by Jennifer Hoyt
Have you ever said... “Well, I know what the scripture says in the Bible, BUT…I just don’t agree with it”? If you’ve said the above, believe me, you’re not alone. I’m sure there are plenty of scriptures that rub us the wrong way for our myriad of pet reasons. It’s okay to struggle to understand, or even to 'like,' a scriptural truth, but unfortunately, there is a sobering reality we need to recognize when deciding how to respond. You see, if the response that comes out is to bow up and say “I don’t agree”, then as harsh as it sounds, that response is not only sin; it’s deadly. It was this same mentality that said—I know what God saaaaid about that tree in the middle of the garden, buuut... He must be lying about the benefits of its fruit. Any mentality that exalts itself above God’s word, spoken or written, is trouble. The mentality that says, God might’ve said (fill in the blank), but I don’t agree with it and so I will not follow it—is straight from hell and means we are coming into agreement with Satan’s lies.
Proverbs 14:12-16 KJV There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Even in laughter, the heart is sorrowful; And the end of that mirth is heaviness. The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: And a good man shall be satisfied from himself.
This verse highlights something we all know deep down in our hearts, there is no genuine happiness in turning to our own ways. Sin may seem pleasant for a season, but it never lasts. Eventually, the reality of where we are before God sets in and our hearts betray us. You see, a defiant and self-directed path is identified in scripture as backsliding. Proverbs is a warning to good people that this mentality comes from our attempt to take satisfaction from, and be filled by self, instead of God. Some of us are probably thinking “oh good, this doesn’t apply” to me, others are thinking “oh man, I really don’t want to face this”. I get it, but if we want to seek the truth, we need to do so honestly. So let’s take a deep breath, and jump in to explore this with some practical examples:
I know what God said about forgiveness in the Bible, but you don’t understand what this person did to me. This one is all too common. We all struggle with it at some point. If we try to justify it though, instead of repent of it, that’s when we find ourselves in trouble. You see, according to Matthew 6:14-15, a person who doesn't forgive others will not be forgiven by God. Yikes, I need forgiveness from God, don’t you?
I know what the Bible says about tithing, but I believe churches shouldn't be run like businesses because humanity is wicked. We ignore the fact that in Malachi 3:10 it says that tithing is the one time in scripture God encourages us to test Him through our obedience.
I know what God said about divorce, but no one has tried living with my spouse. We ignore the word when it tells us that marriage is an important relationship God uses to sanctify His bride (that’s us) Matthew 19:8-9.
I know what God said about adultery, but I think this other person is my soulmate and the spark isn’t there anymore with my spouse. We come up with every reason to excuse so many verses, including Exodus 20:14. “You shall not commit adultery.”
I know what God said about sex before marriage and remaining pure, but people probably wrote that based on the times back then. Why should three hundred-year-old dead guys from a different culture dictate how I live my life now? We conveniently forget that the men who wrote the Bible simply transcribed the inspired word of God, as it says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The word of a God that is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Before I tackle this next part, please note: Nothing that I will write here negates our duty to love people regardless of their sin. “I know what the Bible says about homosexuality, but love is just love, right? If two people love each other, God is the author of love, end of story.” In our ‘tolerance’ we conveniently gloss over 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. It says, “do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” The approach that fails to warn, is not love, no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves that it is.
I know what God says in the Bible about God creating Male and Female, buuut, today there are: women, men, non-binary, transgender and let’s not forget: agender, cisgender, gender fluid, gender queer, intersex, and nonconforming. I mean, we can’t leave out this entire group of people that have never felt right in their body, can we? Perhaps God made a mistake? Or maybe it’s just fine with God for people to express themselves how they feel. Culture has changed. We insist, as we desperately distance ourselves from the call, to not conform to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
I know what God said about fear, anxiety, worry, gossip, stealing, obeying my parents, loving my neighbor as myself, lying, drugs, idolatry, and not accepting His forgiveness, healing, grace, and direction (and on) BUT…
I could write the longest blog post ever seen (and possibly get run out of town for everyone I’ve offended) if I tried to cover all the areas where our sinful heart tries to dilute the word of God. Is it any wonder that in Matthew 7:13-14 it says: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Only a few find it!! Read that again. Next time you go to church, look around. Only a few find it!! Think about all the people you know in the world—only a few find it!! Which gate do you intend to enter?
If you’ve been reading along, lips pursed in grim distaste, just waiting for that moment when I hit your pet, I know what God said BUT… so that you can shut me down. Perhaps you're thinking that maybe I had too much caffeine today because clearly I’m wound up and spicy. Let me share with you why this is important, as though that last scripture that says broad is the gate to destruction and only a few find the road that leads to life isn’t terrifying enough.
James 1:14-15 says: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. When we see the word lust, we think only in terms of sexual, but it really just means desire. In fact, other translations say, “we are drawn away by the desires within our heart.”
What happens next? When we are tempted with the desires that exist within our heart, (Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?), and we mix our agreement with that temptation, it results in sin. See sin is a lot like the conception of a baby. You need the sperm (the idea or desire) and the egg (our agreement with that idea). That’s why temptation alone isn’t sin. It’s when we get into agreement with the idea/desire that it becomes our little sin baby. And when sin is finished, it brings forth death.
Suddenly, we see the problem we face. Either we believe God loves us and His word for us is good, or we don’t, but the truth we find in the gospel isn’t a fence we can straddle. The death spoken of here might not be physical, but even more grievous, is when that death is spiritual. For those of us who want to quote John 10:28, which says that God gives us eternal life and no one can pluck them out of my hand—I have this news for you: It never said you couldn’t walk away, so why chance it? In Revelations, there is a warning to a church it calls lukewarm. In that warning, God says he will spit them out of His mouth.
I’m going to leave you with these last two things:
Matthew 7:21-23 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’…
Who does it say enters the kingdom of heaven, BUT… (notice that God also has a BUT), only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. If you are hearing the word of God today—do not harden your heart like they did in the rebellion (Hebrews 3:7-8). Repent. Repent of deciding that you know better and allow God’s word to be the plumb line for your life. The thing you measure yourself against. Not just the things that feel good or the things that you agree with, but Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil.
I once heard a powerful sermon given by a baptist preacher who said: “Some of you have designed your view of God around your worldview. And then you cry and complain that God never answers your prayers and it's almost as if He doesn’t exist. News flash: That god doesn’t exist. You made him up! Any God that is defined by your worldview isn’t God. God is in the business of defining your worldview—not the other way around.”
The good news is that God warns you of these things not because there is no hope, but because there is! We have the opportunity to repent, turn from our sin, and God will not only forgive us and heal us, he will welcome us with open arms and transform us by the renewing of our minds. We serve a loving God and because He loves us; He directs and corrects us. All scripture is profitable… we have to choose if we want to profit from it spiritually. It’s worth it.