Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The deep things of God

What are the deep things of God? Sometimes I lose sight of what's deep and what's not so deep in the scheme of things. Was tithing of mint, rue, and other herbs a good thing for the Pharisees to do? Yes. Were those things the deep things of God? Forget about it.
    Luke 11:42 - "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (NKJV)
If there are deep things of God, then there must be shallower things as well. We should never ignore the shallower things our consciences bind us to, because that would be sin:
    Romans 14:23 - But he who doubts is condemned... (NKJV)
But we also need to refrain from thinking that our shallower ideas are deeper than they really are. This is what the Pharisees did with their rules and regulations about tithing, walking a Sabbath Day's journey, cleanliness, and numerous other issues. These deductions and interpretations of the law, which would have been fine for them to hold themselves to in their personal devotions, ballooned into matters of such importance in their minds that they felt compelled to bind them on everyone else.

Jesus said the Pharisees were overlooking justice and the love of God. These were the weightier matters of the law. It is no different for us in Christ. For us, the greatest commands, to love God and to love our neighbor, stand out as the weightier matters of the law. On these two things hang all the law and prophets, and from these two things we learn every one of the deep things of God.

The fruits of the spirit seem to be the best list of character traits that comprise the deep things of God. These character traits should be ingrained into us, as iron sharpens iron, by our interaction with each other.

    Proverbs 27:17 - As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (NKJV)
    Galatians 5:22-25 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (NKJV)
If we understand the deep things of God, we will not use our Christian liberty to please ourselves, but to serve each another:
    Galatians 5:13-15 - For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (NKJV)
If we do not understand these deeper things, the works of the flesh, including contention and selfish ambition, will prevail:
    Galatians 5:19-21 - Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (NKJV)
We'd better not be passing over the deep things of God. Since we are human, we will always hold opinions that are not entirely accurate or factual. Those opinions will be formed and reformed over our lifetime as we read and study the Word, but we shouldn't confuse deeply reasoned opinions with the deep things of God.

A nugget of truth culled from deep within the scriptures is exciting to discover, and even more exciting to share. But facts, theories, and opinions about them, are useless if we store them in a glass case to be viewed as trophies.

The important truths of scripture are the most life-changing ones that bring our character into alignment with Christ's character. These are the deep things of God, and we can't afford to miss these truths in our mining efforts.

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