Weaponized Narratives. Romans 3:5-8

An old proverb states that truth is the best advertising, propaganda and public relations tool.

Fact-supported truth is a powerful narrative.

Unfortunately, the truth can be hidden, ignored, obscured or inundated by error, creating what is identified as a weaponized narrative.

The concept of a narrative has become increasingly popular in contemporary society.

One American President popularized the idea of the narrative in political and social discussions. 

This concept of “the narrative” has been trumpeted by talk-show hosts and politicians of various stripes during the past decade.

Promoting the idea of a narrative implies manipulation of perception to ensure a particular outcome during any debate between proponents of opposing views.

Narratives as currently employed have a tangential relationship to truth, at the best.

Increasingly, the idea of a narrative is being weaponized in contemporary society.

I suppose this movement to weaponize the narrative was inevitable since the concept has been aggressively promoted by the media in support of favored political views.

Narrative warfare embraces more than Public Relations and propaganda campaigns.

Narrative warfare employs “weaponized narratives” which are spun from “highly selective truth,” outright lies, false accusations, distorted and altered quotations, emotional appeals, sensational outrage, fear mongering, blame-shifting, intimidating threats, victim posturing, virtue signaling and fabricated imagery. These are all facets of contemporary argument.

Indeed, these disruptive and often destructive techniques have been in the human political and psychological warfare tool kit since our first parents first appeared in the Garden of Eden.

Tragically, modern mass media and digital communications can quickly and pervasively spread the weaponized narrative, often without challenge.

Emotional arguments tend to overwhelm logic and reason.

Narrative warfare advocates argue that a powerful psychological weapon is capable of many things, including influencing national and international opinion. Worse still, weaponized narratives are employed among the faithful.

The inevitable result is devastating to the Faith.

When I speak of weaponized narratives, I am speaking of the creation and employment of a narrative driving the activity of those who hear the narrative.

Among the faithful, we witness an increasing appeal to narratives rather than the truth.

The narratives sound reasonable, though they are false; they have the ring of truthiness, though they lack either evidence or logic.

Ofttimes, the narratives have the ring of veracity, though they do not tell the whole story; they are partial truths.

Remember, a half-truth is a total lie.

That is what makes them so dangerous!

The unwary are susceptible to succumbing to the error promoted by these false narratives.

Romans 3:5-8Amplified Bible

But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? God is not wrong to inflict His wrath [on us], is He? (I am speaking in purely human terms.) Certainly not! For otherwise, how will God judge the world? But [as you might say] if through my lie God’s truth was magnified and abounded to His glory, why am I still being judged as a sinner? And why not say, (as some slanderously report and claim that we teach) “Let us do evil so that good may come of it”? Their condemnation [by God] is just.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

The devotional message I am bringing today is intended to challenge us to think Christianly.

I want us to give some consideration of the narratives which are mistakenly treated as valid in the realm of the Faith.

I am challenging each of us to weigh what is promoted through such narratives in light of what is revealed in the Word of God.

I am asking and indeed, challenging, God’s people to lay a foundation for solid Christian service that equips us for honorable and truthful service to the cause of Christ the Lord, the Son of God. I do want to encourage believers to think, to act with discretion, and then to serve as God would have His people serve.

NARRATIVES THAT MARGINALISE REVEALED TRUTH —

“If our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way)” [Romans 3:5].

The Apostle Paul has presented a solemn truth.

We are unrighteous.

However, our unrighteousness reveals the righteousness of God.

If we are recognizing our condition, it means there is a standard by which we ourselves are able to gauge our actions. If there is a standard, and we recognise that standard, we are accountable to the One who judges by that standard.

Breaking this down, the particular point the Apostle makes in this verse is sobering for anyone who actually grapples with the thought we must give an accounting to the One who is qualified by His inherent righteousness to judge.

It means there is a judgement.

It means that we are held to a standard outside of our own condition.

It means that judgement is pending for all mankind.

Thus, it should not be surprising that almost all the narratives constructed for millennia revolves around our vain attempt to evade responsibility for our own character. The narratives constructed by us, humankind, seek to reduce God to a mere caricature, easily dismissing the wickedness of man’s fallen character.

Ultimately, all narratives attempt to avoid facing our pending, well deserved and well-justified, judgement by God who is our ultimate Judge.

Since time immemorial, sinful people have endeavored to marginalize God.

