Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. – John 17:17
When my boys were in Cub Scouts (back before the gender and sexuality warriors made such innocent places ground zero in their war on manhood) we learned how to make a fire. We explained to the boys that fire requires three things: oxygen, heat and fuel. If one of those things is missing you will never start a fire.
As I read Jesus’ words in John 17:17, I had similar thoughts about our growth as Christians. As with fire, certain things must be present or it won’t happen.
The first is prayer. Jesus is praying here for the sanctification of his disciples. We too must pray for the sanctification of ourselves and others. God has ordained prayer as one of the ways He works out his will for His people.
Second is truth. Christ says we are sanctified by truth. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to tell us what truth is. Truth is the word of God. Again, one of the means God uses to grow His people in the faith is His word. We must be continually in the scriptures if we are to grow.
Finally, while not directly mentioned in this verse but taught directly in scripture as a whole (Hebrews 3:13, Colossians 3:16), is other people. We’re not called to practice our faith in isolation. That is one of the reasons Christ created the church – to be a place where believers are taught the faith, loved and equipped to do the same for others.
Prayer, truth and people. If any one is missing, I won’t grow in the faith as I should.
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the Lord by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor 3 or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely—in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby— 4 if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found 5 or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt. 6 And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering. 7 And the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and thereby become guilty.” – Leviticus 6:1-7
This passage deals with sins against fellow Israelites. It’s interesting to note that not only was a sacrifice required to reconcile the sinner to God (against whom all sin is ultimately committed, Psalm 51:4) but restitution to the wronged party as well.
Repentance is never less than recognizing our sin against God but it is usually more than that – especially when the sin is also against another person. In such cases we are called not only to seek forgiveness from them but to make the situation right to the extent that we can.
Continue reading “The Marks of True Repentance”
Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions – Colossians 2:18
This is a warning against basing theology on experience. The person described here claims to have seen something (some translations say “visions”), possibly something supernatural associated with angels, and uses this to puff himself up and gather followers.
But, Paul says such a person is “unspiritual” and full of “idle notions.” What the text literally says is “puffed up by the mind of the flesh of him.” This implies his visions are the product of his flesh, not encounters with God or angels.
Continue reading “A Warning Against Experience-Based Theology”
Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. – Leviticus 19:17
Chapter 19 of Leviticus is a hodgepodge of laws covering things from treatment of the poor to marking your body with tattoos and the mating of animals. But verse 17 jumped off the page at me as I read this chapter. In this short verse are some important truths, truths that are among the most counter-cultural of any in the scriptures. Continue reading “Love Tells the Truth”
If one of them falls into a clay pot, everything in it will be unclean, and you must break the pot. Any food that could be eaten but has water on it from such a pot is unclean, and any liquid that could be drunk from it is unclean. – Leviticus 11:33-34
This passage is from a larger section on clean and unclean food. It addresses what to do if an unclean animal such as a lizard or a rat dies and falls into a pot used for cooking. Sin damages all that it touches. The people of God were not only to avoid those things the Lord had declared unclean but anything those things came in contact with. Continue reading “The Far Reaching Impact of Sin”