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Bible verses about Faithlessness
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 3:6

The first humans failed their test of faith. They trusted what they "saw" rather than believing what God said—His words—and became the first example of man choosing to walk by sight rather than by faith. Humanity has followed this example ever since, proving that Adam and Eve's faithlessness was not an aberration but a trait of every human heart, including ours.

What were the consequences of this sin, this act of faithlessness? The answer is in Genesis 3:24: "So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life."

Adam and Eve's sin of faithlessness destroyed the close relationship they had with God. Because they did not trust Him, their lack of faith put a barrier between themselves and God. The broken trust, faithlessness, ruined that relationship just as it does in our human relationships.

Adam and Eve chose to follow the faithless Satan rather than the faithful God. Satan persuaded them to focus on what they could see rather than what God said. The strategy was so successful that Satan has consistently used it on humanity.

Satan is the prime example of faithlessness. Satan believes God exists, but his is a dead faith because it does not lead to right action. James 2:19-20, from the New Living Translation, forcefully points out the futility and foolishness of Satan's faith: "Do you still think it's enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?"

Pat Higgins
Faith—What Is It?


 

Genesis 19:26

Lot's wife did not merely look back—she dragged her heels from Sodom to Zoar, dawdling and wasting time. By conducting herself in this way, she gave unmistakable evidence that her heart did not believe what the angel had said to her—God would not really destroy all of their possessions. So she reluctantly left Sodom because she loved the world, not having the faith.

This has two direct applications to our lives. In Luke 17:32, Jesus said, "Remember Lot's wife." He says that she sought to save her life but lost it. The first lesson is that when the time comes to flee, flee! Do not look back. This is corroborated by Matthew 24:17 and Mark 13:15, in Jesus' Olivet prophecy. He said, “Let him who is on the housetop not come down.” Jesus meant, “Get out of the city. Flee. Do not look back. Do not get any of your possessions. Leave!”

This is not to minimize the gut-wrenching choices that this requires of us. Scripture implies that when this occurs, our family might be spread all over the city, county, state, nation, or globe. Will we have the faith to leave the city, not just without our material possessions, but without our children? Are we going to trust God that He will protect them and get them out, too? Though this is not easy, the word of our Lord says, “Remember Lot's wife.”

The second lesson is that saving one's life also pertains to one's way of life and manner of living. It includes one's hopes, dreams, aspirations, traditions, attitudes, and relationships. All of these have come from this world, which forms and makes us what we are, often in opposition to God (Romans 8:7). This is why John warns in I John 2:15 to “love not the world.” The world is cosmos, a system apart from God, being organized and regulated upon false principles and false values. It has made us what we are before God calls us, requiring our repentance and conversion.

Like science, conversion tells us there cannot be a vacuum in life. When we are swept clean by God's forgiveness and His Holy Spirit, something must be done to keep it clean, holy, and separated from the world. No man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), and therefore, loyalty cannot be given with neutrality. It will either be God or the world.

The way to God was open to Lot's wife because of her husband's conversion (I Corinthians 7:13-14). The problem was that she failed to take advantage of all the privileges that were given to her. She dropped the ball. The lesson is to whom much is given, much is required.

We must remember Lot's wife, for never has so much opportunity been given to really know God through His Word than has been given to the end-time church. Yet, when Christ asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). The question requires each of us to answer individually. Will He find faith in us?

He will find faith if we take seriously His admonition to remember Lot's wife, who was totally unprepared because she had no faith. We need to be working diligently to build our faith in God by yielding to Him in loyalty in every opportunity life presents.

Remember Lot's wife.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 4)


 

Genesis 26:1-2

Isaac was about to do the same thing that Abraham had done. When there was a famine in the land, he decided to go down to Egypt. However, in his case, God intervened, saying, "Do not go there." In a sense, He was saying, "Stay here. Live by faith. I will take care of you."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 27)


 

Leviticus 26:33

Leviticus 26:33 clearly shows that scattering results from faithless commandment-breaking, and a vomiting out of the mouth (another metaphor for scattering) is evidence of inconsistency and instability of attitude. We have not held faith with our covenantal responsibilities!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness


 

Deuteronomy 7:2-4

This particular point of obedience is especially interesting because it is the first thing mentioned about our faithfulness to Him. This passage bans Israel from making covenants with the people of the land. Among covenants are marriage unions. A marriage is a covenant to be special treasures to each other and therefore faithful to each other. As we continue in the chapter, verses 4 and 6 begin with the conjunction "for," which tells us why something is to be done or is forbidden.

Here, unlike some other situations, He provides a brief reason or two why this is forbidden. In short, in verse 4, covenants—including marriages with the heathen—are banned because it is too spiritually dangerous. It is similar to playing with fire—the Lake of Fire. Interreligious marriages will work to destroy the special faithfulness to each other.

In verse 6, God's reason is that they—and we—are a special, set apart people for God's uses only. Entering covenants with the heathen, including marriage and honoring their gods, will work to destroy the special relationship. In other words, it will work to destroy our faithfulness to God and therefore our ability to proclaim God's praises.

Do we love God enough that we are willing to heed His commands, or do we love ourselves more than Him, making us willing to risk what He says not to do? Marrying outside the faith is a matter of idolatry.

The perspective through which we look at these things in the course of daily life makes all the difference in the world. A common way of illustrating this is to ask whether we consider the glass half-full or half-empty. Do we think of God's calling as a blessing that has opened a door to a fabulous eternity? Or, do we feel it bars us from areas of fulfillment, excitement, adventure, and fun in life, excluding us from those who have access to all the pleasure and glory this world can produce?

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Priceless Gift


 

Deuteronomy 12:6-11

Is there such a zealous fervency like this in the church today? Is it burning in us individually? Is there such a hatred of evil and a love for God and His Family within us that we will not permit even one iota of idolatry within ourselves? Or, are we tolerant of its existence within ourselves and within the church, convincing ourselves that it really does not matter? These verses show that it matters very much to God!

Beginning in Deuteronomy 7, He is systematically defining their relationship to Him and the terms of faithfulness. God is to be our God—exclusively. Please understand that we cannot literally conform to some of these details today because we have no civil authority. Nevertheless, His stern commands illustrate how serious God is about idolatry—faithlessness to Him and the covenant. He charged them with this because He loved them, because faithfulness would be good for them and would bless them within the relationship, whereas faithlessness would bring curses on them, just as it does in human marriages.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Priceless Gift


 

Deuteronomy 26:16-19

Israel had been redeemed from Egypt, made a covenant with God, and been told their responsibility. God makes it very clear that the relationship between Him and man is a two-way affair. Upon us devolves the duty of complete consecration and willingness to obey. We are called to faithfulness to Him and to each other as reflected in our lives by our keeping of His commandments. God on His part grants us access to Him by which He ministers great blessings of His Spirit, giving us the means to be faithful.

