1 Thessalonians 5:22: "Abstain from [avoid] all appearance of evil."
In other words, if we have to ask ourselves whether something is right or wrong, we shouldn't do it, because some, or even many, people might view it as bad, even though our intentions in doing it are not.
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Albert Barnes has a good commentary on this verse. It says:
"Abstain from all appearance of evil - Not only from evil itself, but from that which seems to be wrong. There are many things which are known to be wrong. They are positively forbidden by the laws of heaven, and the world concurs in the sentiment that they are wicked. But there are also many things about which there may be some reasonable doubt. It is not quite easy to determine in the case what is right or wrong. The subject has not been fully examined, or the question of its morality may be so difficult to settle, that the mind may be nearly or quite balanced in regard to it. There are many things which, in themselves, may not appear to us to be positively wrong, but which are so considered by large and respectable portions of the community; and for us to do them would be regarded as inconsistent and improper. There are many things, also, in respect to which there is great variety of sentiment among mankind - where one portion would regard them as proper, and another as improper.
"There are things, also, where, whatever may be our motive, we may be certain that our conduct will be regarded as improper. A great variety of subjects, such as those pertaining to dress, amusements, the opera, the ball-room, games of chance and hazard, and various practices in the transaction of business, come under this general class; which, though on the supposition that they cannot be proved to be in themselves positively wrong or forbidden, have much the 'appearance' of evil, and will be so interpreted by others. The safe and proper rule is to lean always to the side of virtue. In these instances it may be certain that there will be no sin committed by abstaining; there may be by indulgence. No command of God, or of propriety, will be violated if we decline complying with these customs; but on the other hand we may wound the cause of religion by yielding to what possibly is a mere temptation. No one ever does injury or wrong by abstaining from the pleasures of the ball-room, the theater, or a glass of wine; who can indulge in them without, in the view of large and respectable portions of the community, doing that which has the 'appearance' at least of 'evil?'
(Source for Barnes quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-thessalonians-5.html "Verse 22")
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In addition, Matthew Henry tells us that:
"… Corrupt affections indulged in the heart, and evil practices allowed of in the life, will greatly tend to promote fatal errors in the mind; whereas purity of heart, and integrity of life, will dispose men to receive the truth in the love of it. We should therefore abstain from evil, and all appearances of evil, from sin, and that which looks like sin, leads to it, and borders upon it. He who is not shy of the appearances of sin, who shuns not the occasions of sin, and who avoids not the temptations and approaches to sin, will not long abstain from the actual commission of sin."
(Source for Matthew Henry quote: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-thessalonians/5.html, "Verses 16-22")
Philippians 4:13 [In a letter to the Christian church at Philippi, the apostle Paul wrote]: "I can do all things [such as starting and finishing my work, bearing (enduring) all trials, resisting temptation, etc.] through [Jesus] Christ which strengtheneth [who strengthens] me."
Remember that, if you're a born-again Christian, you're not alone. Jesus helped Paul in his daily life, and he'll help you, too.
1 Corinthians 11:14: "Doth [does] not even nature itself [i.e., your instinctive feelings or judgments, a deep internal sense of what is right and wrong] teach you, that, if a man [or boy] have long hair, it is a shame unto him [it is improper and disgraceful]?"
Regarding men's and women's hair, Matthew Henry noted in his commentary:
"… 'Judge in yourselves --consult your own reason, hearken [pay attention] to what nature suggests--is it comely [suitable, something pleasant to look at] for a woman to pray to God uncovered [in regard to her hair]? Should there not be a distinction kept up between the sexes in wearing their hair, since nature has made one [i.e., a distinction]? Is it not a distinction which nature has kept up among all civilized nations? The woman's hair is a natural covering; to wear it long is a glory to her; but for a man to have long hair, or cherish it, is a token [a sign, an indication] of softness and effeminacy [feminine (unmanly) qualities]' …"
(Source for quote: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-corinthians/11.html, "Verses 1-16")
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - Don't Commit Sexual Sins
In a letter to members of the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote this in an attempt to explain why they should not commit fornication, which is defined as "sexual relations between people not married to each other":
(1 Corinthians 6:19)
Verse 19: "What? know ye not [don't you (born-again Christians) know] that your body is the temple [sanctuary, sacred dwelling place] of the Holy Ghost [or 'Holy Spirit'--see note below*] which [referring to the Holy Spirit] is in you [in your heart], [and] which [also referring to the Holy Spirit] ye have of [from] God, and [that] ye [you] are not your own [master]?"
(1 Corinthians 6:20)
Verse 20: "[You should not commit the sin of fornication] For [because] ye are bought with a price [i.e., the blood that Jesus shed on the cross to pay for our sins, according to 1 Peter 1:18-19]: therefore glorify [honor] God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's [which belong to him]."
True Christians (people who have been born again, or saved) should want to serve God because, according to the above verses, they belong to him.
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Regarding verse 18, one Bible commentator wrote:
"… There is a blessed sense in these words, 'You are not your own.' Remember you must be someone's. If God is not your master, the devil will be; if grace does not rule, sin will reign; if Christ is not your all in all, the world will be. It is not as though we could roam abroad in perfect liberty. Someone will have us. We must have a master of one kind or another; and which is best, a bounteous benevolent Benefactor such as God has ever shown himself to be; a merciful, loving, and tender Parent; a kind, forgiving Father and Friend; and a tender-hearted, compassionate Redeemer, able to save us to the uttermost; or a cruel devil, a miserable world, and a wicked, vile, abominable heart? …"
(Source for above quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/1-corinthians/6-19.html, "Commentary by J.C. Philpot on selected texts of the Bible")
*The Holy Ghost (also known as the Holy Spirit) is the third person of the Godhead, or Trinity, which means that God consists of three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
The fact that the Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit are one and the same is explained in the article entitled "What is the difference between the Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/Holy-Spirit-Ghost.html.