No doubt, well-meaning individuals are just as guilty of constructing narratives to fit their particular point of view.

Nevertheless, a favorite effort of sinful people is to construct a narrative that sounds reasonable, so long as the narrative is not examined too closely.

The narrative we construct presents a god who is pleasant and nice; this god is inclined to grant mankind’s desires rather than being holy and righteous.

What people want is “good;” holiness and righteousness are “bad.”

This newly constructed god is a fantasy of mankind, a fabrication of minds enamored of this dying world without commitment to the True and Living God.

However, the construct is dangerous precisely because it is attractive.

What are some of these narratives?

The first narrative to be considered was popularized some years ago, having been pushed hard by one major campus organization:

“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”

This particular narrative is popular; it is undoubtedly loved by many who have repeated it during past years.

The narrative certainly has an appeal, beginning as it does with the love of God.

In Scripture, we are taught,

“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So, we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” [1 John 4:13-21].

None of us would ever argue against the truth that God loves mankind.

After all, God created mankind; He gave us life.

God does love the creature He made.

The evidence for this affirmation is that He sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world. Everyone has heard JOHN 3:16:

“This is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

God’s love is not that icky, treacle-sweet sort of emotion that supposedly gives people a warm, fuzzy feeling from the top of their head to the soles of their feet.

God’s love is real, practical, tangible.

God’s love is muscular.

Above all else, God’s love is transformative. Those who receive the love of God cannot remain as they were, for the Spirit of God will take up residence in the life of those who have received that love, and HE will change the individual!

One great problem with this particular narrative is the revelation of God’s hatred. Perhaps you will recall this statement from the Prophecy of Malachi.

“‘I have loved you,’ says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’ ‘Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ declares the LORD. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert’” [Malachi 1:2-3].

Later, the Apostle Paul would cite this passage when teaching of God’s election of the righteous. Paul would write,

“As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’” [Romans 9:13].

As an example that the LORD is capable of hatred, the Wise Man informs us,

“There are six things that the LORD hates,

seven that are an abomination to him:

haughty eyes, a lying tongue,

and hands that shed innocent blood,

a heart that devises wicked plans,

feet that make haste to run to evil,

a false witness who breathes out lies,

and one who sows discord among brothers.”

[Proverbs 6:16-19]

The Psalmist gives us startling insight into God’s character when he writes,

“God is a righteous judge,

and a God who feels indignation every day.

If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword;

he has bent and readied his bow;

he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,

making his arrows fiery shafts.”

[Psalm 7:11-13]

Indeed, God is love; but we must never forget that God is holy, and His holiness excludes unrighteousness from His presence.

Any who fail to receive the grace of God, that one who has never been made righteous through faith in the Son of God, must face God’s wrath.

Jesus warns, “I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” [Luke 12:5]!

Let me be very clear on this. I do not want anyone to conclude from the knowledge that God does hate that He is some sort of cosmic killjoy, a celestial ogre constantly glaring down at mankind while seeking opportunity to strike down anyone who expresses joy or who happens to engage in pleasant acts.

God seeks the best for mankind, and that includes our joy.

We so easily confuse happiness with joy; we constantly and fruitlessly pursue “happiness.”

But happiness is never promised in the Word of God;

joy is the heritage of the children of the Living God.

Jesus promised His disciples,

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” [John 15:10-11].

Jesus is concerned that His followers possess joy, and He intends for that joy to be full, overflowing.

OVERFLOWING JOY IS THE HERITAGE OF THOSE WHO LOVE THE MASTER.

Again, preparing those who followed Him for His departure, Jesus said,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also, you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” [John 16:20-24].

The Master promised to pour out His goodness so that His followers may overflow with an abundance of joy! That is genuine joy!

Yet another narrative which has been weaponized states, “God is too good to judge a person.”

This narrative is an expression of the philosophy that we have come to know as universalism.

Though you may not have heard the term universalism, you will no doubt recognise it as a variant of the Apostle’s statement in the fifth verse of the text.

There, the Apostle has written, “If our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)” [Romans 3:5].

The instruction is crafted in such a way that we must answer in the affirmative concerning God’s judgement.

Throughout the New Testament are warnings concerning “the wrath of God.”

Here are just a few examples to illustrate the point.

As he opens the Letter to the Saints in Rome, Paul warns,

“The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse” [Romans 1:18-20].

