4-22-2015 Blasphemers of God's Word

To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:15 NKJV). People who are depraved by their own sins, want to believe Jesus had a fleshly relationship with Mary Magdalene: He didn’t. She was not the “woman in the city who was a sinner” that anointed Jesus feet before He died (Luke 7:36-50). She was in the group of women who came to anoint His dead body and found Him raised from the dead (Mark 16:1). That Pharisee, Simon, thought Jesus hypocritically let her display her faith while detesting her: He didn’t. Those who think all Christians are hypocrites are showing their own defilement. They assume Christians are like they are, but they’re not!

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#christians, #depraved, #hypocrites, #mary-magdalene, #pharisee

Don't Cling to Paper Nails

When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I decided I wanted long nails. So, I got out my school paper (because it was the only paper I had; you know, the kind with lines), traced both my hands on it, and proceeded to draw “long” nails on my sketched fingers, taking great care to measure each thumb, pinky, ring-finger, etc. accurately so each “nail” would fit just right. 

After tediously cutting and trimming, forming each nail to the correct size and shape, I carefully fitted them to each finger (not without mistakes, mind you, and several “re-cuts”). Finally, I got out the Elmer’s Glue, and glued each paper nail to my chewed up ones, adjusting the paper so it would look like a perfectly formed nail.

Once the glue was dry, I got out my peach-colored nail polish. It took three or four layers of that stuff to semi-hide the lines on the paper. By the time I was done (two or three hours later), I held my hands out in front of me and proudly displayed my long, beautiful, peach nails with unwanted stripes, and blew on the polish to help it dry. 

“Sandi, time to mow the lawn!” Mom called from upstairs.

“But I just painted my nails!” I ran upstairs to show her the amazing artwork I painstakingly designed on my hands.

No amount of showing off, whining, or begging could convince her to let me forego mowing the lawn. So, I dragged the lawnmower out of the shed, taking care not to bump or snag my new nails on the bag, handle or doors. 

So far, so good. 

I started up the lawnmower and AWAY . . . WE . . . WENT, lawnmower, grass clippings, NAILS and all!  Several manicured nails fluttered on the wind amongst the greenery, and tears filled my eyes from all that wasted hard work. Nails and grass flailed about me as I shoved the lawnmower along, stomping along, crying and shouting at the peach artistry sticking to my hair, the mower, and the grass—sticking to everything but where they belonged. To my dismay, some of those pieces of art got sucked up into the lawnmower, others scattered about the dying grass, and I scurried to retrieve them all, desperately trying to salvage what I could among the green shards. 

Have you ever experienced a moment like this? Where, no matter how hard you worked, everything came undone? As if a gale of wind swept down on your well-laid plans and wreaked a tornado of havoc in your otherwise secure life?

It’s amazing how the problems of this world can provide great examples or comparisons to our spiritual lives. Jesus used this world (through parables) regularly to convey an important spiritual message. Just as in the Paper Nail story (which, believe it or not, DID happen; I’m sure this incredible story caused some to doubt its authenticity). Okay, let me start over because the following point is important . . .

Just as in the Paper Nail story, the same thing can happen with our faith if we don’t stick firmly to the Word. We read our Bibles, listen to the preacher, turn on our evangelical TV and radio stations, read Chrisitan blogs, anything we can find to guide us on the right track to Christianity. But then Someone comes along and shakes that foundation of our beliefs, our hard-earned faith that no one has a right to touch, let alone “critique” or question. We grasp at what we know (or believe) to be true, only to discover that what we’ve been doing or believing all our lives is not based on scripture, but based on the dreaded “traditions of men.”

Jesus once warned the Pharisees and scribes that they were neglecting the commandments of God and clinging to traditions of men. These were men highly honored and respected by the people (or themselves) as the elite of religion.

Mark 7:6-9

And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors Me with their lips,

But their heart is far away from Me.

‘But in vain do they worship Me,

Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’

Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

Could there be a Pharisee or scribe in all of us? Clearly, this was included in the Bible for a reason. I don’t know about you, but I’ve stumbled upon spiritual truths that have awakened me from my stupor of pious religion. Spiritual truths as numerous as the grass clippings in my backyard! From microscopic details of “how to love my neighbor (husband, siblings, children, friends, etc)” to “how to love God.” I’ve found myself sometimes clinging to traditions of men (a.k.a. my own ideas), just like I tried to cling to those flailing nails, because I didn’t want to change or accept the truth that was set before me. But my attempts were futile, and I’m sure I appeared to God as foolish as I did when chasing my paper nails. Sometimes I detested the truth, hated it with a passion. Yet, Truth stood before me, staring me straight in the face, and finally I had to accept it, accept my fate. I let go of those paper-nails and let them fly away or tossed what was left in the trashcan, resigned to loving God and His word, rather than the traditions of men. And somehow it’s brought me unfathomable . . . JOY. TRUTH, by far, is more powerful than men’s traditions, just like our real nails are more powerful than paper ones. Silly comparison, isn’t it? And yet, this is how foolish we become when we can’t “let go.” 

How in the world could we become like Pharisees and scribes when we are striving so hard to love our heavenly Father? Jesus answers that question in the verse quoted above. We “neglect the commandments of God,” which ultimately is Truth. 

Where are the commandments of God found?

In His Word.

Here are some warnings from His Word:

Ephesians 4:14

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.