1 Samuel 16:6-7 - God Doesn't Judge People by Their Looks
The following event took place after God told his prophet Samuel to go to Bethlehem, make a sacrifice to him (God), and anoint a new king for Israel. We find out later on this chapter that God's choice for king was Jesse's youngest son, David.
(1 Samuel 16:6)
Verse 6: "And it came to pass, when they [Jesse and seven of his eight sons] were come [had arrived] [to witness the sacrifice], that he [Samuel] looked on Eliab [Jesse's oldest son], and said, Surely the LORD'S anointed [God's choice for king, to replace Saul, who (as we learn in 1 Samuel 9:2) was a very tall man] is before him [God, … meaning that Eliab was standing near the altar, where God was present]."
(1 Samuel 16:7)
Verse 7: "But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on [don't look at, or pay attention to] his [Eliab's] countenance [appearance; i.e., whether he was good-looking or not], or on the height of his stature [how tall he was]; because I have refused [rejected] him [as my choice for king]: for [because] the LORD seeth not [does not see] as [like] man [mankind, human beings, people] seeth; for man looketh [looks] on the outward appearance [of a person], but the LORD looketh on the heart [meaning what that person is like inside]."
God judges people by their hearts. not their appearance, and so should we.
The phrase man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart in verse 7 reminds me of the part of Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech in which he said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." It sounds like Dr. King wanted us to do what God does: judge people by their hearts ("the content of their character") rather than by how they look.
The meaning of Dr. King's statement is explained in detail in an article that Gregg Henriques, Ph.D., posted to his blog in 2016. In it, he wrote:
"Let's take a minute and reflect on what Martin Luther King meant when he talked about the content of character. This refers to the core ethical values of honesty and integrity, respecting others, taking responsibility for one's actions, being fair and just, and being someone who promotes love and compassion in others. We can also think about the content of character in terms of core virtues and the extent to which one embodies wisdom, humility, courage, justice, temperance [self-control], and the value of human dignity."
(Source for above quotes by Drs. King and Henriques: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/theory-knowledge/201609/the-content-our-character)
Galatians 6:9 [In a letter to the churches in Galatia, the apostle Paul wrote]: "And let us not be weary in well doing [we shouldn't get tired of doing good]: for [because] in due season [at the proper time, either in this world, or in heaven (at the Judgment Seat of Christ), or in this world and also in heaven] we [born-again Christians] shall reap [rewards, or 'we shall be rewarded or repaid for our good deeds, by others and/or by God'], if we faint not [if we don't give up and stop doing good things before then]."
Although the above verse was written to Christians, Paul's advice to "not be weary in well doing" is a good rule for everyone--believers and non-believers alike--to follow.
1 John 2:3-4: "And hereby [by this] we do know [for sure] that we know him [the Lord Jesus Christ, personally, meaning we know that we are saved, or born again], if we keep [obey] his commandments. He [or she] that saith [says], I know him [Jesus] [as his (or her) personal Savior], and keepeth not [does not obey] his commandments, is a liar, and the truth [of God] is not in him [or her]."
Everyone who is truly saved according to the Bible (i.e., by faith alone, not good works or good deeds, per Ephesians 2:8-9) should have a sincere desire to please God through obedience and love.
Psalm 4:8 [King David prayed to God]: "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep [meaning David would be able to lie down and sleep peacefully]: for thou [you], LORD, only [alone] makest [make] me dwell [live] in safety."
King David trusted God to watch over him and keep him safe from harm. We Christians can be assured that God will do the same for us if, like David, we truly love him and obey his word.
This verse reminds me of a prayer that I learned when I was a child. It goes like this: "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." I wasn't saved at the time, but perhaps that prayer was one of the early influences in my life that eventually led to my decision to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.
2 Peter 3:8 [In a letter to Christians regarding the second coming of Christ (i.e., a time in the not-too-distant future when Jesus will return to earth), the apostle Peter wrote]: "But, beloved, be not [don't be] ignorant [lacking in knowledge, unaware] of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord [Jesus, in heaven] [the same] as a thousand years [is with us, on earth], and a thousand years [on earth] [is the same] as one day [in heaven]."
Because 1,000 years on earth equals one day in heaven, we know that God measures time differently than we do.
According to Albert Barnes:
"… This 2 Peter 3:8-9 is the second consideration by which the apostle [Peter] meets the objection of scoffers [doubters, mockers] against the doctrine of the second coming of the Saviour [the Lord Jesus Christ]. The objection was, that much time, and perhaps the time which had been supposed to be set for his coming, had passed away, and still all things remained as they were. The reply of the apostle is, that no argument could be drawn from this, for that which may seem to be a long time to us is a brief period with God. In the infinity [endlessness] of his own duration there is abundant [plenty of] time to accomplish his designs, and it can make no difference with him whether they are accomplished in one day or extended to one thousand years. Man has but a short time to live, and if he does not accomplish his purposes in a very brief period, he never will. But it is not so with God. …"
(Source of above quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-peter-3.html, "Verse 8")
Matthew 6:24: "No man [or woman or child] can serve two masters: for [because] either he [or she] will hate the one [master], and love the other; or else he [or she] will hold [on] to the one [master], and despise [disrespect, neglect, or reject] the other. Ye [you] cannot serve [submit to, obey] [both] God and mammon [money, riches, wealth--see note below*] [at the same time]."
