Janet Weaver Smith ©7-7-2015 gardenministries.org
Three words should describe the character and heart posture of those who follow Jesus and encounter opposition to their beliefs: Gentle. Steadfast. Immovable. Ephesians 4:2-3, 1 Corinthians 15:58.
There is a sizeable culture shift underway in America in relation to how the 66-books of the Bible are viewed and practiced as a legitimate source for moral guidance and truth. There are those who are rapidly distancing themselves from the literal nature of this holy book and there are those who are ready to stake their very lives upon the Biblical moral code and upon the God of creation who wrote the book through inspired humans. With the very fabric of our nations foundational ethics shaking, how do believers in Jesus Christ stand firm during this tumultuous time and how do we deal with the “fine sounding arguments” that disbelievers use to contradict and undermine the spiritual authority of the Bible? Colossians 2:2-4, 8
It is moral compromise to only partially believe a Biblical truth while also agreeing with a “fine sounding argument” that denies, undermines, or diminishes what the Bible clearly says about a matter. Suppose a parent writes a note to their childcare provider clearly defining what, when, and how to care for their children while they are gone. After the parent’s are gone, can you imagine the caregiver changing the plan without asking the parent’s because they decided that the parent’s did not actually literally mean what they said? In a healthy, thriving family environment, who has the final say for how the child is treated and raised and who is ultimately held responsible for how they raised the child: the parent’s or the childcare provider? The parent’s.
The Bible was given to humanity as a Tutor to lead us into an intimate relationship with God’s Word—Who is a Person named Jesus. When we reject this holy Tutor, we are rejecting it’s Author. But there is no neutral in making this distinction. By rejecting Jesus and undermining His Word, we are accepting another belief system. When we do not hold fast to the Word of Life, we open the door to a spirit of empty religion, which causes spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical instability because it is full of hypocrisy and delusional excuses because there is no real power to transform us into someone better—that is Christ Jesus. Empty Religion merely “holds to a form of godliness but denies the power” of God to change us to become like Him.
2 Timothy 3:5
Empty religion is like the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” cliché since the loudest, most dominating and controlling force demands all the power and attention and establishes the lists of “do’s and don’ts” that best support the ideology of the biggest squeakers. There is no neutral in power struggles. An outside-in, fear-based, control-and-domination rules-and-regulations legal system must fill the void whenever people’s own hearts and consciences cannot hold them to a moral center. When the law written on people’s heart’s becomes seared and jaded, all access to the fruits of the Holy Spirit has closed. Because there is no real love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control that rule the heart and create a safe human environment, laws are put into practice to replace what the Spirit-filled heart is supposed to supply. Galatians 5:16-26
As soldiers of Christ, we “follow the rules of engagement” and bend our knee in gentle submission, holding fast to God’s Word. In doing this, “we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5, 2 Timothy 2:5, Colossians 2:2-4,8, Proverbs 30:5,6, John 14:6, Galatians 4:3
Take for example the increasing number of “fine sounding arguments” concerning the church’s position on the issue of homosexuality. Christian churches must now decide whether or not the Bible is God’s literal word and whether or not they abide by it as their resource for God’s truth about this and other matters. For those of us who hold fast to the word of life and believe that the 66-books of the Bible are the Holy Spirit spoken, trustworthy words of God, we can refer to those scriptures that define human sexuality and abide by God’s commands concerning them. We don’t add to them, redefine them, or subtract from them. We respect that God says what He means and means what He says and because we love Him, we obey Him, knowing and trusting that our Creator’s commands are good for us. Proverbs 30:4-5
So what do the 66 books of God’s gracious word to His created humanity say about human sexual union?God revealed His created design for sexual union when He first created mankind as a “male-female” person named “Adam.” Genesis 2:22-24. By separating the female from out of the male, God solved Adam’s state of “aloneness” by giving him a counterpart; a woman, made in God’s image, who of her own free will, could rejoin herself and come together with her husband in love to conduct a unique, interdependent, collaborative, productive relationship.
The emotional-physical part of coming together in loving passion through sexual union even created new life and innately provided a new life with a holistic male-female, God-like family environment in which the child could grow. A light bulb needs a male-female connection for power to light it up. The original blueprint for human procreation requires a male-female contribution and God’s design made it so the “connecting parts” fit perfectly together as male and female. This design forever reveals God’s original “It is good” plan.