Israel failed miserably, being guilty of all manner of faithlessness. So great was their faithlessness that God sundered the relationship. Perhaps nowhere is Israel's faithlessness shown more vividly than in Hosea 2:2-5.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness


 

Psalm 78:40-42

Provoked means "rebelled against." Their disrespect and irreverence produced the fruit of limiting His willingness and power to provide for them in any situation. In their minds, they set boundaries upon what they thought He would or could do. The psalmist does not mean they literally hogtied God to keep Him from doing things, though the practical result of their relationship virtually amounted to that. However, in their lack of faith and fear of God and their failure to make practical use of His sovereignty over His creation and His willingness to help His people, they mentally drew lines, concluding that God could not or would not provide for them in their circumstance. Thus, they chose to arrive at their own solutions that resulted in sin and death. They were obviously not living by faith but by sight. Hebrews 4:1-2 confirms this was at the base of Israel's failure in the wilderness

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God and Human Responsibility: Part Eleven


 

Proverbs 13:15

When a person consistently has a perception of what is true and lives it, he gains a force of beauty of character. In other words, faithfulness creates favorable impressions that open doors for him.

For example, to whom would we rather loan money, to a person with a record of steady work and payment of debts or to one who cannot keep a job and consistently defaults on his obligations? Which one is more likely to get the loan? A person of good character recognizes his responsibility to truth, understands it, and submits to it. This produces the witness that glorifies God.

If a person will not follow this process, he will not have the good character and the good name to go with it. If he recognizes and understands his problem but does not submit to the truth, he is deceiving himself.

This principle holds true in every area in which a name is built, including marriage, childrearing, and health issues. Many run from the truth about themselves. Hardly anything will destroy a reputation quicker than for others to know an individual is lying to himself about what or how much he eats, his failure to discipline his children properly, or his careless inattention to his spouse. Such faithlessness provides a strong foundation for hypocrisy.

The ninth commandment not only covers bearing false witness verbally, but also bearing false witness about one's relationship with God by displaying a spotty example of conduct, all the while claiming to be Christian. To make a bad witness in ignorance or weakness is one thing, but to know better and deliberately mislead is another matter altogether.

Why do we lie? Often, it is to cover up our irresponsibility. We fear that something about ourselves we wish to keep hidden will be exposed, so we lie to protect the image we want others to see. We also lie to rise above our feelings of inadequacy or inferiority. We also do it to lower a third party in the eyes of others, which, of course, has the effect of elevating ourselves in our own eyes and, we hope, in the eyes of others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Isaiah 1:21-26

Isaiah 1:21-26 is especially interesting because it describes the harlotry principle working within the social justice system. Judges were selling themselves out through accepting bribes or for personal advantage in some other area of life, and counselors—lawyers—were giving bad advice to tip the scales of "justice" favorably for their careers. Under such corruption, justice in Israel was difficult to find, so difficult that "the prudent keep silent at that time, for it is an evil time" (Amos 5:13).

God makes the contrast between harlotry and faithfulness clear. "Harlotry" is the Bible's code word for faithlessness to God regardless of the area of life in which the faithlessness occurs or of which gender is sinning.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Nine): Babylon the Great


 

Isaiah 8:12-14

Just in case we thought it was sufficient to stand only in reverence or awe or respect of Him, Isaiah adds, "Let Him be your dread!" God is asking, in effect, "Of whom are you more afraid, the Assyrians or Me?"

In The Interpreter's Bible Commentary appears an interesting comment regarding this passage. The editors saw clearly that God was instructing Isaiah to turn away from the bulk of the Israelites and aim his message at a tiny remnant of people who were willing to be obedient and faithful in response to God. He tells the prophet to reject the main body and pay attention to a small group, the remnant that desires to be faithful to God. He said, "I will become a snare, a trap, to those who are turning away from Me. They will stumble as a result of not having the fear of God and because of their faithlessness."

God does not seem the least bit worried that His people should dread Him. Indeed, this dread, rather than hindering a proper relationship with Him, is advanced as producing a positive benefit. He becomes a sanctuary, a place of abode, to which his people can run for safety. He is a place of safety for those who fear Him!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Jeremiah 5:1-3

Prophet after prophet records that Israel has trouble being faithful to anything: God, mate, country, employer, and contracts. Our national mind seems to be like quicksilver. As a people, Israelites are always trying to get the best for the self, willing to bend in any direction to obtain their pleasure. They really work at it. When we think of Jacob's deceitful ways in his early life, we can almost believe that this characteristic is in the genes, though it is not. It is a characteristic absorbed by yielding to a culture saturated with the spirit of harlotry.

Syndicated columnist Sidney J. Harris once wrote:

Most virtues exist on a sliding scale, all the way from excellence to ineptitude, and most of us are tolerably somewhere in the middle, without too much damage to ourselves or others. But there is one virtue that is all or nothing: and that is reliability. You are either reliable or you are not; and, if not, it doesn't much matter how nearly or how often you are reliable.

If I were an employer of any sort, I would be willing to put up with many kinds of personal or professional deficiencies, but never with this. A person who is not dependable is bound to fail you (and himself as well) at precisely the wrong time.

It reminds me of the debonair Viennese gentleman who, when asked, "Have you been faithful to your wife?" replied, "Frequently." It is plain that a man who is frequently faithful is not faithful at all; he might as well never be.

Reliability is one of the hardest character traits to identify by testing or "screening" or anything except personal acquaintance. Some people are "rocks" by nature or training, while others are papier-mâché painted to resemble rocks, who crumble when sudden pressure is applied by circumstances.

If you are married to someone who cannot be depended upon to pull his or her own weight, it hardly matters what other admirable traits your mate may possess, because you can never know when or where you will be let down. It is the same as being married to an alcoholic, who is only "there" part of the time—and usually not when most needed.

Consistency is what is required in the people we associate with: the confident knowledge of what we can rightfully expect of them, barring sudden illness or catastrophe beyond anyone's control. Otherwise, there is no real relationship, but only a shifting accommodation to the winds of caprice and self-indulgence.