*Regarding the phrase Ye cannot serve God and mammon, Matthew Henry said:
"… Mammon is a Syriac word, that signifies gain; so that whatever in this world is, or is accounted by us to be, gain … is mammon. Whatever is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is mammon. To some their belly is their mammon, and they serve that …; to others their ease, their sleep, their sports and pastimes, are their mammon …; to others worldly riches …; to others honours and preferments; the praise and applause of men was the Pharisees' mammon; in a word, self, the unity in which the world's trinity centres, sensual, secular self [i.e., having no religious or spiritual basis], is the mammon which cannot be served in conjunction with God; for if it be served, it is in competition with him and in contradiction to him …"
(Source for above quote: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/matthew/6.html, "Verses 19-24")
2 Timothy 3:16: "All scripture [everything written in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments] is given [to us, via the prophets and apostles,] by inspiration of God [through the influence of the Holy Spirit], and is profitable [useful] for doctrine [teaching of Christian beliefs], for reproof [conviction of sin], for correction [of errors], for instruction in righteousness [to help us learn what is right and good so we may lead lives that are pleasing to God]:"
Matthew 26:51-52 - Violence Doesn't Solve Problems
This is what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane, prior to Jesus' crucifixion, when the mob (a large group of unruly people, consisting of Roman soldiers and the servants and officers of the high priest) came to arrest Jesus:
Verse 51: "And, behold [see, observe, notice that], one of them which were with Jesus [referring to the apostle Peter, per John 18:10] stretched out his hand, and drew [pulled out] his sword [note: this was one of the two swords that the disciples were carrying for the purpose of self-defense--to protect themselves from attacks by robbers, etc.], and [Peter] struck [hit] a servant of the high priest's [whose name was Malchus], and smote [cut] off his [right] ear."
Note: According to Luke 22:51, shortly after Peter cut off the servant's ear, Jesus healed it.
Verse 52: "Then said Jesus unto him [Peter], Put up again thy [your] sword into his place [into its sheath (protective covering)]: for [or 'because'] all they that take the sword [and use it, not for the purposes of justice, but due to hatred, anger, a desire for revenge, etc.] shall perish with [die by] the sword."
"Live by the sword, die by the sword" is a common saying that came from these verses. It means that violent acts (all of them, not just those committed with a sword) usually result in more violence and death.
This concept is explained more fully in the GotQuestions.org article entitled "What does it mean to live by the sword and die by the sword?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/live-die-by-the-sword.html.
Proverbs 19:17: "He [or she] that hath [has] pity upon the poor [or 'everyone who is compassionate (caring) and kind to poor people and helps meet their needs'] lendeth unto the LORD [makes a loan to God]; and that which he [or she] hath given [to poor people, such as money, food, clothing, assistance, etc.] will he [God] pay [to] him [or her] again [meaning God will repay, or reward that person--either now or in heaven--for the kindness that he (or she) has shown to others]."
Salem Bible Church has an excellent commentary on this verse. Here are some excerpts from it about giving to the poor:
"We are not only showing mercy and love to the poor man, but we are demonstrating love to the Lord! … If you want to honor God-show mercy to His people in need!"
"It's for the Lord, not man … That means that we can minister to men we may not actually LIKE … Even if we later discover that the people we ministered to were just taking advantage of us, it does not detract from our ministry to the Lord."
"And be careful about groups who show pitiful pictures of starving children who claim to be Christian. Make sure you know what KIND of Christian testimony they hold to."
"Another abuse of the concept in this passage comes from the charismatic movement … They teach that if you give to their ministry, then God will pay you back! … They even say that God will pay you back 10 fold … Our adversary [Satan] is clever isn't he? He can twist a passage designed to teach God's people to express selfless generosity for God's glory into an expression of greed and selfishness!"
If you want to read the commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-19-index/proverbs-19_17/.
Proverbs 18:21: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it [their tongue, or 'using their tongue'] shall eat the fruit thereof [or 'suffer the consequences of what they say']."
Since words are powerful and have consequences, we need to think carefully before we speak. You may have heard this before, but a good rule to follow is: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." We shouldn't talk too much, but when we do, we should always be kind and try to build people up, not tear them down, with our words.
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As usual, Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church has an excellent commentary on this verse, including many examples. If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-18-index/proverbs-18_21/.
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Regarding today's verse, another Bible commentator wrote:
"I. Death is in the power of the tongue. How significant it is of the fallen condition of our race that death should here be put first! To prove the truth of our text, let us take some illustrations of the death-dealing power of the tongue.
"1. Take the deadly power of careless, vain, frivolous words. They seem harmless. How much harm is done by the light and careless conversation even of Christian people about religion! How much damage is done by the far too common habit of jesting [making jokes] with Scripture! Such a habit induces irreverence [disrespect], and lays the foundation for irreligion [indifference or hostility to religion].
"2. Take the deadly power of mocking words. A gibe [insult, taunt], a sneer, cuts many a man like a knife. By the mocking words of companions many a soul who has just escaped has been forced back into the bondage of sin, and driven to a Christless grave.
"3. As a graver [more serious] illustration of the same thing, take the power of false words. While open and deliberate lying is reprobated [disapproved of] by all, many have not a sufficient sense of the mischief wrought by falsehood and insincerity of speech. Every lie begets [brings about] other lies; and from the thoughtless exaggerations of conversation to the deliberate perjury [lying], which has in our day become so common in our law courts, the descent is quick and easy.
