I have talked to not a few people (often times not Christians) who are more interested in discussing complex spiritual topics than more simplistic topics.
Such mindsets can be more interested in “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” than they are in what Jesus Christ’s gospel reveals about their life.
The issue with placing the complex before the simple is the simple is often times the key to understanding the complex, and more importantly – it doesn’t matter what you understand about the complex if you can’t put the simple into practice!
Perhaps this story will illustrate:
Two cowboys were walking out on the western plains one day when they noticed a set of footprints.
After studying the footprints, one cowboy said to the other, “These footprints were made by three men. One was wearing a black hat, one a straw hat, and the other had no hat. Two had beards, and one had a mustache. Two carried rifles, and one had a six-shooter. One man was married, and the other two were single.”
Amazed, the second cowboy asked, “Which way are they going?” to which the first cowboy replied, “I don’t know; you can’t tell everything from footprints!”
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Peter 2:1-3 NKJV)
I’ve watched a commercial several times (and perhaps you’ve seen it too) that centers around customers literally cutting their cellphone bills in half with various tools such as a sword, a wood-saw, and other mechanically powered cutters. A couple of the mechanical devices (a chainsaw and a hedge trimmer) caught my attention when I noticed that each of them had a power-cord attached (meaning they were electric) but the commercial had the sound effects of the gasoline powered versions. For those of you who have ever used a gas-powered version of these tools you know they sound nothing like the electric version!
The commercial reminded me of a story from the Old Testament (Genesis 27:18-23) when one individual was deceived because he failed to trust what he heard over what was presented to him through his other senses. Another principle it reminded me of from the New Testament was that we are to walk by faith and not by sight, and faith comes from believing what we hear in the word of God (2 Corinthians 5:7, Romans 10:17).
If you’ve seen the TV commercial, I thought some here might find it useful for a devotional.
One thing about our Lord’s teaching is how plain it is. While many religious teachers are quite confused on what He said, the common folk during Jesus’ day had no difficulty understanding Him. In fact, it was His plainness of speech that garnered much attention. The attention was not always popular. On one such occasion he said to His the many that gathered around Him that is one requirement of God that all must meet. That requirement is repentance (Luke 13:3-5). This one requirement then moves a person in the right direction to hear what the Lord said on others matters. The Lord’s plainness cannot be mistaken – except by those who have no interest in repenting.
Temptation is an inward desire to alter one’s course of thinking. That suggested altered course of thinking could be a matter of sin, or not! The inward desire that encourages us to alter our way of thinking away from the revealed will of the Lord and away from the principles of righteousness is sin. The Lord said we are blessed (not necessarily happy) when we have endured the temptation that has been presented to us because the end result of such continued endurance is the Lord’s crown of life. When we are tested can we say that it is the same as being tempted? The answer is no. No matter the source of a temptation, that temptation produces an internal desire to alter the course of righteousness, it is a solicitation to evil. A test does not do this, though it can affect the internal desire, but it is designed to firm up our spiritual shield (James 1:2-4). James says that God tries men for the purpose of determining the genuineness of their faith; he denies that God tests man for the purpose of seducing them to sin (Woods, p. 59). Have you passed your test? RT