… but you will feel so much better once you apply this!
Titus 1:10 (NLT)
For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation.
The verse that follows goes on to say, “They must be silenced, because they are turning whole families away from the truth by their false teaching.”
You may be saying to yourself ‘fine… my glass house is safe.’ Preaching about circumcision is not a big deal in this day and age, we are far beyond that.
Or are we?
Paul in this letter was addressing a specific issue and it wasn’t circumcision. What he is pointing to is the tendency to judge others and impose our own set requirements on them to meet ‘our’ standards.
Not only is this behavior inappropriate but when these rules become our standard and we seek to enforce or expect adherence to them by others, we run the risk of altering the message in the Word of God by injecting our own bias.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
The reference that Paul cites was a situation where certain individuals in the church were insisting on a specific behavior from everyone else. In this case it was circumcision of believers. What they were saying is you couldn’t ‘really’ be a true believer unless you underwent circumcision. When in fact, the practice of circumcision was something they artificially imposed with complete deference to the Gospel of Jesus.
Paul points out this deficiency, then goes on too say that the practice of sighting these false teachings must be stopped. Why? Because they damage our testimony and corrupt the Word of God. So much so that they drive entire families away from the truth!
To insert your own ‘guidelines’ for walking the narrow path is to deceive ourselves and place ourselves in the position of God. That would be God who provides the standard by which we are to live. That would be God who is judge (After all by proclaiming these customize rules we not only lay down the law, but we also establish and expectation on our part that those hearing this pronouncement will adhere to it. Should they not, then therefore, they are not conforming to the standard of ‘your god’ (note the lowercase).
This has even greater ramifications, as it diminishes our relationship with God because clearly His Word isn’t sufficient for your vision of piety. You’ve placed yourselves in the position that belongs to God and became the ultimate authority. Worse yet, that individual may be driven away by the false teaching that comes from your mouth.
Please don’t think that I’m taking a Holier than thou position in this behavior because I am not. We all are capable of doing this unintentionally. It is the nature of the flesh to insert ourselves between the Word of God and the presentation we put on display for the world to see.
This all is not only damaging to us and our relationship with Jesus, but it has the potential of causing damage to others. Perhaps for all eternity.
Mark 9:42 (NLT)
But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck.
To really focus in on what Paul was getting at is that we need to be clearly following the teachings of Jesus and not rely on our own feelings. Each believer, is given the Holy Spirit, who Jesus sent to teach and guide us.
John 14:26 (NLT)
But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
This gift of the Holy Spirit isn’t exclusive to you or me. Every believer is given the guidance of the Holy Spirit to teach them and guide them. In fact, without the guidance of the Holy Spirt the Word of God is presented as a mystery. It is by the Holy Spirit that we are able to benefit from the insights of God’s Word.
It is beneficial to share with others the insight revealed to you by the Holy Spirit through his word, but when you endeavor to do so without the backing of the scripture you walk on a perilous path. People are watching! They are watching you and I every day, listening to what we say.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Stripping away every weight (some translations replace weight with ‘encumbrance’) that MIGHT trip us up. Run this race with endurance provided by God.
Making sure that what we profess as being God’s truth is indeed grounded in God’s Word. He assures us that so long as we are faithful in his word that it will do the job it is intended to.
Isaiah 55:11-12 (NLT)
It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!