It is easy to feel affection for another; what is harder is to translate this feeling into acts, daily acts, that demonstrate steadfastness of purpose in a domestic routine that may not be as dramatic as some heroic rescue, but that keeps the craft afloat no matter which way the wind happens to blow. The deepest and most important virtues are often the dullest ones; they win no medals, and get no glory; but they are the glue that binds society together and makes it work, now and always.

Men seem to be particularly irresponsible and ambivalent regarding sex, but with the unleashing of the feminist movement, women are rapidly catching up. In the July 28, 1978, Woman's Day magazine, an article revealed that 50-70% of all American men commit adultery at least once, while the Hite Report result was 66%. Yet, 67% of all husbands say that adultery is always wrong! The dichotomy between belief and practice is obvious. Clearly, they are confused: They feel it is wrong, but a large percentage is willing to do it if the opportunity presents itself!

This illustrates what God meant through the prophets. No wonder God calls us a faithless people! We are a self-seeking, opportunistic people who are willing to "bend" on principle, standard, tradition, or belief if we can see advantage for ourselves. Even if we can see that the "advantage" is at best short-term—and may even be very risky—we almost always seem to rise to the "bait."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment


 

Ezekiel 23:1-4

Isaiah, Jeremiah, and especially Ezekiel and Hosea use this same metaphorical form to illustrate Israel's faithless relationship with God, connecting directly to the same usage in Revelation 17 and 18. Why is this important? Virtually the entire Bible is devoted to God's purpose for and relationship to Israel and the church. They are the focus of God's intention to reproduce Himself, beginning with His promises and then His covenant with Abraham. God went so far as to enter into a symbolic marriage with Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, revealing the intimacy He considered their relationship to have.

He did this with no other nation. Even when the time came to summon Gentiles into His purpose, the great bulk of those called into the church have been Israelites dwelling among fellow Israelites in Israelitish lands. A person even becomes a spiritual Jew when converted! God's pattern of focusing on Israel continues throughout the Bible to the end-time prophecies. We live in the end time, and God's concern in Revelation, the ultimate end-time book, does not turn from this pattern. God's purpose for the nation of Israel is not yet complete, as Romans 9-11 makes clear.

Thus Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, and the church, the Israel of God, Abraham's spiritual descendants, are still His major focus. Other parts of the Bible reveal that Israel has fully earned the title of "the Great Harlot Babylon" even as she has earned the titles of "Sodom" and "Egypt."

The Great Harlot of Revelation 17 and 18 is not a Gentile church or a Gentile nation because neither of these has ever qualified for that title by corrupting a covenant relationship with God as Israel has. Of this, God says in Amos 3:2, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." Having done only what comes naturally without the revelation of God, the Gentile world will have its opportunity to have a covenant relationship with Him following Christ's return.

In defiance of God, Israel has rebelled against her responsibilities and played the harlot with the world. She has embraced its ways to such an extent that she has outdone the Gentiles in their manner of life, becoming appropriately named "Babylon the Great." In Revelation 17 and 18, God is describing the influence and character of end-time Israel. He depicts all of Israel in close relationship with the Beast, influencing it, but with the two Joseph tribes, America (Manasseh) and Britain (Ephraim), as the Woman's strongest components - and perhaps America is the one primarily described, as it is the most influential at the end.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Eight): God, Israel, and the Bible


 

Hosea 1:2

Hosea's dominant theme is Israel's faithlessness in contrast to God's patience, mercy, and faithfulness. The prophet is especially creative in metaphorically describing Israel's spiritual condition and relationship with God. He introduces two dominant ones in the book's second verse.

The primary metaphor is Israel as a faithless wife, and the second is Israel as a child of adultery or faithlessness. A child is the fruit or product of a relationship. Hosea implies that Israel, as a child of an adulterous relationship, manifests its characteristics because the next generation tends to continue the traits of the former and perhaps even increase their effects. A primary characteristic of adultery is faithlessness.

In the first metaphor, God is a faithful husband, and in the second, a loving and long-suffering parent. Israel is faithless in carrying out her responsibilities in both cases. God bluntly calls her actions adultery, harlotry, or whoredom because she did not fulfill the duties she had promised in a contract, a covenant. In more intimate terms, this contract is a marriage.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment (1997)


 

Hosea 2:2

Israel is so faithless to her duties, she openly invites adulteries and aggressively chases after her lovers. Her aggressiveness does not merely perpetuate a condition but creates a climate that increases its effects. Paul reveals this principle in Galatians 6:7: "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." It is a law of nature that unless something intervenes to interrupt the growing cycle, more is reaped than is sowed.

The Bible uses a saying to describe this latter principle, "Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind" (see Hosea 8:7). It is like saying, "Fan a breeze and produce a hurricane!" Sowing faithlessness is no different: Unless real repentance interrupts it, it will produce more faithlessness until the spirit of harlotry, an attitude that causes many serious ramifications, permeates the entire nation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment (1997)


 

Hosea 4:1-2

Faithlessness, when it has infected every area of a culture, blurs the distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, morality and immorality. Without truth, there is no reliable ethical basis for government, commerce, or social relationships. There are no solid standards. Without virtues upon which a majority agree, one can never be quite sure how another will conduct himself, and so everyone becomes untrustworthy.

In the context of Hosea's comments, mercy connotes steadfast love rather than a singular act of kindness toward somebody in need. Hosea is saying, then, that people waver in their loyalties. They pursue whatever fad comes along. We might say today that they "blow hot and cold." When they are "hot" they are "hot," but they can never seem to sustain it because, when their eyes are lured by some new, exciting interest, they are off in that direction until yet something else catches their imagination.

The "knowledge of God" includes two elements: First is the knowledge about God, of His existence, Word, and way. The second is acknowledging Him. This denotes commitment, a steady loyalty to Him personally and to His way of life as a pattern of living. The context demands the second element, since God would have no reason to accuse people who were not aware of Him and His way of life. Because He is addressing those who have that basic knowledge, His complaints are directed at faithless, uncommitted people. In America, it is becoming almost impossible to find responsible and trustworthy people.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment (1997)


 

Hosea 4:1-2

Hosea mentions a few ramifications of faithlessness. The major truth lost concerns God's Word and its importance to family, community life, and Israel's relationship with Him. However, it extends beyond that: Soon, there is no reliable basis for business or its relationships; there are no solid, unwavering moral standards; in general, people are consistently untrustworthy in all aspects of life; and dependability in anything is hard to find.

"No mercy" is the next valuable quality lost. In this context, mercy has the connotation of "steadfast love," rather than a singular act of kindness. Thus, as a people we blow hot and cold. When we are hot, we are hot, but we cannot seem to sustain it because our eye begins to rove onto some new interest that excites us. Dissatisfaction is an ever-present reality, and impatience simmers right beneath the surface.

