Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Proverbs 20:21 commentary; Is your teenager ready to leave home and stand on his or her own two feet?

21 ¶ An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.

Remember the story of the Prodigal Son? It starts out like this;

Luke 15:11 ¶ And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Perhaps you don’t relate to the idea of a physical inheritance. Most of us aren’t wealthy and don’t have lands, titles, or money to leave behind to our children. However, you can view this in any way a parent does things that help shape a young person’s life. For instance, I graduated high school at 17 years of age. I had ill advisedly been promoted a grade beyond my age when I was in second grade. I spent only three months in third. For another child, more sociable and mature, this might have been a great thing but for me, prone to bouts of depression, spoiled rotten and self centered, and very immature, although thought to be fairly intelligent and well spoken, it was one of the great disasters of my life.

As a result I was always younger than my peers in class and in youth, when months seem like years, that did me great harm socially and developmentally. In any event, at 17 I was not mature enough to go to college, at least not far from home. However, my parents grew up in the culture that viewed a college degree as the highest good a parent could do for their children. It was a sort of merit badge for parents to send their children to college, ready or not, and they were willing to sacrifice to do it for me, and for them. I was allowed to choose. I chose as far away as I could get.

The USAF Academy denied me after a congressional nomination. An advisor said I had a better chance the next year. I was too childishly disappointed to consider waiting. The Citadel accepted me but I was now temporarily bitter against anything military. I was accepted at the University of Idaho but that was too cold. So, I attended the University of Georgia, in the state where I had been born and the home state of my mother.

I had absolutely no clue of what I might be interested in so I started with history but ended up choosing Anthropology as a major with no thought as to what I would do with such a degree. I spent four years drinking, partying, and living a completely immoral lifestyle. I got a degree but it had been a total waste of time. After my BA I took a few computer science courses post graduate but eventually, dissolution and irresponsible living got the best of me. I had received a sort of inheritance too early, way before I was ready for it. The fault was all my own, not my well meaning and loving parents or well intentioned high school counselors. Bad character and immaturity were things I readily accept and own.

We should be very careful about when its time to send our children out to face the world on their own, making decisions that will affect their entire lives. Some are mature and able to leave at an early age and have a vision of themselves and who they are and what they want to be as a person even though many people will change careers in their lives at least once.

Others receive an inheritance too early and the end result is not good. One may be mature enough at 18 to go off on their own and for another it may not be until they’re 22. For the Christian parent, a child who has been raised with regular family devotions including Bible reading, study, and prayer, whose parents try to live before him filled with the fruit of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians 5:22 and who hasn’t been trained to value what the world values but what Christ values, will have a much better chance of standing on his or her own two feet and face the world, than a child who has not received THAT inheritance.

Children must be taught that their hunger to grow up fast and to embrace adult life quickly, before they are ready, may hurt them. Of course, part of the blame here is the creation of the artificial stage of life called “teenager”. We keep young people in a state of perpetual, youthful serfdom with very little responsibility and then expect them, magically, at the age of 18, to act like responsible adults, which is cruel, unfair, and not very rational.

So, to the Christian parent whose young person may be approaching society’s magic age of 18 I say only be careful. Do the right things for your child. Give them the life I talked about and pray for their salvation. But prepare them to live in the world. They need to know, before they leave home, how the Bible defines true religion, and to embrace that definition and not the world’s.

James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

The Christian young person who embraces the world’s values and loves the things the world loves and respects the things the world respects may spend his or her hastily gotten inheritance quickly and have nothing to show for it but regret. Think carefully on this, please.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Proverbs 20:20 commentary; Honoring your father and mother

20 ¶ Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.

The Hebrews under the Law were told within the context of the Ten Commandments;

Exodus 20:12 ¶ Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

This is reinforced for Christians;

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

Under the Law given to Moses for the Hebrews a child could be killed as a civil penalty for dishonoring his or her parents by word or deed. Remember, the Law given to the Hebrews was to serve as not only the spiritual rule of their lives but the civil law, as well.

Exodus 21:17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

This was a serious problem and the breakdown in family authority was lamented greatly.

Micah 7:6 For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.

While Christians do not have the civil force of the commands given to them as Law to be enforced on them by a civil magistrate it is clear that this rule is still in force in the respect that God will not bless anyone who disrespects his or her parents. Notice it does not say to honor your parents only if they are also believers or if they believe what you do. It says to honor them. God’s approval is not forthcoming to any Christian who treats even his unsaved parents with disdain or disrespect.

Certainly, you may not be able to trust the influence your unsaved parents have on your children so leaving the children alone with them may not be an option. But, there is no reason to show disrespect. We get crankier and more set in our ways as we grow older. Try to bear with that. Sometimes aged parents can be as hard to deal with as small children. Be patient. One day you, as well, may be in their situation.

There is an old story that’s told about a little boy who watched his parents mistreat his grandfather. The old man was sloppy and mentally deranged so that they even made him eat his food in a bowl on the floor. One day the little boy said to his father that he looked forward to the day when the boy could make his father eat on the floor. This gave the man pause as to what he had been teaching his child by example. What goes around comes around.

This is a hard Proverb and the Law upon which it is based is a hard commandment to bear. Some people’s parents are just fools and have always been so. It’s hard to respect a parent who never seems to have grown up or who has always been an example of wickedness. It is possible, as well, that you simply can’t be around the parent because of some horrible sin they committed against you or some innocent other in the past. A child who has suffered sexual abuse or extreme physical abuse from a parent is not going to be able to deal with having any contact with them. If that is so, it’s best that you do stay away from them.

But, in the main, most of us have parents who tried, even if we think they failed. And we, most of us, who have had children, understand how hard it is to be a parent. Many of us come into parenthood with unreasonable and naïve expectations and things don’t always work out like we planned. So, the only thing you can do, Christian, is considering the state of your relationship with your parents, respect and honor them as best you can and forgive them for their deficiencies, lack of knowledge, and failures. Realize that in God’s order of things, to be pleasing to Him, you must. It is right and God calls you to do it. As you should do for your spouse and children pray also that God will give you a greater love for your parents, especially if they are hard to feel positive affections for. Sometimes, that’s the only way you can accomplish what God commands, by Him changing you from what you are to what He wants you to be.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Proverbs 20:19 commentary for talebearers and flatterers

19 ¶ He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.

The internet has opened all sorts of new ways for people to gossip and be talebearers. We constantly have a flow of unproven and farfetched conspiracy theories, emails that contain nothing but lies, and statements of “fact” that can usually be traced to one source generating hundreds of copycats. Websites like ‘Snopes’ and ‘Fact Check’ are set up to detect lies, if they themselves aren’t biased and repeating lies. Who can say for sure?

Two types of people are listed here, the talebearer and the flatterer. Where there is one there is usually the other. It’s best to avoid them and not to get involved with people like who like to tell the secrets of other people as well as those who flatter you to get such information in the first place. Talebearers are gossips and this is something that the God who created you doesn’t approve of at all.

Talebearers hurt people.

Proverbs 18:8 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

They cause strife and conflict.

Proverbs 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

This is a problem for women who have too much free time on their hands and no constructive way to use it for God.

1 Timothy 5:13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.

In fact, all of us, men and women, can be found in this fault. ‘Busybody’ carries with it not only the implication of sticking our nose in other people’s business but also “speaking things which they ought not.”