For a time, because the sinful fall of mankind introduced unfavorable human conditions, especially for women, as a form of protection and preservation, some men had multiple wives. Though not the ideal one-man-one-woman marriage, this “workaround” was preferred to the existing alternatives of prostitution, slavery, and homeless wanderings. By the time the Apostle Paul wrote his instructions for church overseers, culture had progressed enough for him to require overseers to return to the ideal setup and to “be the husband of one wife.” 1 Timothy 3:2
Ephesians 5 further elevates the symbolic value of marriage when Paul likens a godly marriage to represent a heavenly one: that is, Jesus Christ as the bridegroom and His devoted first-love followers as His bride. The marriage bed was to remain unadulterated and pure as it was learned that this form of intimacy directly represented Christ’s unadulterated love for His bride and her devoted love for Him. The Holy Spirit also led Paul to write extensively about the sinful consequences of rejecting God’s created design for marriage and human sexual union. Hebrews 13:4, 1 Timothy 1:9-11, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Romans 1: 25-27
And what is a Christian’s gentle, immovable response to Bible-demeaning “fine sounding arguments” about human sexuality? We are to follow Jesus’ example and discern the motive behind the conversation. Is this a discussion where the people involved are truly seeking a greater knowledge of the truth of who God is or is the motive to prove opposing views wrong using “fine sounding arguments” that cause division and striving. It’s all about motive and the overall objective behind the discussion. Discern but don’t condemn. This is how we remain gentle and immovable.
The motive behind what the Bible calls deceptive “fine sounding arguments” is usually to discredit its spiritual authority in order to justify what the Bible calls “sinful actions” so as to eliminate the need for repentance and turning to Jesus for forgiveness or to relate to Him from a position of surrender and reliance.
Some believe the 66-books of the Bible is God’s inerrant word. Some do not. And some hold a fuzzy line and believe parts and pieces of the Bible are God’s word, but not the whole. Most people go through a process in believing that God exists and that the 66 books of the Bible are His literal words to mankind. Once that has been decided, the relationship with God’s word begins and followers of Jesus Christ learn that the Bible contains clear personal guidance to help them grow in their realization of how profoundly God loves them.
Wherever a person is at in that process directly affects where his or her moral compass finds its “true north” and determines how they process and make moral decisions when presented with “fine sounding arguments.” These arguments get their “fine sounding” status because they often capitalize on the tender sides of human nature, such as compassion and justice, but create confusion and hypocrisy because what is “right and wrong” is subject to change. And because “right and wrong” is fuzzy so is its rhetoric.
Empty words are spoken because the speaker has no sound, anchored bearings from which they speak. Truth cannot be divided or split up into hypocrisy. It is whole and complete and imparts peace. All that does not come from truth will not resonate and hit a person’s moral tuning fork within them and thus, its empty words ultimately become subject to enforcement by intimidation rather than peaceful trust.
In stark contrast to morally floppy messengers, Jesus has never spoken an “empty” word? At all times, even while under great duress, Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, either remained silent or only spoke and acted in total and complete, reverent submission to the Father. Just like Jesus, we are to guard the integrity of our words and are to follow the Holy Spirit as we speak or remain silent. Matthew 10:19-20, Hebrews 4:12-13, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Peter 2:1-2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
If we want people to trust the words of Jesus in us, then we must let Him teach us how and when to speak what He is saying. We must overcome the compulsion to “save” people in our own fearful and impatient striving to defend and prove ourselves “more right” in times of dispute. Instead, as we sink into complete gentleness and patience and restfully wait for the Holy Spirit to speak (or not) and simply follow Him. Ephesians 4:2
Referenced Scriptures (New International Version):
Colossians 2:2-4,8 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments [Gr: pithanologia = persuasive speech.]. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world [i.e., worldly principles] rather than on Christ.
Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Galatians 5:16-26 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
2 Timothy 2:5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.
John 14:6 “I [Jesus] am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Galatians 4:3 So also, when we were underage, we were held in bondage under the elemental spiritual forces of the world [i.e. worldly principles held us in bondage].
Proverbs 30:4-5 Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. 6Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.
Genesis 2:22-24 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
1 Timothy 1:9-11 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality [Greek: arsenokoites = a male engaging in same-gender sexual activity], for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.
Romans 1: 25-27 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Matthew 10:19-20 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
2 Peter 1:20-21 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit
2 Peter 2:1-2 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
1 Corinthians 2:13-14 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
Ephesians 4:17-25 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility [Greek: mataiotés = emptiness, unreality, purposelessness, ineffectiveness, instability, frailty; false religion] of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. 20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
Philippians 2:14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain [Gr. kenos].