Hosea adds that there is "no . . . knowledge of God." This knowledge contains two elements. The first is the general knowledge about God, that is, of His existence, Word, and way. As important as that is, the second—the acknowledgement of God—is even more vital in terms of affecting relationships. This indicates commitment, a robust loyalty to a way of life in which He is the focus. Jesus says in John 17:3 that eternal life is to know God, and the context seems to demand this idea of acknowledging Him.

The apostle Paul confirms in Romans 10:2 that Israel had a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. The Israelites had a general knowledge about God, but they did not seek Him nor know Him. At best, this suggests a very distant relationship.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment


 

Hosea 4:11-13

Everyone understands the addictive and destructive power of alcohol in wine and new wine. It can affect a person's mind (heart) insofar as he will lose the right perspective of situations he encounters and, with it, his discretion. Alcohol has the power to enslave the heart. It also has a subtle quality to draw a person into dependence on it while promoting the destruction of his will.

Amazingly, God lists harlotry (faithlessness) alongside wine and new wine, teaching us that it can affect us the same way! This fact is not nearly so well known. Faithlessness is every bit as enslaving and destructive as drug addition, and it has ensnared far more people in its entangling web than have ever been addicted to a drug.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment (1997)


 

Hosea 7:1-4

We cannot fail to see the same conditions prevailing in our nation. For God to bring about repentance and healing, He must first restore a knowledge of His standards. But when He does, the faithlessness becomes very apparent. It sounds much like Paul saying, "When the commandment came, sin revived and I died" (Romans 7:9).

Unfortunately, when God exposed the Israelites' sins, they did not repent as Paul did. Genuine repentance is impossible without a consciousness of sin. Hosea's indictment is that Israel was not conscious of their faithlessness to God: "They [did] not consider in their hearts." This shows how "far gone" they were under sin's addiction. They had become almost completely numb to their spiritual state. Spiritually speaking, they were sleepwalking through life, unaware of the social disaster they had created and in which they were wallowing. Faithlessness was the "norm" and generally accepted.

When this faithlessness combines with marriage and promiscuous sex, very few people will change, despite all the evidence of how destructive this sin is! Syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, AIDS, broken homes, increased illegitimacy, rebellious children, teens bearing children, and latch-key kids—who see their parents only at bedtime because both parents work to provide them "with the better things in life"—are just some of the effects.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment (1997)


 

Hosea 7:1-4

God charges that all categories of sinners are adulterers! He uses the normal word for adultery. He then provides insight into one way the spirit of harlotry entered into Israelite culture: "They do not consider in their hearts"! Is this not also true today? Despite all the evidence of how destructive sexual sins are, people will not change! Within marriage and society at large, we see syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, AIDS, broken homes, rebellious children, and children being raised by single parents. How many children are not even sure who their parents are? These sins are tearing the nation apart!

The Hebrew word underlying the word "king" in Hosea 7:3 is sometimes used to indicate leaders in business, education, and government, not just the head of the government. God is pointing an accusing finger at those whose own evil ends are to profit from this cesspool of faithlessness—to make money and gain power. This list can include doctors, lawyers, hospitals, pharmaceutical houses, pornographers, booksellers, moviemakers, etc.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment


 

Hosea 7:5-7

Faithlessness is tearing the country apart! These verses show that the nation's leaders are glad these things are occurring because it gives them an excuse for their actions! Besides, they are prospering as a result! Politicians, doctors, lawyers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, pornographers, booksellers, movie makers, and others are prospering from this faithless, adulterous society.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment (1997)


 

Hosea 10:12-15

By listening to the sensually appealing but iniquitous advice of "authoritative" individuals, our people have fallen prey to the lustful desires of human nature. Humanistic psychologists and psychiatrists urge people in the measured tones of academia that sin is passé and that we should not concern ourselves with remaining faithful or virgin. Ministers back away from the Bible's authority by seeming to respect it no more than a mere writing of men. Sex gurus such as Alex Comfort, author of The Joy of Sex, once said of sex, "There is nothing to be afraid of and never was." For decades Hugh Hefner has propounded his insidious "Playboy Philosophy" in his magazine, setting the tone for contemporary moral standards. We cannot forget the political figures whose sexual escapades, once only whispered about, are now openly discussed. Yet many are re-elected, indicating the public's approval or unconcern.

People are persuaded, even though the statistics indicate an ever-increasing rise in sexually transmitted diseases and a steady divorce rate. Because God's law may not exact an immediate penalty (Ecclesiastes 8:11), the hucksters of hedonism cry, "There is no penalty!" But because God is faithful, the penalty always falls. Moreover, the penalties are mounting, bringing great sorrow and becoming visible for all who care to see. How much easier it is to learn wisdom through obeying God rather than through the harsh experiences of human nature!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment (1997)


 

Joel 1:13-15

The warning has gone out to the church. God has said, "Get ready! Prepare for the worst." We are right on the threshold of the greatest period of testing and trial ever to come on mankind, and we must have something to sustain us if we are to endure it.

Jesus said to His disciples that love will wax cold (Matthew 24:12). But "he that endures to the end, the same shall be saved" (verse 13). He hints that some of His brethren will go through that terrible time. If God permits us to escape it, then great. This is why Joel 2:14 says, "Who knows? Maybe He will leave a blessing behind." We do not know for sure if that will be the case with us.

In the past, many in the church of God played an incredible game of being prudent agnostics, of believing but not being truly committed, as shown by their conduct. They were acquainted with God, but not really seeking to know Him. They were just hanging loose, hedging their bets, floating around, ready to go in any direction that offered the most comfortable, non-sacrificial solution. In that circumstance, the church often merely became nothing more than a fraternal organization.

But this is reality: Jesus Christ is our Lord and Master. He owns us. He redeemed us, bought us with a price, and He can do whatever He wants to do with us—and we committed ourselves to Him. Wholehearted commitment is part of the deal. We do not want to be like the Israelites who prostituted themselves in faithlessness, forsaking their covenant with the government of Almighty God.

