Simplicity in Christ and Checklist Christianity

Monday, October 25th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3

Satan can corrupt our minds from the simplicity that is in Christ. What is the simplicity that is in Christ? To find the answer, we must back up one chapter to get the immediate context of this verse.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s. For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters. For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present. For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 2 Corinthians 10:3-12

Look at what the context addresses:

  1. Verse 3 states we do not war after the flesh.
  2. Verse 4 tells us our weapons are not carnal.
  3. Verse 5 says to cast down high things (what man thinks are righteous & holy) that exalt against the knowledge of God. What man considers to be righteous and holy, God does not. Men will consider certain things as righteous, but God sees them as filthy rags.
  4. Verse 7 questions why we would look at the outward appearance – how things appear. Do you base your decisions on how they appear to others?
  5. Verse 12 points out that comparing ourselves to others is not wise. Do you think your standards are higher/better than the standards of others? Do you think others need to be following more rules like you do? Do you think that others who do not keep as many standards are lesser Christians or even lost?

As you can see, Paul is warning against trying to appear righteous by fleshly means – by trying to look righteous in the eyes of men. Let us look at the example Paul mentioned: Eve.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. Genesis 3:1-3

Did you see what Eve did? She added an extra rule (neither shall ye touch it) to what God commanded (Do not eat). Did Eve think adding a rule to God’s rule would make her more righteous? It was through this that Satan beguiled Eve, and was able to get Eve to follow in Satan’s sin, and corrupted Eve’s mind from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Satan was full of pride and tried to exalt himself to God’s place. Eve added a rule, was beguiled by Satan, and became full of pride wanting to be like God (knowing good and evil). When you add your rules as a measure of righteousness and holiness, you are full of pride, exalting yourself to God’s place, and your mind is corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

It is time to return to the simplicity that is Christ. That is not found in a checklist of rules and standards that you follow. The rules and standards God gave us are enough.

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by gahammerle

Appearance of evil

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22

This verse is often used to discourage Christians from doing anything that might appear sinful to another person. For example, going to movies is discouraged because someone seeing you go into the movie house might assume you are going to watch the R-rated movie rather than the G-rated movie. Also, drinking root beer from a brown bottle tucked inside a paper bag is discouraged because someone might think you are drinking beer. These are some of the things I’ve heard this verse used to discourage.

I’ve also often heard there is a distinction between the words evil and wicked. Wicked is sin, but evil is sin with harm’s intent. In other words, all sin is wicked, but it is only evil when you intend to harm another. If I get angry and throw a plate against a wall, that is wicked. If I get angry and throw the plate at the person who raised my ire, that is evil. I’m not going to debate that distinction here, but I want to apply that distinction to the verse above. If evil really means sin with harm’s intent, then the verse above cannot be used to discourage movie house attendance or root beer drinking, because those activities are not done with the intent to harm someone. If we are to be consistent in our theology, then we cannot teach the distinction between wicked and evil and also use the verse above to discourage activities based on how someone may perceive them. That would be inconsistent and confusing.

For a better understanding of what the verse really means, read The Real Meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:22.

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by gahammerle

Christians need the gospel

Sunday, April 18th, 2010 at 10:14 pm

To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. Romans 1:7-8

So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. Romans 1:15

Many Christians mistakenly believe that the gospel is just for the lost – once a person is saved, they move on from the gospel and learn Christian doctrines and practices. But notice what Paul said when he wrote to those in Rome. In verses 7 & 8, we see Paul is writing to believers – to those who already have faith. Then in verse 15, Paul says he is ready to preach the gospel to them. If the gospel is for unbelievers, why would Paul want to preach the gospel to them? Does he think they are false professors – pretending to be Christians? No, he says their faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. So why would Paul preach the gospel to believers? The answer is simple:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

The gospel is the power of God. It is the power of God to save. It is the power of God to transform a life. It is the power of God to conform us to the image of his son.

The entire Bible is about the person and work of Christ. The gospel is about the person and work of Christ. A sermon taken from scripture that only presents the do’s and don’ts without showing the relationship to the person and work of Christ is not a Christian sermon. It may be given by a Christian and directed towards Christians, but if it is not preaching the gospel as the power of God, it is not a Christ-centered sermon. The life a Christian should live is grounded and nourished by the person and work of Christ. Don’t just tack on a simple gospel presentation at the end of the message. The whole message should be the gospel.