2 Thessalonians 3:11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

Because of talebearers it is best never to say anything in private to someone you do not absolutely trust by experience that you don’t want spread around. I myself have been asked my opinion in an email of someone, which when I gave it, I found that it was immediately offered to that person. The person who asked me the question, while a relative, was certainly no friend to me. So, it is always best to speak very guardedly in private because you don’t know where that bird is going to fly.

One of the supposed acceptable ways to bear tales, to tell the secrets of others, in Christian circles, is to ask for prayer for them, and then reveal your so called concern. It is best to ask for an unspoken request unless that person has asked public prayer. God knows who they are and what they need. Pray for them in private.

The flatterer, as well, can not be trusted. When you want to praise someone a “well done” or “I got a lot out of that” or “thanks for sharing that”, something simple and to the point is good. Manipulators will try to use your vanity or hunger for approval to get you to do what they want. Beware of them. Don’t meddle with or get involved with them.

If you yourself can’t be trusted to not spread someone else’s business around or if you use flattery to manipulate people, you’re simply evil. Anyone who knows you should want to have nothing to do with you. You need to repent, change your mind, and do a “180” on your sin. Ask Christ for forgiveness and a change of heart and behavior, remembering that since God knows your heart you can’t fake him out like you do simple people around you.

Psalm 5:8 Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face. 9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Latest Reading

Guderian: Panzer Generalby Kenneth Macksey, Stackpole Books, Pennsylvania, 1975. Guderian was the brilliant executor of the lightning war, Blitzkrieg, of armored tank formations supported by air force and infantry. He was a genius and modern warfare has much to thank him for, whether you believe that's a good thing or not. This is a very interesting read.

Proverbs 20:18 commentary; The Christian at war

18 ¶ Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.

I haven’t bothered to check out whether or not this is a true quotation from General Patton but in the movie “Patton” he says, “compared to war, all other human endeavors shrink to insignificance.” We usually put more effort into making war; breaking things and killing people, than anything else we do. Randolph Bourne said “war is the health of the state.” This Proverb was given to the ancient Hebrews in the kingdom of Israel literally, a kingdom which was required to make war by circumstances and command from God.

Americans are a warlike people. A careful study will reveal over 200 military actions we have engaged in over our history, many to support our business interests in other parts of the world. We’ve only actually been attacked by an invading army once since our founding as a nation, although on two other occasions we received a “surprise” attack. After fighting to wrest control of the continent we live on from the native inhabitants for over two hundred years we became an international power by seizing much of what was left of the old Spanish Empire and we have military personnel in dozens of countries.

Whether it be the modern nation-state or the kingdom as the property of a monarch war is endemic to mankind. You either are willing and able to make war or you are willing to be absorbed or controlled by a power that is willing and able. Governments all over the earth will spend the lives of their young people and cloak their sacrifice to the pagan ideal of nationhood and patriotism in spiritual and noble terms in order for political leaders to get the opportunity to impose force, enact policy, and their political will on others.

The nations of the world, in fact, are full of beauty, nobility, architecture, education, art, philosophy, lofty ideals, and wisdom, but in the end are only held together by brute force. After all, Satan IS the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).

But this Proverb would have little use to the Christian if it was only applicable for the physical making of war in the flesh because;

2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

With the exception of wars of self defense, no Christian should be engaging in physical war. Our warfare is spiritual. We once walked after Satan’s ways.

Ephesians 2:1 ¶ And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

And we are commanded;

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

So, let’s apply verse 18 to the Christian’s warfare. Every intention, every purpose is established, made sure, and successful by counsel and good advice. That’s how you have victory.

Jesus said;

Luke 14:31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

Do you have sufficient forces to do battle? Are you trying to stand against your flesh, the world system, and the Devil with only your own conscience and your good intentions? Do you honestly think that your “Christian character” is sufficient to defeat those enemies? What about the strongholds and fortifications the enemy has in your heart and mind’s imaginations that Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 10? Remember also what Jesus said here;

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

You need God’s counsel and good advice in order to make war in the Spiritual manner you’re commanded to do. Since God speaks to you through His words in the Bible it would appear that if you want to be well equipped you should be speaking to God (prayer) and hearing Him speak to you and advising you (daily Bible reading, Bible study, and regularly hearing sound, Biblical sermons that speak to your heart).

We know from the Bible what tactics Satan uses to deceive and confound the believer as he seeks to draw closer to Christ. For instance, he uses an unforgiving spirit in you to destroy you.

2 Corinthians 2:10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

In fact, I heard a preacher once say that the root causes of most mental illness, depression, and (physical illness causing) wrath were refusing to forgive others, refusing to forgive yourself, and refusing to be forgiven. But, you would know and understand that battle tactic of Satan and your flesh if you read God’s word over and over again because the Word of God (Christ) speaks to your heart through the word of God (His Bible), not your conscience which could be seared and made useless (1 Timothy 4:2). I’m not saying that your conscience isn’t important (Romans 9:1) but a healthy conscience is the result of the Holy Spirit’s working, not the cause of it.

You cannot make war against the flesh, the world, or the Devil without the word of God abiding in your heart and mind. You need a full dose of it every day. You say, but I have faith. I don’t need the Bible. I would remind you of a quote from the Puritan, Oliver Cromwell, which, whatever you think of him or his reign over England, rings true.

“I know a man may answer all difficulties with faith, and faith will answer all difficulties really where it is, but we are very apt, all of us, to call that faith, that perhaps may be but carnal imagination, and carnal reasonings.”

Every victorious Christian is a faithful Bible reader and hearer. No one has victory over sin and iniquity in their thoughts or deeds who is not totally given over to God’s words, except that they either have victory for a time based on their own will, or they simply change the definition of sin to exclude things they can’t conquer. If you are naturally a good person who naturally doesn’t do or think wrong I’m happy for you. I don’t believe you. I think you’re lying to me and to yourself and trying to lie to God but it is a free country.

The Bible is the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). It knows your heart, what you are, and critically judges the world and the desires of your flesh in a way that you can’t imagine apart from it.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

So, Christian, whether you believe it or not, you are in a war. The war will come to you if you will not go to it. It is a spiritual war. The only offensive weapon you have, of the armor listed in Ephesians, chapter 6, is the Bible. Is it true what they say that it doesn’t matter what version you read or study? Is it true that they are all just versions, all the same in power and value? Are you going out to do battle with the sword of the Spirit or with a plastic butter knife?

If you don’t feel compelled to read or hear your Bible from cover to cover time and time again, if the Bible you use doesn’t speak to you with authority and power, and if you have not felt changes in your heart and in your life itself that you can directly attribute to that power over you then perhaps you are using the wrong Bible.

In any event follow this Proverb if you want success and victory in your spiritual struggles, in your war. Take counsel and advice from God’s word.

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

1Timothy 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Proverbs 20:17 commentary;

17 ¶ Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.

There are other warnings that the evil that a person speaks will cause him problems;

Proverbs 18:7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.

Verse 17 will cut both ways like a two edged sword. Mankind has always enjoyed its share of deceivers, people who say just the right words to get what they want. There are those who will sweet talk you, compliment you, and cover you with their supposed approval to get you to do what they want.

In Christianity, as I’m sure it is in other religions because people are people everywhere, there are those who gain entrance to our congregations, into their minds and hearts by flattering words of deceit. They know the churchspeak, the words that are used like “fellowship”, and “the Lord”, and “separation”, and “sanctified”, with, of course, “sin” being a big one. In the more Fundamentalist congregations they know if they condemn the “others” whomever they happen to be, they’ll get people’s attention. They might scream things against “queers”, people who are “shacking up”, or say things like “I wouldn’t send my dog to a public school”, or they’ll defy the government to “just try and take my guns” or something that really appeals to the flesh of the congregation.

