5 Attitudes To Keep You Honest

“This shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the LORD answered thee? And, What hath the LORD spoken?” Jeremiah 23:37

The devil has always been good at getting men tied up in their words. He usually can convince you that he is right, and then make you think it was your idea. He is also the master of twisting the words of God in order to damn souls.
In Genesis 3, the first words recorded from the master deceiver are, “Yea, hath God said?”  John 8:44 describes him as “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” And the best lies are spun around the truth.
In the temptation of Christ in Luke and Matthew 4, he offers “For it is written…” and proceeds to quote Psalms 91 to weight his argument. The devil is no illiterate bum- he is a college professor. He is second to only the Lord Jesus in his knowledge of the Scriptures and their exposition. He can preach a convincing sermon alright, and his invitations are hard to resist- millions have come thinking they are gaining heaven, but leave twice as hell-bound as before.
There are 3 basic ways to “corrupt the word of God”:  1. Adding words, 2. Subtracting words, 3. Changing the word for ‘a better, updated, clearer, modernized, etc’ reading. Those are easily spotted most of the time. But the devil is “more subtil than any beast of the field” and the master deceiver needs not to change one single word to “wrest the Scriptures.”

Picture the suave scholar pulling up his chair to the table. He proposes to lead you through the desert of opinion to the well of God’s best for your life. He opens a book. You begin on your study on solid ground, but soon transition to shifting sand. You don’t know where the message is going, so you try to return to reasonable thinking, but the winds of doubt and deception has erased all hope of escape to Biblical foundations. You’re stuck in the desert, dry and lost. “Beware of wolves in sheeps’ clothing.”

You would swear that you’ve never been there. You would protest to me that you would not be that deceived. And yet you have all the marks of one who has been played for the devil’s fool.

Do you stick to one version of the Bible? The King James Version, 1611, is the very words of God. Many use it, but when you see a contradiction to your ‘faith’ or ‘belief system’, are you quick to seek out a different definition or alternative reading?

Can you explain what you believe using an entire verse in the Bible? A grave, satanic error is made when major points of doctrine or practice are made from incomplete quotations of Scripture. A funny example is the preacher, quoting Psalm 23, says, “He maketh me to LIE…” But not so funny is the result of giving only half the truth.

Is your belief seen at face-value in other places in the Bible? Restatement is the acknowledgment of importance. There may be outside illustrations, or similarities in science, or logical reasoning, but if that’s all you have, you do not have the sure word of God. If HE proposes an illustration, or if HE references the science, or if HE calls for reason, then use it! But to go outside of the Author’s focus to find ‘meaning’ will only hide it from you.

How can the truth-seeking Christian keep himself from from these errors? Don’t be bluffed into thinking the devil is not sly enough to slip into your outline. It is foolish pride that claims to be immune from fault; conversely it is a humble heart toward God that protects the holiness of the message.

1. Approach each verse as a student, not as a teacher. 
“I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.” Psalm 119:26
Many ‘scholarly’ books and sermons are built on the pretense of explaining away what God said. A scholer by definition is a student– but O how pride puffs us. If you want to know what God meant: read what he wrote. Dictionaries and definitions are fine in their place; but they CAN NOT give you any deeper meaning than the Book, ad verbum.

2. Stand in awe of God’s word.
“Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.” Psalm 119:161
There is never a message you must deliver, for which the Bible must lose credibility or respect. The devil has seeded the minds of many an infidel and heretic with verses, parts of verses, or conglomerations of verses that will confuse sound doctrine. The Book is not a lamb to be shepherded; he is a lion- let him loose, he can take care of himself. “Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:6)
Consider this fearful fact: In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, the integrity and carefulness with which you handled God’s Book will be omnipotently scrutinized. Any distain of how He said things, any reluctance to state the facts His way, or any hesitation to declare the whole counsel- what will the Lord think of it all?

3. If you cannot state it simply, simply do not state it.
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:13)
The serpent’s lie was framed in truth. He only wanted to explain to Eve what God was REALLY saying. Bob Jones, Sr. said, “Simplicity is truth’s most becoming garb.” Was God so ignorant of human understanding that no “Thus saith the Lord’s” can stand on their own account? I acknowledge our pale comprehension of the mysteries of God, His will, and His power; notwithstanding, must I constantly rely on this commentator, or that teacher, or this Bible study or that one to know the truth?
The lying snake ‘cleared things up’ alright. He made Eve to feel betrayed by God, and brought Adam to feel justified in his sin. This error is one which we simply cannot afford to commit.

4. Let your ideas bring attention to the Scriptures, not let Scripture bring attention to your ideas.
“The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.” (Proverbs 18:4)
I love to look at artwork. I enjoy listening to music of various kinds. They appeal to me, they challenge me in my own pursuit of those things. Often, I copy those works to endear them to my memory and then to be an inspiration to others. A good teacher is always on the lookout for illustrations.
Where did the music of George F. Handel come from? What prompted the carvings of Gustave Doré? Jesus said, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14) The Scriptures are the SPRING.
The right attitude to have about the examples around us is, “What did God say about this?” rather than, “I wonder if there’s a verse to fit my illustration?” And let Him illumine the lesson. If “Verily, I say unto you,” is the SUBJECT, it will lead to the best objects with which to declare the glory of God.

5. Ask the Author for guidance and protection from ‘just trying to prove a point’. 
Few attitudes are more difficult to combat than the apathetic and careless. You may be tempted to say something… ANYTHING to wake up the dull hearer to the word of God. I’ve personally heard many Christians indignantly declare, “If God doesn’t judge America; he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah
“God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” (Romans 3:4)  

Let’s be clear on one thing: God will do as He pleases. Some issues we consider vital, God barely mentions. We major on the minors, make mountains out of molehills, and are therefore FRUSTRATED when others don’t ‘get it’. We can’t seem to let go of non-essentials, and “give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard.” If it’s important to God, He will give unction to the message- and if God is not empowering it, no threat, shock, or explicative can.

Meditate on these sayings. Look up the Scriptures for yourself, and you, too, will find yourself magnifying God’s word. “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy WORD above all thy NAME.” (Psalm 138:2) God help us to have the attitudes to stay honest before God.

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