|Volume 19 Number 4 April 2017||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
For some people, the Bible is merely a neglected, dusty ornament in their homes. Within its pages one may find chronicled such things as births, deaths and marriages. Amongst Bible leaves, as though the volume were some sort of filing cabinet, tucked away for future reference are newspaper clippings and county fair ribbons. Still other Bible sheets evidence colorful stains of flowers (from a memorable occasion) pressed between them, dried and preserved. Infrequently, bedtime stories may be related from the biblical text, but that is the closest episode to actually using the Bible in a meaningful and spiritual way. Instances when the family Bible was nearer than atop a high bookcase shelf, it served as a coffee table coaster or a paperweight. Unfortunately, in those households, the Bible might as easily be used for a doorstop. For these families, the Bible is anything but “God’s Guide Book.”
Oppositely, another home’s occupants might profess dignified regard for the Bible. Each family member likely has his or her own personal copy of Holy Writ. However, “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) may lie like a discarded battlefield weapon of a fallen soldier, howbeit on a pew in the local church’s meetinghouse. Home devotionals may be sporadic at best or non-existent at worst. The home’s inhabitants may imagine that one or more hours spent among fellow Christians in an assembly for Bible class or worship can satisfactorily fortify a person spiritually, but that will prove to be inadequate to offset Satan’s minions among whom we school, work and play. Acknowledging the place of God’s Word in one’s life, these Christians pride themselves in their appreciation for the Bible, yet they essentially only consult it occasionally and especially after the fact when decisions and actions proved hurtful. For these families, the Bible is anything but “God’s Guide Book.”
The devoted and conscientious child of God, though, will view the Bible truly as “God’s Guide Book.” Rather than approach the Word of God too late to mitigate missteps in life, these Christians actually use the Bible to undergird every aspect of their lives. They consult God’s Word before making the important decisions in life. These children of God purposefully and persistently use the Bible as though it were a roadmap given by God to lead His faithful followers from earthly shores to the heavenly realm. The thoughts in their minds are pure (Philippians 4:8), which serve as precursors for the words that come forth from their mouths (Matthew 15:18). These Christians are true believers who demonstrate admirable and holy behavior—they act like Christians (Ephesians 5:8; 1 John 2:6). Their minds and lives alike are saturated with Scripture—they are Scripture driven!
Both testaments of the Bible prescribe intimate familiarity with “God’s Guide Book.” “…You shall be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you…” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33; 6:6-9 NKJV). “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it…” (Joshua 1:8). “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:15; 2 Timothy 2:15).
Throughout human history, God has required mankind to use His divine revelation as though there were no other recourse by which to order one’s thoughts, words and actions. Yet, people—even the children of God—often have been reluctant to submit to Almighty God. All will submit, either voluntarily or involuntarily in the last day (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:11). Dear Reader, make the Bible “God’s Guide Book” and roadmap in your life so that you may have a home with God in heaven eternally. The Bible is only a dead letter to those whose hearts and minds are deadened toward it.
Dealing with Guilt
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
There is little question that guilt is a great destroyer of joy, especially for those who are trying to live with the cross in view. Guilt, whether real or imagined, often leads people to bitterness, low self-esteem and hostility. While guilt can be a good thing (when it leads someone to repentance, Acts 2:37), it is often a feeling that stagnates Christians and drains people of the joy that they should have in Christ. Let’s consider what God has to say regarding the important subject of guilt.
Firstly, we must understand the reason for guilt. Guilt is produced by sin. Remember the first couple way back in Eden? What caused them to “hide” from God? Instead of meeting God in the cool of the day, as apparently was their daily custom, they hid from God, but why? They were guilty and filled with shame. Sin had opened their eyes to their nakedness, and they were afraid (Genesis 3:7-11). Consider also, the Lord’s own disciple, Judas. What caused him to leave all the opportunities that were before him and to take his own life? It was the guilt and shame of betraying Jesus. Guilt is directly linked to sin. We often allow sin to reign in our lives, and when our consciences have been trained properly, guilt is the byproduct left behind. Even Peter was not exempt from guilt. In spite of the fact that he vowed to die with the Savior, he denied Jesus. His guilt overtook him, and he went and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:69-75).
Secondly, we must understand the result of guilt. Guilt can have many adverse effects on us. There is the terrible effect physically. David’s guilt, after committing adultery and murder, changed his physical body so much so that his, “moisture [“vitality” NKJV] is turned to the drought of summer” (Psalm 32:4). Like Peter, many have uncontrollable tears and sadness. Often times people loaded with guilt cannot sleep. There is also the terrible effect spiritually. Guilt affects our relationship with God. Who can really pray as one ought when he or she is covered with guilt? Guilt also leads us to commit even more sins. Consider Judas; his guilt drove him to suicide. Consider Cain; his guilt of offering an unacceptable sacrifice led him to murder. Guilt has terrible results in one’s life if it is left to reign.
Lastly, then we must understand the removal of guilt. What can we do to rid our consciences of this terrible feeling? We must understand God’s love and forgiveness. Sadly, we often fail to really trust God and take Him at His Word. When a person is obedient to God’s plan, which is clearly defined in Holy Writ, his or her sins are washed away (Acts 2:38; 22:16)—not because the person who obeyed is wonderful, but because God Almighty is Wonderful! God is so wonderful that He even chooses not to remember those sins that are cleansed (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8ff). Dear Readers, we must learn to trust God completely! His promises never fail. He is truth! As we live day to day, we do our very best to walk in the light so that God can and will cleanse us continually (1 John 1:7-9). Trusting God and taking Him at His Word will remove the terrible feelings of guilt and shame (1 Peter 3:21). Those who are redeemed must believe that they are redeemed. While David was still in his sin, his joy was sapped. However, once he sought forgiveness, his joy was restored (Psalm 51:1ff). For the forgiven, there is no reason to live in the past!
There are people who daily suffer from the pain of guilt. I do not want to minimize that pain, because it is real. However, I can offer hope and comfort to those who are steeped with guilt. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). Praise God! God gives hope. Accept that hope by dealing with your sin today, and then once you do what God requires, lay your guilt aside. As the prophet of old reminded, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).