CHRISTIAN LIFE and WORSHIP
from the SABBATH
to SWEARING and OATHS
the Sabbath, Self-importance, Selflessness, Serving others, Sexual immorality, Sexual relations in marriage, Showing off, the Sick, Signs and wonders, Sin, Snobbery, Solitude, Sorrow, the Sorrowing, Spiritual birth, Spiritual emptiness, Spiritual health, Spiritual insight and blindness, Spiritual warfare, Status, the Suffering, Swearing and oaths ...........
Matthew 12:1-8 - It happened .... that Jesus passed through the cornfields on the Sabbath day. His disciples were hungry and began picking the ears of wheat and eating them. But the Pharisees saw them do it. "There, you see," they remarked to Jesus, "your disciples are doing what the Law forbids them to do on the Sabbath."
"Haven't any of you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?" replied Jesus, " - how he went into the house of God and ate the presentation loaves, which he and his followers were not allowed to eat since only priests can do so?
"Haven't any of you read in the Law that every Sabbath day priests in the Temple can break the Sabbath and yet remain blameless? I tell you that there is something more important than the Temple here. If you had grasped the meaning of the scripture 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice', you would not have been so quick to condemn the innocent! For the Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath."
Matthew 12:11-12 - "If any of you had a sheep which fell into a ditch on the Sabbath day, would he not take hold of it and pull it out?" replied Jesus. "How much more valuable is a man than a sheep? You see, it is right to do good on the Sabbath day."
Luke 23:56b - On the Sabbath they rested, in obedience to the commandment (.... referring to the women followers of the crucified Jesus as they prepared to embalm his body.)
John 9:16a - Some of the Pharisees commented, "This man cannot be from God since he does not observe the Sabbath."
Luke 22:24-27 - .... a dispute arose among them (the apostles during the Last Supper) as to who should be considered the most important. But Jesus said to them, "Among the heathen it is their kings who lord it over them, and their rulers are given the title of 'benefactors.' But it must not be so with you! Your greatest man must become like a junior and your leader must be a servant. Who is the greater, the man who sits down to dinner or the man who serves him? Obviously, the man who sits down to dinner - yet I am the one who is the servant among you."
Romans 12:3-5 - As your spiritual teacher I (Paul) give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don't cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God had given to you all. For just as you have many members in one physical body and those members differ in their functions, so we, though many in number, compose one body in Christ and are all members of one another.
Romans 12:10b - Let us have .... a willingness to let the other man have the credit.
2 Corinthians 10:18 - It is not self-commendation that matters, it is winning the approval of God.
Galatians 5:26 - Let us not be ambitious for our own reputations, for that only means making each other jealous.
3 John 9-10 - I (John) did write a letter to the church, but Diotrephes (possibly a leader or a minister of the church), who wants to be head of everything, does not recognise us! If I do come to you, I shall not forget his actions nor the slanderous things he has said against us. And it doesn't stop there, alas, for although he wants to be leader he refuses the duty of welcoming the brothers himself, and stops those who would like to do so - he even excommunicates them!
Ephesians 5:1-2 - As children copy their fathers you, as God's children, are to copy him. Live your lives in love - the same sort of love which Christ gives us and which he perfectly expressed when he gave himself up for us in sacrifice to God.
Matthew 23:11-12 - The only 'superior' among you is the one who serves the others. For every man who promotes himself will be humbled, and every man who learns to be humble will find promotion.
John 13:4-5,12-17 - (Jesus, during the Last Supper) ..... rose from the supper-table, took off his outer clothes, picked up a towel and fastened it round his waist. Then he poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to dry them with the towel around his waist. .... (Verse 12 .....) When Jesus had washed their feet and put on his clothes, he sat down and spoke to them, "Do you realise what I have just done to you? You call me 'teacher' and 'Lord' and you are quite right, for I am your teacher and your Lord. But if I, your teacher and Lord, have washed your feet, you must be ready to wash one another's feet. I have given you this as an example so that you may do as I have done. Believe me, the servant is not greater than his master and the messenger is not greater than the man who sent him. Once you have realised these things, you will find your happiness in doing them."
