3 John 1:11 [the apostle John, in a letter to a Christian man named Gaius, wrote]: "Beloved, follow not [don't imitate] that which is evil [referring specifically to the unchristian conduct of a minister named Diotrephes], but [copy] that [behavior] which is good. He [the person] that doeth good is [a child] of God: but he [or she] that [willingly and intentionally] doeth evil hath not seen God [spiritually, not literally; i.e., has not been born again]."
In other words, applying John's advice in the beginning of the verse to our own lives, we should imitate good--not bad--behavior.
1 Peter 2:25 [in a letter to born-again Christians, the apostle Peter said]: "For [before salvation] ye were as [like] sheep going astray [away from the correct path or direction]; but [you] are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop [overseer, guardian] of your souls [i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ, who guides, protects, cares for, and watches over us]."
Nahum 1:7: "The LORD is good, a strong hold [source of safety and protection] in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him [for salvation and help]."
Jeremiah 13:23: "Can the Ethiopian [person from Africa] change [the color of] his [or her] skin, or [can] the leopard [change] his spots? [If so,] then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do [have learned to do, or become used to doing] evil [things]."
The person and animal in the above example cannot change their inherited appearance. Likewise, it is almost impossible for humans to change their habits, behavior, moral compass, etc., without God's help. We will only notice real, lasting changes in those who have been truly saved, or born again, according to the Bible. This is confirmed by the following verse:
-- 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
Psalm 147:1: "Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it [praising God] is pleasant [is pleasing, gives pleasure--to us and to him]; and praise is comely [becoming, proper, desirable]."
Matthew 6:7-8 - Prayer
Addressing the crowd during his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said::
Verse 7: "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions [don't say the same things over and over without meaning them], as the heathen [Gentiles, non-Jewish people] do: for they think that they shall be heard [by God] for their much speaking [many words, or memorized words that are repeataed often and thoughtlessly]."
Verse 8: "Be not ye therefore like unto them [the heathens]: for your Father [in heaven--God] knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."
God's answers to prayer depend not on how many times we use the same words or how often we repeat our requests but on how sincere we are when we ask him for help.
Titus 2:13-14 - Jesus Died for Us, and He's Coming Back to Earth Someday
Verse 13 [the apostle Paul told Titus that Christians are]: "Looking [waiting] for that blessed hope [eternal life], and the glorious appearing [at the 'second coming of Christ'] of the great God [referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God (also known as God the Son), who is the second person of the trinity (i.e., Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)] and our Saviour Jesus Christ;"
Verse 14: "Who [referring to Jesus] gave himself [died on the cross] for us, [so] that he might redeem us from all iniquity [save us from our sins], and purify unto himself [cleanse and make holy] a peculiar [special] people [i.e., born-again Christians, who have been saved through faith and belong to the Lord], [who are] zealous of [eager to do] good works [things that are pleasing to God].
Jesus is both Savior and God, and we look forward to his return.
Romans 15:4: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime [previously, in the Old Testament] were written for our learning, [so] that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures [contained in the Bible] might have hope [of eternal life and good things to come]."
Ecclesiastes 5:10: "He [or she] that loveth silver [i.e., money] shall not be satisfied with silver; nor [will] he [or she] that loveth abundance [wealth, riches] [be satisfied] with increase [more money]: this [love of money] is also vanity [brings emptiness and dissatisfaction, like many other things mentioned in Ecclesiastes--see note below*]."
For some people, the more they have, the more they want.
One commentary summarized the verse this way: "… If anything is worse than the addiction money brings, it is the emptiness it leaves. …" (Source: www.studylight.org/commentary/ecclesiastes/5-10.html, "Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible")
*Concerning the word vanity, Albert Barnes tells us that "In this book [Ecclesiastes] it is applied to all works on earth, to pleasure, grandeur, wisdom, the life of man, childhood, youth, and length of days, the oblivion of the grave, wandering and unsatisfied desires, unenjoyed possessions, and anomalies in the moral government of the world." (Source: www.godvine.com/bible/ecclesiastes/1-2, "Barnes' Notes")
Job 1:10 [Before being given permission to test Job's faith, Satan said to God]: "Hast not thou made an hedge [in this case, an invisible wall of protection] about [around] him [Job], and about his house [i.e., everyone who lives in it (family and servants)], and about all that he hath [has] on every side [all of his possessions, including livestock (oxen, camels, sheep, etc.)]? thou hast blessed the work of his hands [everything that he does], and his substance [referring to cattle and riches] is increased in the land."
