17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18)
The harsh reality is that not everyone has pure motives behind their words. Those who teach God’s word may yield to the unholy motive of self-interest as surely as anyone else. When teaching does not conform to the Scriptures it will cause division and occasions of stumbling; souls are harmed! The apostle Paul says to identify them and turn away from those whose teaching is false. Keep pure motives and teach God’s word – and be ready to correct any error so that truth and unity with God and fellow-Christians prevails.
He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes that had young He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands. (Psalm 78:70-72)
From his youth, David had skillfully guarded and guided his father’s sheep. God took David from the flocks and made him king to shepherd His people Israel. He did so with an upright heart and with careful skill. David is a shadow of the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep – Jesus (Jno. 10:11). He knows His sheep and His sheep hear His voice and follow Him to eternal life (Jno. 10:14, 27-28). We had gone astray in sin, “but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls (1 Pet. 2:25). Now saved in Christ, it is our duty to listen to His voice and follow Him. Thank God we have such a “Chief Shepherd” (1 Pet. 5:4)!
Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16)
Why would God’s people refuse to walk in God’s good path of truth and holiness and have rest for their souls? I suppose the answer is obvious; Sin is attractive, alluring and appealing as lures souls to eternal death. Judah was being deceived by her priests and prophets with superficial messages of “Peace, peace!” when there was no peace to be found; in their sin they were at war with God! (Jer. 6:13-14) Instead of being ashamed, Judah flaunted her sins before the Lord. There is nothing left but punishment for a rebellious people who refuse God’s path of truth (Jer. 6:15). Be careful to walk the “old paths” set before you in God’s word. In the “good way” you will find the rest for your soul that Jesus gives (Matt. 11:28-30).
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2)
Around the world, Christians live under all sorts of rulers. Some are beneficent, others are despots. Disciples are affected by how their rulers choose to exercise their authority. As citizens of the kingdom of heaven we pray for all who are in authority, that their decisions may allow us to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Tim. 2:2). Pray for peace. Pray for our leaders. Be faithful and true to the Lord whether you are ruled by a righteous person or by a wicked person.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
The threat of false teaching is as old as the garden of Eden, when the serpent lied to Eve, tempting her to sin against God by violating His word. The apostle John strenuously cautions us not to believe every one professing to bring the spirit of Christ. Jesus Himself warned of false prophets – describing them as ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15). Put every teaching to the test by comparing it to what the apostles of Christ taught. John explains: “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 Jno. 4:6). Test everything you are taught by the apostles’ teaching, the New Testament. If it does not agree with the Scriptures, do not believe it. It is the devil’s lie.
1 Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psalm 73:1-3)
God’s goodness toward the pure in heart is a tonic of prevention against envying the wicked. Seeing the prosperity of wicked people can tempt Christians to believe the benefit of sin is greater than the blessings of faithfulness to God. But, the prosperity of the wicked is only temporary, and afterwards comes destruction (Psa. 73:17-20). Keep your spiritual footing by learning to be content. Do that by trusting the Lord and following God’s word: “You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psa. 73:24).
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)
Have you ever sat on the edge of your seat to get a better view of some event? God is on the edge of His seat, leaning forward to observe all the actions of men and women. Never sleeping, He beholds everything that is good (read Psalm 121:3-4). This greatly comforts all who put their faith in Him and do His will. On the other hand, there is no evil that escapes His sight. This should cause fear and godly sorrow leading to repentance in all who sin against the Almighty. What will God see in you today – the evil or the good?