs 16:2 says, Everything a person does seems pure in his own opinion, but the Lord weighs intentions. So I prayerfully repeat O God… see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.