Isaiah’s outline of the steps to forgiveness

The Word of God comes to life through our obedient thoughts and ways.

Today we will be looking at the core Bible principle of forgiveness, and how we have the ability, through faith in Messiah, to gain the privilege of being reconciled with our Maker when we recognize that our lives are not in alignment with his purposes. To accomplish this, we must repent of those things that are outside of his will for us.

Isaiah 55:7 – Let wicked people abandon their ways. Let evil people abandon their thoughts. Let them return to Yahweh, and he will show compassion to them. Let them return to our God, because he will freely forgive them.

Throughout the Bible, forgiveness from God for wayward actions has always been graciously available for those who seek it.

2 Chronicles 7:14 – if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Notice this forgiveness is conditional on his people’s conviction to humble themselves, seek God, and turn from their wicked ways. The Bible also has examples of those whom God would not forgive, not because he is arbitrary, but because the individual or group of people demonstrates non-repentance.

Deuteronomy 29:18-20 – Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from Yahweh our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.‘ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike. Yahweh will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of Yahweh and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and Yahweh will blot out his name from under heaven.

Joshua 24:19-20 – But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve Yahweh, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake Yahweh and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.”

These examples show that forgiveness is possible only after a recognition of having done something against God’s revealed instruction. However, many people today don’t seek God’s forgiveness because they are not aware of having violated any of God’s commands. So perhaps in our discussion of forgiveness, we need to start there. One can’t ask for forgiveness if one is not aware of how some revealed instruction of God has been violated.

The revelation of God’s instruction to an assembled group of people has happened in two primary and distinctive portions of the Bible: the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, and the Sermon on the Mount. One was transmitted directly to the people from God himself, the other was related to an assembled group of followers through God’s Anointed One, Yeshua. One provides the basis for all godly and human interaction in concrete commands, the other provides the basis for the spiritual emphasis of God’s concrete commands. Taken together, these two great passages form the core of the Bible message, and God’s expectations of human interaction with himself and others.

If a person seeking God recognizes that their life is outside the bounds of these very basic parameters that God has provided to all people, then they may feel the need to change the pattern of their life in those areas. When this occurs, they sense a real and urgent need to be forgiven. Whether it’s from wrongs they have committed with other individuals or whether it’s for seemingly irreconcilable errors committed in life, humans will typically reach a point within their lives where forgiveness becomes a real need. It may not be something obvious to others or sometimes even themselves, but the need exists and persists until a crisis point is reached. Once that happens, something must be done to meet this need.

In the passage today, Isaiah outlines three things necessary to accomplish this with God when confronted with the basic expectations God has for people in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount: abandoning wicked ways; abandoning wicked thoughts, and returning to Yahweh.

Isaiah 55:7 – Let wicked people abandon their ways. Let evil people abandon their thoughts. Let them return to Yahweh, and he will show compassion to them. Let them return to our God, because he will freely forgive them.

First, Isaiah says that the people must abandon their rebellious ways. This individual is named with the adjective “wicked.” The Hebrew word implies the idea of someone who is guilty of doing wrong, or worthy of condemnation because of moral depravity. This is typically used throughout the Bible for an individual with bitter and hostile intent toward God or others, or just a bad person.

The problem that arises in our modern context is that most people, even bad people, do not consider themselves as bad people. They justify themselves in their actions based on their own rationale stemming from comparing themselves with those around them who may do even worse things, thinking themselves better and therefore not guilty of wrongdoing.

However, God’s standards are uncompromising. As mentioned previously, even at the most basic level, the Ten Commandments exhibit a baseline standard for people to evaluate themselves in any culture and in any time in history. The universality of the commandments stand as a testimony against every individual as a performance standard that God expects of people who would consider themselves as his own people. That was the purpose of delivering them to the assembled congregation at Sinai, as God was laying out the constitution or charter of his Kingdom to be evidenced among his people for all time. The commandments lay out the appropriate actions toward God and toward others, and all other instruction from God’s Word stems from this blueprint.

