The Truth Shall Set You Free, part 5
In the book of Matthew, the story of Jesus proceeds in a simple progression. After we learn about His genealogy, we read the familiar Christmas story. Then in Chapter 3 we read of His ministry going public when He was baptized. Then Satan came at him. That is in chapter 4.
What is most interesting about this confrontation was how these two sparred with each other by quoting Scripture. The problem was that Satan was misquoting and twisting the Word, and each time Jesus would use the Word correctly. This led to Satan’s defeat…for a time.
Satan is a fallen angel. He has great power because God allows this. But he has no prescience at all. He has no idea of what is to happen or when. He was just about as in the dark about Jesus as the people were – in terms of who He really was. But, once Jesus went public Satan came at him, and he lost. Who won? The truth of Scripture won. Jesus won. He is the Word (John 1:1-5). We think of Scripture as the words in the Bibles we have in our homes or see on the bookshelves. While that is true, we need also to understand that when we see the Word we see the mind of Christ…and hence also the mind of God as He permits it.
This is pretty awesome.
What... Who... is the truth that sets us free?
He claimed this Himself.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6 (NASB).
Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So You are a king?” Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the Truth hears my voice." John 18:37 (NASB).
This is exactly the impression I got when I opened up a Bible the night I accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. At that moment all I could do was to leaf through the pages and read haphazardly, along with some passages given to me earlier that night when I attended a bible class. Soon, I did start out reading on my own in a systematic way but emphasized three books: Genesis, Matthew and Revelation. I did not always understand what I read. I knew that this reading was special. It was history but a breathing history that let you see the heart of people like Abraham or Noah or Jacob or David or Peter. I saw their heart because I was reading through the eyes of my heart. And that was possible because the original authors wrote from their heart, which was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
I saw that these great Patriarchs were just like me. Often they could be petty, selfish, often too wrapped up in their own egos, and very often flat out disobedient. But I also saw their faith. And I also saw God’s persistence in working with them. He did not give up on them. There is that famous exception in Exodus 32 when God had lost his patience with what at that point were a VERY disobedient people. He said as much to their leader, Moses. He was going to wipe them all out and start over with just him. Moses talked Him out of it. See Exodus 32:1-14. What we see there is an interaction very familiar to all of us and yet it is God...GOD...who is in that interaction. That whole exchange between Moses and God was not possible unless they knew each other relationally.
To continue in the Word is to live it, but one needs to get into it as well. The Sunday school movement among Protestantism in North America was founded on that premise: to take time to emphasize His Word and to learn it. Church meetings were expanded to two hours. Parents saw to it that children were in attendance. These children grew up, and perhaps went off on their own not so in touch with their faith. Yet over time when they had their children they saw to it that they would attend Sunday School. The circle was not broken nor can it ever be.
In addition to bible study, I have also found a great deal of help by reading Christian books. There are many authors who are very bible-based and can really teach you. I could give a long list but that would be redundant. I want to emphasize two writers, however: Francis Schaeffer and John Calvin. I still have my old dog-eared copy of Schaeffer’s "True Spirituality." In it I learned a very important scriptural truth regarding the Ten Commandments. Actually I learned a great deal about those commandments from John Calvin’s "Institutes of the Christian Religion." He taught how the first four emphasized our relationship with God and the last six emphasized our relationship with each other. This follows exactly with the two "greatest commandments" of Jesus in Matthew 22:
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And He said to him, "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND." This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets. Matthew 22: 36-40 (NASB)
You can love God and show that by obeying and honoring the first four commandments and you can love your neighbor by obeying and honoring the last six commandments.
But, Schaeffer taught that the Tenth commandment was the hub of the wheel. When we sin, we actually break two commandments. We break the tenth one because there is something we want – covet - that we do not have. We break one or more of the others to get what we want. If there is any way we can deal with sin we need to change our attitudes that get us into trouble first through the tenth commandment. This comes back then, to the truth "It’s not about you." If we really lived that truth, then the chances are we will not get into trouble with sin.
That is the beauty of Scripture. Yes, it is in our homes but, more so it is in our hearts. We seek help and counsel from Ministers, Lay Leaders, friends, family and fellow Christians. That is all good. But we are blessed because the most important counsel we can enjoy comes from the word of God.
I look at it this way: The word of God is a weapon. It is been described as a sword:
And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17 (NASB).
For the word of God is loving and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NASB).
And you know what one can do with such a weapon? You can use it offensively as well as defensively.
And so, we need to keep these truths in mind as we move to the next installment: The truth that sets us free is Jesus Himself. Jesus is the Word. Hence He is the truth behind that Word. God’s Word is not just history and philosophy. It touches our hearts as well as our minds. Truth becomes real to us when we see it through the experience of our relationship with a person named Jesus.
My name is Michael the Penguin and I am a Christian in recovery.
Copyright Penguin and Christians in Recovery. All Rights Reserved.