“And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:37, NKJV)
Spiritual watchfulness is a consistent theme of Bible. “Take heed” is used dozens of times (to beware, to look, to pay close attention, BDAG, 179), and “watch” is used dozens more. Jesus warned His disciples to “take heed” for the approach of divine judgment against Jerusalem, to avoid being deceived, and to be ready to flee (Mark 13:14-23; Matthew 23:3-5). To be watchful about spiritual things requires being alert; the watchman who sleeps is useless (Isaiah 56:10). Spiritual watchfulness requires soberness; the self-control that comes from clear-headed thinking. Worldly distractions are intoxicating, and destroy our ability to “watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6). Spiritual watchfulness must be coupled with prayer. “Take heed, watch and pray” is Christ’s exhortation to be prepared for judgment, and to avoid sin (Mark 13:33; Matthew 26:41). Spiritual watchfulness means always being ready: 1) For the Lord’s day of judgment (Matthew 24:42-44); 2) To resist the devil and escape sin (1 Peter 5:8; Luke 21:34-36); 3) To fulfill your God-given work (2 Timothy 4:5); and 4) To stand fast in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13). We desperately need the Lord’s constant reminder to “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13). Here’s why: Only those who are ready will enter eternal life (Matthew 25:10).
15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15–17, NKJV)
Jesus Christ is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And, He is also the One whose wrath was poured out upon the persecutors of the early saints, to whom the book of Revelation gave assurance in the midst of tribulation (Revelation 1:1-3, 7). His day of judgment against wickedness is “the great day of His wrath.” Those who fight against God, His purposes and His people prefer the mountains and rocks to fall on them, to hide them from the fierceness of His wrath; yet, there is no relief; there is no escape. The great day of the Lord is coming, and when He returns, the material world will melt with fervent fire (2 Peter 3:10-14). Only those who are saved by the blood of the Lamb will stand in that day (John 5:26-29). When it comes, will it be your day of salvation, or your day of wrath? You decide. Obey the gospel, and be saved by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 5:6-12).
10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:10–11, NKJV)
Satan has devices, and we must understand them. If we fail to do so, he will take advantage of us, and lead us into sin. The word “devices” speaks more to the thinking, plans and purposes of the devil, than to the methods or tactics he uses to accomplish those plans (concerning his methods, see Ephesians 6:11). One of his purposes is to undermine peace and unity among Christians. Here, Paul identifies this device of Satan as an unwillingness to forgive a fellow Christian who has repented of his sins. The devil’s purpose is served when Christians are unwilling to reaffirm their love for a fallen Christian who is restored to Christ (2 Corinthians 2:8). When a fallen Christian is disciplined by the church, and brought to repentance, the devil will attempt to use this wonderful blessing to execute his disruptive plan. He tempts Christians to harbor ill will, bitterness and doubt toward the sinner to such an extent that, instead of confirming our love for him, some take a “hands off,” “wait and see” attitude before forgiving him. Such an approach prevents genuine forgiveness. It is not how Christ forgave us (Ephesians 5:31-32). It is a device of Satan; it is sin. We know how he thinks. Do not let him take advantage of you. He seeks your destruction.
1 To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. 3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. (Psalm 25:1–3, NKJV)
David praised God with his whole being. God, who breathed into man the breath of life, is the one to whom we (like David) now present our entire being, both to praise Him, and to devote ourselves to His purposes. Faith in God compels us to offer our lives to Him. We trust Him with our lives, as we give ourselves to serving His purposes. God assures us that our faith is the victory that overcomes the world and its enemies of righteousness (1 John 5:4). Although life brings trials, they are only temporary. We keep our hope set on the Lord, and wait on His justice (see 2 Thessalonians 1:3-8). The enemies of holiness will be confounded, and reduced to shame, for fighting against God and His people. But, those who live by faith will not be brought to shame, but to eternal glory.
Then He arose from there and came to the region of Judea by the other side of the Jordan. And multitudes gathered to Him again, and as He was accustomed, He taught them again. (Mark 10:1, NKJV)
There is value in repetition. In elementary school, my classmates and I memorized and repeated the alphabet, the multiplication table, the U. S. states and their capitals, and many more such things. Good teachers do not teach something only one time. They teach, they review what has been taught, and they test their students on the lesson. Whenever the multitudes gathered around Jesus, His habit was to teach them “again.” He repeatedly taught His apostles of His approaching death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; 9:31-32). We should not be yearning for some “new thing” when it comes to gospel teaching, because its message is the same today as it was in the first century. What we yearn for is to hear the same message again and again. Repeatedly teaching the truth of the gospel is for our spiritual safety (Philippians 3:1). By its repetition, we remain strengthened and resolute in the face of life’s trials and temptations (2 Peter 1:12-15). You may have heard the gospel over and over. But remember, someone is hearing it for the first time. May we never grow weary of hearing God’s word taught again, and again, and again.
“Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.” (Proverbs 28:7, NKJV)
Parents want to be proud of their children. Christian fathers (and mothers) endeavor to bring up their children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The wise child knows the value of this parental training, and shows his discernment by keeping the law of God which he has been taught. Conversely, the son who chooses to share his life with those who indulge in riotous excess, shames his father. Sin always brings shame, not honor. That truth was on display in Eden, and continues to be so whenever we choose sin over the will of God (Genesis 3:7-10). Children who run headlong into sin not only shame themselves, but also their parents (and others who love them). “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother” (Proverbs 10:1). Teach your child to be wise in what is good, and to turn away from evil. Every child, thus taught, must choose to keep God’s will. Wisdom to do so begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10). Making this wise choice will bring joy to your father’s heart: “Whoever loves wisdom makes his father rejoice, but a companion of harlots wastes his wealth” (Proverbs 29:3). Unquestionably, your obedience to God honors your father and mother (Ephesians 6:1-2).
16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, 18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16–18, NKJV)
False teaching is not benign. It leads to harmful spiritual effects upon its teachers, those who follow them, and those influenced by the followers (2 Pet. 2:1-2). Yet, some will tell us that false doctrine is really a non-issue. They say things like, “everybody is in error on something;” or, “nobody is 100% doctrinally pure.” Their solution is agreeing to disagree on revealed truth. That is not the Bible solution (1 Corinthians 1:10). Today’s passage exposes and explodes this false reasoning about false teaching. First, false teaching is identifiable. Some messages are indeed profane and empty, infecting and destroying souls (v. 16). These stand in contrast with “the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Second, error leads to ungodliness (v. 16). False teaching is sin. Third, error leads to more error. It spreads. Someone said, “Error does not stand still. It continues to work.” Unopposed, it spreads like cancer (v. 17). Fourth, false messages leas to overthrowing faith (v. 18). It does matter what you believe. Fifth, false messages lead to strife (2 Timothy 2:23). Avoid error. Do not begin to listen to it, or receive those who teach it (2 John 10-11). It leads you away from the truth, and straight into iniquity (2 Timothy 2:18-19).
6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Mark 7:6–7, NKJV)
The hypocrisy of Israel was reaching its zenith in the days of Isaiah (Isaiah 29:13-14). Israel gave Jehovah lip service, while serving idols, and demanding their own teachings be regarded as divine truth. This verse gives us God’s definition of a hypocritical heart: While saying one honors God, he elevates his own will above the will of the Almighty. Hypocrisy is pretense, pretending to be what one is not. The Greek word was applied to the actor who wore a mask, pretending to be a character in a drama. Christ applied this term to the Pharisees and scribes of His day. Their words honored God, but their hearts were given over to the commandments of men. The Jews had codified their oral traditions (the Mishnah). These men whom Jesus rebuked judged a violation of their traditions to be a violation of God’s law (see Mark 7:8-9). We must avoid accepting human traditions as if they are the will of God, lest we join hands with the hypocrites of Christ’s day. Revealed truth, not the traditions of men, must guide our hearts and our deeds. Otherwise, our worship will be vain.
“And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34, NKJV)
Teaching the gospel to the lost is an act of compassion. We do not accept the judgment that clear, decisive teaching to sinners about their sin and salvation “runs people off” and “hurts people’s feelings.” We should notice this verse occurs on the day Jesus fed 5000 men with five loaves and two fish (Mark 6:35-44). Jesus did not feed the people to gather an audience. His first act of compassion upon seeing the crowd was to “teach them many things.” At the end of the day, when the teaching was over, Jesus challenged His disciples to feed the crowd (Mark 6:35-38). His miraculous feeding of the multitude met a temporary need of the body. The gospel satisfies the eternal need of the soul. Instead of offering food in an attempt to get people interested in the gospel, let us be moved by the compassion Christ, and feed their souls with the life-giving gospel of God. We are not showing compassion when we remain silent, instead of teaching the gospel to the lost. We will be held accountable for such lack of compassion (Acts 20:26-27).