"4. A still more serious illustration of the death-dealing power of the tongue is seen in connection with slander [which acts like poison] … So it is in the power of slanderous words to inflame hearts, to fever human existence, to poison human society at the fountain springs of life."
"5. But the supreme illustration of the death-dealing power of the tongue is found in indecent words. The man of indecent speech may be compared with the murderer. The one destroys the body, the other destroys the soul … By it [indecent speech] the imagination is defiled, the corrupt nature set on fire, the barriers that guard purity broken down, and the soul led to absolute ruin.
"II. Life is in the power of the tongue. When the tongue is consecrated [dedicated to a higher purpose], when it is guided and controlled by a heart full of the Holy Ghost [which happens when someone is 'born again,' or saved from hell], it [the tongue] becomes a mighty power to destroy the works of the devil.
"1. Grave [serious] and gracious [kind and courteous] speech takes the place of careless, light, and frivolous [silly, goofy, dumb] speech. Our words lead seekers to Christ, in Him to find eternal life.
"2. Comforting and encouraging words take the place of mocking words. The power of words of comfort to encourage those who are sorrowing [grieving] and desponding [depressed] is simply marvellous. They literally bring life to the soul.
"3. Kind words take the place of cruel words. Every kind word that is uttered [spoken] makes this world more like heaven. For where slander begets hate, kindness begets love.
"4. True words go forth to do battle against the falsehoods of which the earth is full. Every true word that is spoken binds human society more closely together, and makes the burden of life easier to bear.
"5. And then pure words go forth to enlighten and purify and cleanse lives darkened and debased and defiled by the evils of the world …"
(Source for above quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/proverbs/18-21.html, "The Biblical Illustrator," "The power of speech")
2 Corinthians 6:14 [In a letter to Christians in the church at Corinth (and to all other Christians in the world), the apostle Paul, and Timothy, wrote]: "Be ye not [don't be] unequally yoked together [joined together, united] with unbelievers [unsaved people] [in marriage, friendships, business partnerships, etc.]: for [because] what fellowship [friendly association, companionship] hath righteousness [does righteousness have] with unrighteousness? and what communion [close personal connection] hath light [does spiritual light have] with [spiritual] darkness?"
In his commentary on the above verse, Albert Barnes explains what Paul meant when he told Christians, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers":
"… There is no principle of Christianity that is more important than that which is here stated by the apostle; and none in which Christians are more in danger of erring [doing something wrong], or in which they have more difficulty in determining the exact rule which they are to follow. The questions which arise are very important. Are we to have no contact with the people of the world? Are we cut loose from all our friends who are not Christians? Are we to become monks, and live a recluse and unsocial life? Are we never to mingle with the people of the world in business, in innocent recreation, or in the duties of citizens, and as neighbors and friends? It is important, therefore, in the highest degree, to endeavor to ascertain [try to determine] what are the principles on which the New Testament requires us to act in this matter. And in order to a correct understanding of this, the following principles may be suggested:
"I. There is a large field of action, pursuit, principle, and thought, over which infidelity, sin, paganism [the worship of false gods, including nature (i.e., 'mother earth')], and the world as such, have the entire control. It is wholly without the range of Christian law, and stands opposed to Christian law. It pertains to a different kingdom; is conducted by different principles, and tends to destroy and annihilate [destroy] the kingdom of [Jesus] Christ. It cannot be reconciled with Christian principle, and cannot be conformed to but in entire violation of the influence of religion. Here the prohibition of the New Testament is absolute and entire. Christians are not to mingle [mix] with the people of the world in these things; and are not to partake of them. This prohibition, it is supposed, extends to the following, among other things:
"(1) To idolatry. This was plain. On no account or pretence were the early Christians to partake of [take part in] that, or to countenance [approve of] it. In primitive times, during the Roman persecutions, all that was asked was that they should cast a little incense on the altar of a pagan god. They refused to do it, and because they refused to do it, thousands perished [died] as martyrs. They judged rightly; and the world has approved their cause.
"(2) sin, vice [immoral or wicked behavior], licentiousness [promiscuity, throwing off of sexual restraints]. This is also plain. Christians are in no way to patronise them, or to lend their influence to them, or to promote them by their name, their presence, or their property. 'Neither be partakers of other people's sins;' …
"(3) arts and acts of dishonesty, deception, and fraud in traffic and trade. Here the prohibition also must be absolute. No Christian can have a right to enter into partnership with another where the business is to be conducted on dishonest and unchristian principles, or where it shall lead to the violation of any of the laws of God. If it involves deception and fraud in the principles on which it is conducted; if it spreads ruin and poverty - as the distilling [making] and vending [selling] of ardent spirits [strong distilled liquor] does; if it leads to the necessary violation of the Christian Sabbath [a day set aside for Christian worship], then the case is plain. A Christian is to have no 'fellowship with such unfruitful works of darkness, but is rather to reprove [censure, express disapproval of] them;' …
"(4) the amusements and pleasures that are entirely worldly, and sinful in their nature; that are wholly under worldly influence, and which cannot be brought under Christian principles. Nearly all amusements are of this description. The true principle here seems to be, that if a Christian in such a place is expected to lay aside his Christian principles, and if it would be deemed indecorous [not in good taste] and improper for him to introduce the subject of religion, or if religion would be regarded is entirely inconsistent with the nature of the amusement then he is not to be found there. The world reigns there, and if the principles of his Lord and Master would be excluded, he should not be there. This applies of course to the theater, the circus, the ballroom, and to large and splendid parties of pleasure. We are not to associate with idolaters in their idolatry; nor with the licentious in their licentiousness; nor with the infidel [unbeliever] in his infidelity; nor with the proud in their pride; nor with the frivolous [carefree or unserious people] in their gaiety [merrymaking]; nor with the friends of the theater, or the ballroom, or the circus in their attachment to these places and pursuits. And whatever other connection we are to have with them as neighbors, citizens, or members of our families, we are not to participate with them in these things. Thus far all seems to be clear; and the rule is a plain one whether it applies to marriage, or to business, or to religion, or to pleasure; …
"II. There is a large field of action, thought, and plan which may be said to be common with the Christian and the world; that is, where the Christian is not expected to abandon his own principles, and where there will be, or need be, no compromise of the sternest views of truth, or the most upright, serious, and holy conduct. He may carry his principles with him; may always manifest them if necessary; and may even commend them to others. A few of these may be referred to.