They don’t talk much about the fruit of the Spirit, loving each other, or what a Christian is supposed to DO, as much as they talk about what he or she is not to do. They don’t like to talk so much about what a Christian IS as much as they like to talk about what he or she isn’t. They are deceivers and the bread of deceit is sweet to a man or woman. We like the compliments. The false doctrines appeal to our flesh. The emphasis on sins that probably aren’t MY problem appeals to our carnal minds because they invoke the righteousness of self.

The deceivers want to manipulate your emotions; your guilt, your uncertainty over your salvation, and to draw you away from fellowship with Christ in the Spirit. They want to glory in your flesh by making you think that the only proof you can show them, and they get you to thinking you must prove to them that you are saved, is by doing whatever they tell you to do.

Do you know there are some Fundamentalist churches where people actually ask their Pastor before they can take a vacation or even if they can take a vacation? There are some Fundamentalist churches where you need the Pastor’s approval before you can take a certain job?

The deceivers will sponsor events revolving around themselves rather than Christ like banquets entitled “Prove Your Love”, not to Christ, but to them. They will abuse physically and emotionally weaker members of the congregation with words and deeds. In our churches even the men will follow them blindly because they are the “man o’ God”. Some of the woman are victims of verbal rape as foul or suggestive language is used against them, sometimes privately, but often within the venue of the church service itself inappropriate comments and putdowns are made at the expense of women.

The bread of deceit is sweet to a man. But, sooner or later, if the congregation itself is not Bible reading faithfully and “all prayed up” as they say, Christ will remove the lid from the pot. That’s what the word “Revelation” means; to reveal something. He’ll show you and everyone, even the unsaved. He doesn’t view His church as a private club whose indiscretions must be hidden from the world. We are to act in such a way that everything we do is open and apparent to the world. We have no secrets. But if we live in a way that brings shame and disgust we must be exposed to the world’s scorn for the wrong reason.

2 Timothy 3:9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.

What is the deceiver to say when he is exposed? What is there to say? When their disappearances weren’t to Bible conferences or Evangelistic opportunities but to bars and nightclubs? What is there to say when homes and vehicles were gotten by deception and fraud? What is there to say when an abused child grows up and files a criminal complaint or a woman demands her right to have the law enact justice on the deceiver? There is nothing that can be said. The deceiver’s mouth is filled with gravel as is the mouth of those who praised him.

In the little church body to which I belong everyone’s love for each other is apparent and genuine. There is a true spirit of Christian fellowship and concern. The Pastor is a man who loves Christ more than Self and Christ’s Bible more than the world. The people want to live a life in the Spirit, walking with Christ, learning and growing. It is a healing church, where people can come who have been hurt elsewhere, even abused. May it always be so. May our ability to discern between good and evil keep us from accepting the teaching of anyone who comes through the door looking for victims rather than fellowship with the believers.

Things have changed in our culture in the last century. Sometimes those changes have been wrong and counterproductive but some changes have been good. It is no longer something we accept and wink at when a man deceives a woman in order to get her to marry him. I can remember hearing my aunt tell me about how my grandfather, a good Baptist in every other respect, promised his Lutheran bride to be that their children would be raised Lutheran but once the first of twelve babies was old enough, they proceeded to the Baptist church his father started because, according to him, it was closer. The fallout from his deception harmed his children spiritually, particularly his seven sons, a great deal.

This type of behavior is no longer justifiable. It happens but we all agree or should agree that this deceit is wrong. But, there are those who would appeal to a man’s insecurity, to his flesh, who would tell him that it is still okay, and even acceptable to God.

Women in our culture have enjoyed the rights and privileges that the Bible demanded for them long before Christians could or would accept them as having any rights.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Yet, there are men who will preach and teach that women are no better than pack animals, and they’ll do it with a smile even. They’ll teach that women aren’t capable of loving and devotion to God in the same way that men are. They’ll teach that women are always trying to take over, always wanting to have the rule over men, as if it was inherent in their nature to want to dominate everyone around them.

The bread of deceit is sweet to a man. It appeals to his flesh, to his fears, to his insecurities. But one day we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and many will find their mouths once speaking great swelling words of vanity, to be filled with gravel.

The Christian, particularly a leader in the church, if he doesn’t have the evidence of Christ’s indwelling Spirit in him, the fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5:22 evident in his life; love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance in his speech and actions calls into question whether or not he is even saved. The Christian, particularly a leader in the church, if they don’t have the love for their brothers and sisters in Christ as Jesus said that that was how people would know that they were His disciples in John 13:34, 35, calls into question His relationship with Christ.

2Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

The deceivers will always appeal to the flesh under the guise of spirituality. They’ll want fleshly proof of your salvation.

Galatians 6:13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

They’ll get you to believe in a religion of works, just like any other.

Galatians 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

They’ll get you to do their bidding by flattery, mocking, jesting, insults, and emotional manipulation and guilt trips. Humans like deceit. It’s sweet to us. We like nothing more than to be sold on a product or an idea. Lest our own mouths which were full of praise for a man, simply a man, be filled with gravel rendering us speechless when the truth comes out let us be discerning and cautious, testing every spirit by the word of God, whether it be good or bad, and let us not ever partake of the sweet bread of deceit.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Proverbs 20:16 commentary

16 ¶ Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.

Remember that the Law not only was to govern the ancient Hebrew’s spiritual life and obligations but his civil life as well, unlike the modern Christian, whose life should be managed by the doctrines of grace given in the New Testament letters from Paul to the churches with the indwelling Holy Spirit guiding him or her.

Here, a person is to give his garment as a pledge to guarantee the debt of a foreigner to an Israelite and the Hebrew was told to be sure to get a pledge from him if he was trying to guarantee the debt of a foreign woman (there would probably be all kinds of problems with that debt if the relationship changed course, as they often do) and as was stated previously promising to guarantee someone else’s debt is not a wise thing to do.

Proverbs 6:1 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, 2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. 3 Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.

Proverbs 11:15 He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.

Proverbs 17:18 A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.

This verse will be repeated word for word again in chapter 27. These are warnings, not only about suretyship but the people who were not of Israel, who didn’t worship Israel’s God, the Creator of all things, the God of the Bible. Foreign people and foreign worship, customs, and standards of behavior were constant thorns of irritation for Israel and even helped bring about their downfall.

I could go off on an application to Christians that many commentators would about how you should only offer to co-sign or back up a note for a Christian and not an unbeliever. But, that’s simply wrong. The principle here is not to be surety for anyone. Sadly, there are many Christians who are as dishonest or unreliable as any pagan person and many atheists who are more honorable and honest than Christians. Don’t promise another’s debts. If you have the money they need and you think the cause is worthwhile then give the money to the Lord by giving it to them. If they can pay it back ask them to pay it forward and help someone else.

But, most debts we incur are not of necessity or out of wisdom. Most of the debts people ask you to guarantee are poorly thought out and come out of irresponsibility on their part. If you are not in a position to help that person with the money they need, and only for essential things, then I would certainly not go against the Biblical principle and promise to guarantee their debts. But, this is my own opinion. If someone wants to start a business let them save their own money or seek out investors, not come to you to ask you to put your good credit and name on the line as a guarantee of their debt to a bank. Once again, my own opinion. In my youth I would have been one of those guys you would not have wanted to lend money to or to not get a pledge from when I was vouching for someone. I had terrible judgment and bad character.

