Murders #1577

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matthew 15:19, NKJV)

Murder is the outward display of a heart full of malice and hatred. The first recorded murder sprang from the angry heart of Cain, who hated his brother Abel (Genesis 4:4-8; 1 John 3:11-15). While the outward results of hatred versus murder are usually quite different, the sin of hatred is just as evil. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:14-15). Both the slaying of an innocent person (murder) and hatred of a brother produce spiritual death. Cultivating love for one’s neighbor guards against the sin of hatred as well as the ultimate acting out of that hatred – murder. “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).

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Evil Thoughts #1576

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matthew 15:19, NKJV)

All sin proceeds from the heart. So, Jesus teaches us to cleanse our hearts to be pure (Matthew 15:1-9, 18). It is not coincidental the Lord begins this catalog of sins come from the heart with “evil thoughts.” Evil thoughts are the reasonings and contemplations that lead to sinful conduct. The heart considers evil before committing evil. It is this contemplation of evil in the heart that is condemned here. We are not to entertain the thought of evil, much less do the evil we contemplate. This is not the way the world thinks about sin. Many people say, “No harm, no foul,” as if only doing the evil is wrong. But, the Son of God said evil thoughts harm us and our standing with God. For instance, Jesus said to look at a woman to lust after her is to already commit adultery with her in one’s heart (Matthew 5:28). It is the pure in heart who shall see God (Matthew 5:8). So, purify the thoughts of your heart of every lust, covetousness, deceit, bitterness, vengeance, partiality and all other evil thinking that leads to sinful conduct (James 4:8). We must singularly devote our thoughts to the things of God.

The Ear Tests Words #1575

1 Elihu further answered and said: 2 “Hear my words, you wise men; Give ear to me, you who have knowledge. 3 For the ear tests words as the palate tastes food. 4 Let us choose justice for ourselves; Let us know among ourselves what is good.”  (Job 34:1–4, NKJV)

The young man Elihu had listened while Job’s friends charged Job with having committed grievous sins for which God was punishing him with great suffering. He listened as Job justified himself rather than God. Then, Elihu spoke words of wisdom by the spirit God gave him (Job 32:1-14). Elihu challenged these men to listen to his words and test them so as to obtain true wisdom and justice. Like them, we must test the words we hear people speak. Are they true or false? Good or evil? Just as our palate tastes food and distinguishes flavors, so we must test what we hear according to knowledge. The question is, what knowledge base are we using to test what we hear? Is it the truth of God’s word and wisdom, or is it the word and wisdom of men (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)? We are not our own source of knowledge; We have all been educated by someone or something. We must educate ourselves with the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Read it, study it, and learn it – not to pridefully boost of your knowledge, but to humbly submit to the will of Almighty God. His truth frees us from sin and equips us “know among ourselves what is good” (John 8:31-32).

Conduct Worthy of the Gospel #1574

27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. (Philippians 1:27–28, NKJV)

Would you change your conduct if you knew an apostle was coming to see you? What if you knew he would hear about your conduct? Of course, God knows our conduct at all times. So, our lives must always be worthy of the gospel of Christ. Worthy conduct is defined here as “standing fast in one spirit,” as well as “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Conduct worthy of the gospel involves faithful steadfastness in the face of spiritual adversity. It also involves our united effort with fellow Christians in contending for the faith (Jude 3). When we are faithful to the gospel of Christ we are not terrified by the opponents of the faith. How can we be confident in the face of adversity? By trusting that God will execute righteous judgment upon every adversary of Christ and His church (Romans 2:5-6). Salvation is sure to those whose conduct is worthy of the gospel. Be sure that describes you today and every day.

“The Law Was Our Tutor” #1573

24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Galatians 3:24–25, NKJV)

The law of which Paul speaks in today’s passage is the Law of Moses (Galatians 3:17-23). A fundamental purpose of the law given to Israel at Sinai was to tutor Israel to bring them to Christ. Just as a tutor was the guardian in a household who was responsible for the care and discipline of the children, the law was responsible for disciplining Israel about sin while emphasizing their need for redemption. However, the law of Moses could not save the lost (Hebrews 10:1-4). It was never designed to be man’s way of salvation (Galatians 3:21-22; Romans 3:20). When “faith” came, that is, when the gospel was preached, the need for the tutor – the Law of Moses – ended. No one is under the Law of Moses today. We are all under the gospel of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Hebrews 1:1-2). Every attempt to bind any portion of the Law of Moses on folks today fails to respect the saving power of the gospel. The Law of Moses could never save sinners, and it still cannot do so. Only the gospel of Christ has the power to save the lost (Romans 1:16-17).

The Spirit’s Testimony #1572

26 But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning. (John 15:26–27, NKJV)

Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to His apostles to be a Helper, a Comforter, after He left this world (John 14:16-18). He fulfilled His promise to them (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4, 33). The Holy Spirit has given powerful testimony of Jesus Christ to the world. By His miraculous revelation, inspiration and confirmation, the Spirit of truth bears witness of the gospel of Christ through the apostles He empowered (Acts 1:8). The testimony borne by the Spirit of truth is not a personal impulse, feeling or revelation uniquely given as personal experiences to each individual. His testimony is the gospel He gave the apostles which they preached to the world (Jno. 14:25-26; 16:8-13). To refuse their word for a personal testimony that contradicts the Spirit’s testimony in Scripture is spiritually destructive: “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Hebrews 2:3-4) The New Testament is the Spirit’s testimony to the world. What a comfort the Comforter has given us!

“If You Love Me” #1571

If you love Me, keep My commandments. (John 14:15, NKJV)

It’s easy to love a child in a manger. But, on this day when the religious world long ago decided to have a holy day in honor of the birth of Jesus (a holiday, by the way, never commanded in the Scriptures and never celebrated by the New Testament church), the Child who was given to the world challenges the world with these words spoken by Him over 30 years after He was in the manger. Keeping the commands of Jesus is the essence of loving Him, because it puts His will and His purposes before our own. His will is superior to ours, and so, in faith we obey His word instead of our own wisdom and wishes. Love Jesus by keeping His commands. Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:21). That is the love we must have for Jesus every day.