January 2: Scripture for War or Peace?
Genesis 3–4; Matthew 3–4; Ecclesiastes 1:6–11
Like many people, I use Scripture to defend my views. But so does Satan. In Matthew 4, the devil says: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ ” (Matt 4:6, citing Psa 91:11–12). In turn, Jesus responds with Scripture, “Again, it is written, ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test’ ” (Matt 4:7, citing Deut 6:16, coupled with Isa 7:12).
While the devil used Scripture for his own purposes, Jesus used them for God’s. This teaches us that Scripture alone isn’t enough: it must be contextualized and balanced with other Scripture.
This story raises the question, “Will we use Scripture to defend our own positions, or use it to defend God’s?” It’s easy to quote Scripture only to defend our personal theological position. Sometimes we are too focused on being “right” and not necessarily on helping other believers. However, while we might believe that being “right” will ultimately help them, it’s possible that we’re inhibiting the gospel message instead.
We might even be the one driving them away.
Many of us have some relationships that are plagued by a need to be right or to use Scripture in our personal war. But that needs to change.
When we use Scripture for our own gains or battles, we are acting like Christ’s tempter—not Christ. We might think that we are defending the gospel, but if it’s not about Christ’s virgin birth, suffering, death, resurrection, or continued presence in our lives, it’s really not about the fundamental truths. It’s about our battle—about what we want. Instead, let’s act more like Christ. Let’s use Scripture in the proper context, balancing it with other Scripture.
How do you need to change the way you’re using Scripture?
JOHN D. BARRY
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- Now the serpent was more subtle than any other beast of the field, which the Lord God had made: and he said to the woman, Yea, hath God indeed said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. Then the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not die at all. But God doth know that when ye shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. So the woman (seeing that the tree was good for meat, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired, to get knowledge) took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her, and he did eat. Then the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves breeches. Afterward they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said unto him, Where art thou? Who said, I heard thy voice in the garden and was afraid: because I was naked, therefore I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? Then the man said, The woman which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said to the woman, Why hast thou done this? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. Then the Lord God said to the serpent, Because thou has done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field : upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. I will also put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. He shall break thine head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly increase thy sorrows, and thy conceptions. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thy desire shall be subject to thine husband, and he shall rule over thee. Also to Adam he said, Because thou hast obeyed the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the three, (whereof I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it) cursed is the earth for thy sake: in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth: for out of it wast thou taken, because thou art dust, and to dust shalt thou return. (And the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living) Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil. And now lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and live forever, Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the earth, whence he was taken. Thus he cast out the man, and at the East side of the garden of Eden he sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the earth, whence he was taken. Thus he cast out the man, and at the East side of the garden of Eden he set the Cherubims, and the blade of a sword shaken, to keep the way of the tree of life. Afterward the man knew Eve his wife which conceived and bare Cain, and said, I have obtained a man by the Lord. And again she brought forth his brother Abel, and Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought an oblation unto the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel also himself brought of the firstfruits of his sheep, and of the fat of them, and the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering, But unto Cain and to his offering he had no regard: wherefore Cain was exceedingly wroth and his countenance fell down. Then the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance cast down? If thou do well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door: also unto thee his desire shall be subject, and thou shalt rule over him. Then Cain spake unto Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. Then the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? Who answered, I cannot tell. Am I my brother’s keeper? Again he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me, from the earth. Now therefore thou art cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thine hand. When thou shalt till the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength: a vagabond and a runagate shalt thou be in the earth. Then Cain said to the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou has cast me out this day from the earth, and from thy face shall I be hid, and shall be a vagabond, and a runagate in the earth, and whosoever findeth me shall slay me. Then the Lord said unto him, Doubtless whosoever slayeth Cain, he shall be punished seven fold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any man finding him, should kill him. Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod toward the East side of Eden.. Cain also knew his wife, which conceived and bore Enoch: and he built a city, and called the name of the city by the name of his son, Enoch. And to Enoch was born Irad, and Irad begat Mehujael, and Mehujael begat Methushael, and Methushael begat Lamech. And Lamech took to him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. And Adah bare Jabal, who was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. And his brother’s name was Jubal, who was the father of all that play on the harp and organs. And Zillah also bore Tubal-Cain, who wrought cunningly every craft of brass and of iron: and the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah. Then Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice, ye wives of Lamech; hearken unto my speech: for I would slay a man in my wound, and a young man to mine hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy times sevenfold. And Adam knew his wife again, and she bare a son, and she called his name Seth: for God, said she, hath appointed me another seed of Abel, because Cain slew him. And to the same Seth also there was born a son, and he called his name Enosh. Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord. (Genesis 3-4)
- And in those days, John the Baptist came and preached in the wilderness of Judea, And said, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he of whom it is spoken by the Prophet Isaiah, saying, The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord: make his paths straight. And this John had his garment of camel’s hair, and a girdle of skin about his loins, his meat was also locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the regions round about Jordan, And they were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. Now when he saw many of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath forewarned you to flee from the anger to come? Bring forth therefore fruit worthy amendment of life, And think not to say with yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you that God is able even of these stones to raise up children to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also is the axe put to the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Indeed I baptize you with water to amendment of life, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, he will baptize you with the holy Ghost, and with fire. Which hath his fan in his hand, and will make clean his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner, but will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Then came Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him. But John earnestly put him back, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? Then Jesus answering, said to him, Let be now: for thus it becameth us to fulfill all righteousness. So he suffered him. And Jesus when he was baptized, came straight out of the water. And lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and [lighting] upon him. And lo, a voice came from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3-4)
- The wind goeth toward the South, and compasseth toward the North: the wind goeth round about, and returneth by his circuits. All the rivers go into the sea, yet the sea is not full: for the rivers go unto the place whence they return, and go. All things are full of labor: man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What is it that hath been? that that shall be: and what is it that hath been done? that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything, whereof one may say, Behold this, it is new? it hath been already in the old time that was before us. There is no memory of the former, neither shalt there be a remembrance of the latter that shall be, with them that shall come after. (Ecclesiastes 1:6-11)