Why are people who call themselves Christians as unreliable today as others? It’s probably for the same reason that Christians have similar rates or worse of drug addiction, divorce, and immoral or amoral living as others. Why is it that for all the preaching and hammering on personal moral behavior in pulpits that so much of it seems to go in one ear and out the other? Repeatedly, throughout history, Christian leaders have pointed out the Bible’s role in setting the believer apart to be of some use to God.

The Waldensians had a saying, “The Holy Scriptures alone are sufficient to sanctify the believer”, I have read. They would attempt to memorize, to be able to recite by heart, the New Testament.

Dumoulin, a French reformer, promised that reading the Bible a half hour a day would relieve the Christian of blasphemy, gambling, and other sins. John Burgon, the Anglican champion of the Received Text in the late 1800’s who opposed the revision of Westcott and Hort (see his books The Last Twelve Verses of Mark and The Revision Revised) gave a lecture I’ve read to his Anglican priest students in which he also recommended daily half hour Bible reading never to be interrupted or put aside for the young preacher of his day. Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII, wrote in the preface to The Great Bible, that the Christian must read the Bible every day, implying that if you don’t you certainly aren’t in a position to receive a sermon on Sunday.

Paul admonishes the young Pastor, Timothy, in 1 Timothy 4:13 , to “give attendance to reading” also tells the Corinthians, the Ephesians, and the Thessalonians to read his letters, making sure the congregations hear and see them. The early church leader, Tertullian, writing about 200AD states that the originals or authentic copies of the letters from the Apostles were still available in the churches which they started and nourished, implying that you could read them.

God commanded through Moses, in expectation of the Israelites eventually demanding a king, in Deuteronomy 17, that their king should read the Bible they had, which was the Law given to Moses, every day of his life so that he would learn to fear the Lord, keep all the words of the Law and do them, and so he wouldn’t get arrogant and think himself above the Law.
Joshua commanded the Israelites to constantly have the Book of the Law on their tongues and in their minds.

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

In the Bible, the Holy Spirit, speaking through a Psalmist, says this about how God views his word, small “w”.

Psalm 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

In earlier days in America, the Bible may have been the only book in a person’s house. Many of the early Americans learned to read by daily Bible reading within their families. Remember the country song about Bible reading called “The Family Bible”, written by Jim Ed Brown, I believe, and sung by both Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash?

“Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages cleft for me.

There's a fam'ly bible on the table
Each page is torn and hard to read
But the fam'ly bible on the table
Will ever be my key to memories.

At the end of day when work was over
And when the evening meal was done
Dad would read to us from the fam'ly bible
And we'd count our many blessings one by one.

I can see us sittin' 'round the table
When from the fam'ly bible dad would read
I can hear my mother softly singing
Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages cleft for me.

This old world of ours is full of troubles
This old world would oh, so better be
If we had more bibles on the table
And mothers singing Rock of Ages cleft for me.

I can see us sittin' 'round the table
When from the fam'ly bible dad would read
I can hear my mother softly singing
Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages cleft for me.

Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages cleft for me...”

There is also an old poem by Amos Wells that I’ve been inspired by about reading the Bible entitled When You Read the Bible Through.

“I supposed I knew my Bible
Reading piecemeal, hit and miss,
Now a bit of John or Matthew,
Now a snatch of Genesis,
Certain chapters of Isaiah
Certain Psalms (the twenty-third);
Twelfth of Romans, First of Proverbs
Yes, I thought I knew the Word;
But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do,
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read the Bible through.
Oh, the massive, mighty volume!
Oh, the treasures manifold!
Oh, the beauty of the wisdom
And the grace it proved to hold!
As the story of the Hebrews
Swept in majesty along,
As it leaped in waves prophetic,
As it burst to sacred song,
As it gleamed with Christly omens,
The Old Testament was new,
Strong with cumulative power,
When I read the Bible through.
Ah, imperial Jeremiah,
With his keen, coruscant mind,
And the blunt old Nehemiah,
And Ezekiel refined!
Newly came the Minor Prophets,
Each with his distinctive robe;
Newly came the Song idyllic,
And the tragedy of Job,
Deuteronomy, the regal,
To a towering mountain grew,
With its comrade peaks around it,
When I read the Bible through.
What a radiant procession
As the pages rise and fall,
James the sturdy, John the tender
Oh, the myriad-minded Paul!
Vast apocalyptic glories
Wheel and thunder, flash and flame,
While the church triumphant raises
One incomparable name.
Ah, the story of the Savior
Never glows supremely true
Till you read it whole and swiftly,
Till you read the Bible through.
You who like to play at Bible,
Dip and dabble, here and there,
Just before you kneel, aweary,
And yawn thro’ a hurried prayer;
You who treat the Crown of Writings
As you treat no other book
Just a paragraph disjointed,
Just a crude, impatient look
Try a worthier procedure,
Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in very rapture
When you read the Bible through.”

Preachers, evangelists, and scholars like Dr. Samuel Gipp who wrote the wonderfully easy to read book An Understandable History of the Bible and people like Dr. Peter Ruckman, frail and human as they are, encourage Christians to read, read, and read the Bible. Dr. Ruckman tells a story that when he took over a Baptist church in the early 1960’s that the deacons smoked in the church. There were ashtrays in the pews in some churches back in those days. He chose not to preach on the ills of smoking but pounded on daily, personal Bible reading as something apart and distinct from Bible study. He claims that within two years, not only had smoking ceased in the church, but he only knew of one family that smoked at home. He claims, like the preachers of old, that daily Bible reading will change you.

Whether it be the God of the Bible through the Bible itself, theologians, preachers, persecuted Medieval Christians, poets, and songwriters there are people throughout history telling you to read that Bible you have gathering dust on the shelf or laying on your desk.

I am not much of an example. I’ve accomplished very little in life. I’m prone to sin and failure at every turn. Do not expect too much from me as judging by my track record I’ll let you down. But God has changed me and is changing me through His word. With the exceptions of a few short periods of complete and utter insanity over the last several years God has been molding me with His word. My wife sees it. Some of my family knows it. Perhaps others do, as well. God has removed from my heart, several things that were not good and added a few that were. It’s been a slow process but I am certain that from what someone as carnal and degenerate as I’ve been all my life can see accomplished in his life by God with my only action being to read and believe and to trust and wait, that you, better person than I’ll ever be on this earth, can experience so much more.

What Christians are missing in their lives today is the joy, love, and peace that God wants to give them through His words in His Book, and not only that, but victory over sin and other foolishness. Why are Christians often no more trustworthy or moral than the world at large? Because the Bible is not center stage in their hearts. Because of that the God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ, isn’t sitting on the throne of their hearts.

As Jesus Himself said;

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Proverbs 20:15 commentary

15 ¶ There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

This verse is separated by a colon so fold the second part back on the first part and see a contrast or a definition of the first part. Sound confusing? Then look at it this way. The first part of the verse lists some valuable, earthly treasures. The second part contrasts those earthly treasures to things of spiritual value, the lips of knowledge. By the way this is constructed the lips of knowledge, likened to a precious jewel by a metaphor, are of greater importance. In other places where a colon is used, sometimes the second clause defines the first. Just look at the context.

Precious doesn’t only mean valuable which is its usual meaning but it means rare, hard to find. A precious jewel is not only of great value but it is comparatively rare. In other words, we don’t walk out in our yard in the morning and pick up rubies, gold, and other precious jewels. See here.

1Samuel 3:1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

The phrase “lips of knowledge” was used before in Proverbs.

Proverbs 14:7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.