After listing a dark catalogue of wicked acts (sexual immorality, all impurity, greed, filthiness, foolish talk and crude joking), the Word of God solemnly warns,

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” [Ephesians 5:6].

Those who engage in such practices or who tolerate them are identified as “the sons of disobedience.” Clearly, God means to punish those so identified.

A similar passage warning against such acts is found in the Letter to Christians in Colossae.

There, Paul has written, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming” [Colossians 3:5-6].

Clearly, if Scripture is held to be authoritative, the Lord not only disapproves of such acts, but He holds those who engage in these acts 100% responsible for all of their own actions. His wrath will be poured out on sinful people.

Let’s come right out and everyone admit we are fearful of a God who is holy.

Intuitively, we prefer a god characterized by what we might call “benevolent neglect.”

We want a god who delights to give us what we want, a god who doesn’t interfere with our mad pursuit of getting what we want, a god who keeps his hands off our lives, allowing us to do whatever it is that we want.

Because our desires dictate the sort of god, we imagine we want, we choose to focus on God’s goodness to the exclusion of recognizing His holiness.

By exalting our own desires over the character of God, we craft a narrative that shields us from the harsh reality that our holy God demands of us our holiness.

I freely acknowledge and confess that I am speaking in sweeping generalities when I make such a statement.

Nevertheless, the most of mankind is greatly and heavily and mightily angered at the mere thought we are not in control of our lives, we should need to give an account to anyone, especially unto the Living God! We want a “genial god” who smilingly approves of our choices, doting upon us, giving us what we all want.

Peter’s words have proven to be a source of consternation for every single one of us in this modern world.

You will remember that Peter instructed Christ’s followers,

“Preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” [1 Peter 1:13-21].

Among one prominent group of cultists, and tragically even among a surprising number of allegedly “professed Christians,” who are obviously untaught, we will often hear the vehement protests,

“Why, I wouldn’t I throw firebombs at police cars – they are the enemy.”

“If my “cause is just” I know God won’t condemn sinners to eternal flames.”

Undoubtedly, none of us would throw firebombs at police cars.

Such an action betrays a sick mind to even contemplate such a thing.

Police are not the ultimate enemy. I don’t want to see anyone come to harm.

You will recognise this narrative as a variant of the previous narrative.

Essentially, this narrative argues that because I am kind (at least according to my own standards), God is at least as good as me! I don’t believe that I would torment anyone; and those holding to this particular narrative take this to mean that God won’t pronounce judgement that causes eternal pain to anyone.

What is not so immediately apparent is those who are advancing this “cause – effect” argument have, without any authority whatsoever, brought God down to the level of a mere human rather than raising people up to God’s level of living.

I must reiterate—I would never throw any firebombs anywhere at any time.

The implication is that eternal judgment is somehow gratuitous torture, and no one will accuse God of delighting in torture!

The Lord God has no pleasure in the death of sinners.

God, speaking through Ezekiel, declares,

“Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so, turn, and live” [Ezekiel 18:31-32].

We know that the immediate focus of God’s pleading was Israel, however, the overarching emphasis is applicable to anyone.

Again, God pleads with lost people when He appeals through the same prophet,

“As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die” [Ezekiel 33:11]

What is missed, or ignored, when people appeal to this narrative is that God does not send anyone to hell.

Let me iterate: GOD CASTS NO ONE INTO THE FIRES OF HELL.

People who have rejected the grace of God have positioned themselves with the devil and the demons who are opposed to God and under sentence of eternal condemnation.

The fact is that people do choose to pursue their own desires, knowing that the consequences of what is chosen leads to eternal death.

Is that not the warning presented in the Word?

We read, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” [Romans 3:23].

Because this is true, the warning must be announced, “The wages of sin is death” [Romans 6:23a].

I am so grateful there is a corollary to that warning when God promises,

“The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” [Romans 6:23b].

Should an individual stumble into hell, that person will stumble into eternal damnation having stepped over the grace of God, having ignored the pleas of the godly and the warnings of those who are saved.

The lost will have decided, if only through deliberate neglect, they prefer the prospect of eternity without the mercy of God to the glory that flows from the grace of God.

Therefore, lost people choose, they receive, the consequences of their choice.

Yet another narrative says, When you’re dead, that’s it—you’re finished, you’re done.

Again, this is a variant of an earlier narrative already considered.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to address the narrative, if for no other reason than that the unthinking imagine it is unanswerable.

