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Heed the Warning

How easy is it to take criticism?  We don’t like being told that we’re going down the wrong path.  But it’s necessary sometimes to keep us from bigger problems later on.

As we continue looking at the book of Galatians, the church has come to the point where they need to deal with Paul’s correction.  They’re being drawn down the slippery slope of legalism.  The Apostle is trying to warn them before it’s too late.

Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Galatians 4:16

We would much prefer to be told how wonderful we are.  By pointing out their error, Paul risks their anger.  The word enemy in this verse actually means hateful.  They’re getting to the point where they don’t want Paul participating in their growth anymore.

That’s what happens when you start listening to the wrong people.

Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good.  What they want is to alienate you [from us], so that you may be zealous for them.  It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.
Galatians 4:17-18

Paul is well acquainted with the methods used by false teachers.  They don’t have the Word of God to back them up, so they have to rely on other things.

According to this verse, they’re very loving and passionate towards you.  They show what seems to be a genuine concern for your welfare and growth.  But all the while, they’re really looking for your passion towards them.

It’s amazing how gullible we can be when someone starts by telling us what we want to hear.  That’s why false teaching usually begins with flattery.  Paul was clear that he never used this method to win people over.

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.  For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.  By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
Romans 16:17-18

That’s the danger of listening to these false teachers.  After all, would you rather listen to someone telling you how great you are; or that you’re headed in the wrong direction?  The Galatian people were being tempted to end their relationship with Paul in order to serve these deceivers.

Paul is clear that zeal is really a good thing, as long as what we’re zealous for is the truth.  We must always ask ourselves if our zeal is for the Word of God for the goals of man.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!
Galatians 4:19-20

Because of their wavering, Paul has begun a campaign of intercessory prayer for them.  He was there when they were birthed into God’s kingdom.  But now, through self-righteous legalism, they’re trying to win God’s favor by their works.

Paul knows that this course will end in spiritual disaster for them.  He also knows that only the power of the Spirit of God can change the hearts of people.  So just like he interceded for their salvation, he’s now diligent in praying for their freedom from this deception.

Don’t be fooled.  Good works, in and of themselves will never bring you closer to the Lord.  It only comes through intimacy with the Holy Spirit.

Question: What has been your experience, if any, with deceptive teachers?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2017 in Legalism, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Getting Back on Track

FallenFor the past couple of posts I’ve been talking about the purposes of Scripture as recorded in II Timothy 3:16. In it, Paul shows us what the Bible should be used for. These are teaching, rebuking, correction, and training in righteousness. So far, I’ve talked about how the Scripture teaches and rebukes us.

In today’s article, we’ll look at the work of correcting that the Scripture brings into our lives. There are some misunderstandings about correction. So the first thing we need is to know what it means. It sounds a lot like rebuking, at least that’s what many people think.

There is, in fact, a subtle difference between rebuking and correcting. In my walk with God I need both. It’s interesting that the Greek word for correcting, in the verse from Second Timothy, is only used in this one place in the whole Bible. It literally means to straighten up again.

I need to be rebuked so that I’ll stop doing that which is not God’s will for my life. But the process can’t end there. If it did, then I’d be lost, out of God’s plan, and with no way to find my way back to where I should be. Praise the Lord! He doesn’t leave us in that condition.

While rebuking tells you to stop because you’re headed in a wrong direction, it’s correction that shows you the way back to the right path for your life. Correction changes your course so that you’re once again heading in the direction of the destiny God’s called you to.

What we need to realize is that true repentance requires both rebuke and correction. Just one is not enough. There are many believers who respond to the rebuke of Scripture – again and again. Week after week they’re seen weeping at the altar over their sin. Then they go right back to it, only to repeat the cycle over and over. This isn’t God’s way of repenting.

In their song, The Altar and the Door, Casting Crowns sings about this condition.

“O Lord I cry, like so many times before,
But my eyes are dry before I leave the floor,
O Lord I try,
But this time, Jesus, how can I be sure,
I will not lose my follow-through,
Between the altar and the door.”

Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
Revelation 2:5a

There are many times that we see this pattern in Scripture. It’s usually “repent and…” True repentance is not only a turning away from sin, but a turning to God’s best. Feeling sorry for my sin is not real repentance, even if it’s accompanied by great emotional distress.

True repentance takes place when I take the rebuke of Scripture and admit my fault to God. Then I must take the correction of the Word and start doing the right things that will replace the wrong. Only in this way will I have a greater chance for success in my walk with God.

Question: How have the rebuke and correction of the Word been helpful to you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Lives Laid Down for the Scripture #Revivals past

MountchurchI’ve been posting about the first great move of God after the Dark Ages.  The Lord was using His people to restore the Bible as the foundation for faith and practice in the church.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:4

It’s obvious from the lives of these people, that they were able to endure beyond the normal experience.  It was their reliance on the Scripture that brought them to this level.

Who were these dedicated believers?

There were the Cathari in France.  They believed that tradition, alone, is not a basis for faith.  So they started printing and circulating Scripture.  Pope Innocent III actually called for a crusade against them.  Not only did he wipe them out, but the entire local population as well.

Another name to remember was Peter Waldo.  Around this time he started preaching the Word of God and circulating Scripture.  His followers were called the Waldensians.  They fared a little better.  When the order was given to kill them all, they were able to flee.  This community of Christians escaped to the mountain caves of Northern Italy, where they still exist today.

One of the more famous names of this move was John Wycliffe, from England.  Again, his goal was to preach the Word and get the Scripture into the hands of God’s people.  His followers were called the Lollards.  Unfortunately, they had to give up their lives for the faith.  They were martyred by Kings Henry the IV and V.

In many cases, the problem with our humanity is that we don’t want to know that we’re wrong.  The fact is that I need Scripture to correct me and then show me how to get back on solid ground again.  Many don’t want to admit their need for change.  Especially when there’s political power involved.  That was a big reason that they crucified the Lord.

The list goes on and on of those who started preaching a new way of following Christ – using the Scripture as the standard of their lives.  It includes such men as St. Jerome, John Huss, John Calvin, and Martin Luther.  Many people don’t know that Luther was actually working on a German translation for the common people to read.  Most of these saints of God were persecuted and killed.

Their commitment is summed up pretty well in a line from the dedication page of the KJV Bible: “So that if, on the one side, we shall be traduced by…persons at home or abroad, who therefore will malign us, because we are poor instruments to make God’s holy Truth to be yet more and more known unto the people, whom they desire still to keep in ignorance and darkness;”

I am eternally grateful for their sacrifice so that I could have a foundation for my faith.  And, so that you could know the truth of God for yourself.

Question: What’s the best way to show our gratefulness to God for our unlimited access to the Scripture?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Revival, The Church

 

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Discipline, Knowledge, & Correction

Proverbs 12:1
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.

Discipline is one of those words that we don’t want to hear about too often.  It brings up all kinds bad memories.  But, like it or not, we all need discipline.  In this verse, Solomon tells us that discipline and knowledge go hand in hand.  Unfortunately it is something that this society seems to know very little about.

There is an attitude that says that I deserve to have what I want right now – no matter what.  In many cases people will have their own way no matter what it does to their future.  So often we are more than willing to place our future earnings, our relationships, and our health all on the altar of instant, momentary pleasure.  Only discipline can keep our destiny safe.

The fact is that knowledge, without discipline, is almost worthless.  Discipline is the ability to restrain my actions now and do what I need to do, so that I can have a greater enjoyment in the future.  This goes against the “feel good now” attitude of our generation.  Too often we are willing to sell our future for gratification in the present.  That’s what Solomon is speaking to here.

Correction is when you are willing to listen to critical advice from someone who has been there.  The word translated stupid in this version, simply means that they are destroying themselves.  If you are not willing to take correction, and show the discipline it takes to change your direction, then you will slowly lose your future benefits.

How many times do we look back and say, “I wish I’d have done that differently.”  The time is now to heed the voice of godly correction and allow discipline to shape your future.  Don’t lose out on the destiny that God wants you to have.  Don’t trade your future blessings for the instant gratification.  Let discipline, knowledge, and correction bring you to a life worth living in Christ.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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