Galatians 6:2,10 - Carry each other's burdens and so live out the law of Christ. .... (Verse 10 ....) Let us then do good to all men as opportunity offers, especially to those who belong to the Christian household.
Hebrews 3:13a - Help each other to stand firm in the faith every day, while it is still called "today" ....
Matthew 19:4-6 - "Haven't you read," he answered (Jesus to the Pharisees on the matter of divorce), "that the one (God) who created them from the beginning 'made them male and female' and said: 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two separate people but one. No man therefore must separate what God has joined together."
Romans 1:24-27 - They (men and women) gave up God: and therefore God gave them up - to be the playthings of their own foul desires in dishonouring their own bodies.
The fearful consequence of deliberate atheism
These men deliberately forfeited the truth of God and accepted a lie, paying homage and giving service to the creature instead of to the Creator, who alone is worthy to be worshipped for ever and ever, amen. God therefore handed them over to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged the normal practices of sexual intercourse for something which is abnormal and unnatural. Similarly the men, turning from natural intercourse with women, were swept into lustful passions for one another. Men with men performed these shameful horrors, receiving, of course, in their own personalities the consequences of sexual perversity.
Sexual immorality - continued
Romans 13:13 - Let us live cleanly, as in the daylight, not in the "delights" of ........ playing with sex
1 Corinthians 6:9b,10b,13b-20 - Don't be under any illusion - neither the impure, the idolater or the adulterer; neither the effeminate, the pervert .... (Verse 10b) .... shall have any share in the kingdom of God. .... (Verse 13b) .... you cannot say that our physical body was made for sexual promiscuity; it was made for God, and God is the answer to our deepest longings. The God who raised the Lord from the dead will also raise us mortal men by his power. Have you realised the almost incredible fact that your bodies are integral parts of Christ himself? Am I then to take parts of Christ and join them to a prostitute? Never! Don't you realise that when a man joins himself to a prostitute he makes with her a physical unity? For God says, 'the two shall be one flesh'. On the other hand the man who joins himself to God is one with him in spirit.
Avoid sexual looseness like the plague! Every other sin that a man commits is done outside his own body, but this is an offence against his own body. Have you forgotten that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you, and that you are not the owner of your own body? You have been bought, and at what a price! Therefore bring glory to God both in your body and your spirit, for they both belong to him.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 - God's plan is to make you holy, and that entails first of all a clean cut with sexual immorality. Every one of you should learn to control his body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect, and never regarding it as an instrument for self-gratification, as do pagans with no knowledge of God. You cannot break this rule without in some way cheating your fellow-men. And you must remember that God will punish all who do offend in this matter, and we have warned you how we have seen this work out in our experience of life. The calling of God is not to impurity but to the most thorough purity, and anyone who makes light of the matter is not making light of man's ruling but of God's command. It is not for nothing that the Spirit God gives us is called the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 13:4 - Both honourable marriage and chastity should be respected by all of you. God himself will judge those who traffic in the bodies of others or defile the relationship of marriage.
See also "Marriage", "Sexual Relations in Marriage"
SEXUAL RELATIONS IN MARRIAGE
1 Corinthians 7:5 - Do not cheat each other (husband or wife) of normal sexual intercourse, unless of course you both decide to abstain temporarily to make special opportunity for fasting and prayer. But afterwards you should resume relations as before, or you will expose yourselves to the obvious temptation of the devil.
Matthew 6:1-4 - "Beware of doing your good deeds conspicuously to catch men's eyes or you will miss the reward of your Heavenly Father. "So, when you do good to other people, don't hire a trumpeter to go in front of you - like those play-actors in the synagogues and streets who make sure that men admire them. Believe me, they have had all the reward they are going to get! No, when you give to charity, don't even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be secret. Your Father who knows all secrets will reward you."
Matthew 6:5 - "And then, when you pray, don't be like the play-actors. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at street-corners so that people may see them at it. Believe me, they have had all the reward they are going to get.