"(1) Commercial transactions and professional engagements that are conducted on honest and upright principles, even when those with whom we act are not Christians.
"(2) Literary and scientific pursuits, which never, when pursued with a right spirit, interfere with the principles of Christianity, and never are contrary to it.
"(3) the love and affection which are due to relatives and friends. Nothing in the Bible assuredly will prohibit a pious [religious] son from uniting with one who is not pious in supporting an aged and infirm parent [who is frail or weak due to old age or poor health], or a much loved and affectionate sister. The same remark is true also respecting the duty which a wife owes to a husband, a husband to a wife, or a parent to a child, though one of them should not be a Christian. And the same observation is true also of neighbors, who are not to be prohibited from uniting as neighbors in social contact, and in acts of common kindness and charity, though all not Christians.
"(4) as citizens. We owe duties to our country, and a Christian need not refuse to act with others in the elective franchise, or in making or administering the laws. Here, however, it is clear that he is not at liberty to violate the laws and the principles of the Bible. He cannot be at liberty to unite with them in political schemes that are contrary to the Law of God, or in elevating to office people whom he cannot vote for with a good conscience as qualified for the station.
"(5) in plans of public improvement, in schemes that go to the advancement of the public welfare, when the schemes do not violate the laws of God. But if they involve the necessity of violating the Sabbath, or any of the laws of God, assuredly he cannot consistently participate in them.
"(6) in doing good to others. So the Saviour was with sinners; so he ate, and drank, and conversed with them. So we may mingle with them, without partaking of their wicked feelings and plans, so far as we can do them good, and exert over them a holy and saving influence. In all the situations here referred to, and in all the duties growing out of them, the Christian may maintain his principles, and may preserve a good conscience. Indeed the Saviour evidently contemplated that his people would have such contact with the world, and that in it they would do good. But in none of these is there to be any compromise of principle; in none to be any yielding to the opinions and practices that are contrary to the laws of God.
"III. There is a large field of action, conduct, and plan, where Christians only will act together. These relate to the special duties of religion - to prayer, Christian fellowship, the ordinances of the gospel, and most of the plans of Christian beneficence [i.e., being kind to others and doing good things]. Here the world will not intrude; and here assuredly there will be no necessity of any compromise of Christian principle."
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-corinthians-6.html, "Verse 14")
1 Peter 2:18-23 - How Christians Should Respond When Treated Unkindly
With these verses, in a letter to born-again Christians, the apostle Peter teaches us about vengeance:
(1 Peter 2:18)
Verse 18: "Servants [people who are hired to serve others, such as domestic (household) help], be subject [in subjection, or obedient] to your masters [employers, people in charge] with all fear [by showing them proper reverence and respect]; [do that] not only to the good [good-natured, kind, merciful] and gentle [masters], but also to the froward [ones--those who are wicked and unjust]."
(1 Peter 2:19)
Verse 19: "For this is thankworthy [acceptable to God], if a man [or woman or child] for conscience toward God [or 'who is acting according to his (or her) conscience concerning the things of God' and has not done anything bad] endure[s] grief [trouble, annoyance, abuse], suffering wrongfully [unjustly]."
(1 Peter 2:20)
Verse 20: "For what glory [praise, honor, credit] is it, if, when ye be [when you are] buffeted [treated roughly, punished] for your faults [for the bad things that you have said or done], ye shall take it patiently [bravely, calmly, without resisting or complaining]? but if, when ye do well [when you do good, do right, don't do anything wrong], and suffer [reproach and persecution] for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."
(1 Peter 2:21)
Verse 21: "For even hereunto [even to this, referring nto a state of suffering, as a follower of Jesus Christ, per 2 Timothy 3:12] were ye [you, born-again Christians] called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow [in] his [Jesus'] [foot]steps [meaning we should imitate him]:"
(1 Peter 2:22, 23)
Verses 22-23: "Who [referring to Jesus] did no[t] sin [or 'never sinned'], neither was guile [deceit, hypocrisy, insincerity] found in his mouth: Who [Jesus], when he was reviled [insulted by others], reviled not again [did not insult them back]; when he suffered [injustice, beatings, etc.], he threatened not [he did not threaten punishment or vengeance]; but committed himself to him that judgeth [judges] righteously [honestly, fairly, justly] [meaning he turned everything over to God]:"
We deserve to be punished for bad things that we have done, but when we are punished for no reason (through no fault of our own) and we don't fight back, this is pleasing to God. Following Jesus' example, we must let God take care of the problem.
