Growing In Godliness Blog

Growing In Godliness Blog


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Success in Temptation

Friday, February 02, 2024

Success in Temptation

By Paul Earnhart

One of the most significant conflicts in the history of mankind was the temptation of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 4:1-11.  Satan did his best to cause Jesus to sin.  His approaches were cleverly devised so that there would be nothing immoral in his proposals and there would appear to be some beneficial result in everything he asked Jesus to do.  But Jesus was wise enough and good enough to see the error in each temptation and to avoid it.  Had He sinned, He could not have been our Savior, and mankind would have been forever lost.

What accounts for the success of Jesus in resisting the temptations?

  • First, there was a complete knowledge of scripture.  Every temptation was answered with a quotation from scripture.  This knowledge enabled Him to draw from everything the scriptures said revealing the mind of God.  It also enabled Him to know the full context of the scriptures Satan misused.
  • Second, His whole life’s goal was to do the will of God.  Every proposal of Satan, whether direct or indirect, was considered in the light of God’s word.
  • Third, He was determined to do ONLY the will of God.  This is clear from the first temptation.  Doubtless His hunger for food made Him want to turn those stones into bread.  That would have been His own will.  But since He had no instructions from God to use His powers in this way, He refused. 

If mankind’s most significant conflict was between Jesus and Satan, our own most significant conflict is between us and Satan.  Despite the victory of Jesus, we still can be lost if we allow Satan to have control of our life.  Satan still tempts through the same avenues he tempted Jesus…through the flesh, through pride, and through the desire for things (1 John 2:15-17).  If we are to be victorious as Jesus was, we must exercise the same defense…a thorough knowledge of God’s word, a strong determination to do God’s will and ONLY His will. 

Jumping From the Pinnacle of the Temple

Friday, January 05, 2024

Jumping From the Pinnacle of the Temple

By Paul Earnhart

The second temptation of Jesus, reported in Matthew 4:5-6 is instructive: "Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, 'If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down.  For it is written, 'He shall give His angels charge concerning you,' and 'In their hands they shall bear You up, lest you dash Your foot against a stone.'"

Satan had learned from the first temptation that Jesus would not act without authority from God’s word.  So, Satan quoted Bible to Jesus.  Some people think that if a preacher quotes the Bible, he is surely preaching the truth.  But that is not necessarily so.  Satan quoted scripture, but, of course, he took these verses out of their proper setting.  Furthermore, he avoided mentioning some other things that God had said.

But why would Jesus want to jump from the pinnacle of the temple? 

There may have been at least two reasons.  For one thing, since He had come to be the world’s Messiah, He needed to attract attention as quickly as possible.  If He should jump from the pinnacle of the temple and be gently delivered to earth by angels, this would be sensational enough to make Him instantly and favorably known.  Furthermore, as He embarked on His ministry, which He know would be dangerous, it would be a comfort to know that God really would protect Him.  Better to know now than later.

But Jesus was wise enough to see through Satan’s ploy.  "Jesus said to him, it is written again, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" (Mt. 4:7)

When scripture is quoted to us, we need to go to the Bible to see if the use that is made of the passage is in harmony with what the writer was really talking about.  Furthermore, just as Jesus did, we must be sure we consider all the Bible says on any given subject.

The First Temptation

Friday, December 29, 2023

The First Temptation

By Paul Earnhart

It should be an encouragement to us to know that Jesus was tempted just as we are (Heb. 4:14-15).  Mt 4:1-3 says, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.  Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, 'If you are the Son of God, command these stones become bread.'”

If Satan had come to Jesus with this proposal on the first day of His temptations, it would not have been particularly tempting.  But Jesus must indeed have been hungry after forty days without food.  In fact, He must have felt that He was near death.  And if He died, what of the mission He had to fulfill?  This made Satan’s suggestion all the more appealing.

If many of us had been there, we would have said, “Lord, I don’t see anything wrong with doing this, and even if it is wrong a man has to eat.”  But Jesus did not think that way.  His total concern was to do God’s will, even if it meant death.  And He knew that the only way to know God’s will was to hear it from God’s word.  So, His first thought was “what does the Bible say?”

The Bible said nothing about turning stones into bread.  Here again, we might have advised Jesus “if it doesn’t say not to, it must be all right.”  But the very fact that God had not approved it was enough to keep Jesus from doing it.  After all, it was God’s power that He would use if He turned stones into bread, and He needed authorization from God to use His power in that way.  He did not have any word from God to do it, so He refused to do it even though His life was in jeopardy.

Jesus remembered the words of God in Deut. 8:3 and He quoted them to Satan: “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  If Jesus needed authority from God to use what belonged to God, so do we!  We must not dare to use God’s church, God’s money, God’s name or any other thing pertaining to God without His authority.  It is sin, whether it appears to be or not.