Satan thought that the only reason Job loved and served God was because God had been protecting him and his family from harm and had made them rich.
Proverbs 14:8: "The wisdom of the prudent [person; i.e., someone who is sensible and shows good judgment] is to understand his way [of life; i.e., how to behave toward others, make wise decisions, etc.]: but the folly [foolish behavior, resulting from a lack of morals and/or common sense] of fools is deceit [deception; i.e., convincing themselves--and others--that their way is right]."
In his commentary on the above verse, Pastor Delany, of Salem Bible Church, says that, due to pride and a "know it all" attitude, fools think that their way is right, and they refuse to be corrected.
If you want to read the commentary, here's the link: www.salembible.org/biblestudies/proverbs_notes/ch14_html/Prov.14.8.htm.
Jeremiah 23:24: "Can any [person] hide himself [or herself] in secret places [so] that I shall not see him [or her]? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD."
Since God is everywhere, he sees and hears everything.
Deuteronomy 16:17: "Every man [person] shall give [money, assistance, things, etc.] [to the church, charity, others, etc.] as he [or she] is able [to do so], according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given [to] thee [you]."
In other words, if you have been blessed by God, try to be a blessing to others.
2 Timothy 4:7-8 - A Crown of Righteousness
Comparing the Christian life--and his ministry--to fighting a spiritual battle (against sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil) and running a race, the apostle Paul, knowing that his life would soon come to an end, wrote this in a letter to Timothy:
Verse 7: "I have fought a good fight [in living the Christian life], I have finished my course [race], I have kept the faith [been faithful to God]:"
Verse 8: "Henceforth [from now on] there is laid up [set aside, waiting] for me [in heaven] a crown of righteousness, which the Lord [Jesus Christ], the righteous judge, shall give me at that day [on judgment day--at the judgment seat of Christ]: and [he'll give a crown of righteousness] not to me only, but unto all them also [referring to born-again Christians] that love his appearing [i.e., those who sincerely look forward to the 'second coming,' when Jesus will return to earth]."
Luke 3:7-14 - Meaning of "Fruits Worthy of Repentance," According to John the Baptist
When this incident occurred, Jesus had not yet begun his public ministry. Because people came to John to repent of their sins and be baptized in the Jordan River, his baptism is commonly referred to as a "baptism of repentance" (see Note 1 below). At the present time, the only way we can be cleansed from sin is through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ--by believing that Jesus gave his life to pay for our sins and by accepting God's free gift of eternal life, which was purchased with the blood that Jesus shed on the cross (see Note 2 below). Baptism does not save us. It is simply a picture of what happens when we are born again, or saved.
Verse 7: "Then said he [John the Baptist] to the multitude [crowd, including Pharisees and Sadducees (see Note 3 below)] that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation [offspring] of vipers [poisonous snakes] [i.e., wicked people], who hath warned you to flee [run away] from the wrath [anger] [of God] to come?"
Verse 8: "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance [do things to prove that your repentance (change of mind about sin and salvation) is sincere], and begin not to say within [think to] yourselves [because they were Abraham's descendants], We have Abraham to [for] our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of [from] these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."
Verse 9: "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn [cut] down, and cast [thrown] into the fire."
Verses 10-11: "And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He [or she] that hath two coats, let him [or her] impart to [share with] him [or her] that hath none; and he [or she] that hath meat [food], let him [or her] do likewise [the same]."
Verse 11: In other words, be charitable (do good to others).
Verses 12-13: "Then came also publicans [tax collectors] to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact [demand, or take] no more than that which is appointed [to] you [i.e., authorized by the government]."
Verse 13: Be honest. Don't lie, cheat, or steal.
Verse 14: "And the soldiers likewise demanded [an answer] of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man [person], neither accuse any[one] falsely; and be content [satisfied] with your wages [paychecks; i.e., money--and, in those days, rations (daily allowance of food)--that people earned for doing work]."
Verse 14: Be kind and don't complain.