Proverbs 1:4 said that one of the purposes of the Proverbs was to give the young person, the inexperienced person, knowledge. Verse 7 of that first chapter says that the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

By the construction of that sentence with the colon after knowledge we see that it is defined as wisdom and instruction. We know that Christ is our wisdom.

1Corinthians 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

The lips of knowledge speak of Christ, their words are edifying and uplifting, encouraging and full of praise and honor. Over and over we have seen this in Proverbs and elsewhere. Lips that speak of the knowledge of Christ are precious and rare. But, you say, rare? What do you mean? There are people everywhere, especially in America, speaking of Christ.

But, remember these warnings given to us under the doctrines of grace for the Christian in the New Testament, where we are not under the Law of Moses. There’s a warning about counterfeits.

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

There’s a warning about those who corrupt God’s word.

2Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

The following warnings are written to a young pastor in the church about the church in context in the last days, as things get worse and worse spiritually.

2 Timothy 3:1 ¶ This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.

Notice that we are not promised that within our earthly framework of the church’s existence on earth that these things will be ceased. We are promised that the workings of these people within the church will be revealed. Take a look at the sins of Christians that will be revealed to ALL MEN (verse 9).

Remember, the warning that Jesus gave in a parable regarding the invisible kingdom of God (Luke 17:20,21) that each believer is a part of by virtue of his or her having God’s spirit inside of them (John 3:3; John 14:23; Romans 8:9)?

Mark 4:30 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: 32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.

Notice, the fowls (birds) of the air, likened to Devils in type elsewhere (Matthew 13, parable of the sower and explanation). These devils live under the shadow of the church. They are not a part of it but use it to their advantage until God reveals their wickedness to people.

Paul has given us more warnings.

2Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

And again;

Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

Remember in Proverbs how the simple are inexperienced and naïve? Even Christ in His earthly ministry walking as a flesh and blood human being, God in the flesh, wanted to point something out to us.

John 2:24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

I have shown you what is going on today in the churches that call themselves Christian and you still ask but why are the lips of knowledge rare? I understand the value of speaking the knowledge of Christ, that it is precious, but why is it rare, you continue to ask?

What I am trying to say to you is that many American Christians are following another gospel, a counterfeit, otherwise, they would have a hard time being fooled by the counterfeits who aren’t handling the word of God truthfully because its impossible them to do so.

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

Galatians 1:6 ¶ I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

The lips of knowledge are precious and valuable because they speak of the truth of Christ and lead to eternal life. The lips of knowledge are precious and rare because Christians, at least in America, are following a gospel of works, a gospel of hatred and bigotry, a gospel of control and manipulation, a gospel of abuse, a gospel of personal wealth, a gospel of exploitation, and a political gospel that is more concerned with redecorating the waiting room to Hell, putting nice pictures on the wall, spraying it with pleasant smelling things, and making everyone talk nice and be orderly than focusing on the true gospel presented by Paul, speaking by understanding from the Holy Spirit in the Bible.

1 Corinthians 15:1 ¶ Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

One final word for the Christian in these difficult times. These men who are preaching the counterfeit gospel of works and the other things I stated; they have set themselves up as a special class of people, above and beyond the average Christian; superior in knowledge and spirituality. In the Bible there is a term called Nicolaitanism, which literally translated means “victory over the laity”. It is the making of a separate Christian priesthood that is somehow above and beyond, the untouchable and unanswerable to anyone “man of God” who is to be followed even when he is wrong. What does Christ have to say about them?

Revelation 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

Okay, back to the Proverb. My point is that it is simple to understand, for the Christian, why the lips of knowledge are valuable and of great worth. It is more difficult for them to understand and accept why they are rare. Know the Bible, forward and backward. Make God’s words a part of your mind and heart. Judge everything you hear by them. Question what is said to you and examine it in relation to the scripture’s clear message. Flee those who are trying to manipulate and control you for their own purposes and be wise.

Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Proverbs 20:14 commentary

14 ¶ It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.

This appears to be a rather strange commentary to be inserted into Proverbs. The shrewd buyer claims the car isn’t worth the price and haggles until he gets the price to where he wants it and then when he leaves he tells everyone what a shrewd deal he made. In the market, someone negotiates for a better price on produce and then brags when he or she gets home. We all know that’s the way it worked 3,000 years ago and that’s the way it works now.

A Christian, on the other hand, does something very similar. He goes to church, perhaps, shows tears, goes down the aisle to the “altar” and beats his chest at how wicked he is, how unworthy he is for God’s mercies. He has problems. He “wrestles” with God in prayer at that “altar” for everyone to see. He might even weep copiously at his seat at how the sermon struck at his heart. You’d think, when he leaves the church that there is no humbler person on the face of the earth. No matter what his station in life, no matter what his wealth or importance, it appears that he is just thankful to have been saved by the skin of his teeth. You know he’s going to have to have that tie dry cleaned.

But, in reality, he looks at everyone around him, the unsaved or the Christian that he thinks is carnal and worldly and he gloats. “Bless God, I’m sure not going to a sinner’s Hell. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t watch worldy movies or TV. I never miss a church service. Why, I’m not like those “other” people, those queers, those fornicators, those communists, those DEMOCRATS!” He’s full of himself. He’s proud. He’s boastful. He really does look down his nose at the unsaved. His compassion ends at “you ought to be like me so I could accept you” as opposed to genuine concern about their eternal destiny.

Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican (the hated tax collector). 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Now, if that publican had been like many modern Christians as soon as he left the temple he’d have started talking to his friends and family like the Pharisee was talking in the temple.

One of our main problems in our walk with God is pride. We’re full of ourselves. The more definite we are and confirmed about what we believe about Christ, the Bible, our Church, and many other spiritual topics, the more sure we are that others just don’t get it and are even more wicked and not as worthy as ourselves. What we often forget every day is a simple statement from Jesus Christ.

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Christians often have multiple personalities. Within the meeting of the church on Sunday and Wednesday they are humble and just thankful to be alive and to be saved. But on the other days of the week you’d think they thought that God was lucky to have them on His team. Where is your humility at work, at school, and in your larger family, many of whom are perhaps unsaved? One of the reasons your unsaved family doesn’t respect your faith is because of your pride. Its written all over you in how you dress, the churchspeak you use, and in how you delight in telling them how you don’t or can’t do what they do.

Just think of what kind of testimony we’d have out in the world if we carried the same testimony we have in church out into the world! Do you not see what others see when they look at you? They don’t see the humble carpenter’s stepson from Nazareth. They see someone who, if they ever change their religion it will be because they no longer think THEY’RE God.

You know how you smile at the people when the church meets and eagerly shake their hands and call them brother or sister? How you smile when someone you don’t know comes through the door for the first time? You know how you want to be helpful and open doors for men and women and carry stuff? Remember how you are eager to pray for other’s troubles and shortcomings at their request and your heart just goes out to them for their trials and tribulations? You know how quick you are to get emotional and all worked up over their distresses? How about how you sit leaning forward to hear the Pastor’s sermon and how you can’t wait to come up front and pray on your knees? And how your Bible is always in your hand or nearby?

What happened to that attitude when you left the church? Where’d it go? Suddenly you’re angry? You’re in a hurry? You’ve got lots of important things to do? People are in your way? Your heart for the lost just turned into a fantasy Sherman tank that you’d like to use to blow them off the highway? The next day, the boss’s meeting was a nuisance and he really had nothing to say? The coworker whose marriage is falling apart and he doesn’t know what to do about it needs to get a grip? The lost kid standing in front of you at the store when you go for lunch, you know the one with the pink, spiked hair, all the tattooes, and the piercings, well, she must not be one of the lost people you were weeping about on Sunday because all you can muster for her is a “Christian curse” under your breath. How about that guy walking in the door of the county welfare office whom you know absolutely nothing about? Does he get any concern or a prayer about his health or his finding a job or do you just think to yourself, “if those people weren’t so stinking lazy they wouldn’t be living off the rest of us.”

