If you’ve been following along with our weekly study through my Juggling Life’s Responsibilities book, it’s time to pull it out and read through chapter 3, “Thinking Biblically.” In this chapter, I urge my readers to resist the gradual assault of this world on their senses. I encourage them how to bring their thinking, philosophy and choices into alignment with God’s Word.
Here on my blog, I’d like to finish out 2010 by looking at some key Scripture verses that tell us how to think biblically. Today we’re going to concentrate on 2 Timothy 1:7.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (NKJV).
First, this verse makes it clear how to know when we’re not thinking biblically — which is, anytime we have a spirit of fear!
Let’s hop back to the Old Testament, for a very important refresher in the consequences of thinking biblically. Do you remember how the Israelites sent twelve tribes into the land of Canaan? (Why not take a moment right now to refresh your memory and read it again?)
Do you recognize any of these fearful thoughts in yourself?
- The Israelites were told, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Why? Because YHWH God had given them the land. They simply had to go in and take possession. (This is like being afraid that we don’t have the right to drive a car that has been paid for and delivered to our home, with the keys placed in our hands.)
- They were “unwilling to go up.” (This is like saying a two-year-old stomping her foot and saying, “I just don’t want to!”)
- They “rebelled against the command of YHWH their God,” the specific command to go up.
- They “grumbled” in their tents.
- They said, “Our brothers have made us lose heart.” (As Paul writes, “Bad company corrupts good character…“)
- They compared themselves with others: “The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities and large, with walls up to the sky.” (See 2 Corinthians 10:12.)
- They did not trust in YHWH their God, even though He went ahead of them.
How should they have thought?
Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.You saw with your own eyes what the LORD did at Baal Peor. The LORD your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor, but all of you who held fast to the LORD your God are still alive today.
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. (Deuteronomy 4:1-9)
First, God always gives us a spirit of power.
These verses tell us we need to be careful and watch ourselves closely so that we “do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live” (Deut. 4:9). When God works, it is always with power. As we read in our Bibles daily, we should be watching carefully for evidence of His power, as well as in our daily lives.
But we’ll have to be very careful, or we’ll forget the things we’ve read or seen. They’ll fade from our hearts, and a spirit of fear will come instead.
Secondly, God always gives us a spirit of love.
As Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). A spirit of fear prevents us from seeing the needs of others; rather, we concentrate selfishly on ourselves.
Moses exclaimed, “What other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:8). What made God’s decrees and laws so righteous? They concentrated on loving God and loving others.
As you read through the Torah, the books of the laws and teachings of God, then later through the history of Israel, the prophets, and finally, the good news of our Messiah, you will be struck by how precious God views each person. He wants us to view others as precious, too! He wants us, for instance, to relieve the poor man by returning “his cloak to him by sunset so that he may sleep in it. Then he will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of YHWH your God” (Deuteronomy 24:13).
God’s righteousness shows justice, never partiality. God shows care for the needy, love for the strangers, and compassion for the hurting.
“Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right” (Psalm 106:3).
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor” (Psalm 112:9, 2 Corinthians 9:9).
“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister” (1 John 3:10).
“If we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness” (Deuteronomy 6:25). (See Clarke’s commentary on verse 25 here.)
Love, evidenced by righteousness, is concerned for others.
Finally, God always gives us a sound mind.
Moses said, “Observe [God’s decrees and laws] carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations” (Deuteronomy 4:6). Learning to do what God says, instead of simply reading about it, helps our brains make the leap from simple knowledge to wisdom, understanding, and a “sound mind.”
To “observe” (NIV) has two words in the Hebrew, and it carries the idea of both guarding God’s laws and making yourself busy doing them.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
Do you wish to have wisdom and understanding? Even more so, do you wish to teach wisdom and understanding “to your children and to their children after them” (Deut. 4:9)? Then you must rid your heart of a spirit of fear and learn to think biblically.
This happens when you…
- Continually remind yourself of the power of God.
- Learn to walk in love and righteousness toward others.
- Observe God’s laws carefully, which gives you wisdom and understanding (“a sound mind”).
Can you see it? Is it jumping off the screen at you?
You can only think biblically by reading the Bible and doing what it says!
I encourage you to start in the book of Genesis this week and read for wisdom and understanding! You really do have the time. (I read through almost the entire book of Deuteronomy in less than an hour this afternoon.)
Read voraciously! Read it instead of other books. Read it as if your life depended on it. (It does…)
Then “observe to do all that is written therein…” (Joshua 1:8).