We in the church are not without warning. God expects us to use the warning to be both comforted and prepared.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Trumpets Is a Day of Hope


 

Amos 1:3

Notice first that the Gentile nations are guilty of the same basic sins—that of gross and vicious cruelties in warfare. In sharp contrast, God charges Judah with commandment-breaking, specifically lying. Israel's sins largely involve national and personal deceitful faithlessness in social, economic, and cultural circumstances. This is not to say that other nations do not have some of these same characteristics or that Israelites have no vicious streak in them. However, Israelites have the Word of God and most especially God's commandments more generally available to them and thus have less excuse, so God holds them more accountable than any other people (Amos 3:2). To whom much is given much more is required (Luke 12:47-48). Israelites should know better.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment


 

Amos 5:1-3

By refusing to repent of their apostasy from God's way of life, the Israelites could only expect the coming of God's fearsome punishment. The people of Israel would recognize these words as a funeral dirge, a lamentation said over the dead. Amos speaks, not as if it were yet to occur, but as if it had already happened. This death came when Assyria conquered Israel from 721 to 718 BC and deported her people to foreign lands.

Israel is pictured as a virgin, though not a spiritual virgin. God frequently calls her an adulteress, harlot, and fornicator (Jeremiah 3:1-13; Ezekiel 16; Hosea 2:2-13), but He uses "virgin" here because Israel was cut off seemingly in the bloom of youth—before she could produce what she had the potential to produce. In a literal family, God could have expected a happy marriage and children from her (Isaiah 5:1-2). Israel, surrounded by luxury and prosperity, should have produced God's personality and character, but she failed miserably.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Matthew 8:26

Jesus rebukes His disciples for fearfulness and little faith. They have not lost complete confidence in Christ, but neither have they learned nor fully developed trust in Him. They are at ease only when they hear Him speak and see Him taking care of them. They have so little faith that, when the moment of need comes, it is not enough to give them peace and calm.

The disciples are not totally faithless in this incident, as they called for Christ to save them. They know from what they had seen of His supernatural power that He is able to calm the storm, but they fall short in failing to realize and fully believe that it makes no difference whether Christ is asleep or awake—He is still the Son of God. They should have considered that the Father would not allow His faithful Son to drown in a sinking boat. After all, He is the One who, ages before, had "shut in the sea with doors, . . . [and] said, 'This far you may come but no farther'" (Job 38:8, 11). His followers do not apply their little faith. Faith and fear cannot exist together, for fear paralyzes faith.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Stilling a Storm


 

Matthew 14:22-33

The heart of Christ's miracle of walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21) is that of Jesus' direct control over natural law. His paradoxical action against the known laws of gravity and of the properties of liquid water did not change, suspend, or cancel these universal laws themselves; instead, it was the exercise of a stronger power. By using an analogy, Herbert Lockyer sheds light on the principle at work:

The law of gravity is not set aside when the magnet collects iron filings; it is only that the superior force of magnetism has overcome gravitation. So what happened that stormy night was the exercise of Christ's omnipotence, as He, the Creator of seas and winds revealed His authority over them, and they being His, He could use them as He desired. It was His will which bore Him triumphantly above those waters. (All the Miracles of the Bible, p. 201.)

All things are possible with the Father and Jesus Christ. To doubt that they can accomplish such things is faithlessness. One who has learned to trust in God and believe in His Word does not wonder whether God can intervene on his behalf, although he may wonder at the method or the way it is carried out.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Walking On Water (Part Two)


 

Matthew 15:33

Jesus calls the disciples to Himself, not because He needs answers about the food problem, but to test their faith. As a teacher tests his students, Christ periodically tested His disciples (John 6:6). They often fail these tests, and this one is no exception. None of us, however, can boast about the marks we receive in the area of faith.

The disciples express skepticism about feeding the crowd. Their store of food is low (Matthew 15:33). Even before Christ can ask, they say that "we" cannot provide the bread. They do not want to be asked to do it because they lack the means. Granted, we of ourselves have the means to do little for God, although we are to strive to do what we can. But when assessing our ability to serve, we must include God's power as the primary means to accomplish anything. The disciples do not do that.

In their view, finding that much food would be "impossible" in such a desolate place (Mark 8:4). We sometimes convince ourselves that God cannot work in a place because it is too hard a location. Truly, where faithlessness exists, not much of God's work will be done. Even so, harsh or limiting conditions cannot obstruct God's work if He orders us to work in a place. His power overcomes all difficulties.

To the disciples, the crowd of people is enormous (Matthew 15:33), much too large for them to feed. Even if they could provide some food, there would not be enough. Sometimes we let the size of the crowd devalue God and become an obstacle to our faith. At times, too, Christians go along with the majority, and in doing so, go against their consciences, damaging their faith and conviction. None of the disciples is willing to stand against the others in faith.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Feeding the Four Thousand


 

Matthew 18:33

In the New Testament, the Greek word eleeo occurs only once (Matthew 18:33, "pity"), and it means "to be kind," "tender." In contrast, self-pity is the opposite—not tenderness to oneself but an abusiveness that causes great stress and harm. It shows faithlessness by breaking the first commandment in placing oneself higher in importance than the Creator God. This obsession with self interferes with God's development of righteous character in us.

In essence, self-pity is excessive love of oneself. Thus, a simple cure for self-pity is caring for someone else's welfare more than self—in a word, selflessness. Outgoing concern, love toward others is outlined by the Ten Commandments, for they show love toward God and love toward neighbor. The saints who overcome Satan and the world are known by the trait that "they did not love their lives to the death." They are willing to lay down their lives for their friends (John 15:13).

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 10): Self-Pity


 

Matthew 23:23

The Greek word for "faith" can also be translated "fidelity," as it is in Titus 2:10. To understand what the scribes and Pharisees lacked, we need to examine fidelity along with the traditional definition of faith.

Fidelity, as defined by Webster, is "the quality of being faithful, accuracy in details, exactness." The dictionary adds an interesting modern analogy to explain fidelity: "the degree to which an electronic device (as a record player, radio or television) accurately reproduces its effect (as sound or picture)."

We know we are to bring "every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:5) and to "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). John tells us "to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:6). Peter advises, "Christ . . . [left] us an example, that you should follow His steps" (I Peter 2:21).

Spiritually, fidelity is to reproduce faithfully and exactly the thoughts, attitudes, steps, and paths of Jesus Christ. The "sounds" our lives make on earth reach heaven either as the scratchy, tinny, garbled clanging of carnality, or as harmonic, melodious, pleasant reproductions of Christ in us, the hope of glory.

