This is the second in a series addressing those who profess Christ and consider themselves Americans first and foremost. The point of this series is to educate everyone (not just born-again believers) on what the Scripture actually states concerning a proper attitude toward authority and toward those around us, both the froward and the good. As always, my prayer is that everyone learn what is the heart and mind of the LORD God. — In Christ, Paul W. Davis
In looking at anything in Scripture, there must be a place to begin. With any subject in Scripture (or anything else for that matter) where you begin has a very great impact upon where you will end up, what conclusions you draw, and determinations you make concerning what is written. In short, where you begin is going to seriously affect your interpretation of Scripture. Thus, where we begin will also determine whether we are right or wrong before the LORD — and subsequently, whether we are in or out of the will of the LORD God. Additionally, the standard for saying what we say and doing what we do is not how men view us, our preaching, teaching, and our actions. Rather, it is whether the LORD God accepts what we say as being consistent with His word.1
Before we can make an accurate determination of whether it is right or not to call for the LORD God to slay someone and cast them into Hell for their behavior, we need to first establish what our own attitude and behavior ought to be. Now, I do not find Psalm 58 a proper place to begin to establish what our attitude and heart toward others ought to be. Why? Primarily because it is addressed to the wicked, and is a dissertation on judgement of the wicked. In short, it does not address the born-again child of God, and that child’s attitude and heart. To take it as an example of how one should set their heart and mind toward others is more than just a bit one-sided, and not balanced.
Thus, in beginning this examination of the Believer’s heart and mind and how it should be, we ought understand first that the LORD has already addressed in His word every situation we will ever encounter. Second, we should seek for a passage that does address a Believer’s heart, attitude, and behavior directly. Thus, we could understand from that point on, what the LORD God expects of us — His children. In addressing the Believer’s heart and mind (and thus attitude and behavior), I find in Scripture the following admonition with regard to the Believer’s interaction with this world:
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
Now, this admonition came as part of the instruction the Lord Jesus Christ gave to the twelve when He sent them out to preach the Gospel. . . .
Hmmm . . .
And just what were we left here for after we were born-again . . .?
Aside from the fact that calling for the LORD God to slay someone and cast them into Hell goes far beyond the bounds of being “harmless as doves,” there is the larger, more fundamental issue of the Believer’s relationship with, and to, the world. Without establishing that relationship, the above admonition sits without a context to give it the full import and sense the LORD intended. Therefore, let us establish firmly what relationship the Believer has with this world and the people in it, beginning with te following definitive passage from I Peter:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. (I Peter 2:9-12)
Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:12-16)
I think the words “strangers,” and “pilgrims,” along with the phrases “a royal priesthood,” “an holy nation,” and “a peculiar people” ought to just stand out, especially since the idea of being a stranger and pilgrim is entirely foreign (no pun intended) to our basic nature, and also since the phrases speak of a people who are entirely different in the focus of their lives. Moreover, in the passage from Hebrews, Chapter 11, we are told that the heroes of the faith in the Old Testament sought an heavenly country, and had no desire to return to the country from whence they came. . .
To be continued . . .
- There is a word of warning here in case those who do not know, neither acknowledge the LORD God, think this is somehow a pass to preach and teach wrongly. The word of warning in Scripture is this:
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19-20)
Therefore, be forewarned — there is a very heavy price to pay for being wrong when you teach and preach the word of the LORD.↩