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At the end of his commentary on verse 18 (1 Peter 2:18), Mark Dunagan wrote this (please note that I started each item on a separate line to make the list easier to read):
"… POINTS TO NOTE:
"1. Our obligation to our duties, work, job, do not depend upon the character of the person in charge. At times people try to justify their laziness, or uncooperative attitude, because their boss or the company is so unfair.
"2. Suffering injustice doesn't give the Christian a right to act in an unjust manner, i.e. steal time or things from the company, become less then earnest in your work, etc…
"3. The Christian must always remember that the Master they are always serving in whatever economic situation they find themselves, is Christ (Ephesians 6:5-6). 'Christianity introduced a new attitude to work. It is the conviction of the New Testament that all work must be done for Jesus Christ….work is not done (primarily) for personal prestige…to make so much money…It is, of course, true that a man must work in order to earn a wage, and he must work to satisfy a master; but beyond that there is for the Christian the conviction that his work must be done well enough to take it and to show it to God without shame' …"
(Source for above quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/1-peter/2-18.html, "Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible")
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In his commentary on verse 23, John Gill wrote:
"Who when he was reviled, reviled not again,.... When he was reproached as a glutton [a person who eats too much], a winebibber [a person who drinks too much], a friend of publicans [tax collectors] and sinners, all the reply he made was, that Wisdom is justified of her children; and when he was charged with casting out devils by Beelzebub [Satan], the prince of devils, he defended himself, not with bad language, but with strong reasonings; and when he was said to be a Samaritan, and had a devil, his only answer was, that he had not, that he honoured his Father, and they dishonoured him; and when he was reviled on the cross, by those that passed by, by the chief priests, and Scribes, and the thieves that were crucified with him, he made no return, he opened not his mouth, and much less in a recriminating way [i.e., by making retaliatory accusations],
"When he suffered he threatened not; when he endured buffetings [being hit or punched repeatedly], and scourgings [beatings with a whip] in his body, when the officers in the palace of the high priests spit in his face, buffeted him, and smote [hit] him with the palms of their hands, and bid him prophesy who smote him, all which were very provoking; yet he said not one word to them, much less threatened them with what he would do to them for such usage another day, when he would let them know, with vengeance, who it was that smote him; no, he took all patiently from them, and from Pilate, and the Roman soldiers, when scourged by them; he gave his back to the smiters [people who beat him], and his cheeks to them that plucked off [pulled out] the hair [of his beard]; and when he suffered crucifixion, and was put to such distressing pains and agonies, he did not threaten his crucifiers with a future judgment, when he would take vengeance, and execute his wrath [anger] upon them, but prays to his Father for the forgiveness of their sins: and, as it follows,
but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously; he commended his Spirit, or soul, to God his Father, and committed his cause to him, to vindicate it [or 'to acquit or clear him'] in what way he should think fit, who he knew was the Judge of all the earth, that would do right … and which is an example, and an instruction to the saints [Christians] to do so likewise; not to render railing for railing [give back reviling for reviling], or to seek revenge, but to leave their cause with their God, who will, in his own time, avenge [pay someone back for] the wrongs and injuries done them …"
(Source for above quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/1-peter/2-23.html, "John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible ")
Proverbs 13:19: "The [good, proper] desire [when] accomplished is sweet [pleasant, satisfying] to the soul [of the person who gets what he or she wants--see note below for examples*]: but it is abomination [a disgusting, repulsive, hateful thing or thought] to fools to depart from evil [stop doing bad things, as in the examples listed below*]."
*Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church has an excellent commentary on this verse, including many examples of people whose "desires were accomplished" when they paid off their mortgages, received college degrees, became missionaries, climbed mountains, saw loved ones get saved, etc.
He also gives examples of people (fools) whose "desires are not accomplished" because they refuse to "depart from evil." Here's what he said about them in Section 2, paragraph 2, of his commentary:
"a. They want a happy family… but refuse to stop messing around… and their hopes for a happy family are dashed!
"b. They want to do well at work and get promotions… but they continue to show up late… do sloppy work… because they refuse to get up on time… or put in an honest day's work.
"c. They would love to have a college degree, but will not depart from all their partying and night life to go to college…
"d. They want to have friends too…but refuse to stop their gossip and bad behavior that causes their acquaintances to stay away…
"e. They want good health too… but refuse to depart from their many habits that are hazardous to their health… they drive fast, smoke, drink, take drugs… etc… and good health seems to elude them."
There are more examples of foolish behavior in Section 2, paragraph 3, of the commentary:
"b. A man with lung cancer who continues to smoke…
"c. A man who just wrecked his family because of his drinking who continues to drink…
"d. The homosexual who contracts aids, and refuses to depart from his lifestyle…
"e. The big mouth who gossips and slanders wherever he goes and makes enemies and brings trouble on himself… who continues to blab…"
If you want to read the rest of Pastor Delany's commentary, including examples of ways in which our good desires can get out of control, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-13-index/proverbs-13_19/.
Mark 8:36: "For what shall it profit a man [or woman or child] [or 'what advantage will a person have'], if he [or she] shall gain [acquire, obtain] the whole world [i.e., everything that he (or she) wants--riches, honor, pleasure, etc.] [by denying Jesus Christ, or refusing to accept his offer of salvation], and lose his [or her] own soul [in hell]?"
You have to decide NOW what's more important (earthly pleasures or eternal torment), because you can't be saved after you die.
* * * * *
Note: Detailed instructions for the plan of salvation can be found in most of the tracts in the "Printable Gospel Tracts" section of my website. If you want to read one or more of them, here's a direct link to that page: https://www.mansioninheaven.com/PrintableGospelTracts.html.