Yeshua taught this as well.

Matthew 22:37-40 – And he said to him, “You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

These two commandments are the summary of two tablets of the Ten Commandments: the first half of the instruction relates how to love God, and the second half relates how to love others. When people compare themselves to these standards and not to the corrupt culture around them, they can reach no other conclusion except that they are guilty of morally wrong actions, and therefore by the Bible definition, bad or wicked.

Yeshua expanded on the spiritual motivations behind the Ten Commandments with his Sermon on the Mount. This teaching appears in both the gospels of Matthew and Luke in slightly different settings, highlighting the likelihood this was a basic teaching of Yeshua’s which he shared wherever he went.

Back to Isaiah’s instruction for the wicked to abandon their ways, the word for abandon implies leaving, forsaking, loosing and letting go. The way of a person is their manner, habit, course of life and intentions. When a person’s plans and purposes are against the plans and purposes of Yahweh, then God is not able to accomplish his purpose through that individual. The cycles and patterns of personal behavior have to be changed with a commitment to move beyond them.

Yeshua relates a similar purpose when he states, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” (Matthew 6:33). When the individual can lay down their purpose at the feet of God and the purposes of his kingdom, then God has the ability to direct and provide what is needed for an obedient life. When this conclusion is reached, it is a huge step towards the fulfillment of completing the other steps Isaiah lays out in our subject verse.

The next step Isaiah mentions is that of not just abandoning wicked ways, but of abandoning evil thoughts. This is not an injunction to mindless obedience, but a directive to change the habits of thinking that can keep individuals trapped in the loop of non-productive or harmful behaviors. Nothing changes in the actions until thought patterns are revised.

The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount are not just about actions, but about intentions. By putting God first, not worshiping images, respecting his Name and set apart time, we demonstrate to him how much we love him in our thinking. When we desire to abide by the rest of the commandments in our thinking, we tend to act out those thoughts through honoring others created in his image. These intentions and thoughts then keep us focused on him and his Kingdom, and not our own ways.

The methods of seeking God’s Kingdom first are laid out in the Sermon on the Mount, as I have covered in detail throughout the various teachings presented on this site. These methods and intentions involve integrity, vigilance, holiness, trust, forgiveness and compassion. When people truly evaluate their actions in view of the standards God has provided to us in these teachings of Moses and Yeshua, and not the standards of society, then there is a more complete picture of their standing before God.

The third aspect is what Isaiah describes as returning to God. While this admonition was originally spoken to those in Israel who were familiar with God but had rejected him, the same encouragement exists for us who have been confronted with God’s standards and are seeking for a measure of spiritual peace that comes from reconciling with the Creator of all things. Isaiah confirms this in the context of this passage when he writes:

Isaiah 55:3-5 – Open your ears, and come to me! Listen so that you may live! I will make an everlasting promise to you – the blessings I promised to David. I made him a witness to people, a leader and a commander for people. You will summon a nation that you don’t know, and a nation that doesn’t know you will run to you because of Yahweh your God, because of the Holy One of Israel. He has honored you.

Isaiah alludes to the fact that foreign nations would be drawn to the God of Israel because of the example of God’s faithfulness with David, and with his people. What was future to Isaiah is the present age we are living in. Because of the faithfulness of David’s “son,” Yeshua the Messiah, we have the ability, through faith in him, to gain the privilege of being reconciled with our Maker when we realize that our lives are not in alignment with his purposes.

  • John 1:12-13 – …he gave the right to become God’s children to everyone who believed in him. These people didn’t become God’s children in a physical way-from a human impulse or from a husband’s desire to have a child. They were born from God.
  • Isaiah 55:6 – Seek Yahweh while he may be found. Call on him while he is near.

He is near even today and able to accept and forgive all who come to him with sincere motives and a willingness to abandon their past wicked ways and past disobedient ways of thinking. That need for forgiveness can be met today.

