[April 11]—Putting Yourself Under The Knife

Heb 4:12

            We’ve spent the last few days talking about being accountable and examined by the Lord and fellow believers. Before we get to Daniel, I’d like to share some thoughts about being accountable to his word.
            Now, this next statement might surprise you: There’s no command in Scripture to read the Bible every day. It’s not there. There’s plenty of encouragement and example, but no command. Of course, part of this could be because the vast majority of people in history have been illiterate. I don’t think God could hold people accountable for something they were incapable of doing.
            But if you can read—and since this is a blog, I’d assume you can—then you don’t have an excuse in that department. And if you love the Lord, don’t you want to hear what he has to say to you? Yes, he speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, but not in the concrete, irrefutable way he does through Scripture. Remember, we’re all masters of self-deception, but his word has a way of cutting through the nonsensical excuses we’ve erected, and it’s the Holy Spirit’s main way of speaking to us. If you’re asking for a “word from the Lord” in some mystical experience and haven’t spent time searching the Scriptures, you’re wasting your time.
            So you’ve committed yourself to reading God’s word daily. How can you apply it? Well, if you don’t have anything better, I have a suggestion.
            I can’t take credit for what follows. I don’t know if it was original with them, but I got this pneumonic device from Navigators LifeChange series. When you see a passage of Scripture, ask yourself 5 questions based on the word SPECK.

Is there a SIN I need to avoid? You might read a list of sins in one of the epistles of Paul or others.

Is there a PROMISE I need to claim? Now, we need to sound a note of caution here. Just because you read a promise that the Lord made to a particular person or group (especially Israel in the O.T.) doesn't necessarily mean that the promise directly applied to you. For example, I've heard people quote Ex. 14:13-14 before when they're encountering daunting opposition from our Adversary: "“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Do we take that promise literally for every situation in which we're encountering opposition? But what about the times in which we're told to "stand and fight" against an opponent? I mean, 3 chapters later, Moses commanded Joshua to "go out and fight with Amalek," which certainly did not entail just sitting down and watching the Lord slaughter his enemies directly, as he did at the Red Sea. We need discernment to distinguish between promises which the Lord made to a certain person/group, vs. promises which he's made to all of his children, especially to those of us under his New Covenant. 

Having said that, your Savior has “great and precious promises” for you in his love letter to you. He'll never leave you nor forsake you. He'll take care of all your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus. He forgives your sins and remembers them no more. He has a home he’s preparing for us, and he’s coming back to take us there.

Is there an EXAMPLE  I need to follow or avoid? As I’ve mentioned before, it seems like the purpose some people have on this planet is to provide a negative example for us to avoid. Even the best of us--apart from Christ--have failures on our record, and the Bible’s excruciatingly blunt about the failures of its heroes. But having said that, there’s plenty in there for us to look at and say “I want to be like that!” Or you might say “Man, I sure don’t want to end up like him!”

Is there a COMMAND I need to obey? Same note of caution applies here as re: promises: There are commands which the Lord gave to certain individuals/groups at certain times which are not directly applicable to us today. For example, when Naaman came to the prophet Elisha to be healed of his leprosy, the prophet instructed him to "“Go and wash in the Jordan seven times." So if we have leprosy or some other skin disease/condition, is that what we're supposed to do? 

Of course, there are universal commands for God's people, such as "Do not commit adultery," or "Go...make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Again, we need some discernment here. 

BTW, for some really good articles on discernment and how to take promises and commands within their context, see this and this article. 

How does this passage increase my KNOWLEDGE about him? Quite frankly, I think this gets downplayed way too much among modern Christians. We emphasize so much that each of us needs a personal relationship with Christ, that it’s not enough to know things about him. And there’s a lot of truth in that. James tells us that the demons believe in God. They know very well the relevant facts about him. But they don’t know him personally.
            But along with that, we also need to know certain facts about our Lord. There are certain things which are true about him and other things which are not true, and it’s vitally important that we take extreme care in our thinking about him. Just like good theology, bad theology doesn’t stay by itself for long. Sloppy thinking about God does not honor him.
            Anyway, that’s a nice little device I read some time ago which is a good place to start. If you have a study method that works for you, then more power to you. May his word continually be a scalpel in the Spirit’s surgical hand: Cutting away the parts of us which don’t look like Jesus, and healing where he cuts.

Yes, Holy Spirit, that’s what I want. I don’t want to examine your word so much as I want your word to examine me. Please. 

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