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Bible verses about Divided Loyalty
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 14:10-14

In this wilderness account, Israel is shown fearing many things, but most of the time it was other people, hunger, and thirst. This is not unusual but natural, as it is natural to you and me to fear what is going on around us—to fear those who have the power to hurt us or to take our lives. It is natural for people to fear. Nonetheless, it has to be dealt with and overcome.

Fear has been called the most self-centered of all emotions because it is generated by a perceived high degree of threat to what we believe is our well-being. What we believe is what we have been instructed in, accepted, and practiced. The solution to fear is to eliminate what we perceive to be threatening us. It is right here that the crux of the problem exists, because the perceived threat to our well-being forces choices about what to do. Our choice in these circumstances may indeed involve sin, and with that choice we run the risk of exposing the depth of our divided loyalty. Fear is a powerful producer of conduct, for good or bad, depending upon who or what is feared and the direction of our response.

Psalm 111:10; 112:1 show the right One being feared, and this fear is directed positively toward the Kingdom of God and the glorifying of God. On the other hand, the fear of the wrong things will produce bad results for the Christian—perhaps not immediately, but eventually and always. We must realize this. The fear of the wrong thing can never produce good things for the Christian, except temporarily. In the long run, it will always produce bad things.

The fear of the wrong things, and then submission to the wrong things may reduce the pressure. It gets us off the hook but only for a while. The chances are great that the choice that led to us submitting to the wrong thing will, in the long run, actually make the pressure and the pain more intense.

A specific, powerful, and motivating negative fear inhabits every one of us. It must be confronted and overcome in this time of preparation because it destroys trust and inhibits our preparation for the Kingdom of God. It specifically inhibits growth of trusting God. It is the fear of sacrifice—the fear of denying the self.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Does Doctrine Really Matter? (Part 4)


 

Exodus 20:3

The KJV and the NKJV both translate Exodus 20:3 as, "You shall have no other gods before Me." This translation is misleading, though, because it gives us room to think that other gods are permitted as long as the true God is first in importance. God permits no other gods at all!

Other translations more correctly catch the intent. Moffatt says, "You shall have no gods but me." The Knox translation has, "Thou shalt not defy me by making other gods thy own." The Spurrell translation reads, "You shall have no other gods beside Me." Finally, the New English Bible renders it, "You shall have no gods to set against me." These make it very clear God will not share His position, glory, and praise with any competitors (see Isaiah 42:8). It would not be good for His purpose to allow us to divide our loyalties.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The First Commandment (1997)


 

Deuteronomy 4:21-24

There is heat in God's relationship with His people. Within the Ten Commandments, in the second commandment, He says, "For the LORD your God is a jealous God." What is jealousy? It is a passionate intolerance, even a hostility, toward a rival. It is also defined as vigilance in guarding a possession.

In this passage, God is having a passionate reaction against a rival, idolatry. God will not permit idolatry without reacting because idolatry promotes divided loyalties. We are His, and He does not choose to share us with anybody or anything else.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Seeking God


 

1 Kings 18:21

The term "halt you" in the King James' Version ("falter," NKJV) provides a literal picture of what Elijah means. It suggests a person staggering, unable to catch his balance, and failing to accomplish anything of any consequence because his mind is divided. The person in such a circumstance cannot get a grip on life. These people were wavering back and forth, which was typical of the Israelites. The Bible shows in many places that the people continued to worship God, yet also served their idols. In Exodus 32, the incident of the Golden Calf, the people had Aaron mold a calf of gold and proclaim a feast to the Lord!

Essentially, they tried to syncretize the true God and pagan idols, which suggests a divided mind. "No man can serve two masters; for . . . he will hate the one and love the other" (Matthew 6:24). But the one that he hates is still a part of his mind, and it will cause problems.

In Elijah's word-picture, he is indicating that though nothing is wrong with the rest of the body, because the mind has no focus, the body's efforts have no direction. This sets up a situation where, at best, there will be little movement—that is, little accomplished—and at worst, there will be no forward movement at all, but just staggering, first this way then that. That sort of situation produces nothing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Knowing God


 

Hosea 10:1-2

One would think that, if altars are increased during a period of prosperity, as verse 1 states, then religion must be flourishing. Indeed, religion was flourishing! Amos, Hosea's contemporary, clearly reports this in his book. However, what was flourishing was not the religion God gave through Moses but idolatry. Notice in verse 2 that God accuses Israel of having a heart that is divided.

