Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P2 (02-09-21)
Do you have a plumbline to gauge whether something is true? The word of God is the plumbline for truth, to gauge our lives so that we are not ensnared and trapped in error in our thinking but can submit to God and resist the lie and live in truth. The battle in the world today, as in Jesus day, and since the beginning of time, has been the battle for the mind. That is where temptation starts.
Temptation is getting you to doubt what God has said, to doubt that God has the best in mind for you, and to believe that someone other than God has the answers to life, that someone else can give you what you need rather than God, or that you can meet your own needs and live independently of God, or even that He is not God. Satan has so deceived mankind that we have become slaves to the god of this world, who is Satan, where we experience so much heartache and pain.
Jesus came as the living word, living like a man, even though He is God, so that we, who are not God, will know what it means to live in the manner God intended us to live, in total dependency on a perfectly merciful and loving God. He came to restore man to true humanity. This unfolding plan, with progressive revelation but now all revealed in our day in Christ Jesus, can be read through the sixty six books of the bible. From the Old Testament, in the beginning of the garden of Eden, when man was first tempted, believing the lie of Satan, falling into sin and death, to the temporary provision of sin right there in the garden, to the promise of God of a redeemer, repeated through all the prophets and through God’s dealing with Israel, to the fulfillment in the New Covenant, when Jesus became the final sacrifice for sin, once and for all, and who rose again, so that who are dead can have the same life in Christ Jesus. The life that raised Jesus from the dead has come to raise us up to new life in Him.
That plumbline of truth has application in the context of the covenant a person was living under. The Old Covenant was replaced with a New Covenant, for it has better promises. People who were wise clung to the truth revealed to them in their time period in history, whether through the prophets or the apostles, where that truth became written down. Jesus Himself quoted from the Old Testament scriptures. We see that when He was led in the wilderness to be tempted of Satan, how He answered with the scriptures. We see how Jesus submitted to God, behaving like a man like us for our benefit, resisting Satan and then Satan leaving him.
All that Jesus said and did, that God wanted us to know, was written down in the New Testament through the apostles, the eyewitness of these things. So now, today, we have a complete plumbline, and more than that, we have the living word, Christ Himself. If you are in Christ Jesus, born again, Christ living in you explains the meaning of the word to you, through the Spirit He has given.
So we cultivate this attitude of reading the scriptures to get to know the author, relying on Him to reveal truth to us. For the only way truth, not a head knowledge, a man-made theology, nor a belief system in a denominational persuasion, but a conviction from truth in the word of God, with a foundation in Jesus Christ, is by the Spirit to reveal truth to us.
The scriptures we hold in our hands are not of human origin. They are not myths and stories made up by men, but men, through prophets and eyewitnesses, carried along by the Holy Spirit, wrote these things down. Why were they written down? So that you may know that you have eternal life, to come to know God and His Son Jesus Christ. By knowing Him, you have access to this understanding of truth where convictions are formed from this plumb-line for truth, through His word that we hold in our hands. Truth is what sets you free, free from depression, free from bondage to sin and death, freedom to live so you can experience what life really is, with joy and peace in your heart, with peace that surpasses understanding, to live in a way that God’s love is worked through you in your interactions with other people.
So, I pray that as we begin our study time together, that you and I will open our hearts to ask God to reveal to us truth. Let that truth set us free. I talked about, how in my own life, that a number of years ago, driving down the central expressway in Dallas, Texas, on the way to the biggest Christian schedule you could ever imagine, with tears down my face, for I lost the joy of salvation. I cried out to God, “if you said truth will set you free, I am certainly not free”. What that means is this. “I have a misunderstanding of your truth. There is nothing wrong with Your word. It is truth. There is something wrong with me and my understanding of it or else I would not be miserable.”
“So I want to start afresh with you, and I want you to come and to teach me truth afresh. I do not care what I have been taught in the past. I want to start over. I want you to renew my mind and to teach me truth and to set me free.” That is exactly what the Lord began doing. As I said, so many times, education can teach you what the bible says but it is only the Holy Spirit that will teach you what it means.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[Isaiah 64:4] –
the things God has prepared for those who love him –
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
Let us turn to Luke 25:25 and see what Jesus Himself said in regard to our approach to the Word of God.
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
Now, that is interesting isn’t it? He called those who do not believe all that the prophets had spoken of in scripture foolish and slow of heart. And, it is amazing, isn’t it, in contrast to people who say, “I am brilliant but I am an atheist or agnostic?” No. Jesus says you are foolish and very slow of heart.