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by gahammerle

A different kind of fool

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 at 10:47 pm

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 2 Corinthians 10:12

Paul says it is not wise – in other words, foolish – to compare yourself to another man. When you make statements comparing yourself to another man in order to say that you are better, you are being a fool. When you say things like “I don’t attack others like some do,” you are making a foolish statement. When you try to prop up yourself by comparing your dress standards to another’s, you are acting foolishly. It is foolish to look down on another church because they do things differently than yours does. I’ve heard it – “well, that church has drums” or “that church puts its songs up on a big screen.” Those are foolish statements. It reminds of this fellow:

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 18:9-14

Don’t be a fool. Look unto Jesus. Compare yourself to him. You will quickly see that you are not all that. You will quickly see that all of us are in the same state and that only in Christ are we made acceptable. It is nothing we do, but what he has done.

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by gahammerle

Some thoughts on love

Saturday, February 13th, 2010 at 9:00 pm

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrews 12:6-11

Many people think when you love someone, you overlook and ignore their mistakes. However, scripture makes it clear that God chastens those whom he loves. When someone God loves makes a mistake, he chastens them. Many people also mistakenly believe that chastening simply means a punishment – a spanking. Chastening can involve a punishment, but it is more than that.

Chastening involves correction and discipline – instruction that involves pointing out the mistake made as well as how to avoid making the same mistake again. Discipline is not a spanking. Discipline involves discipling. Let me use the illustration of a basketball player. Basketball practices can be grueling events – events that at the moment do not appear to be joyous, but grievous. But afterward, all that practice – all that discipline – pays off during the game as the basketball player properly executes when dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding, defending, etc. The player was disciplined to perform properly. The player didn’t receive a spanking – he received instruction and correction.

When you love someone and see that person make a mistake, it is not loving to ignore it. It is an act of love to point out the mistake and help the person change so he or she does not make the same mistake again.

The same goes for loving a church. Oftentimes, if a person draws attention to something wrong in the church, that person is labeled as a complainer or a drama queen. He is told he doesn’t love the church like he should. People would just rather have the problem swept under the rug and ignored. Those that would rather ignore the problem and pretend it doesn’t exist are really the ones who don’t love the church as they should. The one who draws attention to the problem in hopes of having the problem corrected is the one demonstrating love.

Look at what Christ said to the churches in the first few chapters of Revelation. He drew attention to the problems and gave them instruction to correct those problems. He didn’t ignore them. He didn’t just hope the problem would go away. He didn’t sweep them under a rug. He shined a light on the problem.

We need people to love the church. We need to shine lights on the problems and try to correct them. It is what Jesus instructed us to do.

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by gahammerle

Feed my sheep

Thursday, February 11th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. John 21:17

Let’s take a look at the last 3 words of this verse.


Jesus said to feed his sheep. He didn’t say just give them a little taste or just whet their appetite. Jesus wanted his sheep fed. He wanted them nourished. A little snack or whetting of the appetite won’t do.


The sheep belong to Jesus. They do not belong to a man. Those entrusted to care for the sheep need to remember that the sheep belong to someone else.


Sheep are the believers, not unbelievers. The feeding is for the believers. The feeding should not be geared for unbelievers. Jesus wants a meal prepared for his sheep.

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by gahammerle

Search the scriptures

Thursday, December 31st, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. John 5:39

In this passage, Jesus was addressing the legalistic Jews. The sense of the passage isn’t just dealing with salvation, but with future blessings. The Jews used the scriptures as a means to receiving blessings. They studied and searched the scriptures to find things they should and should not do in order to receive blessings. They treated the scriptures as a way to get their best life, to have better marriages, to have better children, to have more influence, to have better finances. This is how scriptures are frequently handled today. We look for ways to receive blessings, to improve our lives, to have our best life now.

Jesus corrected their (and our) misuse of the scripture. Jesus said the scriptures were a testimony about him. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus explained to some disciples how all the scriptures spoke of him. We need to study and search the scriptures to learn what they say of Christ. In this world, we are going to suffer. We will not have perfect marriages. We will not have perfect children. We will not have perfect jobs. We will have financial problems. We will have health problems. We will have relationship problems. Does this mean we will have unhappy lives? No! Paul said he learned to be content in whatever state he was. When Christ is our hope, we can be content no matter what we face in this life. We have joy unspeakable.

Search the scriptures, not to find a means to a blessing, but that you may know him, and the power of his resurrection. God never promised our best life now. This is a sin-cursed world. Our hope is in the resurrection unto eternal life. The scriptures testify of the person and work of Christ – how he made it possible to be part of that resurrection.

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by gahammerle

Disannulling the promise of God

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 at 11:37 pm

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. Genesis 12:1-3

Here we see the promise that God made to Abram (later called Abraham). The promise included making a great nation from Abram’s offspring, blessing Abram, making his name great, and blessing the entire population of the earth through Abram. In verse 4, we see that Abram left and headed to the land where God sent him. But notice what happens in verse 10: there was a famine. How did Abram respond to this trial? Did he rest in God’s promise? No, he took matters into his own hands. Instead of trusting that God could fulfill the promise in spite of the famine, Abram left the land God had promised him and went to Egypt. When he came to Egypt, he told his wife to lie about who she was so that Pharaoh would not harm Abram. Pharaoh then took Abram’s wife into his house and in verse 17 we see that Pharaoh’s house suffered a great plague because of Abram’s wife.

