Some passages of Scripture are downright frightening. This should not surprise us, because of the nature of Scripture's Author, Almighty God. The LORD God of the Bible says that He is "...a consuming fire, a jealous God" (Deuteronomy 4:24). The Bible demands that we not only love but also fear "...this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD" (Deuteronomy 28:58).
The wilderness temptation of Christ by Satan reminds us of one of those frightening passages, namely the one in which the Peter makes a remark about his fellow apostle, Paul. Peter wrote that in Paul's letters "...are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16). In his third temptation, as recorded by Luke (chapter 4), Satan dared to include in it an appeal to Scripture. However, Satan's appeal twisted Scripture. Referring to the Psalm that reads "He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you" and "...in their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone", the evil one tempted Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of the temple. What God intended as a gracious promise to "he who dwells in the secret place of the Most High" and to the one who has set his love upon God, the evil one turned into a license to put God to the test (cf. Psalm 91).
What a dangerous, frightful place to be in, spiritually speaking...the place where one has twisted the meaning of Scripture! Satan is a lost, wretched being for whom there is no possibility of salvation. Twisting Scripture to make it fit sinful desires and purposes puts one into that dreadful, hopeless place occupied by the devil himself. Jude (verse 4) warns us that persons in that fearful condition have made their way into the fellowship of God's people: "For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ."
As has been said, God gave the precious promises of the 91st Psalm to comfort His people. Likewise, all of the holy Bible has been given (by inspiration of God, 2 Timothy 3:16) to reveal the way of salvation in Jesus Christ. It has been given to safely guide and strengthen those who receive that salvation along their way to its glorious consummation (heaven). We do well to examine ourselves, to make certain that we are receiving and believing the Bible according to God's purposes in giving it, and not twisting its meaning to suit ourselves, thus preparing our own destruction. What are some common ways in which the Scriptures are twisted?
1. Works righteousness. The Bible teaches us again and again, and in various ways, that "by works of the law, no flesh will be justified" (Galatians 2:16). That is, no one can render the perfect obedience which God's law requires. All our own righteousness is as filthy rags. The Bible announces the good news: how through faith we can be clothed with the glorious, spotless garments of a GIFT RIGHTEOUSNESS (Romans 5:17). By His grace, the perfect righteousness of Jesus is reckoned to the account of the believer, eternal thanks and praise be to God! Yet, some insist on trying to use the Bible as a manual on how to please God in the flesh, thus despising the Gospel. They make up various rules: "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," etc. "These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh." Cf. Colossians 2:21-23. Those who seek to use the Bible to establish a righteousness of their own are twisting it to their own destruction!
2. Spiritual stumbling regarding the Person of Christ. The so called Jehovah's Witnesses and other cults twist the Scriptures to their own destruction when it comes to understanding Who Jesus is. The Bible presents this glorious Person, the Lord Christ, as no one less than God Almighty, come in the flesh. He is also truly human - Jesus is a Man. This glorious mystery, the two natures (Divine and human) being incomprehensibly united in one Person, is unacceptable to the fleshly mind. Hence, all sorts of errors regarding His Person arise: that He is a lesser god, i.e. a god with a small [g], or that He is an angel, or that He only appeared human while on earth, etc. etc. ad nauseum. "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God" (1 John 4:2,3A). Blessed is the one who takes no offense at Who Jesus is, Luke 7:23
3. Social or political religion. This is the mindset that wants to make Christianity just one area or compartment of a life lived in the flesh according to worldly categories. It doesn't recognize that knowing, loving, and serving God *IS* life! This mindset wants the environment of Christian values, but edits out of the Bible the Christ Who demands absolute personal commitment. "Religion can make me respectable", or "church gives me opportunities for valuable association with other nice people" it says. The focus is not on being a productive citizen of the kingdom of God, but on building or participating in a man centered enterprise. The pages of Scripture are disregarded as the living and active word of God, and are twisted into a wicked misuse: that of irrelevance. They receive as much attention as the wallpaper in a rarely used closet.
May we have a godly fear of ignoring, taking from, adding to, altering, or in any other way twisting the Scriptures to our own destruction (Proverbs 30:5,6; Revelation 22:18, 19).
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