Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Romans 16:17-27 — In this final passage of Romans, Paul gives the church at Rome a final warning about those who will cause division among them and teach a false gospel. In this passage, Paul speaks to us as well about our church today. The filter we should use for the words we hear and the actions we see must be the Bible. Everything must be compared to it. We must know Scripture so that we are not deceived into believing that which is just not the truth.

There are those today just as there were those of whom Paul speaks directly in his day that will twist the gospel to suit there own needs. Christians who study God’s Word, asking Him to reveal His universal truths, will note be fooled by smooth talk. Superficial Christians who just sit in church on Sundays but do nothing else can be easily fooled and manipulated. There are many examples today of smooth talkers who subvert the truth of the gospel. There are those who espouse a gospel of prosperity. There are those who using this philosophy indicate that your financial blessings are an indication of how close to God you are. There are those who subvert the gospel by picking and choosing what parts they want to obey to further their own agendas. For example, there are those who wish that there were not prohibitions in the Bible against homosexuality and rationalize with modern logical arguments that that’s not what the Bible really says by imposing modern sensibilities of the current day on an eternal text. If we do not know Scripture, and I mean more than just reading topical devotionals, we can easily be taken in.

We need to know Scripture. There is no substitute for it. Although it is great and wonderful to read books by Christian writers. There are many awesome writers out there today. Many have great insight into what the Scriptures say. However, we can never let these things be a substitute for God’s great and perfect Word. The Word of God is ageless, timeless and is the inspired Word of God. The canon is complete because God caused it to be so. It is the collection of 66 books that He desired to be the final and lasting Word. If we read books about the Bible but never read the Bible itself, it is like reading a book review of a book without reading the book. It is like reading a movie review but not seeing the movie and then acting we have seen the movie. We miss the full richness. We miss what the author’s intent of writing an entire book of the Bible was. When an author of today references Scripture, he may well have good intentions but to not know the context of a verse or passage that an author uses, we cannot be discerning as to whether he or she is twisting the gospel or at the very least using Scripture out of context. If we do not know, Scripture but only accept others’ views about it, we can be easily deceived.

We need to know Scripture. There is no substitute for it. We must measure peoples actions by it. We must measure our own actions by it. There may be those who claim that they are acting in consistency with Scripture but do not know it words. We must discern people’s actions by the very Scripture that they claim to know. We are not to be judgmental but we are to be discerning. If we know Scripture, we can gently correct those who are acting opposite to it and do so in love. We should never use our knowledge of Scripture to condemn but only correct in love. We should use our knowledge to discern the truth from lies. We must use our knowledge of Scripture to discern that which is of God and that which is of someone’s ego-driven agenda. At the same token, we should compare our own actions to Scripture. If we have sufficient knowledge of Scripture and through the action of the Holy Spirit to illumine its pages in our heart, our own transgressions and sins will be brought to our mind and heart. We will struggle and wrestle over our own sins and the Holy Spirit will cause us to be revolted by them and repent, turn away. Sometimes this is very hard because we are imperfect, sinful creatures by nature. However, we must constantly be in God’s Word so that our own sins are revealed to us. We must do more read. We must meditate on God’s Word. We must chew on it. We must read whole books of the Bible in sequence and chew on it. We must read the Bible topically to see what it says on a certain subject and chew on it. We must digest the Bible. Otherwise, we will be easily deceived by the actions of others and, what’s worse, we will be deceived by our own thoughts and actions. Let us not be a people where our Bible gathers dust. Let us be a people who has to by a new Bible because our current ones are literally falling apart from overuse.

Subverting Scripture to make it say what we want it to say in the modern world. Making Scripture say what it doesn’t in a modern world that is bent on justifying our own immoral behaviors. Making Scripture espouse a investment/payoff lifestyle of the prosperity gospel. Ignoring what Scripture has to say about certain lifestyles. Making Scripture suit our own agenda. Taking Scripture out of context. Satan loves all of this stuff. He loves it when people teach things as gospel that are not gospel. Satan loves it when people ignore or downright throw away certain parts of the gospel so that they can say they are saved but really aren’t. Satan loves it when people make the gospel say what they want it to say. Satan loves it when we use Scripture in ways that are different from its original and eternal meaning in context. In all of these ways, Satan wants us deceived so that when the pressures on, he can prove our beliefs to be lies. We must know Scripture without fail. We must study. We must learn. We must take Scripture, all of it to heart. We must know it so that we cannot be deceived. We must know it so that our hearts will be convicted by God’s eternal truth. Do you not want to know God? The way that we know Him is through His Word. Without studying God’s Word, we are like athletes who show up at the field on Saturday but don’t do all the hard work of practice, practice, practice during Monday through Friday. We must put in the hard work. We must make time for Scripture. There is no excuse. Otherwise, we set ourselves up for Satan. We are a soft pitch for Satan to knock us out of the park. We must know Scripture. There is no substitute for it.