So, I’d ask you and me, all of us, to remember what we believed and felt and did when we were with our brothers and sisters in Christ and to ask you to be that same way when you leave and throughout the week. Just try it. Act every day everywhere you go, as if you are meeting with God, just like you think you are on Sunday and Wednesday. I think you’ll notice the difference and so will the other people in your life. And don’t you think our Lord will?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Proverbs 20:13; Imposter Pastors and Sleeping Christians

13 ¶ Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.

Literally, this Proverbs carries the note you’ve heard before; that laziness brings poverty more assuredly than any other character trait. If you want to be successful you have to be willing to work and work hard, long hours. Ask anyone who has started their own business what kind of hours they put in or anyone who works in a low paying job that they love what kind of work week they have. Don’t be too much in love with resting and sleeping. Be willing to get up early and go, go, go.

And certainly, even in the early church when the churches took care of their own poor there were rules regarding willingness to work.

2Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

There is another meaning here, I think, for Christians. There is the sleep of just sitting passively in the pews in church and going along with whatever politician or media celebrity happens to sprinkle in a few “God’s” into their speech outside of church. This sleep comes from not reading God’s word, not truly listening to what their Pastor says, not praying, and not being involved in their own and the church’s ministry of trying to lead people closer to Christ; both saved and unsaved, and ministering to them.

The more you are uninvolved and unengaged with worship, study, letting God work on you through your reading and hearing of His word and willingness to be changed by it, and the work of your church body the more dull your spiritual life becomes. It is almost impossible to maintain an alive and wakeful relationship with the Saviour if you aren’t united to a body of believers regularly, even if only a small number in a house church.

This dullness and sleep of the spirit, this laziness in regards to spiritual matters leads to a poverty of God’s words; a famine.

Amos 8:11 ¶ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

Churches become no more than a weekly harangue or gentle serenade of a man’s opinions, wishful thinking, or political agenda. The more the Christians in the pews choose this sleep of the sheep over an active relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ through His words preached and read, and through believers working hand in hand for the benefit of others in order to glorify Christ, the more impoverished they become spiritually.

Christians don’t have their eyes open. They’re nodding off in the pews and at home. They hear but they don’t hear and they see but they don’t see. Unsaved men creep into our churches. They see a great opportunity to have the rule over sleeping Christians who have no discernment and just want to be led about by the nose by some charismatic, well dressed, charlatan who will tell them what to think and how to think it.

Opportunists and criminals see the independent churches as a great way to move in and to gain financially or to abuse women and children because once in the pulpit they know they can’t be easily removed and some sleeping Christians will follow them even over a cliff.

Open your eyes, Christian. Wake up. There are Pastors out there preaching so hard about homosexual behavior, so fearful and paranoid, with every other sermon being a screaming, spittle spewing rant about “those people” that you have to wonder if they’re a little “light in the loafers” themselves and its wearing on them. The other possibility is that they think there’s a lot of “in the closet” members of their congregation. It’d be great if they preached against gossip and talebearing as much; things that affect their congregations more often.

There are Pastors out there who preach such vitriol and anger at women you wonder if they’re trying to speak for God from His word sincerely or they have a deep, underlying animosity and disrespect for and hatred of women.

The ministry of a sleeping church attracts some Pastors out for financial gain, seeking to use the collective ability of the church body to obtain loans, houses, and vehicles.

There are Pastors with such a seeming hunger to mete out punishment on other people’s children that you can’t help but wonder, are they concerned about raising Godly children through the church or are they simply sick, sadists looking for an opportunity to satisfy their urges?

These people, some unsaved opportunists, some saved but devil possessed men made drunk with the power of pastoral authority and the untouchableness of the “man o’ God” are nothing new. I have read papers about imposters posing as preachers even in the Colonial era when it was often a paid job, paid for by the state.

I would say that next to congregations not being disciplined, faithful Bible readers and students, attending church meetings whenever possible to hear good preaching that will change them, the biggest problem our churches face today is unsaved and wicked con-men, effective and pathological liars smelling the opportunity of personal gain or perverted satisfaction manipulating the sleep of the Christians in the churches they preside over. In fact, the phonies, frauds, and fakes would not be able to even darken the door of a church that wasn’t spiritually asleep.

Be thankful for a Pastor that is truly a believer and handles God’s word with care and love, whose commitment to Christ is evident in every word and action. Be thankful for a congregation that reads and takes in the Bible, the sermons, and the teaching. Be thankful for a body of Christ that is in unity and whose discernment is wide awake. There are many, many churches that are sleeping out there. Once in awhile they’ll wake up long enough to hear a phrase they want to hear, a token from God’s word about some wicked “other”, but then it’s back to sleep.

If you’re asleep now, open your eyes and pay attention to God’s word and you’ll be satisfied by the bread from heaven. You’ll be filled with it as by reading and hearing God’s word, submitting yourself to it to be changed, obeying it, not being lazy or a sluggard, you’ll be satisfied through God’s word, little w, with God’s Word, capital W, who is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Wake up, Christian. One of the sad facts of living in a fallen world is that if it looks like a skunk, and smells like a skunk, and walks like a skunk it probably is a skunk, but if it looks like an angel of light, it could be Satan.

2Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Proverbs 20:12 commentary; The eye and the ear

12 ¶ The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.

The Bible begins with a statement that is the foundation for all other statements in it.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

There simply is no getting around that and no way to say it means something it doesn’t. First, there is a God and secondly He created the heaven and the earth. Then the chapter in Genesis goes on to explain how; in what order and how long it took for God to speak the universe into existence. This verse alone overthrows any possible excuse for the Christian to believe in a purely naturalistic explanation of the creation of everything. God pre-existed and was the cause of all matter, energy, and time. You either believe that God created everything as the Bible said or you deny it. If you deny that there is a God, here’s what the Bible says about you.

Psalm 14:1 begins with “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

Books have been written and much study done about the complexity of the ear and the eye. The eye alone has been used by those scientists who believed in God as an example of complexity so fundamental that it would be impossible for it to evolve slowly as many different things go into its functioning. However, an argument about whether life happened by chance or whether God created it like everything else still revolves around whether or not God exists and whether or not all things in heaven and earth come from His will.

God has also given the ear the ability to hear and the mind to understand what it hears. When the Bible talks about hearing it often takes the meaning that one step further to believing what you hear from God and obeying. When it talks about seeing it goes again to that next step of understanding.

The first part of Deuteronomy 1:43 says, “So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD”.

Mark 8:18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?

God not only made the ears and eyes we hear and see with, He gave us the capacity to evaluate what we hear and see.

A question you might want to ask yourself and this goes to the very heart of where you will spend eternity is, “do I really believe that God made my eyes and ears and that He gave me the capacity to understand what I have seen and heard?”

For the Christian, acknowledging that God gives the capacity for truly hearing and seeing, understanding and obedience, is essential. The Christian prays for light when he reads the Bible. He or she pleads with God for understanding. He asks that his ears and his eyes as he hears himself or others read from scripture and he reads it himself be opened and ready to take in whatever it is that God is telling him. God made your eyes, Christian, to read His word and your ears to hear it and your mouth to speak it. There is no greater thing you can do with them, and after that being able to communicate God’s words to others to encourage, to edify, to lead them closer to Christ in either salvation or, for the believer, sanctification, to show His love for them through your love for them.

