There are so many important truths in today’s readings. I had a hard time deciding which one to feature in the title. I hope you’ll take the time to read today and let me know what spoke to you.
Our Exodus reading illustrates the importance of being willing to keep standing and trusting God when things get worse instead of better and can help us understand that we are in a spiritual battle.
Psalm 16 reminds us where real joy is to be found.
Proverbs 5 warns us of the consequences of sin. All of us need to heed the warnings in this passage, but if you have teenagers, knowing these truths and teaching them to your sons and daughters is so important. This may be one of the most important passages for boys to understand even before they come into their teens.
Finally, Matthew 18 illustrates the seriousness of unforgiveness and its effect on our relationship with God.
Now Moses has returned to Egypt to do what God has told him to do. He has gone to his brother Aaron and received confirmation from him, from the elders, and from the people (Ex. 4.27-31). But when he and Aaron go to Pharaoh to demand he let the people go, things don’t turn out so well! In fact, things get worse!
Have you ever felt that way? You surrender your life to God or you make a decision to turn and go God’s way in some area of life. At first it’s great. You know you’re doing the right thing … but then things start to go wrong! Continue reading →
Verses 3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
Notice three words in this passage: “arguments,” “knowledge,” and “thought.” The strongholds Paul talks about here are not physical and they are not demonic in the sense of “demon possession” or a spirit holding us captive to some behavior (“spirit of alcohol,” or “a spirit of nicotine,” or “a spirit of lust,” etc.).
They have to do with arguments, knowledge, and thoughts—our thinking, ideas, and beliefs. The strongholds we have to battle are false ideas, false religions, false doctrines, and false philosophies—wrong thinking. We fight them on our knees and with “the Word of Truth.” The way to overcome strongholds is by replacing lies with truth.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2.15).
It’s easier to see some of the big lies or strongholds that keep people in bondage—lies like false religions and cults. But there are many more plausible lies, lies that are easier to believe and buy into.
A plausible lie: A woman has the right to do what she wants with her own body. The truth: “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed and in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139.16).
Plausible lies: Kids are going to have sex. We just need to teach them how to have “safe sex.” Or, God certainly doesn’t expect me to be chaste; after all, I’m only human! Or, that was for Bible times; this is a different culture! The truth: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification. that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4.3-5).
A plausible lie:Homosexuality—God made them that way, so they can’t be expected to change. The truth: Homosexuality like all sin is part of our fallen nature, but we are redeemable. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
A plausible lie: About dating or marriage—I know he’s not a Christian, but how else is he going to get saved? At least he comes to church with me and I’m sure he’ll become a Christian. The truth: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God …” (2 Cor. 6.14-16).
A plausible lie: God wants me to be happy! The truth: God does want His children to be blessed, but he first wants us to be holy! “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1.15-16). Happiness if fleeting, but holiness leads to joy unspeakable!
But there are other, more religious sounding lies.
A plausible lie: How could a loving God send anyone to hell? That’s not the God I serve! The truth: God isn’t sending us to hell. We’re already lost and He sent His Son to rescue all those who will believe (Jn. 3.16; 1 Jn. 4.9).
A plausible lie: All religions lead to God though they may call Him by another name. The truth: Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn. 14.6).
A plausible lie: Jesus just loved everyone. We should do the same. After all, who are we to judge? The truth: We should love everyone, even our enemies, but part of loving means there are times when we need to speak the truth in love (Gal. 6.1-2; 2 Cor. 7.8-11; Prov. 27.5-6).
A plausible lie: It doesn’t matter what I believe about God and the Bible, as long as I love Jesus. The truth: What we believe about God and His Word as revealed in the Bible matter a great deal. It affects how we handle tests and trials, how we reflect Him to a lost world, the level of our trust, and our ability to have peace and joy no matter what our circumstances. For more on this, check out my post, “Good Doctrine Matters.” In that post I explain how some false doctrines sound good, but have a nasty downside.
We, of all people, should not buy into the plausible lies that the world uses to argue against the truth and keep people in spiritual blindness and bondage! But we also need to be on guard against the religious sounding lies that can destroy our testimonies, keep us discouraged, or cause us to doubt God’s love.
Let’s purpose in our hearts to tear down those strongholds, first in our own hearts, and then to prayerfully share the truth with others.
Verse 1 of chapter 28 says, “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower which is at the head of the verdant valleys, to those who are overcome with wine!”
This passage is written to the ten northern tribes represented by Ephraim. The area where they lived was very lush and fertile. God had blessed them with an abundance of beauty and fruitfulness, but they were puffed up with pride as if they had caused it and had wasted God’s blessings on “drunkenness”—their own sensual pleasures.