Colossians 2:8

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the TRADITION OF MEN, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (emphasis mine).

Are we like those paper nails, not clinging to the foundation, not standing on the chief cornerstone, (Matt. 21:33-45), and being carried about by every wind of doctrine? Are we even aware that this might be happening in our spiritual walk?

Jesus warns in Matthew 7: 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

Let me just say, Satan is good at what he does. He’s been around a lot longer than any of us. He knows what makes us tick and how to push our buttons. Remember, he’s known as the great deceiver, out to deceive “the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). And He even appears as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11: 14-15

. . . for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

Now that I’ve thoroughly frightened us all, how can we be careful that we don’t become like the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ day?

Let’s allow the Wo
rd to answer that question in the upcoming posts. But I’ll leave you with this hint:

2 Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the WORD OF TRUTH (emphasis mine).

This post was taken from The Lord’s Lady: women growing in the Word.

#angel-of-light, #deceive, #firm-foundation, #god, #jesus, #pharisee, #scribe, #tradition-of-men, #word-of-truth

One Way to Avoid Becoming a Pharisee

Study the interactions between Jesus and Pharisees long enough and you’ll notice that they were more interested in disciplining the Law of God than they were in allowing the Law of God to disciple them!

And if we want to avoid the same fate we must avoid the same mentality.

But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13)

#attitude, #learning, #pharisee

Confession is good for the soul…

Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. (John 12:42-43)

The words in bold above are thirteen of the most haunting words of Scripture, in my opinion. These men refused to do what they knew was right because they wanted to maintain high status at their local congregation. Sometimes we ourselves are tempted to allow worldly values to corrupt the purity of the gospel; other times we fail to defend the bride of Christ when people slander her; still other times we fail to speak up in the name of Jesus when we know what we ought to say. This we do because we are ashamed. We put stock in the opinions of other people, and we are afraid we will lose rank in their eyes if we express our faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we do not confess what we know to be the truth. God have mercy upon us!

I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

God, help those of us with genuine faith in Jesus Christ to find ways as often as possible to share the gospel, defend the Lord’s church, and resist the devil’s attempts to water down her doctrine with ungodly cultural values. We care not what man thinks of us–only You, our God.

#approval-of-god, #approval-of-men, #ashamed, #confession, #jesus-christ, #pharisee

Only the Outside???

This morning I’m going to wash my daughter’s sippi-cups (or however you spell those things). But it may be that I’m going to be as good a dishwasher as I am a speller!

dirty dishes

(Photo credit: .imelda)

Why’s that? Because I’m only going to wash the outside her cups. After all, it’s the outside that has all of the pictures that she likes to look at. And no one else can see the inside so they’ll think I did a good job. And it’s only the outside that I have to touch so why would I bother with the inside??? Maybe because the inside is what she’s actually going to be drinking from!!!

What if we treated our lives the way I talked about treating my daughter’s dirty dishes? What if we only spent time cleaning up ourselves on the outside spiritually speaking? What if we made sure that we appeared to be spotless to the eyes of others but the inside of our heart acted, reacted and thought in a completely opposite way? If we did that then we’d hear:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.” (Matthew 23:25-26)

If it makes no sense to only wash the outside of dirty dishes then why would it make any sense to only have a desire to appear righteous? After all, isn’t it the inside that holds what’s important?

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:19-22)

#cleansing, #god, #heart, #hypocrisy, #outward-righteousness, #pharisee, #spiritual-analogies

A Line Has Been Drawn

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:19-29)

When Jesus said“this is the condemnation” the Bible uses the Greek word “krisis” (kree-sis). Krisis means that a separating, a sundering, a trial or a selection has taken place. You can hear our English word “crisis” in that. The technical meaning (which is important because we often only think of it emotionally) of crisis according to Webster is, “a turning point in the course of anything; decisive or crucial time, stage, or event.” Sound similar to you?

In the context, Jesus is telling Nicodemus that a “krisis” has come – a point in time had come that was separating or drawing a line between the righteous and the wicked, and it’s not turning back.

Why is this so important for Nicodemus to hear? Because the Pharisees (a group of whom Nicodemus was a member) had chosen their own works in place of God’s works. They had rejected John’s message and baptism! And to whom did John’s message and baptism point toward? The very Light that was being used to draw the line between the wrong and the right:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” (John 1:6-9)

To reject John was to reject Jesus, to reject Jesus was to reject God, and to reject God was truly a “krisis” in one’s life that would have great consequences!

Jesus is God’s dividing line, not because Christianity says so, but because God says so. So what side of the line are we going to stand on?

#christianity, #god, #gospel-according-to-john, #john-the-baptist, #light, #nicodemus, #pharisee

“You Are Like Whitewashed Tombs”

In almost all of Matthew 23, we see the Lord’s judgment regarding the hypocritical Pharisees. In verse 27-28, He condemns them by saying:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

We can make application of Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees in the church today. Many claim to be followers of Christ, but their actions (or the lack of action) betray them. Just to “say” we are a Christian, doesn’t make us a Christian. Jesus is still looking at the intent of our heart and contrasting it with the profession of our faith. Do they match? Are we really what we “claim” to be – a Christian?

Something to seriously think about!

#bones, #condemn, #hypocrite, #outward, #pharisee, #scribe, #tomb, #uncleanness, #whitewashed