Note 1: For more information concerning baptism, read one or both of the following articles:
-- "What as the meaning and importance of the baptism of John the Baptist?" (Link: www.gotquestions.org/baptism-of-John.html)
-- "What are the seven baptisms mentioned in the Bible, and what do they mean?" (Link: www.gotquestions.org/seven-baptisms.html)
Note 2: For more information about the importance of the blood that Jesus shed on the cross, read "What is the meaning of the blood of Christ? (Link: www.gotquestions.org/blood-of-Christ.html)
Note 3: Pharisees and Sadducees were members of the ruling class in Israel. For background information on these people, see the following article: "Who were the Sadducees and the Pharisees?" (Link: www.gotquestions.org/Sadducees-Pharisees.html)
2 Corinthians 5:7 [in a letter to the Christian church at Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote]: "(For we walk [through life on earth (i.e., live the Christian life, trying to do things that are pleasing to God)] by faith [in God's promises of wonderful things to come (eternal life in heaven, etc.)], not by sight:)"
In other words, when we "walk by faith," we "are controlled, not by what we see, but by what we believe." (Source: www.studylight.org/commentary/2-corinthians/5-7.html, "Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament")
Proverbs 12:10: "A righteous man [a decent, moral, kind-hearted, 'good' person] regardeth the life of his beast [takes care of his (or her) animals (referring to 'beasts of burden,' not household pets) by providing food, shelter, rest, protection, etc., for them]: but the tender mercies [expressions of pity and compassion] of the wicked [people] are cruel."
According to Pastor Delany of Salem Bible church, in the above verse, King Solomon "tells us that one can tell a lot about a man by the way he treats his animals."
Pastor Delany has written an excellent commentary on this verse, including many examples of animals' actions and how "'good" and "bad" people might react to them, the relationship between man and beast both in Bible times and modern times, how a person's treatment of animals (and even machines) might indicate how he or she would treat people, and what to watch out for when choosing a spouse or friend.
If you want to read the commentary, here's the link: www.salembible.org/biblestudies/proverbs_notes/ch12_html/Prov.12.10.htm.
John 15:18 [Jesus, speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper, following the departure of Judas Iscariot]: "If the world [i.e., people who live in it] hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you."
The above words also apply to all born-again Christians.
Hebrews 4:13: "Neither is there any creature [living being] that is not manifest [clearly visible] in his [God's] sight [i.e., there is no person whose thoughts and deeds (actions) are not wholly (fully, completely) known to God]: but all things are naked and opened [exposed] unto the eyes of him [God] with whom we have to do [give account] [on judgment day]."
In other words, God sees everything.
Albert Barnes had an interesting comment on the above verse:
"Who would wish the world to read all his thoughts and feelings for a single day? Who would wish his best friends to look in upon his naked soul as we can look into a room through a window? O what blushes and confusion; what a hanging down of the head, and what an effort to escape from the gaze of people would there be, if every one knew that all his secret feelings were seen by every person whom he met! Social enjoyment would end; and the now frivolous and blithe multitudes in the streets would become processions of downcast and blushing convicts. And yet all these are known to God. He reads every thought; sees every feeling; looks through the whole soul. How careful should we be to keep our hearts pure; how anxious that there should be nothing in the soul that we are not willing to have known!"
(Source: www.godvine.com/bible/hebrews/4-13, "Barnes' Notes")
Exodus 23:2: "Thou shalt not follow a multitude [many people, such as a gang or a group of rioters] to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause [as when you testify in court or are a judge or member of a jury in a trial] to decline after many [to side with many others] to wrest judgment [to pervert justice, or prevent justice from being served (done)]:"
John 3:1-8 - Nicodemus and the New Birth
Verses 1-2: "There was a man of the Pharisees [a major Jewish sect, or group--see note below*], named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews [he was a member of the Sanhedrin]: The same [person; i.e., he] came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi [a title of respect], we know that thou art [you are] a teacher come from [sent by] God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him."
Verse 3: "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily [truly, truly], I say unto thee, Except a man [person] be born again, he [or she] cannot see [or enter into and enjoy] the kingdom of God [heaven]."
Verse 4: "Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"
Verse 5-7: "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man [person] be born of water [referring to physical birth or a spiritual cleansing--see note below**] and of the [Holy] Spirit [referring to spiritual birth], he [or she] cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh [i.e., from a mother] is flesh [a sinful person]; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit [spiritual]. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."
Verse 8: "The wind bloweth where it listeth [wills, pleases, chooses; i.e., in various directions], and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence [from where] it cometh, and whither [where] it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." [Using the wind as an example, Jesus says that when someone has been born again, there should be noticeable effects on, or changes in, his or her life. Consequently, even though we may not see what's happening during the new birth or completely understand everything about it, we shouldn't reject this teaching.]