Matthew 7:12 [During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said]: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye [you] would [desire] that men [and women and children] should do to you, do ye even so to them [i.e., treat them the same way]: for [because] this is the law and the prophets [meaning it was a summary of Old Testament teaching]."
You may be familiar with the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"), which is similar to the teaching of this verse. Its meaning is discussed in the article entitled "What is the Golden Rule?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/Golden-Rule.html.
Psalm 25:15-18 - King David's Prayer to God
In these verses, David is asking God for his help and forgiveness.
Verse 15: "Mine [my] eyes are ever [continuously] toward the LORD [which means that David was always looking to God for help]; for he [God] shall pluck [pull] my feet out of the net [trap] [that has been laid by wicked people]."
Verse 16: "Turn thee [turn your attention, Lord,] unto me, and have mercy [pity, compassion] upon me; for I [David] am desolate [alone, forsaken] and afflicted [tormented]."
(Psalm 25:17, 18)
Verses 17-18: "The troubles of my heart [my sorrows] are enlarged [great]: O bring thou me [please bring me] out of my distresses [my physical and/or mental sufferings, caused by things like enemies and guilt]. Look upon mine affliction [my misery and sorrow] and my pain; and forgive all [of] my sins [see note below*]."
Sometimes our problems are the result of unconfessed (and unforgiven) sin.
*Regarding verse 18, Albert Barnes said:
"And forgive all my sins - The mind … connects trouble and sin together. When we are afflicted, we naturally inquire whether the affliction is not on account of some particular transgressions of which we have been guilty; and even when we cannot trace any direct connection with sin, affliction suggests the general fact that we are sinners, and that all our troubles are originated by that fact. One of the benefits of affliction, therefore, is to call to our remembrance our sins [as King David did when he regretted having committed adultery with Bathsheba], and to keep before the mind the fact that we are violators of the law of God. This connection between suffering and sin, in the sense that the one naturally suggests the other, was more than once illustrated in the miracles performed by the Saviour [Jesus Christ]. See Matthew 9:2."
(Source for above quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-25.html, "Verse 18")
Ezekiel 28:25-26 - The Jewish People Return to Their Land
Verse 25: "Thus saith [says] the Lord GOD; When I [God] shall have gathered the house of Israel [the Jewish people] from the people [nations] among whom they are scattered [i.e., Asia, Africa, and Europe], and [when I (God)] shall be sanctified [be honored as holy] in them [the Jewish people] in the sight of the heathen [non-Jewish people], then shall they [the Jews] dwell [live] in their land [Canaan] that I have given [promised] to my servant Jacob [which is described in the note below*]."
Verse 26: "And they [the Israelites, or Jewish people] shall dwell safely therein [i.e., in Canaan, the land that God has promised to them], and [they] shall build houses, and plant vineyards; yea [yes], they shall dwell [there] with confidence, when I [God] have executed judgments upon all those that despise [hate] them [the Israelites] round about them [meaning all of their enemies]; and they [the Jewish people] shall know that I am the LORD their God."
*To answer a question from one of their readers, GotQuestions.org published an article entitled "What is the land that God promised to Israel?" In it, we find that the land that God said belongs to Israel consists of "… All of the land modern Israel currently possesses, plus all of the land of the Palestinians (the West Bank and Gaza), plus some of Egypt and Syria, plus all of Jordan, plus some of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Israel currently possesses only a fraction of the land God has promised."
Here's a link to the article, if you want to read more: https://www.gotquestions.org/Israel-land.html.
1 John 3:22: "And whatsoever [whatever] we ask [God for, in prayer], we receive of [from] him, because we keep [obey] his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight."
According to the Bible, these are some of the requirements for answered prayer:
-- Obey God's commandments and do things that are pleasing in his sight (per 1 John 3:22).
-- Don't have unconfessed sins in your life (per 1 John 1:9).
-- Pray to God in faith (per James 1:6-7).
-- Pray in accordance with God's will (per 1 John 5:14-15).
-- Pray "in Jesus' name" (per John 14:13-14).
We know that God hears and answers the prayers of obedient Christians. Occasionally, however, he also answers the prayers of unsaved people. This is explained in the article entitled: "Does God hear / answer the prayers of a sinner / unbeliever?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/unbeliever-prayer.html.
* * * * *
Commenting on the phrase and do those things that are pleasing in his sight in today's verse, Albert Barnes wrote:
"As a parent is disposed to bestow favors on obedient, affectionate, and dutiful children, so God is [disposed to bestow favors] on those who please him by their obedience and submission to his will. We can have no hope that he will hear us unless we do so live as to please him."
(Source for quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-john-3.html, "Verse 22")
2 Kings 4:1-7 - The Miracle of the Oil
In this story, the prophet Elisha multiplies a poor widow's oil so she can sell it and pay her debt.
(2 Kings 4:1)
Verse 1: "Now there cried [out for help] a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets [i.e., she was the wife of one of God's prophets, probably Obadiah] unto [the prophet] Elisha, saying, Thy [your] servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest [you know] that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor [the person to whom her family owed money] is come [is coming or has come] to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen [slaves, servants] [as payment for the debt, which was permitted in Bible times]."
(2 Kings 4:2)
Verse 2: "And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee [you]? tell me, what hast thou [what do you have] in the house [that can be sold]? And she said, Thine [your] handmaid [referring to herself as a female servant] hath not [does not have] any thing [of value] in the house, save [except] a pot [flask, small container] of oil."
