Thursday, November 29, 2007

Completely Disorganized Thoughts

Warning: The following may be difficult to follow as it is more of a stream of consciousness than a complete essay. Read carefully and at your own risk.

I have never been a 'King James Version Only' person. I usually use the New International or New Living translation, but sometimes in studying or preparing to lead a class I like to check out other (more 'hip') versions of the Bible. My favorite is The Message. Now, before you start condemning me (note to naysayers: read Romans 14:12-21 before you judge :-), let me say that I do not believe that The Message is infalliable. I do, however, like the way it 'explains' some familiar passages. For instance The Message version of Romans 7:14-19 says this:

"I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time."

"Full of myself"? "I decide to do good, but I dont really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway!" Are you kidding me? I am not sure if Paul wrote this or if I wrote it. Can I get a witness? Can anybody give me an amen on that one?

SIDENOTE: When I think of sins that I commit over and over the ones that come to mind are sins of the tongue. Yes, folks, that's right I open my mouth alot and many times I do not know when to shut it. I don't use curse words, but sometimes the words I do use are just as vile in the sight of a holy God. Maybe an undisciplined tongue is not a problem for anyone else -- I may be alone in this :-). Job said "my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit". Unfortunately, Job and I have very little in common. Psalm 15 says, "and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman". Again I have little in common with this person either. Psalm also says, "I said, "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence." Oh, how I need a muzzle sometimes! I love Proverbs 17:28 which says "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue". In other words, better to keep your mouth shut and make people wonder if you are stupid than to open your mouth and remove all shadow of doubt. Apparently tongue problems are not unique to me because God sure made a lot of references to sharp tongues in the Bible. I could go on and on with verses about the tongue, but I think you get my point.

I daresay each one of us has certain sins we revisit often. Maybe your weakness is not with sins of the tongue (or maybe it is). Maybe your weakness is a sin of thought or something you do that you know does not glorify God. Maybe you are flirting with a man who is not your husband, maybe you look at pictures/movies that you shouldn't, maybe you have a nasty habit that needs to be 'kicked', maybe you are jealous or bitter, maybe you have a negative attitude, etc, etc, etc. Only you know your personal weakness, well, you and God.

Romans 6:13 says, "Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God". You see, from the time we are saved (even before) the Holy Spirit is working to make us like Jesus. WE are the roadblock in that work. We DON'T ALLOW the Holy Spirit to perfect us. The truth is that most of the time we have too much of the world in us to identify with Jesus and too much of Jesus in us to identify with the world. We are stuck between this earthly life and our heavenly life and it is pretty doggone hard to find a balance. Romans 12:1 says to 'present ours bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God'. That is a difficult task when you are living on this evil planet we call earth.

I have said this before, but humor me here. We are not citizens of this world. When we were saved, we became citizens of heaven. For instance, if we go to Mexico, we don't drink the water because it might make us sick. We drink water that is consistent with the water that is in our homeland. Likewise, while we are visiting here on earth, we should drink water that is consistent with the water in our homeland - Living Water. The water here on earth will make us sick every time.

Our flesh is bent toward worldly desires, but our hearts should be bent toward heavenly desires (after al,l the Holy Spirit of God lives in our hearts). There are going to be times when our weak flesh wins out and we fail God - even Paul had this problem. Thankfully, we live under grace and not under the law (otherwise there wouldn't be enough lambs in North America to sacrifice for all my sins). Like Paul, we do things we didn't intend to do, but in spite of our sinful selves, the Holy Spirit is constantly at work in those of us who believe. Even though we are depraved in our flesh, God looks at us and sees the precious blood of His only begotten and His Holy Spirit is always working to make us like Jesus. We humans are so fickle, but God is so faithful. And thankfully He is even faithful when we are not!


Alana said...

I certainly have sins that I revisit often. I am reading a book by Beth Moore right now called Praying God's Word: Overcoming Spiritual Strongholds. Each chapter is on a different one...unbelief, food related, pride, depression, lots more. I have MANY chapters that I need to read in this book. It is GOOD stuff. I'm praying for HIS strengh to break free.

Fran said...

If you can...pull up Life Today and Wednesdays with Beth. She did a great teaching this past Wed. (yesterday) on the book of James and the power of words. Anyway...I'm gonna watch it again online. It was convicting, true, and most powerful. My mouth can kill me.

Oh, how we need Him. So very much of Him.
Good word Bethhanne.

He Knows My Name said...

hi bethanne- this summer i bought the book and the workbook conversation peace by mary kassien. you can find her at lifeway to buy her books. now with the upcoming holiday family gatherings, some of which will be with nonchristians, i only wish i would have kept my nose to the grindstone and finished it. i have had my share of family blurts that i regretted later. i hope i'm better this year. there are those whom i really don't care to see, even once a year, i need to bathe my december in prayer.

good post. ~janel

Steve said...

Great Message Sis!!

Kelly S. said...


I love so I can check several translations with one click.

1 corinthians 15.10 comes to mind.

Grace in an unbelievable blessing.

Earen said...

Great always Bethanne! I'm excited to hear all about this study you're going to be leading. I too enjoy different translations of the Bible. I have my favorite though too.

I too am so thankful for HIs faithfulness to us. Thank you for a great reminder today. I just love how you post things & you insert your little humor! It's great!

Sarah Markley said...

This is awesome, Bethanne. I totally agree, and of course, like everyone, I sin over and over again. I too like the Message for its unique wording and the way it hits home!

Anonymous said...

All scripture is profitable----including the Message. I enjoy reading that version too.

I liked the water analogy a lot. I'll have to remember that one.