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Living the Truth

December 8, 2015

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Living The Truth

Back in 1997,  I wrote an article  about living the truth  that we Christians claim  to believe.     It is pertinent  this time of year,  so here it is.     You can copy,  print,  and share this  to your heart’s content.     Thank you  for giving reference  to the source  of this post  in doing so.

Living the Truth…

Every day  Christians take a witness stand  for Christ  to tell the truth, the whole truth,  and nothing but the truth.     Anxious to remain  in the truth,  we continually remember  how Jesus suffered and died  that we might have  eternal life.    Everything we do  must be based  on remembering  what God has done for us.

As our lives testify  about God’s truth  and we grow  in God’s word,  we listen to Paul  in Romans 12:1-2,   “Therefore I appeal to you,  fellow Christians,  by the mercies of God,  to offer your bodies  as a living sacrifice,  holy and pleasing  to God.     In doing this,  you will be worshiping  in a spiritual way.    Do not follow  the pattern  of this world,  but let yourselves be transformed  by a renewing  of your minds  so that you can test  and be sure  of what God wants,  namely,  what is good  and pleasing  and perfect.”    [NET]

Remembering God’s great mercy  leads to a spiritual worship  that does not follow  the pattern  of this world,  but in which God guides us  to be holy  and pleasing.     We already are holy  by the blood  of Christ  and we continually go  to the cross,  humbly receiving help  to live holy lives  out of reverence  for God’s sacrificial love.

Our spiritual worship  is not spending an hour in church  every Sunday morning.     It’s the way we live  from day  to day.     It’s the way God’s word  transforms us  by renewing our minds  to think  and be  the way God wants us  to think  and be.

We are transformed  into living sacrifices — people putting God first  in absolutely everything.    As such,  we need  to know  what honestly honors  God’s love  for us.    So out of necessity,  our goal becomes  a daily study  of God’s word,  the Bible,  which transforms  our minds.

With that in mind,  consider 2 Corinthians 6:17-18  quoting an Old Testament passage,   “So  come away from their company,  and separate yourselves  from them, says the Lord . . .      Then  I will welcome you,  and I will be your Father,  and you will be  My sons and daughters . . .”   [NET]     God truly wants His children  to be different  from the world.    The world needs  to see us  as transformed by God’s special love,  separated from mindless,  useless traditions  that are remnants  of our sinful past.

Like it or not,  the world especially looks  at our daily spiritual worship  during Christmas,  Easter,  and Reformation celebrations.    Many snicker saying,  “See,  Christians are not any different  from us.”     What in the world  do they see?

For some Christians  there is no “Christmas spirit”  without a jolly “Ho-ho-ho”  from the “real” Santa  bringing gifts  to all the good little boys  and girls.    Their Easter  has no joy  until an abundance  of goodies  from the good-hearted Easter Bunny  has been found.    Halloween involves  a fascinatingly scary time  for trick or treating  and shivering wide-eyed  over ghost  and witch stories.

Have you ever considered  that it is wrong  for Christians  to pretend  that Santa  and the Easter Bunny exist  and that Halloween practices  are innocent fun?    Have you ever thought  of how they dishonor  God’s gift  of grace  and mock our relationship  with the Lord Almighty?

If you have made statements  to this effect,  have your shocked listeners  protested with:   “Is this some new doctrine you have decided  to promote  on your own?”      “The Bible doesn’t say anything  about these matters.    They are all  in the category  of adiaphora – neither harmful  nor helpful.”     “One can’t deny children  the enjoyment  of these special traditions,  forcing them  to be different  from their peers.”     “You don’t have a right  to impose your personal opinions  on anyone.”

Actually, the Bible has much to say  concerning similar circumstances  throughout history.    Given a chance,  God’s word  can put things  into perspective.    From cover to cover  the Bible warns us  to not become involved  in anything  that leads away  from God’s pure truth.    God’s will is  to have His children  love truth  and live totally  in the truth.

Traditions surrounding Santa,  the Easter Bunny,  and Halloween center  on myths.    Webster’s definition  of a myth is:

1.   a traditional story  of unknown authorship,  ostensibly with a historical basis,  but serving usually  to explain some phenomenon of nature,  the origin of man,  or the customs,  institutions,  religious rites,  etc. of a people;   myth usually involves the exploits  of gods  and heroes

2.   such stories collectively;  mythology

3.   any fictitious story  of unscientific account,  theory,  belief,  etc.

4.   any imaginary person  or thing  spoken of  as though existing.