This is where the Pharisees missed the whole point of the law. They were not like God at all! They were so busy with their little "additions to make it better," they forgot how to treat each other. This is a great danger facing the church today. We can focus so intently on a specific point of doctrine—the calendar, divorce and remarriage, or church government—that we forget that God bases our judgment on how we treat others (Matthew 25:34-46). Christ went about doing good (Acts 10:38). He showed compassion, healed, helped, and set a righteous example in all His activities. He never once gossiped, slandered, or verbally abused anyone. While correct teaching is of extreme importance (II John 10), living it is of even greater importance because doers will be justified, not hearers only (Romans 2:13; James 1:22-25).

The "sounds" the scribes and Pharisees produced were low fidelity, unrecognizable to God in the intent of His law. When God hears our voices, does it sound to Him just like Christ did? Because we are still alive, we are better off than the Pharisees. We still have opportunity to learn to think and act like Christ, to work on reacting to wrongs and persecution—deserved or undeserved—just as He would. We have time to grow in saying just the right thing at the right time to help, encourage, inspire, or guide others.

James 3:9 says we bless God and curse men made in His likeness; we respect God but not His creation. James shows this is a contradiction and wrong. Disrespecting God's creation is disrespecting Him. He expects high fidelity from us in what we say—"pure, . . . peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" (verse 17). He will not listen to what is "earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there" (verses 15-16).

Fidelity is the kind of faith mentioned in James 2:14-26. Just "believing" or blindly trusting that we are qualified to enter God's Kingdom is not sufficient. Christ must see Himself in us. Faith without works is dead, so we show real faith by our actions (verses 17-18). Even the demons "believe" God exists—and they tremble in fear (verse 19), but they are unwilling to think like Him, talk like Him, live like Him. Theirs is a dead faith. We are to show our faith by our works, by walking exactly as He walked, by our "fidelity."

Staff
The Weightier Matters (Part 4) : Faith and Fidelity


 

Matthew 25:10-13

While the foolish are busy trying to get their spiritual lives in order at the last minute, Christ comes to take the wise, and the doors to the marriage feast are shut (Matthew 25:10-13). Only those virgins who have a regular supply of oil and combine it with the lamp of God, the Bible, can hear the true voice of their Shepherd calling to them through His true ministers, including the Two Witnesses. The foolish virgins, representing many ministers too, will at first scoff at these two men and ignore their warnings. But when the Two Witnesses begin performing miracles, the foolish virgins will start to wake from their deep sleep; they will begin to repent and ask God for His Spirit.

God the Father has the authority and Jesus Christ has paid the price to enable us to have oil in our vessels. Everyone called by God must pay a price, obedience to God, to receive His Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32). This means we must repent and overcome sin on a daily basis.

Staff
Y2K: You-2-the-Kingdom


 

Matthew 25:14-24

Not all are expected to produce the same results, but all are expected to be equally faithful to the gifts God entrusted to them. Interestingly, the one who was unfaithful to what God gave him failed to produce based on his reasoning that God is unfair. Like so many people today, he felt victimized.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Two)


 

Matthew 25:19-20

The master never sets a time for his return, indicating he could return at any time. However, we know that his return does not occur before his servants have time to increase their talents. The first and second servants cheerfully relate their success in trading, giving their master his property with double interest. Both are rewarded the same, receiving the praise, "Well done!" Both receive the promise, "I will make you ruler." Both receive glory, "Enter into the joy of your lord." Though these two servants differ in the talents they receive, they are the same in obedience, diligence, and faithfulness to their master, and so receive the same reward.

The master passes a serious judgment on the burier of the talent: condemnation for neglecting his trust. This servant's true character reveals itself in his reply. His flawed view of his master's intentions leads him to excuse his own failure to the point of flagrant disrespect. To his idleness, he adds injustice, so his lord sees him as lazy and wicked (Matthew 25:26).

We must always appreciate all of Christ's gifts. "For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have" (II Corinthians 8:12). The true Christian's attitude is contentment with what he has and making the very best use of it. It is better to have a low position in God's service with faithfulness than a high position with unfaithfulness. Our limitation should be an incentive to spiritual and moral action and persistence. In the end, what God commends and rewards is not brilliance, popularity, or cleverness, but faithfulness and obedience to Him regardless of human recognition or praise.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Talents (Part Two)


 

Matthew 25:23

Christ shows that if we are not faithful in trivial matters, we cannot expect to be faithful when confronted with weightier matters. God tests our faithfulness in our day-to-day activities, and it is in them that real Christianity emerges. The Laodicean attitude, one of indifference to the things God considers important, often reveals itself as faithlessness.

Christ's words to the church in Smyrna show that faithfulness does not guarantee a life free of persecution. In fact, the more faithful we are, the more at odds with the world we become.

Martin G. Collins
Faithfulness


 

Luke 12:47-48

The evil servants fail in their responsibility because they are not looking faithfully to Christ and hopefully toward the Kingdom. The penalty tells us that Jesus is speaking about Christians who are not ready either because they ignore their calling or because they neglect to produce fruit worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:8). Faithless Christians will be judged more strictly than those who, though wicked, do not understand about the coming of the Son of Man. Professing Christians with knowledge of God's revelation will have to answer for their lack of response to God.

Their punishment seems severe until we realize that the servant who knew his master's will represents those who sin arrogantly or presumptuously (Psalm 19:12-13). Even though the servant who was ignorant of his master's will sins unwittingly, it was his business to know his master's will. In either case, each holds personal responsibility for his actions and therefore comes under judgment. All have some knowledge of God (Romans 1:20-23), and He judges according to the individual's level of responsibility.

The parable finishes with the warning that knowledge and privilege always bring responsibility. Sin is doubly sinful to the person who knows better (Numbers 15:27-31). We who know better would like God to find us with our work completed upon His return, just as Jesus was able to say to His Father, "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do" (John 17:4-5). It would be wonderful for God to find us glorifying Him and at peace with our brethren when Christ comes.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Faithful and Evil Servants


 

Luke 18:8

This sobering scripture aims directly at anyone who is left standing, so to speak, at His coming. Christ looked down through the millennia, and saw us—looked into our hearts—and wondered, "Where is the faith?"

What faith is Jesus talking about? It cannot be in His existence because even the demons believe that (James 2:19). Demons also have a great deal of respect for God's power and sovereignty. What the demons do not believe in is God's love and all that springs from it. For instance, how could Satan have rebelled if he really believed in God's love for him? Perhaps the original iniquity found in Satan, the start of all trouble, was his lack of faith in God's love for him—"for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). That faithlessness led to pride and vanity and ultimately to rebellion.

When Christ returns, will He find a people who believe how much God loves them and therefore will trust in Him no matter what the physical evidence looks like? That is the faith Christ is talking about in verse 8.