*According to Albert Barnes, in his commentary on Matthew 3:7:
"The Pharisees were the most numerous and wealthy sect of the Jews. They derived their name from the Hebrew word Pharash, which signifies to set apart, or to separate, because they separated themselves from the rest of their countrymen, and professedly devoted themselves to special strictness in religion. Their leading tenets were the following: that the world was governed by fate, or by a fixed decree of God; that the souls of men were immortal, and were either eternally happy or miserable beyond the grave; that the dead would be raised; that there were angels, good and bad; that God was under obligation to bestow special favor on the Jews; and that they were justified by their own conformity to the law. They were proud, haughty, self-righteous, and held the common people in great disrespect, … They sought the offices of the state, and affected great dignity. They were ostentatious in their religious worship, praying in the corners of the streets, and seeking publicity in the bestowment of alms. They sought principally external cleanliness, and dealt much in ceremonial ablutions and washing.
"They maintained some of the laws of Moses very strictly. In addition to the written laws, they held to a multitude which they maintained had come down from Moses by tradition. These they felt themselves as much bound to observe as the written Law. Under the influence of these laws they washed themselves before meals with great scrupulousness; they fasted twice a week - on Thursday, when they supposed that Moses ascended Mount Sinai, and on Monday, when he descended; they wore broad phylacteries, and enlarged the fringe or borders of their garments; they loved the chief rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues. In general, they were a corrupt, hypocritical, office-seeking, haughty class of men. There are, however, some honorable exceptions recorded …."
Source: www.godvine.com/bible/matthew/3-7, "Barnes' Notes")
**For an explanation of the phrase born of water, see the following article: "What does it mean to be born of water?" Here's the link: www.gotquestions.org/born-of-water.html.
Psalm 84:11 [King David's prayer to God, referring to born-again Christians]: "For the LORD God is a sun [he guides and directs us and gives light, comfort, and joy to our souls] and shield [he protects and defends us]: the LORD will give [us] grace [pardon and favor] [here on earth] and glory [honor] [in the world to come (heaven)]: no good [beneficial] thing [i.e., nothing that we need or that is good for us] will he [God] withhold from them that walk uprightly [from those of us who love him and try to obey his word (as found in the Bible); i.e., those who are honest and upright and have strong moral principles]."
Ephesians 5:25: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ [Jesus] also loved the church [which is comprised (made up of) everyone who has been born again according to the Bible (commonly referred to as 'believers' or 'born-again Christians')--see note below*], and gave himself for it [i.e., Jesus willingly and selflessly (unselfishly) died on the cross to redeem, or save, us (members of his church) from hell and give us everlasting life];"
*In the Bible, the 'church' is sometimes referred to as the 'bride of Christ.' The following article describes what that means: "What does it mean that the church is the bride of Christ?" If you want to read it, here's the link: www.gotquestions.org/bride-of-Christ.html.
James 1:14-15 - Temptation and Sin
Verse 14: "But every man [and woman and child] is tempted [to sin], when he [or she] is drawn away of [lured away or led astray by] his [or her] own lust [craving or intense desire to have or do something], and [is] enticed [caught, trapped]."
Verse 15: "Then when lust hath conceived [an unacceptable thought and/or plan in your mind; i.e., when you think about ungodly, immoral things, or about committing an improper act, and you don't resist and reject those thoughts and/or actions], it [i.e., the lust] bringeth forth [results in] sin: and sin, when it is finished [when a sinful act has been committed, it], bringeth forth death [in all forms, both temporal (physical) and eternal--see note below*]."
According to Albert Barnes, normal desires aren't sinful unless they are "indulged in an improper manner." Here's what he said in his commentary on verse 15:
"As our desires of good lie in the mind by nature, as our propensities exist as they were created, they cannot be regarded as sin, or treated as such; but when they are indulged, when plans of gratification are formed, when they are developed in actual life, the effect is sin. In the mere desire of good, of happiness, of food, of raiment, there is no sin; it becomes sin when indulged in an improper manner, and when it leads us to seek that which is forbidden - to invade the rights of others, or in any way to violate the laws of God.
(Source: www.godvine.com/bible/james/1-15, "Barnes' Notes")
*The following article explains the meaning of eternal death: "What is eternal death?" If you want to read it, here's the link: www.gotquestions.org/eternal-death.html.