This narrative is wishful thinking, a case of people whistling past the graveyard.

It is assuredly not a matter of conviction growing out of what is written in the Word.

Does death end it all?

However much an individual may wish that was the case, every expectation leads us to reject that view.

We demand accountability of those who do evil.

Since we are incapable of exacting retribution on the wicked of this world after death, we expect justice beyond this existence.

Sometime past, we watched a situation illustrating the danger of adopting a narrative rather than seeking truth.

A native activist supposedly advocating for native rights accused a group of youth from a Catholic School of “stealing his narrative.”

This is the language of the social justice warrior and not the language of reason, it is not the language of logic.

There was scant logic in his complaint and no logic whatsoever. This activist felt the youths had “stolen his narrative,” so, he refused to sit down with them to seek a peaceful resolution to the situation his own actions had precipitated.

It soon became apparent that this man was only casually acquainted with the truth. This illustrates one major tragedy of a narrative—those holding the narrative become wed to what they have created rather than seeking the truth.

As though such narratives are the “hot as hell-button” stuff of our modern journalism, we have also witnessed an actor who fabricated a story of being assaulted simply because he is black and/or because he is a homosexual.

He claimed he was assaulted by two men whom he identified as “far right thugs.” However, the Chicago police demonstrated that this man was lying.

Here is the narrative that is so hurtful!

The story became the means for news outlets, for politicians and for Hollywood stars and starlets to very publicly and very verbally attack and threaten those whom they fervently considered to be politically right of their own positions.

The narrative became the story. Even after it was demonstrated that the actor had lied, apologists continue to argue for the necessity of the story. Thus, a lie enters into the “stinking” thinking of the populace as though it was the truth.

Narratives almost always mask reality, deceiving those who buy into the narrative. Grave as that situation is for us, the adoption of narratives among the people of God creates a real and present danger that threatens righteousness.

GOD’S TRUTH — The real danger of narratives is that they so easily become substitutes for facts.

When narratives are substituted for facts, those individuals that have become wedded to a narrative tend to deny what they are hearing because it doesn’t fit exactly, politically and precisely into their ever so carefully crafted narrative.

What I happen to believe is ultimately immaterial—what matters is the truth, and truth is, by absolute necessity, completely independent of my assessment.

What God has written in His Word is truth. As a young Christian, a saying often heard among the saints stated, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it for me.”

Undoubtedly, those reciting this couplet thought it sounded impressive—at first glance it was impressive.

Nevertheless, my own analytical mind forced me to correct the couplet to say, “God said it. THAT SETTLES IT!”

It does not matter what I believe about a given issue. What matters is what God has said. I need to know what God says, and not what others wish He had said.

The smallest words recorded in the Bible, words that some might argue are insignificant, are given for our sake by God who seeks what’s best for us.

You may recall Jesus’ affirmation concerning the Word.

The Master said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” [Matthew 5:17-18].

Elsewhere, the Saviour is recorded as saying,

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” [Matthew 24:35].

I believe all that has been recorded as the Word of God for the Children of God is morally essential toward a fuller understanding of the mind of the Living God.

God has provided a perfect revelation of His character and of His will in His Holy Word.

The seemingly least significant words are essential for a complete revelation of the Person of God.

This is apparent in multiple instances, but at one point when the Apostle is presenting an argument in his Letter to the Christians in Rome this truth is emphasized in dramatic fashion.

Paul had just made the argument that Abraham’s faith was counted to him as righteousness. Then, ensuring that we grasp the correct application of what he had presented, the Apostle wrote,

“The words ‘it was counted to him’ were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” [Romans 4:23-25].

Paul’s point is that we must not pass over seemingly insignificant words such as these, “it was counted to him.”

God carefully guided the writers as they penned the words we now read in the Bible.

Peter emphasized this precise truth when he wrote,

“We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” [2 PETER 1:16-19].

More germane to the issue now before us, the Big Fisherman informed readers,

“No prophecy of Scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” [2 Peter 1:20b-21 Net BIBLE].

“Men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

We are informed that the Holy Spirit of God was both the motivator and the divine guide ensuring what God wanted to be recorded was what was written.

God did this for our benefit, so that we would have a firm foundation on which to base our faith.

In the Letter to Roman Christians, we are taught that Abraham’s faith was sufficient for salvation.