In the preceding verses, Christ contrasts the unjust judge, who could not care less, to the true God, who could not care or love more. The underlying subject of the parable is God's faithfulness and love, and Jesus gave it to encourage our faith in the Father's love.

Then, in verse 8, Christ says, "I tell you that [the Father] will avenge [the elect] speedily," followed immediately by, "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" A definition for nevertheless is "in spite of that." God will act speedily in His great love for us, yet in spite of that fact, people in the end time will still have difficulty believing in the depth of His love.

Our salvation depends on believing how special we are to God—how much He loves us. Jesus says in verse 1, "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart." Along with prayer, this parable teaches us about not losing heart—enduring to the end. Knowing how much God loves us can give us the courage and hope we need to face and endure what is ahead.

Lamentations 3:21-23 (RSV) tells us what we have to remember and believe if we are to have the right kind of hope: "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness."

Pat Higgins
Faith to Face Our Trials


 

Luke 18:9

Consider "trusted in themselves" in relation to the instruction concerning enduring, persevering faith in the previous parable. It concluded, "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on earth?" He is speaking about people who trust in themselves rather than God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Luke 19:11-27

Having invited Himself to the home of a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus, Jesus spoke the Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:11-27) because the people "thought that the kingdom of God would appear immediately." In it, He declared the true purpose of His ministry: As the Son of Man, He had come to seek and save the lost. Jesus used this parable to provide the truth about when He would take His place on the throne of David as King of kings. The disciples hoped that Christ would redeem Israel by making a public stand to convict their wicked society, deliver the chosen people from servitude to the Romans, and usher in the Kingdom of David in all its ancient glory. Jesus' disciples had not yet understood that, because of His approaching death and resurrection, He would establish the church, and it would do its work for many years. His Kingdom would not be ushered in until His return to earth as its rightful King.

The parable teaches that Jesus grants privileges to His servants, expecting faithfulness in return, and that He will reward His servants at His coming. Church members receive equal privileges, but the more diligently faithful will produce better results. This parable demonstrates the distinction between the faithful and the faithless.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Minas


 

Luke 19:11-12

In this parable Jesus describes Himself as a man from a noble family with rights to a kingdom. Because He had to go away to receive His kingdom, His servants would be responsible to care for His interests in His absence. On His return, He would reward all who had been faithful—and deal severely with those who had disregarded His instruction. Jesus ascended to God's throne (Hebrews 1:3) to receive His Kingdom, and from there He exercises power (Philippians 2:9-11).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Minas


 

2 Corinthians 13:5

God, through Paul, commands us to examine our faith and to test ourselves. How can we know the strength of our faith—our belief in the words of God? One of the ways is to examine our fears and worries.

Nehemiah writes, "For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me" (Nehemiah 6:13). Why did Nehemiah call being afraid a sin? Because fear and worry call God a liar, insinuating that His words about His sovereignty, love, power, and faithfulness are not to be trusted. Fear and worry mirror the attitudes of a faithless Satan who believes God exists but does not believe what He says.

Philippians 4:6 tells us, "Be anxious for nothing." In other words, we are commanded, "Don't worry about anything," another of God's absolutes. To have fear, worry, anxiety, or forebodings question God's goodness and care. They display a lack of faith in His promises of wise and gracious providence and cast doubts on the depth of the love God and Christ have for us. If we cannot trust God, how can He ever trust us? Why would Christ marry forever someone who doubts His love?

Rather than give in to fear and worry, we can choose—an action—to believe God and His love. If we believe in the depth of the love God (John 17:23) and Christ (John 15:13) have for us, believing those words, faith in that perfect love will cast out fear (I John 4:18) so that we can say as David did: "I will fear no evil; for You are with me" (Psalm 23:4).

In Psalm 78:22 (New Living Translation—NLT), David succinctly cuts to the heart of Israel's problem, and by extension, ours: ". . . for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them." Doubting God's love for us is at the core of the sin of faithlessness. This doubt was a major characteristic of our ancestors, ancient Israel. ". . . because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the Lord by saying, 'Is the Lord going to take care of us or not?'" [Exodus 17:7 (NLT)] They never overcame this sin of faithlessness. We must. The stakes are so much higher.

It is sobering to consider the fate of the fearful and unbelieving and the rank they are given in the list found in Revelation 21:8: "But the cowardly [fearful, KJV], unbelieving [faithless, RSV], abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

God tested the faith of Adam and Eve and of Abraham. The former failed, the latter succeeded. Eventually, God will put every human being to the same test.

As we cope with these tests we need to stir up (II Timothy 1:6) and exercise that gift of faith God gave us at the beginning, to get back to that first love and dedication to the words and promises God has given us.

We have the same choice as Adam and Eve, ancient Israel, and Abraham had. It is our decision to make: to believe God or to believe what we see—the visible circumstances we face. Faith is life (Habakkuk 2:4), and faithlessness is sin (Romans 14:23) and therefore death (Romans 6:23). God entreats us to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Pat Higgins
Faith—What Is It?


 

2 Timothy 3:1-5

The apostle Paul writes that "evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (II Timothy 3:13). People today are no different from when Moses wrote the Pentateuch or Paul his epistles, but the occasion to sin, the incentive to do so and thus sin's frequency and intensity are at their highest levels since just before the Flood. In other words, the environment to commit sin more easily grows ever more amenable, and human nature is taking advantage of it. We have been born into—indeed have unwittingly contributed to creating—an environment in which it is exceedingly difficult to remain faithful.

We live in a world in which self-centeredness is being promoted to its greatest extent in human history. Appealing advertising hammers away at us to gratify ourselves: Why wait, why deny ourselves, why sacrifice, why not go along with everyone else? Constantly we hear, "Indulge yourself because you deserve it."

This world always appeals to moral and ethical standards lower than those of the great God and His way of life. In Technicolor with emotion-stirring music, Hollywood "sells" adultery and fornication as acceptable as long as the couple involved are attractive and somehow oppressed—thus "deserving" of a "better" relationship.

War, murder, lying, stealing, coveting, Sabbath-breaking, and idolatry are acts that almost everyone in the world would claim as being wrong, yet most unwittingly commit them to some degree and promote them in our culture. They justify their sin because everybody else is doing it, and they see no good reason why they should not just go along. If they try to swim against the tide, they think they will be taken advantage of.

Not too long ago, a person's word was his bond, and mere handshakes sealed major business agreements. Tales of Abraham Lincoln's honesty over pennies are an almost legendary part of our nation's history. Historians say that faithfulness was such a hallmark of the Roman Republic that not one divorce occurred in its first seven hundred years! But in the last fifty years this nation has seen a calamitous, family-destroying rise in the divorce rate that threatens the very stability of society.