2 Timothy 1:8 [the apostle Paul, writing to Timothy from prison]: "Be not thou therefore [therefore, don't be] ashamed of the testimony [gospel] of our Lord [Jesus Christ], nor [and don't be ashamed] of me his prisoner [because he (Paul), a servant of the Lord, had been put in jail for preaching the gospel]: but be thou partaker of [be willing to share, take part, or participate in] the afflictions of the gospel [i.e., any pain, suffering, or distress that may result from your profession of the gospel] according to the power [ability] of God [to help you endure (withstand) those trials];"
From the above verse, we learn that Christians should not be ashamed of the gospel or of being associated with those who preach its message of salvation through faith, not works.
Here are some quotes from the Bible regarding:
-- Definition of gospel: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
-- Salvation by faith, not works: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
For additional information about the gospel and salvation, you can read one or more of the following articles:
-- "What is the gospel?" (www.gotquestions.org/what-is-the-gospel.html)
-- "What are the essentials of the gospel message?" (www.gotquestions.org/gospel-message.html)
-- "What is salvation? What is the Christian doctrine of salvation?" (www.gotquestions.org/Christian-doctrine-salvation.html)
2 Chronicles 16:12-13: "And Asa [king of Judah] in the thirty and ninth [39th] year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease [probably gout] was exceeding great [very bad]: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD [didn't look to God for help and healing], but [only] to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers [i.e., died], and died in the one and fortieth [41st] year of his reign."
Whenever we have a medical problem (sickness, injury, etc.), in addition to visiting the doctor, we should always pray to God for wisdom, guidance, and healing.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 - Some Christians Never "Grow Up"
[The apostle Paul wrote the following in a letter to the Corinthian church]
Verse 1: "And I, brethren [brothers and sisters in Christ, or fellow Christians], could not speak unto you as [I would speak] unto spiritual [people; i.e., 'grown-up,' knowledgeable, experienced Christians], but [I spoke to you] as [I would speak] unto carnal [Christians, who are still under the influence of fleshly appetites (worldly desires) because they covet (crave) and live for the things of this life rather than the things of God], [and] even as [I would speak] unto babes in Christ [i.e., new, or 'baby,' Christians]."
Verse 2: "I have fed you with milk [I have taught only the basics of the gospel, such as the new birth, repentance, faith, etc.], and not with meat [and not the more profound (deeper, more difficult and complicated) doctrines of the Christian religion]: for hitherto [because in the past] ye were not able to bear it [you could not understand those things], neither yet now are ye able [to do so]."
Verse 3: "For ye are yet [you are still] carnal [Christians]: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife [disagreements], and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men [act like unsaved people]?"
Psalm 37:14-15: "The wicked have drawn out [withdrawn, removed] the sword [from its scabbard, or sheath (protective case)], and have bent their bow [by placing a foot on it and drawing the string back, in preparation for shooting an arrow], to cast down the poor and needy [people; e.g., to cause them to fall into sin, experience calamities (great misfortunes or disasters), etc.], and to slay [kill in a violent way] such as be of upright conversation [those living godly, moral lifestyles]. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken [and rendered (made) useless]."
In other words, when bad people try to harm or kill "good" people, especially Christians, through word and/or deed, their plans will usually backfire or God will prevent them from succeeding.
2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore if any man [or woman or child] be in Christ [is united to Jesus Christ by faith; i.e., has been saved, or born again, according to the Bible--see note below*], he [or she] is a new creature [created being, or creation--in a moral sense]: old things are passed away; behold, all things [thoughts, principles, and practices] are become new."
Albert Barnes has an in-depth explanation of the above verse in his commentary. To read it, click on the link (www.godvine.com/bible/2-corinthians/5-17) and scroll down to "Barnes' Notes."
*If you're not already a Christian, a wonderful way to start the new year would be to get saved. If you believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins, and that he was buried and rose again, simply ask him to come into your heart and save you so you can go to heaven when you die. If your prayer is sincere (i.e., if you really mean what you pray), you will be the "new creature" described above.
For a more detailed explanation of the plan of salvation, please read one or more of my gospel tracts. You'll find them on the "Printable Gospel Tracts" page of my website. Here's the link: www.mansioninheaven.com/PrintableGospelTracts.html.