Matthew 6:16 - ".... when you fast, don't look like those miserable play-actors! For they deliberately disfigure their faces so that people may see that they are fasting. Believe me, they have had all their reward."
Matthew 25:34-40 - Excerpts from the parable of the sheep and the goats:
"Then the king will say .... I was ill and you came and looked after me....."
"Then the true men will answer him, '.... When did we .... see you ill ....?' "And the king will reply, 'I assure you that whatever you did for the humblest of my brothers you did for me.'
James 5:14-16a - If anyone is ill he should send for the Church elders. They should pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Lord's name. Believing prayer will save the sick man; the Lord will restore him and any sins that he has committed will be forgiven. You should get into the habit of admitting your sins to each other, and praying for each other, so that if sickness comes to you may be healed.
SIGNS AND WONDERS
Matthew 11:20-22 - .... Jesus began reproaching the towns where most of his miracles had taken place because their hearts were unchanged. Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if Tyre and Sidon had seen the demonstrations of God's power which you have seen they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Yet I tell you this, that it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgement than for you."
Matthew 12:38-40 - .... some of the scribes and Pharisees said, "Master, we want to see a sign from you." But Jesus told them, "It is an evil and unfaithful generation that craves for a sign, and no sign will be given to it - except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was in the belly of that great sea-monster for three days and nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and nights."
Matthew 16:1,4 - .... the Pharisees and the Sadducees arrived together to test him (Jesus), and asked him to give them a sign from Heaven. .... (Verse 4 ....) "A wicked and unfaithful age insists on a sign; and it will not be given any sign at all but that of the prophet Jonah (again, the death and resurrection of Jesus)." And he turned on his heel and left them.
Matthew 24:24 - "False christs and false prophets are going to appear and will produce great signs and wonders to mislead, if it were possible, even God's own people."
John 4:48 - Jesus said to him (the official in Cana asking for his son in Capernaum to be healed), "I suppose you will never believe unless you see signs and wonders!"
John 7:31 - Many of the crowd believed in him and kept on saying, "When Christ comes, is he going to show greater signs than this man (Jesus)?"
John 10:41b - "John (the Baptist) never gave us any sign but all that he said about this man (Jesus) was true."
Romans 3:22b-23 - .... there is no distinction to be made anywhere: everyone has sinned, everyone falls short of the beauty of God's plan.
Mark 12:38b-40a - "Be on your guard against these scribes who love to walk about in long robes and to be greeted respectfully in public and to have the front seats in the synagogue and the best places at dinner-parties! These are the men who grow fat on widow's property and cover up what they are doing by making lengthy prayers."
Luke 15:1-2 - ... all the tax-collectors and "outsiders" were crowding around to hear what he (Jesus) had to say. The Pharisees and the scribes complained of this, remarking, "This man accepts sinners and even eats his meals with them.
Luke 18:14b - "... everyone who sets himself up as somebody will become a nobody, and the man who makes himself nobody will become somebody."
Romans 12:16b - Don't become snobbish but take a real interest in ordinary people.
James 2:1-11 - Don't ever attempt, my brothers, to combine snobbery with faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ! Suppose one man comes into your meeting well-dressed and with a gold ring on his finger, and another man, obviously poor, arrives in shabby clothes. If you pay special attention to the well-dressed man by saying, "Please sit here - it's an excellent seat", and say to the poor man, "You stand over there, please, or if you must sit, sit on the floor", doesn't that prove that you are making class-distinctions in your mind, and setting yourselves up to assess a man's quality? - a very bad thing. For do notice, my brothers, that God chose poor men, whose only wealth was their faith, and made them heirs to the kingdom promised to those who love him. And if you behave as I have suggested, it is the poor man that you are insulting. Look around you. Isn't it the rich who are always trying to "boss" you, isn't it the rich who drag you into litigation? Isn't it usually the rich who blaspheme the glorious name by which you are known?