Bible Reading

Friday, July 21, 2023

Bible Reading

By Larry Coffey

David Norfleet preached a lesson recently entitled “Engaged with the Truth”. He emphasized knowing, teaching, and practicing the truth. In John 8:31-32 we read, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  This clearly stresses the necessity of reading the Bible often.

We all would acknowledge the importance of reading our Bible. What we know about God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, we learn from the Bible. Churches frequently offer annual Bible reading programs. Some have schedules for reading the Bible all the way through in one year. Many people who start the year with good intentions end up not continuing. So, churches reduce the amount to be read and schedule annual reading of just the New Testament. That works better, but still some Christians can’t seem to complete that either.

In reading a book on the life of Walter Scott, a pioneer preacher in the first half of the 19th century, I noted that bro. Scott taught and baptized a 23-year-old-man by the name of Samuel Church. He was a diligent Bible student and by the time he was 40 years old, he had read the New Testament through 150 times and the Old Testament 75 times. One might say they didn’t have as much to do then, since there was no television or internet service. We may forget about all the modern conveniences we have which they didn’t have such as electricity, heating and a/c systems, plumbing, etc. It is probable we have “more time” available for reading than did they.

Also, in February of this year, I talked to a man who had read the Bible all the way through in 20 days in that month. The man has a full-time job and a family. This causes me to think we are  making excuses when we say we don’t have time to read the Bible daily.

We do the things we consider to be most important to us. And there are many things that should be priorities. However, I suggest that letting God talk to us each day through the reading of his word should have the highest priority. A familiar scripture is 2 Tim. 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

Can your mind fully grasp eternity? Mine can’t. However, it can understand that knowing God’s will for us is absolutely essential for us to prepare for eternity with God. And for us to know God’s will, we must have a regular Bible reading habit to which we commit a portion of our time.

What Happens on Sunday

Friday, April 21, 2023

What Happens on Sunday

By Victor A. Osorio

I chuckled as I read the article. The author was describing sitting in his Bible class. While, best I can tell, the writer wasn’t a member of the church, his description was familiar.

In the scenario, the Bible class teacher was discussing a passage, dissecting it, adding historical facts, and providing interpretation. Participants were periodically interjecting with their interpretations and thoughts. Frequently, the class would go down rabbit trails, seemingly unrelated. Through all the exegesis, something was missing.

Finally, “Josh” spoke up. He, probably too provocatively, asked, “How is what we are talking about on Sunday going to help us on Monday?” There was silence.

The participant’s delivery could have been better. But he made a valid point. We naturally want to enhance our biblical knowledge and interpretation. Biblical discussion is important, but so is discussion on application. We should always ask, how do we apply what we are studying to our lives – today.

Don’t misunderstand. Lack of biblical knowledge is a path to destruction. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” But the rest of the verse says, “because you have rejected knowledge.”

So do we focus on “real-world” application enough? Consider the great commission in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I commanded you; and, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”

Did you read it? Does it sound familiar? Is that what Jesus actually said or is something missing? That may be how we often interpret the Great Commission, but look again…

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I commanded you; and, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”

Did you catch the difference? We need to teach to obey (apply) God’s commands. Often, our approach to Bible study is like the first quote.

We teach the Bible, but do we take the next step and make application? If not, this is detrimental, especially for our children.

Jesus was God on earth. When He spoke, He was making Scripture. I understand that. But have you ever wondered why He taught so often in human-relatable, real-world stories (“parables”). Why didn’t He just quote the Old Testament Scriptures, explain they were about Him, tell what changes needed to be made in the kingdom, and then sacrifice Himself? He did that sometimes (e.g., Luke 24:27, 44-45). However, Jesus knew people needed examples to aid in their application of Scripture. Certainly we need to teach the Scripture, but sometimes people need more guidance and explanation to understand and apply it (Acts 8:30-35).

Why does this matter so much? Again, we absolutely need biblical knowledge and interpretation. And we excel at that in the Lord’s church. So why do we still lose our children at alarming rates?

Some say it’s the devil’s world that is just too appealing. Others think it’s all the social programs, entertainment, music, and watered-down gospel of denominations.

There’s merit to those positions. But those “outside-focused” causes miss a key point that we can take action on. We can lose our children if they don’t see how their faith is helping them navigate the challenges of life when they go out into the world.

We need to show them how God, the Bible, and the church help them navigate the trials of life like temptation, mental health, finances, discouragement, marriage, the daily grind, etc.

Yes, we need Bible knowledge and interpretation! But how are we “teaching them to obey all that [Jesus] commanded” without discussion on application? Perhaps we follow the example of the way Jesus taught even more in our peaching and teaching to all ages. 

Eventually, “Josh” made his point. The Bible class teacher self-corrected by cutting off rabbit trails and trying his best to make application. That’s good. The church isn’t meant to be like Las Vegas. What happens in the church on Sunday is not meant to stay “in the church” on Monday.

Let’s equip our kids for the world before they face it. Then, when they do, they will find a faith worth hanging on to.

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