Serious, Searing, Scathing, Scary
The Bible is filled with blessings and warnings, with encouragements and exhortations. It covers the entire spectrum of life: literally anything one could come across or encounter, the Bible has an application for that! It has a principle (at least one, often multiple) that’ll deal with and inform a person how to best proceed in a given matter, which path to take. It is complete. It is all-sufficient – not only for this life but also for the life to come.
It is the Word and words of God Almighty Himself, so it is infinite in authority and truth. Indeed, it defines truth. Because it IS truth.
- “… Thy word is truth.” (John 17:17)
Therefore, it greatly behooves a person to not just read it – a good and necessary first step – but also to HEED it.
Its promises and blessings – which many people view as the “good stuff” – but every bit so beneficial, beloved, are the “biting” sections, the grave warnings.
Like I said, there are many throughout the Bible. And many spoken by the human lips of the Lord Jesus Himself:
- “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! … woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matthew 18:6-7) [It’s clear where the Apostle Paul got his passion and penchant for exclamation points!]
- “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! … it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you. And you, Capernaum… You shall descent to Hades… it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matthew 11:21-24)
- “But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. And [the unforgiving slave’s master], moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers… So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (Matthew 6:15, 18:34-35)
… just to name a few. And here are three more, coming from the anonymous human author of the book of Hebrews:
- “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame. … For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. … for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:26-31, 12:29)
… but the one warning which is similarly serious and searing and scathing and scary but probably the most surprising in all of Scripture comes from the Holy Spirit by way of Peter in the second of his two epistles (that just means a “letter”) included in the canon of Scripture:
- “For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.” (2 Peter 2:20-21)
Wow! Whoa! What a warning!
I knew that there was something worse than being an unbeliever, than being unsaved, unredeemed…
- “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)
… but those words of warning at the end of 2 Peter 2 take the cake: it would actually be better for a person “NOT TO HAVE KNOWN the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away” from it.
May we not take our salvation lightly or for granted. May we not “turn away” from its path of pure and righteous conduct.
- “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and ‘Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness.'” (2 Timothy 2:19)
- “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed. … For the grace of God has appeared… instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly…” (Titus 1:15-16, 2:11-12)
But may we also go further and keep an eye out for those who have made this very bad, very unwise, very consequential choice, and lovingly seek to be used by God to TURN THEM BACK.
- “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
- “save others, snatching them out of the fire…” (Jude 23)
Spiritually, we are our “brother’s keeper”.
Let’s make sure our own life is on track, then – through the testimony and power of pure living – let’s look to bring others along for the ride.
The ride which will one day come to a halt in heaven.
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