Father, help me to know your Word. Help me to be confident in your Word. Help me to know it so well that I discern the world through its pages. Help me to discern my own actions through its pages. Help me to use it in real life because of knowing it. Help me to draw others unto you through your Word. Help me to discern falsehood from truth through the lens of knowledge of your Word. Help to use my knowledge of your Word to give you glory in a world that seems like it is trying to forget you. Help me to know Scripture to praise your name in my heart and in the world around me. Amen.

Romans 12:1-2 — Living sacrifices and renewed minds. This two verses are some of the most remembered verses in the Bible. We find here a very short but clear description of the essence of the believer’s response to God’s grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a reminder to us that being a Christ follower is about choices. It is about our mind as much as it our emotion. Many think that we are supposed to be on a spiritual “warm fuzzy” or spiritual high at all times when we give our lives to Christ. Sure, we have our spiritually high moments but most of being a Christ follower is about choices on a daily basis.

Living sacrifices. In the Old Testament (OT) animals were sacrificed or killed as symbolic penance for sin. These sacrifices had to be perfect and spotless. They were the animals that were set apart from the rest of the herd. As living sacrifices, we should be set apart from that which is profane and worldly. The OT sacrificial animals were set apart and were dedicated to the purpose for which they were to be used. In the OT sacrificial system, the animals taken from life to death to square us away with God. As living sacrifices, we are taken from the death that sin has caused in us into new life through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Similarly, we as living sacrifices should dedicate ourselves to God and seeking to do that which is holy and honorable. In the OT sacrificial system, the animals were completely ignorant of the fact that they were about to be slaughtered. As living sacrifices we are different. We are not sheep led to slaughter. We become living sacrifices, we seek to be set apart and holy and in service to God, not unwittingly like an animal, but willingly and intelligently. We choose to live according to God’s Word and not according the current fads that are acceptable and pleasing in society. We choose. We think. Being a Christ follower is a thinking thing.

We are transformed by the way we think. Many Christians think that they are supposed to be on some spiritual high all the time. That amazing feeling of closeness to God that you get from your favorite worship songs and a powerful sermon on Sunday is what people think we are supposed to feel like all the time. Then we get disappointed and often fall away when we don’t “have that feeling” all the time. The problem with that thinking is that Sunday worship is indeed a celebration. It is not what we are to be like daily. It is just impossible. It is the culmination of Christian fellowship. It is restorative. It is refueling. It is worship. It is praise time. It is celebration. Sunday morning worship is the tip of the iceberg though. It is the whole, all-to-end-all, of being a Christian. It is intended to lift us up, and recharge us so that we can be sent back out to live life in the trenches. We need Sunday worship. It is integral to the development of our faith. Praise and learning are its purpose.

Real life change though happens through transforming of the mind. Our thoughts are the genesis of our actions. A new orientation in our thinking leads to a new orientation in behavior. We must daily lay aside our selfish, and self-centered desires to follow Christ. We must allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in us to renew, re-educate, and redirect our minds. Our thoughts control our behaviors. Every sin has it beginning in the mind. Every adulterous affair began as lustful thoughts. Every act of greed began as constantly thinking about ways to get ahead financially. Everything that is stolen begins as a desire to have something. Every murder begins with thoughts of anger and frustration with another person in our mind. All of our thoughts when you really analyze them are pretty selfish. Our natural thought patterns are about ourselves and what we want and how to satisfy ourselves. Me. Me. Me.

Being a Christ follower flips all that on its head. We are to love others more than we love ourselves. We are to seek after God’s will and not our own. We are to serve others instead of ourselves. We are to give glory to God in all of these things and not ourselves. Being a Christ follower is a radical departure from our normal nature. Being on a spiritual high does not change us though it may temporarily. We must transform our thinking. We must make choices. We must go against our normal grain. With the help of the Holy Spirit this becomes easier and easier over time as He takes control of who we are. However, even after we are saved, we have to make conscious choices to replace worldly selfish thoughts with the ways of God. We must pray. We must read His Word. We must meditate on it. And most of all we must apply it to our lives. We have to think. Being a Christ follower involves your mind as much as your heart. Evil, selfish thoughts enter our mind daily, hourly, and sometimes every minute. We must battle our original nature every second of every day. To think that your natural nature just magically disappears at salvation is just not true. It takes the Holy Spirit a lifetime to transform us into the perfect beings that we become when we are united with Christ in heaven. We must do our part and replace the worldly with the Christ-like. Instead of feeding our selfish desires, we pray for God to replace those thoughts with holy ones. We replace worldly inputs into our lives with holy ones. As we make these intelligent and though-out choices in our lives, we become more and more capable of rejecting evil. The colloquial definition of insanity is “doing the same old things but expecting different results.” As Christ followers, we cannot expect to become more holy if we do not renew our minds. The only way we mature as Christ-followers is to recognize that it is not all emotion. It is about the mind. It is about choices. Christ following is not a zombie like activity where we do nothing but drift along. We participate in our faith. We make choices. We choose to be more Christ like. We seek it. We pursue it. We think!

Father, help me to understand that I must allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in me. Help me not to get in His way with my old ways of think. Help me to participate in the work that He is doing in me. Help me to take my old thoughts captive and replace them with your thoughts. Help me to replace my ways with your ways. Help me to flip the rankings in my life from me first to You first. Amen.