God not only made your body and gave it the capacity it has to function but He made your soul.

Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. 16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.

Think about the God who made you today and pray that your eyes see and your ears really do hear.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Proverbs 20:11 commentary

11 ¶ Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

This verse begins with “even” therefore underlining the implication that an adult is known by his actions, as well. “Even a child” is a phrase of comparison. The ancient Romans, I remember reading, believed that you could tell a lot about how a person will be in adulthood by watching them as a child. We tend to judge people first by their appearance, then by their behavior or speech, whichever we have contact with first. We do the same with children. Is he or she well behaved? Are they polite? Is the child neat or sloppy, submissive or a bully? Does the child seem intelligent or dull?

Christian parents will wonder if their child can grasp the concept of what they believe. When a child tells their parents that they are a believer, too, the parent wonders if they are just parroting what they’ve heard or do they really understand? A church family does well when a child comes forward and declares belief to put the child under the special care of the church so that they can be questioned as to whether or not they understand what it is they say they believe. I think this is good and prudent in the age of “easy believism” where the things we say with our mouth may not be reflected in what we actually believe or even understand.

Many people go to work or church meetings or engage in political activity and nod their assent to things they don’t actually believe, just to obtain favor, to get along (ie. please their parents), or to be a part of something; accepted and established in a peer group they have chosen.

What is important to the Christian or should be, is that our actions, and we should encourage our children that their actions, match what is in our hearts. Jesus told His disciples that they should not take oaths and swearing but that they should be so transparent that their no is simply no and yes is yes and understood that way in Matthew 5:33-37.

Children must be nourished and admonished according to the Lord’s way. Letting them be raised by the standards coming out of your radio, television, or DVD player is likely going to produce a train wreck of a life characterized more by twisted metal and escaping steam than the orderly life of a follower of Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Letting your child be influenced by unsaved relatives, even grandparents who may love them, is wickedness and an evil thing to put on a developing child. Unsaved relatives may mock their faith and yours and even mock Christ in their presence. Even believing relatives, if merely carnal Christians, can have a bad influence on your children. For instance, the grandparent who disregards your authority and mockingly gives the child something you have denied them under the principle that ‘it’s a grandparent’s perogative’ to undermine the parents, is a fool and worse and should not have the opportunity to influence the child without your presence. It may be convenient to have that relative babysit for you but you are a lazy and uncaring parent if your convenience is more important than your child’s growth as a Christian.

The same goes for coaches and teachers. This is a problem, particularly for modern Christians in America who send their children to public school. It’s a terrible thing for you to have to undermine the authority of and respect for elders and people in authority by constantly correcting the things they say to your child once your child has come home.

Fundamentalists even, will place their children in a school operated by the church body to which they belong assuming that the teachers will act toward their children in a Biblical manner only to find that they’re being taught misogyny, deception, and brutality; verbal and physical. Many times even, Christian parents will encourage a newly turned eighteen year old, as if that’s a magic number and suddenly you’re an adult with all of your principles firmly established, to join the military where they are influenced to be alcohol drinking, foul mouthed, men and women of the world and not Biblical minded Christians. Folks, when you throw your clean white shirt into a mudhole, the mud doesn’t get clean, the shirt gets dirty. That’s just the facts of life.

With regard to the Proverb, some Christian parents don’t realize this, but their children can often present themselves in a most favorable light to adults, only to be wicked and perverse in their doings with their peer group. Any Godly person who has been a part of a church youth group can attest to the nasty things that can go on at Christian music concerts, retreats, and even at the building where the church meets or at the homes of other Christians who sponsor overnight events.

Every Christian parent, if you believe that being a follower of Christ is not merely a nice philosophy to try to live by when it’s convenient, should from their child’s earliest age, have daily Bible reading, study, and prayer with their family. They should live in front of their children, having prayed for and cultivated in their own attitudes the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22 and exercising the faith given to them by God in Ephesians 2:8,9. They should be faithful to meeting with their local church body but not in such a dogmatic way that they force a feverishly, sick child, for instance, to come to meet with the church, teaching them that meeting with the church is a chore they must complete rather than a joy they will look forward to. How that is accomplished will depend much on the parent’s attitude.

Do you enjoy meeting with your church body? Do you love coming together with your church family in praise and worship and to accomplish things as a group that you can’t on your own? Or are you just a Puritan who comes to church because, well, “that’s just what we do”? Most importantly, do you yourself love Christ? If you can’t answer that in an affirmative then how do you expect your child to do so? I’m not talking about just saying it publicly. I’m talking about how do you really feel toward God? Examine yourself.

2Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

When my daughter, Bridget, committed suicide, the note she left behind had a curious line in it that hit me like a ton of bricks. She had stated her belief in and trust in Christ at the age of seven, ten years previously on Sunday, October 7, 1990 and by herself, willingly, to my awe and amazement, had gone forward to tell our Pastor in front of the church, had been questioned as to whether or not she understood the following Saturday by a deacon in our church, Bob Goodwin, and the following Sunday had gone forward to be baptized voluntarily. She wrote for posterity, knowing that probably her family and friends would see this angry and pained note, “I believe in GOD and I love him…. I know and he knows that I love and trust him.” I sat, in such shock I was unable to even cry at that time, staring at the computer screen on which she had left this. I had been a Christian for fourteen years plus some months but I didn’t love God. I had no concept that I was supposed to love God. I didn’t understand how you could love God who had absolute control over the universe but allowed things like this to happen. Worst of all, I had never walked before my children with the love for God and Christ in my heart or on my lips.

So, as her father, my mistakes were for all the marbles. It probably isn’t going to be that way for you. Suicide, fortunately, is a rare event, however, not rare enough, even among Christians. You may think you’re immune and your children are immune but the Devil can twist you into knots if he so chooses and you aren’t grounded in God’s precious and powerful words in His Bible.

2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Your child doesn’t have to go on to harm themselves physically. Your placing of their Christian and secular education and development into adulthood in the hands of the spiritually carnal Christian or even spiritually dead unbeliever can result in unexpected and unwanted children of their own, miserable or broken marriages and divorce, and a lifetime of disappointment, confusion, and poverty. Or, maybe not. Maybe God will bless you in spite of your carelessness. Praise God.

In that case, let me speak to the young person who is hoping to get married and planning on building a family. Don’t look around you for exceptions to God’s way; do right and start now. Don’t look at people who have done well in spite of their careless and clumsy walk with Christ, get closer to Him as we speak. Look at your future child in your own head and imagine what kind of Christian you’d like that child to be and then you be that person first. Read your Bible every day and to a great extent, study it, be constantly in a prayerful state acknowledging the sovereignty of God, and pray for faith and pray for more love for God, your parents, your spouse, siblings, friends, church, community, and nation. Be faithful to meet with your own church body and be supportive of and pray for your Pastor. Practice the presence of Christ. Realize that you have God’s Spirit dwelling in you and He goes where you go and sees what you see and is with you when you do anything.

You’ll have to live in front of your children one day. Live in way that is pleasing to God and that glorifies Him. I believe and have seen, and I think I can promise you, that it will be a wonderful thing to walk hand in hand with your child and Christ together. As has been said, “only one life, will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Friday, May 20, 2011

Proverbs 20:10 commentary

10 ¶ Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.