The point of this information is that if Abraham’s faith sufficed for salvation, then our own faith in God’s promise is enough for salvation.

God was showing by this means that He is not attempting to mask what He has done for fallen people.

The Living God has acted openly so that no one need feel that God somehow was unfair or unjust.

All people alike are invited to come to life in the Beloved Son of God.

In other words, we are instructed by God with the very thoughts of God because the Spirit of God was overseeing Paul, directing Him as he wrote, to ensure that what was written would be precisely what God wanted to be written.

This was done to ensure what is written would be beneficial for His redeemed people. God did this so we would not fall into the trap of crafting a narrative, but that we would reflect His perfect will.

Therefore, we are not attempting to construct a narrative, we are carefully presenting what God has revealed through His Word.

This is the truth expressed through the Apostle’s plea,

“Do your best to present yourself to God as an approved worker who has nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of truth with precision” [2 Timothy 2:15 ISV].

Our responsibility as witnesses is not to make the teaching of the Word “more” palatable or acceptable to those who hear us, our responsibility is to strive for accuracy in declaring what God has already revealed.

The Spirit of God will work in the hearts of those who hear us as we teach.

He will “prov[e] the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgement” [John 16:8 Net BIBLE].

It is instructive to observe how the arch-deceiver of mankind operates.

We have an example of Satan’s methods revealed when he approached Eve.

Satan did not begin by calling God a liar; he raised doubt in Eve’s mind. Satan approached Eve with the seemingly innocuous question, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’” [Genesis 3:1b]?

This was not a direct attack against God’s warning—it was tangential, asymptotic, it was Satan’s sidling up to the woman in an attempt to disarm her.

Satan couldn’t topple God with one question, though toppling God was the ultimate goal.

Satan sought only to generate doubt in Eve’s mind.

The devil seldom will come to the child of God and say, “God is a liar!”

No! He will seek to create lingering doubt, which leads to dishonoring God in our mind. The ultimate goal of Satan is to cause us to cease worshipping God; but the immediate act will always seem quite completely innocuous.

Having raised the question of what God said, or what He might have meant, Satan then dismissed God’s warning, saying

“You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” [Genesis 3:4b-5].

Eve sinned.

The text makes it apparent that she walked into sin knowingly; nevertheless, she was deceived, just as people continue to be deceived.

John warns believers,

“All that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” [1 John 2:16-17].

The world can offer “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life,” but the world cannot offer life.

The world can promise complete satisfaction, but the world can never deliver.

Perhaps you will recall the proverb that states:

“Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,

and never satisfied are the eyes of man.”

[Proverbs 27:20]

How many ways to our Sunday Worship does that proverb condemns us?

Nothing ever satisfies the desires that bubble up from within!

The human condition seems to create a thirst for more.

Whatever acquisition we believe will satisfy the longing that drives us, it is certain that obtaining that thing will not satisfy.

What we believe will satisfy can never quench the thirst driving us in our mad pursuit to acquire more.

Later in this same collection of sayings of the wise, we read,

“The leech has two daughters:

‘Give! Give!’

There are three things that are never satisfied,

four that never say, ‘Enough’—

the grave, the barren womb,

land that is not satisfied with water,

and fire that never says, ‘Enough!’”

[Proverbs 30:15-16 NET BIBLE]

Eve sinned in the areas that plague us to this day.

Therefore, Scripture reveals, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” [Genesis 3:6a].

We are told that Eve saw “that the tree was good for food.”

What is described is nothing less than the desire of the flesh.

She also saw that “[the fruit of the tree] was a delight to the eyes.”

What can this be other than the desire of the eyes?

Then, Eve saw “that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.”

She succumbed to “the pride of life.”

What is described are the same elements that cause us to stumble to this day.

The great need for each one who follows the Risen Son of God is to ensure that he or she is conversant with the truth.

This means that we must know the Word, we must know what the Lord has caused to be written, especially since it was given for our benefit.

We know the Word when we are familiar with the Word; and this means that we have actually read the Word.

We are not to be content with reading about the Word, we are to read the Word.

We allow the Spirit of God to guide us as we read so that we are instructed by Him.

Then, having more than a passing familiarity with the Word, we must invest time speaking with the Author of the Word.

This is nothing less than getting back to basics!

THE CONCLUSION OF MAN’S PUERILE EFFORTS

— Followers of the Christ are responsible to know the Word He has given.