Another thing. How much of what the prophets spoke are we to believe? Some of it? No. All of it. When we take a look at where the teachings of the prophets were located, it was obviously in the book Jesus held in His hand, the Old Testament. In fact, that was the only bible Jesus held in His hand, if, of course, in those days they would have had a bible. They had scrolls. If He had one, those would be the only writings He would have held in his hand, what we know today as Old Testament writings. It is not because He did not like the Old Testament writings. It had not been written yet. It had not been revealed yet. He was the New Testament. What can we conclude concerning the Old Testament? That it was true. That everything in it is to be believed.
I do want to delineate there that everything in the Old Testament is true. The scripture is inerrant. It is to be believed that it is true. But we also have to understand that the teaching was under the Old Covenant. It was the teaching that we would not know where man came from if it had not been for the book of Genesis. So it is the teaching of the beginning of mankind, of God’s dealing with His creation, taking us right to Moses and the giving of the law and from Moses to Jesus, where the grace of God was introduced. It was continual dealings of God with man.
Also, there was a plan of God from day one. In the garden of Eden, when man fell, a plan of redemption took place and the whole Old Testament is an unfolding of that plan that in the fullness of time was fulfilled through Jesus Christ. In the meantime, a plan was being unfolded. The Old Testament is an unfolding of that plan.
17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
That is why we are told in Colossians that the law is a shadow, not the reality itself. Christ is the reality. This was a foreshadowing. But until Christ came, it was not known as a foreshadowing. It was the unfolding of God’;s plan of redemption.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.
So even though a new plan went into effect on the day Christ died, a New Covenant does not negate the truth of the Old Covenant that we were under and that God initiated as a foreshadowing of the reality that was going to come in Christ.
So it is not as if it is not true because it is true. It is not applicable. What I mean by that is the unfolding and the progressive revelation that was taking place until Christ came is certainly true that that occurred. But now that He has come we are under something new. The old has been replaced. It does not mean it was not true. It has been replaced.
You have a pair of shoes and you wear it out. Then you get a new pair of shoes. It does not mean that the old pair of shoes was erroneous or bad. They have been used. They were used for the intelligent purpose for which they were created. They wore out and a new came into effect. Thank God for that.
What we are going to do then is not only discuss those things but to talk about Christ’s testimony then too. First of all, what did He testify to Satan, to the masses, to the religious leaders, to tradition, and then to His disciples? Those will be five areas in this first lesson that we will be discussing regarding Christ’s personal testimony concerning the Word of God.
Let us start with our enemy, Satan.
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
That is an understatement in the bible.
3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
That is when the tempter comes, when we are in a weakened condition. You would think he would ease off, but he comes to get us in our weakened condition.
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[Deuteronomy 8:3]”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
I want to clarify that this “if” is not what is called a conditional “if”. In the Greek language, this “if” is more expressive than in the English language. That “if” means “inasmuch as” and is not questioning if he is the Son of God. Satan knows full well who he was. “In light of the fact, inasmuch as, you are Son of God, tell those stones to become bread.” Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, and after forty days and forty nights, he was hungry and the tempter came to him and asked, “In light of the fact, inasmuch as, you are the Son of God, tell those stones to become bread”.
In other words, the world is saying, and is like what is going on in the world today, that nothing is new under the sun. There is nothing new that has occurred under the sun. We just think it is new. There are no problems that are new. There are no phobias that are new. There are no syndromes that are new. Everything that you experienced today has been experienced forever.
It is interesting that the same challenge upon the word of God is in essence is a challenge upon Christ Himself. You cannot separate Christ from the Word.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
You cannot separate the Word of God from the person of God. The difference between Jesus and us is that when he speaks something it is total truth and a total reflection of all that He is. That is not the case with us. We can be as phony as can be. We can be hurting on the inside and yet say that everything is fine on the outside. The fact of the matter is that very seldom is what we say a real reflection on what is going on in the inside. But when Christ says something it is a total reflection of all He is and all that He is. It is a total reflection of Him.
So today the attacks upon His Word is nothing more or less than an attack on His personhood, upon His identity as to who He is, God. So we are saying the same thing takes place. Unfortunately in many religious circles, what is said is, “if you are the Son of God, do a miracle for me.”, “Turn those stones into bread” and “Do a miracle so that I can believe in you.”, In other words, we do not realize that a sign and the seeking of a sign is a repudiation of faith.