Ironically, commentaries have divided opinions over what the Hebrew word translated "divided" means. Most modern translators render this word as either "false," "deceitful," or "faithless." None of these are wrong, including "divided," because the Hebrew word indicates "smoothness." It all depends on the context in which it is used. It can also suggest "flattering," which ought to give us a clue that it describes people who "talk the talk but do not walk the walk." Notice Isaiah 29:13:

Therefore the LORD said, "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men. . . .

Isaiah lived just before Amos and Hosea. However, he was a prophet to Judah primarily, whereas the other two men were prophets to Israel—the ten northern tribes. What Isaiah says agrees with what Hosea says. These people were flattering God with their tongues, but their hearts were not really in what they were doing. Reverence for God, then, was merely an intellectual accommodation intended to appease Him. They acted as if God could not see right through them! It shows how far off-base and carnal they were in their thinking.

They used the name of God frequently, undoubtedly claiming that they trusted Him, just as we do today. All of our coins and paper money read, "In God We Trust." Yet, these people filled the nation with lying, stealing, murder, adultery, fornication, coveting, Sabbath-breaking, and idolatry, all the while giving Him lip service with their mouths—talking the talk but not walking the walk. This is why God says, "Your heart is divided. It is deceitful. You talk so smoothly, but your heart is false."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Laodiceanism and Being There Next Year


 

Luke 10:38-42

For the word careful, the margin reads "distracted." In the Greek, it is the same word translated as "anxious" in Matthew 6. Anxiety distracts.

Consider doing a job under distracting conditions, when several things are competing for attention at the same time. Jesus says that no man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). What will happen when a person's mind has two or more issues simultaneously vying for attention? Eventually, the person will dismiss one of them in order to pay attention to the one he chooses to give his attention to. That is the principle here. It is that simple.

If two matters work on the mind, they cannot be given equal time. The mind will shift gears so that one gets the priority over the other. We need to see this principle in relation to the Kingdom of God. By making the Kingdom of God our treasure and having a clear understanding that this principle is at work, Jesus wants us, by faith, to choose to set our will to make God's Kingdom our first priority. It is something that we must make the choice to do.

So Jesus says to Martha , "You are distracted [troubled, worried, anxious] about many things." There is nothing wrong with serving, but Jesus is showing that service has to give way to worship. Even if we understand that worship is a form of submissive service, it is ratcheted up several notches higher because it is service given directly to God. This is a gentle rebuke by Jesus urging Martha to leave her housework for the time and concentrate on the more urgent responsibility, because Christ would be living among them only a little while longer. Under this situation, Mary had made the right choice. She had a clearer understanding of the circumstance and made the better choice of the use of her time.

His words do not mean that Mary was any better than Martha, but in this case Martha had made the wrong choice. God thought this was important enough to inspire Luke to put it into His Word so that we could understand this principle. Jesus is not saying that one should do no housework, but rather, that Martha's failure to follow the higher priority was doing damage to her character. There is a time to set aside the service of others in order to serve God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian and the World (Part 8)


 

Luke 21:34-36

This chapter gives us an overview of the hair-raising, terrifying events leading to Christ's return. Despite all the evidence that will be available for us to witness and thus motivate us, He feels it is necessary to warn us to be alert.

It seems almost redundant. Why should we of all people need to be warned? Well, the general answer is because the Laodicean has trouble keeping his attention, his mind, focused. His mind is all over the place. At least in terms of spiritual things, the Laodicean, has a short attention span. He can go at it for spurts—maybe on the Sabbath for a couple of hours—but what happens during the week? Has his love of beauty—the beauty that this world is fully capable of producing to distract the senses—kept him occupied? Is he drawn to those things? If he is, what relationship will be abused? The answer to that is very clear: his relationship with God.

When we consider Revelation 3:14-18 carefully, we see that this is the problem. The Laodicean has compromised with his life in the use of his time. It is not that he is sinning all the time, but that he is not paying attention to the Bridegroom!

Ladies, how would you feel if the man you are to marry pays attention to everything but you? What would happen to the relationship? That is the problem with the Laodicean: His mind is drifting to take in all kinds of things except the One that he is going to marry—until the Sabbath comes along. He will appear in church, and everything looks fairly good, but all during the week he has been paying attention to everything except Christ.

Prayer becomes ineffective. He does not allow God to communicate with him through Bible study in the way that he should. There is very little meditation. He is not doing a great deal of thinking about the One to whom he is betrothed. We can begin to see that his love of beauty is taking him in the wrong direction, and the abuse falls on the relationship that he most needs to build and to protect.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Laodiceanism


 

 




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