Because Abram did not rest on the promise of God but rather took matters into his own hands, he nearly disannulled the promise of God. Abram nearly lost his wife to Pharaoh which would have meant Abram would not have had any descendants that would make a great nation. He left the promised land and risked losing it by leaving it behind. And finally, rather than being a blessing to all families, he became a great plague to Pharaoh’s house.

Are you resting in God’s promise? Or are you taking matters into your hands? Do you wait on the Lord when faced with trials or do you try to solve your problems on your own? We will face trials and tribulations, but God’s promise stands sure.

God’s promise to Abram was unconditional which means that even though Abram tried to mess it up, God was faithful and kept his promise. No matter what Abram did or tried to do, God would keep his promise. God’s promise to us is unconditional. No matter what we do, he is faithful and merciful to keep his promise. We cannot disannul the promise of God.

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by gahammerle

Rightly dividing the word

Saturday, November 21st, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

We are told to study. The end result of this study is that we rightly divide the word of God. Implicit in this is that it is possible to wrongly divide the word. We see that Satan wrongly divides the word in Matthew 4. Peter tells us that some wrest the scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). Cults twist scripture to make it say things it does not say. We need to be diligent in our studies so that we do not mishandle and misuse the word of God.

So what does it mean to rightly divide the word of God? Rightly dividing the word of God means the scriptures are used to convey the message that God wants to convey. We have to study to discover that message. Studying is more than using a computer program to find verses that use the same (or similar) word or phrase and then stringing those verses together. Studying is more than using a concordance or reference Bible to find related passages. To rightly divide the word we must answer a very big question: what is the purpose of the passage? Why did God include the passage in the scriptures? What message did God intend to convey with the passage? Many times, a preacher will come up with points he wants to convey and then searches for scriptures that seem to support his points. That is going about the study the wrong way. We must study the passage and discover the points that God is making in the passage – we must start with scripture and get the points contained in the scripture. Starting with points and then looking for scripture is only conveying the message the man wants to convey, not the message God wants to convey.

For instance, a preacher may want to preach a message about diligence – how we should be diligent. Now, being diligent is great and we should be diligent – I’m not arguing against that. But if you want to preach God’s message about being diligent, that message should be gleaned from a passage that God intended to teach us about diligence. It should not just look for examples of diligence and use those verses as props. We should not use the prodigal son’s older brother (Luke 15) in a message about encouraging Christians to be diligent. If you look at the purpose of that passage – why God included it in scripture, it is not to teach us about diligence. Even though the older brother was diligent in working for his father, that is not the lesson God wanted us to learn from the parable. The older brother represented the self-righteous Pharisees who Jesus was calling to repentance. The purpose of that passage was to let the self-righteous know they still needed to repent and have faith.

I have heard at least 4 people hold the older brother up as example to follow. That is wrongly dividing the word. When Jesus told that parable, he was not holding the older brother up as a model to follow. The purpose of the passage was a call to repentance. Using the older brother as an example of diligence is wresting the scriptures to the destruction of the hearers. It is missing the whole point of the parable. We do not need more people following the example of the Pharisees – the older brother. Our churches are already full of the self-righteous.

The Bible is a large book which means there are ample places to find a verse that can be twisted and misused. We need to be careful how we handle the word. We need to be careful in our study of the word. There are plenty of false religions and cults that practice false doctrine because they do not rightly divide the word of God. If we are trying to make a point and find a verse that seems to support our point, we need to be very careful to make sure that is the point God intended to make with that verse. If we are not careful, false doctrine creeps in and false practices are soon to follow.

Preach the word, but preach it rightly. And to do that, you need to study. Study to find the message God wants to preach from the passage. Don’t study to find passages to support your message. Our doctrine and our practice depends upon it.

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by gahammerle

Respecter of persons

Friday, November 6th, 2009 at 9:14 pm

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. James 2:8-9

Sometimes in a church, cliques or other groups form. People get treated one way if they are part of one family or group and others outside of that family or group get treated another way. That is being a respecter of persons. It is sinful and needs to be rooted out. The church is a family unit. We are members one of another. We should not show partiality to one group over another. We are to love all. The world will know we are disciples by our love for one another. When you mistreat a person because that person is not a member of the right family or group, you are not showing you are disciple of Christ.

Do you show respect of persons? Do you treat members of one family or group better than you treat others? It is time to stop sinning. Love thy neighbour as thyself.

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by gahammerle