If you obey the royal law, expressed by the scripture, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself', all is well. But once you allow any invidious distinctions to creep in, you are sinning, you have broken God's Law. Remember that a man who keeps the whole Law but for a single exception is none the less a law-breaker. The one who said, 'Do not commit adultery', also said, 'Do not murder'. If you were to keep clear of adultery but were to murder a man you would have become a breaker of God's whole Law.
Matthew 14:13a,14a - When he (Jesus) heard it (news of the death of John the Baptist) he went away by boat to a deserted place, quite alone. .... (Verse 14a ....) When Jesus emerged from his retreat ....
Mark 1:35 - .... in the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a deserted place, and there he prayed.
Luke 6:24-26 - "... how miserable for you who are rich, for you have had all your comforts! "How miserable for you who have all you want, for you are going to be hungry!
"How miserable for you who are laughing now, for you will know sorrow and tears!
"How miserable for you when everybody says nice things about you, for that is exactly how their fathers treated the false prophets.
Romans 12:15b - Share .... the sorrow of those who are sad.
John 3:3b-8 - "....a man cannot even see the kingdom of God without being born again." "And how can a man who's getting old possibly be born?" replied Nicodemus (the Pharisee). "How can he go back into his mother's womb and be born a second time?"
I assure you," said Jesus, "that unless a man is born from water and from spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit: you must not be surprised that I told you that all of you must be born again. The wind blows where it likes, you can hear the sound of it but you have no idea where it comes from and where it goes. Nor can you tell how a man is born by the wind of the Spirit."
Matthew 12:43-45 - (Jesus is accused of being in league with the devil because of his healing, and refuses to give the Pharisees a sign. He continues .....) "When the evil spirit goes out of a man it wanders through waterless places looking for rest and never finding it. Then it says, 'I will go back to my house from which I came.' When it arrives it finds it unoccupied, but clean and all in order. Then it goes and collects seven other spirits more evil than itself to keep it company, and they all go in and make themselves at home. The last state of that man is worse than the first - and that is just what will happen to this evil generation."
Matthew 6:22-23 - "The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If all the light you have is darkness, it is dark indeed!"
SPIRITUAL INSIGHT and BLINDNESS
Matthew 11:25-26 - Jesus said, "O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, I thank you for hiding these things (of God) from the clever and intelligent and for showing them to mere children. Yes, I thank you, Father, that this was your will."
Matthew 13:13,16-17 - "(Jesus, in reply to a question from his disciples ...) This is why I speak to them (the people) in these parables; because they go through life with their eyes open, but see nothing, and with their ears open, but understand nothing of what they hear. .... (Verse 16 ....) But how fortunate you are to have eyes that see and ears that hear! Believe me, a great many prophets and good men have longed to see what you are seeing and they never saw it. Yes, and they longed to hear what you are hearing and they never heard it."
Luke 9:45 - But they (the disciples) made no sense of this saying (that Jesus was "going to be handed over to the power of men") - something made it impossible for them to understand it, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant.
Luke 16:15b - ".... God knows your hearts. Remember, there are things men consider perfectly splendid which are detestable in the sight of God!"
Luke 18:34 - ... they (the disciples) did not understand any of this (the coming death and resurrection of Jesus). His words were quite obscure to them and they had no idea of what he meant.
John 9:25,39-41 - "Whether he (Jesus) is a sinner or not, I couldn't tell, but one thing I am sure of," the man replied, "I used to be blind, now I can see!" (the man born blind who is taken before the Pharisees) ..... (Verse 39 ....) Then Jesus said, "My coming into this world is itself a judgement - those who cannot see have their eyes opened and those who think they can see become blind." Some of the Pharisees near him overheard this and said, "So we're blind, too, are we?" "If you were blind," returned Jesus, "nobody could blame you, but, as you insist 'We can see', your guilt remains."
Spiritual insight and blindness - continued
1 Corinthians 2:14-16 - ... the unspiritual man simply cannot accept the matters which the Spirit deals with - they just don't make sense to him, for, after all, you must be spiritual to see spiritual things. The spiritual man, on the other hand, has an insight into the meaning of everything, though his insight may baffle the man of the world. This is because the former is sharing in God's wisdom, and 'Who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?' Incredible as it may sound, we who are spiritual have the very thoughts of Christ!