Faithlessness is playing a major role in this destruction. People are without natural affection and traitors to their marital contract. Child abuse is becoming ever more prevalent. Athletes seem to break contracts almost at will. Manufacturers lie about the quality of their products, and workers fudge in the quality of their work.

Faithlessness is rising to its peak because self-centeredness, the father of irresponsibility, is being promoted to its utmost. It is the spirit of this age, but we have cause to resist it by what God has offered us in His revelation. God-centeredness in our lives is the answer to faithlessness and irresponsibility. But God-centeredness is not cheap, and few are willing to pay the price: their lives!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness


 

Hebrews 3:12

"Departing from," although it is not incorrect, is really a rather weak translation, because in order to get the forcefulness behind what is in the context it should really read "rebelling against." When we rebel against, or depart from, it is not against or from some dead doctrine, but it is from a living and dynamic Being - the Father or the Son.

This entire exhortation is directly tied to us in verse 6: "But Christ as a Son over his own house; whose house we are." This aims this section directly at us and our responsibilities to Christ in this deceptively perilous time. We are the people of God, and it is our responsibility to glorify God by being tenaciously faithful in all circumstances.

It was Israel's unbelief that was the breeding ground for her capriciousness. Israel's insatiable curiosity and the desire for variety and control continuously led them astray. This in turn produced the mistrust and the unreliability in the relationship with God. We must not follow her in this. Our stakes are much higher: This is addressed to "Christ's house."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 7)


 

Hebrews 4:1-2

The Israelites would not use their faith; they would not step out. They held back because the bottom line was that they did not really believe it.

Do we believe what we are hearing from the Word of God? If we do not believe it, we will do nothing. We only do what we believe.

Everybody in the world operates by this principle—they do what they believe! But do they believe God? No. We are in God's church because we believe, and because we believe in the right way, we obey God. In Hebrews 3, Paul equates "belief" and "obedience." It makes for an interesting study. Despite being significantly different, the effect of one should be the product of the other.

This is why one can find words like "belief" or "unbelief" in Scripture, and see in the margin that "obedience" or "disobedience" can be an alternate translation. The words can be taken either way.

We do what we believe. The real problem is becoming apparent. The reason the Hebrews were apathetic—the reason they were neglecting their spiritual priorities—was because their belief system had undergone a serious change since the time that they had first heard.

When Satan wants to divide or destroy a church, he often does so through inspiring changes in the doctrines. When the doctrines change, the belief system changes accordingly. And when the belief system changes, those who believe the same basic way will flock together, and those who believe a different way will coalesce into another group.

When a belief changes, a change in conduct must follow. This is what happened to the Israelites in the wilderness. They did not believe God, and they failed. They all died. That whole first generation died as a result of their disbelief.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Hebrews: A Message for Today


 

Hebrews 10:37-39

Israel feared the warfare that they knew would confront them when they stepped over the border—and they drew back. Their drawing back in fear was a serious sin, as Numbers 14:9 shows. Drawing back in fear or failing to enter the fray is on a par with rebellion because it is a rejection of God's Word, a despising of His promise.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part One)


 

2 Peter 2:14-15

The apostle says false prophets have "eyes full of adultery." While this may apply literally, it can also more generally describe unfaithfulness—a willingness to abandon an agreement if they feel it is in their interest to do so. They also worry little about resisting sin. Their hearts are especially trained in covetousness, and like Balaam, they are willing to do just about anything for personal gain.

David C. Grabbe
What Is a False Prophet?


 

Revelation 2:4-5

To paraphrase Christ's advice to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2, He says, "Renew your devotion to Me. Go back to the first works. You have left your first love. Renew your earlier devotion to Me."

Devotion is the sense in which the word "love" (agape) is being used. Devotion literally means "to vow completely." Baptism is the outward show that one has vowed to give his life to God, and so "devotion" implies complete dedication, total surrender. This hints at the Ephesians' problem: Their devotion—their complete dedication—was slipping away.

Devotion is a deep and ardent affection, a feeling. Its synonym are "attentiveness," "dedication," "commitment," "earnestness," but all with a feeling of affection. Devotion is not given out of a sense of obligation only, but with a warm feeling or a passionate desire. Jesus' charge to the Ephesians to return to their earlier devotion is not something that He is asking to be done merely as a duty. Some antonyms of "devotion" can help us see it from another angle: indifference, negligent, unconcerned, disregard, infidelity, and faithlessness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Loving Christ and Revelation 2:1-7


 

Revelation 2:18-29

The church at Thyatira is guilty of fornication. Spiritually fornication is one of God's terms for being "mixed up with the world." Fornication is something that one should never do, let alone when one is supposed to be in a relationship with another. Fornication represents idolatry'faithlessness to a relationship.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

Revelation 3:14

In the letter to the Laodiceans, Jesus is referred to as "the Faithful and True Witness" (martyr). None of the other letters to the seven churches uses this title. Christ emphasizes His own faithful and true character because the Laodiceans so completely lack these two qualities. Christ's example shows that to be a fitting witness of God, one must be faithful and true, that is, spiritually reliable and accurate. A true witness of God is a reflected example of the life of Jesus Christ in word and behavior.

Martin G. Collins
'You Are My Witnesses...'


 

Revelation 3:14-22

Laodiceanism is nothing more than a virulent form of worldliness in which devotion to Christ deteriorates, while attention to the world—its ways, attitudes, and conduct—intensifies. Perhaps we have been deceived into thinking that a Laodicean is lazy, or that a Laodicean is irreligious. But God never accuses them of being lazy.

Worldly people can be very religious. A Laodicean can appear to be very religious. The condition here is a matter of insipid devotion to the true God, His Christ, and His truth.

Christ reacts strongly to this because the indifference of Laodiceanism cannot be trusted. He does not know whether to believe their professions because He sees a great deal of insincerity and hypocrisy. He considers it essentially mean-spirited, as He is the object of their profession of faith, and what they claim is not backed by performance in their attitudes and works. The works are worldly even though they may appear religious.

Their high opinion of themselves—"I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing"—gives a good indication to whom they are really devoted, and so they profess to be what they are not. This, of course, is insincerity and hypocrisy, and it is a result of their indifference to Christ. They lack devotion to Him. So what Christ feels so strongly about is that honesty and a relationship with Him is weak or missing because their faith is so weak.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

 




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