I see people today who say “I understand the Word of God”, and are even teaching the grace of God but are still seeking. Seeking gifts. Seeking this. One of the reasons is we have never entered into that Sabbath rest. As long as people keep hanging on to the fact the Sabbath is a day instead of a rest, you will never be at rest. You have got to let go of those things. You cannot hang onto those things. You have to let go of them in order to enter into that rest. If you are still seeking, it is because you have not found.
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works [or labor], just as God did from his.
If you lost something, as an example. Let us say you lost your watch and you are looking for it and looking for it, and you find it, and you put it on your wrist. Are you still looking? Of course not. You found it. If you are still seeking something, it is because you have not found the Lod. It does not mean you are not saved. You are not resting in it. You have not entered a Sabbath rest. There are people in Christ who are still wandering in the desert, even speaking spiritual truths in the desert, but not at rest. You cannot be seeking when you have found.
There we are. We have already possessed a pearl with a great price and we are going into the ten cent store to buy junk jewelry. We own a pearl of great price and are still looking for junk jewelry. That is a conclusion that we got to come to. “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus, in essence, is saying, “I am not a miracle worker. I can do that, but I did not come to be a magician. I came to give you life.” He answered more gently than that.
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[Deuteronomy 8:3]”
That is a great admonition for us today. Man is not living by bread. “I can turn these stones into bread, but if I perform that little miracle for you, what good is it going to do?” It is like saying, “I am not going to believe in God until He heals my leg, until He makes my legs longer.” Man does not live with a long leg. Man does not live on the exterior. You live by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. That is where your life is lived, not in whether you are physically this way or that way, but by living by the words of God that come out of the mouth of God. We live in the invisible you not in the house, not to be preoccupied with the exterior of the house. But what is going on inside, down under the skin, that is where the word of God feeds you.
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Bread feeds your mouth to keep your body going, this house of ours going. The word of God feeds our soul. So we do not live by just our body going. That is obviously a part of it. But we live inside, underneath the skin, by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. Folks, again, do you believe that? Is that a conviction or is that just a nice statement? If that is not a conviction, meditate on it, listen to it, and ask God to reveal to you the meaning of it. If not, you are on a shaky foundation. That is always a part of Satan’s temptation, to not believe that your life is what comes out of the mouth of God, saying, “After all, other people have had good ideas too. There are Skinner and Freud and other guys with good ideas.” There we are with that type of mentality. Folks, you are never going to be on a foundation that way. You will be on sinking sand in your life.
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[Deuteronomy. 8:3]”
So the devil tried again.
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If [inasmuch as, in the light of the fact that] you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
Again, out of context. Can you believe this? Satan is quoting scripture to Jesus, who is the Word of God! This enemy of our soul, Satan, is not dead. He is alive today as he was back then. If he has the audacity to go to God Himself to try and trick Him through misquotation of scripture, to quote His own word out of context, would he not have any hesitancy to go to you? I do not believe there is any theologian out there, or heavy student of the word of God, who is not targeted by such trickery of Satan. Satan is not saying, “I do not think I can get to him. He knows Greek too well. I will just go to somebody else.” Folks, come on. If Satan has the audacity to tempt God, then you and I will be thrown into the same temptation. So he tries to get you to think he is a miracle man, and if he is not a miracle man, he is probably not God. You probably cannot depend upon him.
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[Psalm 91:11-12]”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[Deuteronomy 6:16]”
Well, it is like he is saying. “Satan, quit putting the Lord your God to the test. Quit testing God. When I say something is true, quit testing it.” Today, are there people who are testing that deal? Are we testing God? The answer to that is “yes”. How many times are our prayers along that line? “Now, God if you do this, I will do this. If I give this, then I am looking to you by faith to multiply that back to me multifold.” Jesus is saying, “Do not put the Lord your God to a test.” He was also identifying Himself as who He is, the Lord his God, Satan’s God, your God, my God, the world’s God. Whether they believe it or not is irrelevant. The issue is that is who He is.
That did not not work, so Satan approaches Jesus again a third way.
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
That sounds like some men, doesn’t it?. I will give you anything if you just follow me. You follow me and you will get everything. Bow down and worship me, not God, but worship me, saying “God does not have the answers. I have got the answers. God does not know what he is talking about. I know what I am talking about.”
As I heard the other day, from a so-called Christian on the radio, a so-called Christian counselor. He would say, “You do not go to the bible to get your car repaired. You do not go to the bible to get your roof repaired. You have to go to a carpenter for that. You have to go to a car dealer. You have to read those books. Same thing. I do not know about schizophrenia. So I go to a psychologist for that.” That is a Christian making that statement on Christian radio in the name of God. That is no different than saying, “Bow down to me. God does not know what He is talking about. Bow down to me. I have got the answers. I have been trained. I am the mechanic. I know how to do those things.” Did anything change in the way we are tempted today? No. Do you know that Satan says to people who have fallen into that trap the same thing He said to Satan.
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[Deuteronomy 6:13]”
You cannot serve two things. You cannot be double-minded without being unstable in all ways.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
If you are going to serve, you are going to have to determine whether you are going to serve God or man, but you cannot serve both at the same time any more than you can walk down both sides of the street at the same time. The only person who can do that somewhat adequately is a drunk. Today, a double-minded man is unstable in all ways. Until we come to grips to worship the Lord your God and serve Him only, we will be double-minded, tossed to and fro from every wind of doctrine and be absolutely worthless in the hands of a living, loving God.
You can see three things that Jesus did when He was confronted with Satan, who is always confronting us today for the purpose of distorting the word of God, casting dispersion on the word of God, or saying “the word of God is okay, but”, and then the billy goat comes in, and that is, “but I have got more information”.
In verse 4, you see Jesus answered Satan, “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”. If we are going to be fed, it is on the bread of life, who is Jesus Christ and Him alone. Also, in verse 7, you are going to see there that he answered Satan again, saying “It is written. Do not put the Lord God to the test.” In other words, do not make a test out of this thing, saying “God, if you are real, let us see what you can do here”. That is not how you deal with God. You walk in dependency upon Him to lead your life, to depend on Him and Him alone. The third temptation, in verse 10, He answered, “Worship the Lord your God and Him only”. In other words, you cannot serve two masters.
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
That today is applicable as it was back then. So what do we use to counteract temptations in our lives? That is where the temptations came, folks. All of it was a mental temptation. That is where the Christian life is lived and that is where it is fought right at the threshold of your mind. As the thought pops into your mind, it is either going to be bounced off the plumbline in truth in God and His word, or if you do not know that plumbline, you have no place to go except the wisdom of the world, which is but foolishness to God.
The way that we counteract temptation is to first of all remember this scripture.
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Submit yourself to God and then resist the devil and he will flee from you. That is what took place there. We have got those resisters out there saying these things. “We resist and command the devil to get away.” “We are binding him up and tying him up” All kinds of things are said that add to or subtract from the word of God. “We are putting fences around him.” I mean it is just one thing after another. We forget about submitting ourselves to God. We got hedges or thorns around people and all kinds of things. What we do not realize is they are out of sync with scripture. First of all, you submit yourself to the Lord. What is that? You are submitting yourself to the truth of His word. Then resist the devil and he will flee from you. That is exactly what took place with Christ.
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Why did the devil leave him? Because he did not get off of the word. In other words, He as God could have zapped him if He wanted to. But Jesus, even though He is God, who walked on this earth as a man, He behaved as a man. Therefore, He taught us how to behave as a man. Had he been behaving strictly as God, He would not have taught us anything. I cannot behave as God because I am a man, and I am not God.
49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
In essence, Jesus is saying, “Everything I do is the Father telling Me to do it. Everything I say is the Father telling Me to say it. Incidentally, as the Father sent me so I send you.” What was the Father telling Him to do? First of all, He was walking in total submission to the Father. In other words, submit yourself to the Lord. In other words, to His word. So if someone ever tells you something that is contrary to the word of God, reject it. In Jesus case, it was Satan direct.
Today, Satan is using his demonic influences and the whole world to say the same thing. It does not make any difference if someone is standing in front of you or not, it is the voice coming to you. Knowing what truth is, knowing God is the answer, you submit yourself to Him and resist the devil. Resisting what? He will hit you again. He did not do one temptation. He did three. He will hit you at another angle. So you go back again to the word of God. And he hits you again. And you go back again to the word of God. And finally he just leaves from you.
(Consider what Jesus said to the religious leaders who were hard of heart and refused to believe. What did Jesus say in regard to who Satan is?)
43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!
Satan is the author of lies. He cannot stand truth. Satan is resisted only as we submit to the truth of the word of God, standing on that, strong as horseradish in it. That is a conviction, folks. It is not a belief system. It is not saying, “Here is what the Baptists believe” or “We Catholics believe.” You cannot resist the devil on what the Baptist, the Catholics, the Presbyterians or whoever else believes. You have to resist the devil on what you believe. You have to resist the devil on conviction of what you believe.
Satan does not come up to Jesus, saying “The Baptists, we believe”. The issue is what are your convictions concerning the word of God because you are going to act upon your convictions. The way we resist the devil is through continually submitting ourselves to God. Submit to Him. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.