This will come up again very soon in this chapter. In Deuteronomy God has prohibited using false weights to cheat someone. That’s what they were used for, to lie about the weight of money which denoted its value. They didn’t have the worthless paper we have today.

Genesis 24:22 And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold;

2Samuel 12:30 And he took their king’s crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David’s head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance.

Now, you can imagine the opportunity to cheat might arise. But there was confidence in a talent of gold or silver and in a shekel of gold of silver. Now, there’s a lot of things to be said about God’s standard and the way modern governments produce fiat money out of thin air that has no real value. I’ll leave that for others.

God is not in a system of dishonest weights and measures. He values honesty in our relations with each other. He made this clear under the Law given to Moses for the Hebrews.

Deuteronomy 25:13 ¶ Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. 14 Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. 15 But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. 16 For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.

When a Christian cheats his brother or sister it is obviously over the love of money, which he prefers to God’s standard of justice and dealing.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Jesus said to his disciples;

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Mammon is a word that refers to wealth or even the economic system itself. You can’t worship money and serve God. Worship of wealth and money has long been a problem for many Americans since our earliest days as a nation. Some historians have even shown how part of the purpose of our Constitution was to protect the investments of many wealthy people. I refer you to Charles Beard’s An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States written in 1913. Before the pseudo-Patriots go off, notice I said and he said, that it was part of the purpose, not the entire reason.

In any event, cheating people, whether it be the government and its private bank who refuses to be audited, or you and I individually, is proscribed by God. In fact, it is an abomination. There is no freedom in fact without economic freedom and that debate is important to a so called free country. But, don’t make trivial the importance of this Proverb to you and me personally by making it a tirade against some government policy. Let’s examine a deeper import to it.

God makes it clear that we are to use the same standard for all and not to have different weights in our spiritual bag. In the following verses Jesus says that His disciples are going to be judged by the same standard that they use to judge others.

Matthew 7:1 ¶ Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

We are to use the same standard in our judgments for all. Paul, talking in Romans, chapter one, lists a long list of wickedness and sin and most Christians stop with that but then he drops a bomb on the people he is speaking to in Rome.

Romans 2:1 ¶ Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

We are notorious for using a different standard to judge other people by than the one we use on ourselves. For others we assign sins, for ourselves excuses. A divers or different standard is as much an abomination to God in our hearts as it is in our money bags.

You run down a young woman who dresses to impress the boys with her attractiveness while you might dress to impress people with your assumed piety and spirituality; which is a false modesty. You criticize young men who use vulgar speech and blasphemous references to a God in which they don’t believe while you use the same exclamations only with more acceptable speech and you change God to gosh, golly, and goodness and Jesus Christ to gee whiz.

You talk about how wicked those drug addicts are on the corner in town for letting themselves be controlled by a substance while you can’t get through the day without your own legal drugs to wake you up, keep you awake, and get you to sleep at night. You might go on and on about the sexual sins of others but a careful examination of your thought life would make any decent person throw up. You complain that your child is disobedient to you and yet how disobedient are you to your Father in heaven?

You complain about how your employer wants too much from you for the money you get paid while you actually MAYBE put in a good four hours work for the eight hours of pay you agreed on when you were employed. You talk about how someone has an ungrateful spirit in the church but if you looked at the reasons why you purchased your last house, car, or piece of clothing we might see a covetous, unthankful spirit in you. You rant about how the government spends too much money and yet, if your own spending habits were examined closely we might find that some of us have lived on credit and practice deficit spending as a matter of course ignoring God’s admonition;

Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Certainly the sins you commit hypocritically might not cause the damage that the sins of the others I mentioned cause but don’t reduce living for God to a mere pragmatism. There is no evidence in the Bible that God honors the phrase “I ain’t so bad”. If your standard is “do unto others things that aren’t quite as bad as they do unto you” then we have a different religion. God makes it clear that we are to have the same standards for ourselves as we have for others. Don’t keep a divers weight and a divers measure in your spiritual bag. That, too, is an abomination to God.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Proverbs 20:9 commentary

9 ¶ Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

The Bible makes it clear from the first that no one is exempt from sin. Solomon admits in 1 Kings 8:46 that there is no man who doesn’t sin.

But, what is sin? What does this word mean that we bandy about so carelessly?

1John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

So, there is no person that doesn’t sin and sin is a transgression of the law. This is a clear reference to the Law given to Moses by God which you can read in the second through fifth books of the Bible. It is more than simply the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.

There are hundreds of moral, ritual, and dietary laws that were given to the Hebrews to set them apart from the pagan world around them that engaged in everything from incest to bestiality to human sacrifice.

God makes it clear that if you break one of those laws you’ve broken them all. There are no gradations of sin.

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

What is the point of the Law for us today, Jew and Gentile? Paul said;

Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

We know we can’t help but do wrong. Even at our best we will sin.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

The Proverb asks the rhetorical question, who can say that they have made their heart clean, that they have made themselves pure from their sin? Well, of course, the answer is no one. The law is set up that you can’t help but break it at some point if you’re human. Some Christians believe they are still bound by the Law and disregard what the Holy Spirit said through Paul. They don’t do the major wrongs like murder or stealing and they say “I am without sin”. Well, dumbing down the rules never really changed anything, did it? Is it not blasphemous for you to take it on yourself to rewrite God’s standard of right and wrong so you can fit in there somewhere without Christ?

We depend on Christ’s righteousness, not our own, to get to heaven, to live in a blessed state for eternity rather than sharing the common fate of all mankind in his natural state, a lake of unquenchable fire.

Philippians 3:9 ¶ And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Sin brings death, whether or not you choose to call something you’ve done sin or a wee little mistake or error in judgment.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We were all in bondage to sin and death at one time.

Ephesians 2:1 ¶ And you hath he quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan, see 2 Corinthians 4:4; Hebrews 2:14), the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

But by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we are saved. It sounds simple but if it was that simple then everyone would simply trust Him. Obviously, Satan, your flesh, and the world don’t want to let go of you. But, here are the simple statements that show us what it means to be saved. The Philippian jailer was told;

Acts 16: 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

And Paul, in his letter to the Roman church said under the inspiration of God;

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

I have to wonder how many Christians think they are saving themselves by following some set of rules and regulations, which while short of the fullness of the Law given to Moses, fit the dictates of some church organization or a Pastor? You have to wonder, from experience, how many Christians put this impossible weight of behavior and works on new believers, crushing their faith and destroying their joy, burning them out by keeping them busy running around in circles for a God that these Christians have created who is not the God of the Bible.

You are not a tenth century BC Hebrew. Quit thinking that you have to perform like one was supposed to but few, if any ever did. And don’t put that burden, that weight on a new convert. Is the evidence of your salvation, the fruit of God’s working in you, something from the Law? Here, again, and I repeat it again and again because people aren’t listening, is the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

If your life doesn’t have any consistent evidence of these then you have a problem with your relationship with Christ. If your life is more defined by anger, wrath, paranoia, bigotry, implacability, fear, and hatred of all things and people that don’t look like and act like you then you need to get down on your knees and plead with God for forgiveness and to straighten you out.

Remember, though, you can’t save yourself. There is nothing you can do to make yourself acceptable to God except to trust in His righteousness to save you, to believe in, to believe on, and to trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, on the cross at Calvary, in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and in His righteousness, not your own.

Jesus Himself said,

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Don’t let anyone try to put you back under the Law or add one word to the requirement for belief in and trust in Christ for salvation. But, don’t for a second believe that you can say you’ve made your heart clean and that you are pure from your sin without Christ simply because you’re sure you are a pretty good person.