We are susceptible to being put off stride primarily because we are ignorant of what the Master has said.

We fail to have a viable theology, and that is the most dangerous theology of all.

The theology we espouse too often consists or a few trite phrases divorced from daily life.

Our theology is most often stale and flaccid at best, or utterly detrimental and dangerous at the worst.

We want a theology that makes our life easy now, with Heaven thrown in as a bonus. We want to live as though our reward for our obedience was given now!

Much as was true for the Corinthians, so it is true for too many of the saints in this day.

Paul confronted these saints with their discordant attitude that dishonored the Spirit of Christ when he wrote,

“Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you” [1 CORINTHIANS 4:8]!

They seemingly held the attitude that being a Christian was all about fulfilling their desires. Perhaps they saw Jesus Christ as some sort of genie in a bottle. Certainly, that attitude is not unheard of among professed saints in this day.

Paul concludes the passage that serves as our devotional text today by observing of those who rely on narratives,

“Their condemnation is just” [Romans 3:8b].

That is significantly more than a dismissive remark, it is an acknowledgement that God holds us accountable for what we teach by His word and by our lives.

When we distort the Word of God, whatever the reason, we place ourselves in conflict with the Lord who is holy.

Should we turn others away from pursuing righteousness, we must answer God.

If we fail to receive the grace that He offers, we will have ensured that our soul is in eternal danger.

There is no recovery from the disaster of presumptuous sin.

David pleaded with God,

“Who can discern his errors?

Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless,

and innocent of great transgression.”

[Psalm 19:12-13]

The Psalmist realized how easy it is to drift into error, which is bad enough in its own right; however, he truly feared presuming against the LORD.

To act in such a manner is to exalt oneself against God; and there is scant chance that one can recover from such sin.

Do you recall the pronouncement against Saul that Samuel voiced when the king had spared the life of Agag, king of Amalek?

“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,

as in obeying the voice of the LORD?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

and to listen than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is as the sin of divination,

and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.”

[1 Samuel 15:22-23a]

That is a frightful thought.

A choice that fails to consider the will of the Lord, a choice which exalts our own self-interest above the will of the Savior, means we’ve all positioned ourselves as inviting divine judgement.

The Apostle Paul wrote of his fear that after preaching to others, he himself could be disqualified [see 1 CORINTHIANS 9:27].

I confess that I have the same fear.

I constantly check what I am writing, investing time in prayer as I seek God’s guidance.

I do not want to lapse into delivering narratives. Rather, my concern is that together we may know the truth and thus honor the Lord who redeems us.

I struggle for the redeemed to walk in holiness, to pursue a life that honors the Lord. I am convinced that God redeems us, giving us eternal life.

We cannot be cast away when we sin, but we can dishonor Him.

We can lose rewards and cease to be effective in our service to His cause.

Few thoughts distress me more than the thought that I may act in a manner that dishonors the Lord who redeems me.

Therefore, I seek what pleases Him.

I want to know what His will is and how I can glorify Him.

And that is what I want for His holy people.

I want you to walk in holiness, to learn to choose and speak wisely how to respond to the challenges of life.

Paul voiced his concern for the saints in Corinth, just as I have concerns for you, for your walk with the Master.

The Apostle revealed his heart when he wrote these saints,

“I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” [2 Corinthians 11:2-3].

I want you, for whom Christ gave me charge, to walk in purity before the Lord, to avoid adopting your own narratives, choosing rather to pursue truth through knowledge of the Word and through talking and walking with the Risen Savior.

My desire is to so live that I need not be ashamed and so that you will not be ashamed of me. Above all, I want to honors Christ the Lord by a holy life.

To the lost, this is the call of God: “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” [Acts 16:31].

Here is life.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” [Romans 10:9-10].

Salvation is this simple:

“Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” [Romans 10:13].

Here is life, if you are willing to receive it.

In Christ, you will find hope and the forgiveness of sin.

Do this now. Believe Him and be saved. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Father, my Guide and Guardian, illuminate my mind so I can understand how you want me to live. Your word tells me that people of integrity who follow your instructions are joyful. You have said that those who obey your laws and search for you with all their hearts are blessed and happy. I want that joy! Holy Spirit, please guard me against allowing evil to influence what I believe and do. Help me walk only in your paths. May my actions consistently reflect what you have said is right and good. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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