(2 Kings 4:3, 4)
Verses 3-4: "Then he [Elisha] said, Go, [and] borrow thee [for yourself] vessels abroad of [from] all [of] thy neighbours, even empty vessels [meaning she was to borrow empty containers or utensils, such as cups, bowls, pitchers, vases, pots, etc., from her neighbors]; borrow not a few [borrow as many as you can]. And when thou art [you have] come in [into your house], thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons [you shall shut the door after yourself and your sons], and shalt pour out [your oil] into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that [vessel] which is full [of oil] [i.e., as each vessel was filled up, they were to set it aside]."
(2 Kings 4:5, 6)
Verses 5-6: "So she [the widow] went [away] from him [Elisha], [and borrowed the empty vessels, and returned to her house,] and [to ensure privacy] shut the door upon [behind] her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out [the oil] [into the vessels]. And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a [another] vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more [there are no more vessels to fill]. And the oil stayed [stopped flowing]."
(2 Kings 4:7)
Verse 7: "Then she [the widow] came and told the man of God [Elisha] [what had happened]. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest [on whatever money is left over after your debt is paid]."
Let this story be a lesson for Christians. When problems overwhelm us, the situation seems hopeless, and we don't know what to do, we should look to God and his people for help.
1 John 3:15: "Whosoever hateth [whoever hates] his [or her] brother [or sister (referring to relatives, friends, neighbors, Christians--our 'brothers and sisters in Christ,' etc.), or 'whoever hates other people'] is a murderer [in his (or her) heart]: and ye [you] know that no murderer hath [has] eternal life abiding [dwelling, residing] in him [or her] [meaning he (or she) is not born again, or saved]."
In God's eyes, hatred is as bad as murder, and according to the Bible (Revelation 21:8), murderers will end up in the lake of fire.
Albert Barnes said that the phrase Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer in the above verse means that the person who hates someone else "… has the spirit of a murderer; he has that which, if it were acted out, would lead him to commit murder, as it did Cain [when he killed his brother, Abel, in Genesis 4:8]. The private malice [desire to harm people or their reputations], the secret grudge, the envy which is cherished in the heart, is murderous in its tendency, and were it not for the outward restraints of human laws, and the dread of punishment, it would often lead to the act of murder …"
(Source for quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-john-3.html, "Verse 15")
Hebrews 3:13 [Advice from the apostle Paul to born-again Christians]: "But exhort [advise, caution, warn] one another [your fellow Christians] daily [on a daily basis, constantly], while it is called To day; lest any of you be [so none of you will become] hardened [in heart and mind] [against God] through the deceitfulness of sin [i.e., by its false promises of pleasure, profit, etc.]."
Sin is dangerous and can become a habit. Each time a person chooses to sin, it becomes easier for him or her to commit that same sin again in the future. That's why we must continue to warn others about the danger of yielding to temptation.
John 14:13-14 - When You Desire Answered Prayer
During the Last Supper, Jesus told his disciples (and all Christians) how to make sure that their (and our) prayers would (and will) be answered:
Verse 13 [Jesus said]: "And whatsoever [whatever] ye [you] shall ask in my [Jesus'] name [in faith, through prayer, according to the will of God--see Note 1 below], that will I do [or 'that is what I (Jesus) will give you'], [so] that [God] the Father may be glorified [honored, praised] in [through] the Son [of God (or God the Son), referring to himself (Jesus Christ)]."
Verse 14: "If ye shall ask [for] any thing [see Note 2 below] in my name, I [Jesus] will do it [meaning he will answer your prayer]."
Commenting on these verses, Charles Spurgeon said:
"… There are some of God's children [born-again Christians] who have little power with him in prayer, -- some who walk so disorderly that, since they do not listen to God's words, he will not listen to theirs. Yet he will give them necessaries, as you give even to your naughty and disobedient children; but he will not give them the luxury of prevailing prayer, and that full fellowship with him which comes through abiding in him. Such luxuries he saves for his obedient children …"
(Source for quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/john-14.html, "Verses 1-21")
The Bible says that at least two more things are necessary for answered prayer. In addition to asking for things "in Jesus' name," we must pray to God in faith (per James 1:6-7) and in accordance with his will (per 1 John 5:14-15).
Regarding what we can and should pray about, Matthew Henry said:
"… 'Ask any thing, any thing that is good and proper for you; any thing, provided you know what you ask, you may ask; you may ask for assistance in your work, for a mouth and wisdom, for preservation out of the hands of your enemies, for power to work miracles when there is occasion, for the success of the ministry in the conversion of souls; ask to be informed, directed, vindicated.' …"
(Source for quote: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/john/14.html, "Verses 12-14," "(v. 13, v. 14)")
Philippians 3:20 - When we're born again, we become citizens of heaven
In a letter to the saints (born-again Christians) at Philippi, the apostle Paul explained why they (and all other Christians in the world) should be on their (and our) guard against the 'enemies of the cross of Christ' (or 'enemies of the gospel,' referring to unbelievers, hypocrites, false teachers, etc.) and why they (and we) should follow him (Paul--and other faithful Christians) as an example of godly living. He wrote:
"For [because] our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence [where] also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ [to return to earth, both at the 'rapture' and the 'second coming'--see note below*]:"
The above verse probably inspired the well-known Baptist hymn entitled "This World is Not My Home" by Albert Brumley. The first verse goes like this:
"This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through
"My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue;
"The angels beckon me from heaven's open door,
"And I can't feel at home in this world anymore."
*The rapture and second coming of Christ are two separate events. They are explained in the following article: "What is the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/difference-Rapture-Second-Coming.html.