The bare-bone facts are  that throughout Biblical history  God condemns  idol worship.    Idol worship  is based  on myths.    God calls these myths  lies  in Isaiah 44:20.    The chapter describes  how a person carves idols  of wood  and uses some  of that same wood  for cooking fuel.    Then God says  about the idol carver,  “He feeds on ashes,  a deluded heart  misleads him;   he cannot save himself  or say,  ‘Is not this thing  in my right hand  a lie?’”   [NIV]

Habakkuk 2:18 adds,  “What good does it do  to shape  and carve  an idol?     It is a statue and a teacher of lies.”   [Beck]     God says  that myths  are lies  that delude us  into forgetting  His marvelous love.     Because our sinful nature finds  so much delight  in these lies,  God warns us  to put away  all myths.    Our Lord lovingly wants us  to focus  on His truth  and gain  real lasting joy.

On the basis  of God’s word  about myths,  we can conclude  with assurance  that our beliefs  regarding Santa,  the Easter Bunny,  and Halloween  are not  in the category  of adiaphora – which means things  that are  neither harmful  nor helpful.    They are all myths  that God calls lies.

Many of Christianity’s first converts  were Gentiles,  former idol worshipers.    The traditions  and customs surrounding their idol worship  were based  on all sorts  of myths.    Some of the new Gentile Christians  had difficulty  in letting go  of their past,  wanting to mix  their old customs  with their new-found faith.    The new Jewish Christians  also had many traditions  and myths  that were not fit  for children  of God.

Guided by the Holy Spirit,  Paul reprimanded  those hanging onto  any kind  of myth  or tradition.    He would do this  by urging Christians  to remain  in the truth,  be strong  in the truth,  and stand up boldly  for the truth.    Regarding Jewish myths  that centered  on the Law,  he instructed Timothy,   “. . . order certain men  not to teach  any wrong doctrine  nor to busy themselves  with myths  and endless genealogies  that give rise  to speculations  rather than presenting  God’s plan  of salvation, which centers  on faith.”   [NET, 1 Timothy 1:3-4]

Our whole lives need  to present God’s truth  of salvation  to the world  around us.    The world should never  have to view  a two-faced Christianity.     We must be centered  on faith  in Jesus.    Focusing  on the wondrous salvation  God freely gives  renders the customs  of the world  as futile  and meaningless.    Similarly,  being busy  with myths  detracts  from the faith  that should be a light  to the world.

Every sort  of myth  raises speculations  (especially in children)  that do not glorify  or praise  God’s salvation.    Along with raising  foolish questions,  they take people away  from the truths found  in God’s word,  the Bible.

Although myths  may be based  on a fact,  they are so far  from the truth  that they are actually  twisted lies  that bind people  into superstitious beliefs,  fears,  and practices.    As such,  they are a tool  of Satan  to take people away  from centering  on faith  in Christ’s redemptive work,  away from truth.

Some seriously ask  if putting away these myths  shows a lack  of understanding  regarding freedom  in Christ.    Our freedom  in Christ  is based  on God’s saving love  and the faith  He creates  in our hearts.    God’s love seeks  to make us holy  in truth.     Myths  do not seek holiness  of any sort.    Our gift  of faith wants  to live  for God only — not  for myths.    Ours is  a freedom  from being enslaved  to the sins  and myths  of the world.    We are free  to love God  and neighbors.    Love  for God  cancels any desire  to follow myths.

We are free  to eat  whatever we please,  free  from the laws  of tradition,  free  to worship  in spirit.    But  we were not made free  to love myths  and desire them  as an integral part  of our heritage.    Therefore,  Paul says  in 1 Corinthians 10:21-22“You cannot drink  the Lord’s cup  and the cup  of demons.    You cannot share  the table  of the Lord  and the table of demons.    Or  are we trying  to make the Lord  jealous?    Are we stronger  than He?”

So the reminder  to put away myths  is not some new law  or doctrine  but a description  of what it means  to have love  and reverence  for God.    It is respecting  God’s word  as He tells us how  to be holy — set apart  from the world — His dear children.

In Matthew 15:19-20  Jesus teaches,   ” . . . out of the heart  come evil thoughts . . . lies . . .       These are the things  that make a person unclean . . .”   [NET]     Clinging  to the lies  of myths  makes us  unclean  in God’s sight.     Embracing myths  means  giving up our freedom  in Christ.     Trading the truth  for a myth  makes a person  unclean.

2 Corinthians 7:1  encourages us,  “Therefore  since we have  these promises,  dear friends,  let us cleanse ourselves  from everything  that pollutes body  and spirit,  and let us continually  do what is holy  in the fear  of God.”   [NET]     Christ cleanses us  of all our sins  and gives us  a steady new spirit  that needs  to respond  to His love  by cleaning up  our acts,  appropriately honoring  everything  He has done  for us.

Sadly,  the way  in which many people  present these myths  to their children  puts them  in the position  of upholding lies  as something precious  and of declaring lies  as truth.    That makes the matter  serious  in the light  of Revelation 21:27  which says  of heaven,   “And nothing unclean,  and no one  who does anything abominable  and tells lies  will ever come  into it . . .”   [NET]     Revelation 22:15 adds,   “Outside are . . . everyone  who loves lies  and tells them.”   [NET]     So we need  to consider  what we love  and hold most important  in life.     Is it truth  or myth?

Jeremiah 7:9-10  further clarifies this  by saying,  “What!    Will you steal,  murder,  commit adultery,  swear to lies,  sacrifice to idols,  and run after  other gods  you don’t know,   and then  come and stand  before Me  in this house  that bears  My name  and say,  ‘We are rescued!’  only to go on doing  all these  abominable things?”   [Beck]

Remember,  we are saved  to become living sacrifices  for God;   saved  to give up  worthless living;  saved  to find joy  and real freedom  in Christ — the freedom  to live  as God’s children.

Paul warns us  in 2 Timothy 4:3-4,   “A time will come  when people will not listen  to sound teaching  but,  following their own desires,  they will surround themselves  more and more  with teachers  who say  what they want  to hear.    They will refuse  to listen  to the truth  and will turn  to myths.”   [NET]     That has been happening  throughout history.    Even  in our modern,  sophisticated society,  people love myths  because they are exciting,  interesting,  and “fun”.     They sigh and turn away  from God’s truth  because  they don’t understand it.

Do the Easter Bunny  or Santa Claus,  as conjured  by their advocates,  ever honestly  glorify God  by adamantly pointing  to the free salvation  received through the blood  and merit  of Jesus Christ?    Don’t they,  instead,  dominate seasons  of celebrations  that should be  only worshiping Christ?    Do Halloween customs  teach us  that we don’t have  to fear evil  because our loving,  glorious Savior  is God,  the Almighty?     Hardly,  so we should not allow  these myths  to detract us  from centering our faith  on Jesus only.

In actuality,  these myths  promote greed,  covetousness,  and ungodliness.    Although they feign  to promote love  and sharing,  the pressures  of these traditions  often wrongfully obligate  unwilling people  to bind themselves  to ungodly emulations  for the sake  of not being different.     2 Peter 2:19 tells us,  “a man is a slave  to whatever  has mastered him.”    Isn’t it much better  to be a slave  to Christ  than a slave  to myths?

Ephesians 4:15 teaches,  “Rather,  as we speak the truth  with love,  we will grow up  into Him  who is the Head.”   [NET]     Truth  and love  allow for growth  in Jesus.    Undoubtedly,  all need  to grow  in Christ.    As we yearn  to be grown up  in Christ,  we must hold tightly  to His truths  in the Bible  and honestly love them  because  they give us  salvation.

1 Corinthians 13:6 instructs,  “Love does not delight  in wrongdoing  but is happy  with the truth.”     Love for Jesus leads us  to so rejoice  in the truth  that we know  we aren’t missing a thing  as we put away myths.    Are these myths  happy  with truth?    If they aren’t happy  with truth,  they aren’t built  on love.

Our Lord says  in John 8:31-32“If you remain  in My word,  you are really  My disciples,  and you will know  the truth,  and the truth  will set you free.”   [NET]     In Christ,  we are now free  from superstition,  free from myths,  free from enslaving traditions  —-  free to live  for God.     Let’s really delve  into God’s word  and live it  so we may grow  in the joyous Truth.

This concludes the article written in 1997.     I don’t know  how God  could be more clear  in what he wants  in our hearts.     This article  is long — but so is eternity.     This is something  to be studied  and considered  a little  at a time  as we apply God’s word  to our lives.     Our eternal life depends  on whether  or not  we want  to live  in the truth now.

As we grasp  how very important it is  for us  to have God  in our hearts  above everything else  there is  in this life,  we will appreciate  how deeply loved  we are  and say,  “Hallelujah!     Lord,  the truth  of Your love  for us  is our greatest treasure.     We gladly  give up  the falsehoods  of this world,  so that we may  live eternally  in Your glory.”

Love,
Margaret

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A Christian devotional  to glorify  the LORD of lords  and GOD of gods.

Pray for our country.

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Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus

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The LORD  made this day, let us rejoice  and be glad  in Him.

Psalm 118:24

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The word of the LORD is tried;

He is a shield  to all  who take refuge  in Him.

Psalm 18:30

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Sing for joy  in the LORD,  O you righteous ones;

Praise is becoming  to the upright.

Psalm 33:1

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How blessed are those  who dwell  in Thy house!

They are ever praising Thee.

Psalm 84:4

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Just as a father  has compassion  on his children,

So the LORD  has compassion  on those who fear Him.

Psalm 103:13

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O give thanks  to the LORD,  for He is good;

For His lovingkindness  is everlasting.

Psalm 107:1

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Glory in His holy name;

Let the heart  of those who seek the LORD  be glad.

Psalm 105:3

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Not that I have already obtained it,  or have already  become perfect, but I press on  in order that  I may  lay hold  of that for which also  I was laid hold of  by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12

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