Ephesians 1:9-10 - .... God has allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfilment in him.
Ephesians 3:8-9 - .... to me (Paul), less than the least of all Christians, has God given this grace, to enable me to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, and to make plain to all men the meaning of that secret which he who created everything in Christ has kept hidden from the creation until now.
Colossians 1:9b - We are asking God that you may see things, as it were, from his point of view by being given spiritual insight and understanding.
Colossians 1:25b-27 - I (Paul) ... fully declare God's word - that sacred mystery which up to now has been hidden in every age and every generation, but which is now as clear as daylight to those who love God. They are those to whom God has planned to give a vision of the full wonder and splendour of his secret plan for the sons of men. And the secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all glorious things to come.
Colossians 2:2b-3 - May your spiritual experience become richer as you see more and more fully God's great secret, Christ himself! For it is in him, and in him alone, that men will find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 - ..... although of course we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare but powerful in God's warfare for the destruction of the enemy's strongholds. Our battle is to bring down every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defence that men erect against the true knowledge of God. We even fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:14b - Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
"The Armour of God"
Ephesians 6:10-18 - .... be strong - not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. Put on God's complete armour so that you can successfully resist all the devil's methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organisations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armour of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you. Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent as you pray for all Christ's men and women.
Spiritual warfare - continued
1 Timothy 4:8-11 - Take time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit. Bodily fitness has a certain value, but spiritual fitness is essential both for this present life and for the life to come. There is no doubt about this at all, and Christians should remember it. It is because we realise the paramount importance of the spiritual that we labour and struggle. These convictions should be the basis of your instruction and teaching.
1 Peter 5:8-11 - Be self-controlled and vigilant always, for your enemy the devil is always about, prowling like a lion roaring for its prey. Resist him, standing firm in your faith and remember that the strain is the same for all your fellow-Christians in other parts of the world. And after you have borne these sufferings a very little while, God himself (from whom we receive all grace and who has called you to share his eternal splendour through Christ) will make you whole and secure and strong. All power is his for ever and ever, amen!
1 John 4:4-6 - You, my children, who belong to God have already defeated this spirit (who belongs to the anti-christ, and denies that Jesus Christ became man), because the one who lives in you is far stronger than the anti-christ in the world. The agents of the anti-christ are children of the world, they speak the world's language and the world, of course, pays attention to what they say. We are God's children and only the man who knows God hears our message; what we say means nothing to the man who is not himself a child of God. This gives us a ready means of distinguishing the true from the false.
Galatians 2:6 - ... as far as the leaders of the conference were concerned (I neither know nor care what their exact position was: God is not impressed with a man's office), they had nothing to add to my Gospel. (Paul, commenting on a visit to Jerusalem, possibly for the Council held in c AD49).
2 Corinthians 1:5-6 - .... experience shows that the more we share Christ's suffering the more we are able to give of his encouragement. This means that if we experience trouble we can pass on to you comfort and spiritual help; for if we ourselves have been comforted we know how to encourage you to endure patiently the same sort of troubles that we have ourselves endured.
Hebrews 13:3b - Think ... of all who suffer as if you shared their pain.
SWEARING AND OATHS
Matthew 5:33-37 - ".... you have heard that the people in the old days were told - 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord', but I say to you, don't use an oath at all. Don't swear by Heaven for it is God's throne, nor by the earth for it is his footstool, nor by Jerusalem for it is the city of the great king. No, and don't swear by your own head, for you cannot make a single hair - white or black! Whatever you have to say let your 'yes' be a plain 'yes' and your 'no' a plain 'no' - anything more than this has a taint of evil.
Ephesians 4:29a - Let there be no more foul language, but good words instead
James 5:12 - It is of the highest importance, my brothers, that your speech should be free from oaths (whether they are "by" heaven or earth or anything else.) Your yes should be a plain yes, and your no a plain no, and then you cannot go wrong in the matter.
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate