The Lamp of the Body

The eye is the light of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. If your eye is bad, your whole body will be dark. If the light in you is dark, how dark it will be! ~ Matthew 6:22-23, NLV

 

When I was little there was a song that we used to sing that quoted the verse above. It went as follows…

Be careful little eyes what you see/There’s a lot of bad things on your TV/Be careful little ears what you hear/Turn the channel if you think the Devil is near

For the eye is the lamp of the body/In Matthew 6:22, we’re told/And if the eyes are good/Your whole body will be full of light

Years later I still recall those verses of truth. The song, so simple; yet, it taught us, even as children, to guard our hearts & minds from things we shouldn’t be watching or listening to. I think that often, as adults, we think we can watch or listen to whatever we want because we’re adults, mature, or because we have the “freedom” to do so. However, the Bible teaches us otherwise.

In Galatians 5:13a Paul reminds us that we “were chosen to be free. Be careful that you do not please your old selves by sinning because you are free.” Peter also reminds us, in 1 Peter 2:16 (NLT) “For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.”

And let’s not forget that Philippians 4:8 tells us to “keep your minds thinking about whatever is true, whatever is respected, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever can be loved, and whatever is well thought of. If there is anything good and worth giving thanks for, think about these things.”

These verses make me very particular about what I watch, read, or listen to, and they should! Have you ever heard of that saying, “garbage in, garbage out”? The Bible also calls it reaping what you sow (Galatians 6:7-8). When we fill up on impure garbage, it infiltrates every area of our lives: our relationship with Christ, our marriage, and our relationship with our children, neighbors, and friends. Luke 6:45 (NIV) says that “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart,” and “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Which begs the questions: what are you filling up on? What’s coming out of your mouth? And how are you treating the people around you?

“But everybody’s watching/reading/listening to it! I don’t want to be left out!” you may be thinking.

However, the Bible calls us to be holy and set apart for His good works (2 Timothy 2:21). It doesn’t call us to be like everybody else or to fit in with everybody else. In 1 Peter 2:9, in fact, we’re called a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession, some versions even call us a peculiar people. (We’re supposed to be weird!) 😀

Lastly, let’s nail our final excuse to the cross…”but that’s so hard!!” The Word never tells us to do anything on our own. We’re to be led and empowered by the Spirit to live according to His plan and purpose for us. And we’re not talking about some meek powerless god we serve here, we’re talking about the Creator of the universe, the same Spirit of God which raised Christ from the dead, for which nothing is impossible!

I say this to you: Let the Holy Spirit lead you in each step. Then you will not please your sinful old selves.  The things our old selves want to do are against what the Holy Spirit wants. The Holy Spirit does not agree with what our sinful old selves want. These two are against each other. So you cannot do what you want to do.  If you let the Holy Spirit lead you, the Law no longer has power over you.  The things your sinful old self wants to do are: sex sins, sinful desires, wild living,  worshiping false gods, witchcraft, hating, fighting, being jealous, being angry, arguing, dividing into little groups and thinking the other groups are wrong, false teaching,  wanting something someone else has, killing other people, using strong drink, wild parties, and all things like these. I told you before and I am telling you again that those who do these things will have no place in the holy nation of God.  But the fruit that comes from having the Holy Spirit in our lives is: love, joy, peace, not giving up, being kind, being good, having faith,  being gentle, and being the boss over our own desires. The Law is not against these things.  Those of us who belong to Christ have nailed our sinful old selves on His cross. Our sinful desires are now dead. ~ Galatians 6:16-24, NLV

“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls” (James 1:21, NLT)!

 

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Intolerable

Often, people view Christians as intolerable of other beliefs, ideas, and values. The truth is we’re not “intolerable” we just refuse to change our beliefs and values to fit our culture. That’s the difference between a religion that is real and God-centered, and one that is man-made and centered on our own wants and desires.

Now, do I agree with all the individuals out there that condemn and ridicule homosexuals, addicts, or those who’ve committed adultery or have had abortions? Absolutely not. Do I believe that such individuals (homosexuals, addicts, etc.) are wrong and living sinfully? Yes, I do.

However, the difference in how we as Christians should treat these individuals and how they are often treated can be seen clearly by all the world. Although, I don’t believe what they’re doing is right in God’s eyes (see my post titled Something to Think About…Homosexuality), I have no doubt in my mind that God loves them just as much as any one of us. And because I know that God loves them, just as much as He loves me, I will show them love and respect, as all those proclaiming a relationship with Christ ought to. Remember, God loves the sinner, just not the sin.

They often say that those who’ve fallen the hardest, are the most overcome by the grace God offers us through the death of Christ on the cross for our sins, and maybe that’s the case with me. It took falling flat on my face and feeling myself the furthest from Christ that I’ve ever been for me to discover the overwhelming love and forgiveness that Jesus offers and I know that if God can forgive me He can and will forgive anybody of anything! It’s just a matter of swallowing your pride and asking for forgiveness.

However, that idea alone, may keep many from the freedom that knowing Christ brings.

In Whom do You Trust?

As we mature from teens to adults, our freedom gradually increases. We are given the opportunity to make our own choices about school, work, relationships, jobs, our faith, money, and how we choose to spend our time–just to name a few. Often, our parents continue to advise us, but in the end, the choice is still ours.

What I find interesting, is that sometimes we choose to do the exact opposite of what our parents advised, and we figure out, much to our dismay, that we made the wrong decision. Now, when this happens, does it make sense that we would blame our parents because things didn’t work out the way we expected them to? Absolutely not! We made the wrong choice and we are responsible for the repercussions of our actions. Our parents tried to lead us in the right direction, but we chose the wrong one.

I’ve realized that we often do this with God, as well. God advises and tells us what we ought to do, what He’d like us to do, but in the end, it’s our choice. When we try to follow our own path and things don’t work out, is it God’s fault that things didn’t work out for us? (Hint: Was it our parents’ faults?) We may think we know what’s best for us, but when we refuse to listen to God’s counsel and not trust Him, it’s not His fault when our world is turned upside down, but our own, for relying on ourselves instead of Him.

In the book of Isaiah, God uses Isaiah to tell the people of Israel “‘Woe to the obstinate children,’ declares the Lord, ‘to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin’ (30:1).” In this verse, God is talking about the Israelites and their decision to form an alliance with Egypt for protection against their enemies, but the concept is the same; the Israelites weren’t putting their trust in God to keep them safe, but were forming their own plans.

Proverbs 19:21 states “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” In the end, we may have all these plans for our lives. We may have desires and dreams and goals, but unless they’ve been instilled in us by the Holy Spirit, trying to attain them is going to be impossible! We may try and try and try, but it will be fruitless, because they’re not God’s plan for our lives and His hand won’t be upon us. But He promises that when we put Him first and seek His face and His will for our lives, He will bless us and make us fruitful.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me will all your heart.”