Romans 8:5-7, 13-14 – For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. … For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

For all those who recognize they have transgressed the commands and intentions God has provided in his Word, forgiveness is always available, along with strength through his holy Spirit which can enlighten and guide in the correct ways. Repentance of wicked ways and thoughts paves the way for God to expand his influence in the life of not only those who have not yet experienced spiritual regeneration, but in the life of the believer, as well. The Word of God comes to life through our obedient thoughts and ways, and God is glorified when we lay down anything that offends or transgresses his instruction for us. This is how the Kingdom of God continues to expand and grow, and we become privileged to become his co-laborers in the fulfillment of these things.


If you enjoy these articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks

If forgiveness resides in our heart, we can then speak and act on that forgiveness.

Core of the Bible podcast #91 – Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks

Today we will be looking at the topic of forgiveness, and how it relates to the condition of our heart. If forgiveness resides in our heart, we can then speak and act on that forgiveness. However, if what we say is unforgiving, then the words we speak illustrate or reveal what is actually in our hearts.

Luke 6:45 – The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings out that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings out that which is evil, for out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.

I knew a man who was recently honored at his work for being an outstanding performer, always receiving gracious comments from customers with whom he interacted on a regular basis. He even received national recognition and many accolades from his company for his achievements. However, when a particular crisis arose and he was challenged by his boss with a sharp disagreement over his mishandling of a particular situation, what began as a discussion of strategy degraded into a string of profanity and lashing out. He ended up blaming a customer for what was in reality his own inability to bring a situation to its proper conclusion. This indignation, it would seem, was always simmering and bubbling under the surface of the polished outward appearance of his performance. When a situation challenged his work, what was truly in his heart boiled over and out of his mouth, revealing the true nature of his character.

Yeshua calls this the “fruit of the tree.” The wider context of our verse today demonstrates this idea.

Luke 6:43-45 – For there is no good tree that brings forth rotten fruit; nor again a rotten tree that brings forth good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For people don’t gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings out that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings out that which is evil, for out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.

If, as Yeshua teaches, “each tree is known by its own fruit,” then we can ascertain very quickly what is in a person’s heart by what they say, how they say it, and what they do. What we say is important, because our speech is what makes the contents of our heart known to others; it is the authorized (by us) commentary on what is in our heart.

Proverbs 10:20 – The tongue of the righteous is pure silver; the heart of the wicked is of little value.

Notice how the tongue of the righteous is contrasted with the heart of the wicked. By locking these two themes together, Solomon is passing commentary on how the tongue (that is, what we say) and the heart are absolutely connected.

In a heated discussion with the Pharisees, Yeshua says the following:

Matthew 12:34-37 – “Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good person produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil person produces evil things from his storeroom of evil. I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Yeshua teaches that the heart is like a storeroom where either good things exist, or where evil things exist. The underlying Greek term is where we get our word thesaurus from. Consider what a thesaurus is: a thesaurus is a storehouse of words that have similar meanings. Our heart is a storehouse where similar things are stored, either good or bad. It implies a wealth, abundance, or treasure; either a treasure of positive, helpful things or an abundance of unhelpful and wicked things. We make deposits in our hearts with every thought, every interaction, and every distraction. Based on what we allow ourselves to be engaged with every day, it is up to us if those things that we are storing up are good or evil. Either way, Yeshua teaches that the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart, so whatever we have stored up in our heart is what is going to come out at some point.

According to the logic Yeshua uses here, the words we say are evidence that can be used in our favor, or against us. This is the same principle today used in courtrooms to determine the guilt or innocence of individuals. How many times on a courtroom drama on TV or a courtroom scene in a movie have you seen the story lead up to a climax when an individual becomes trapped in the witness stand being confronted with information that varies from what they are testifying under oath?

This is the same type of process that goes on in people’s minds when we are interacting with each other. We all pass judgment on others, not necessarily to be overly critical, but to gauge the sincerity of an individual to see if their words line up with their actions. When they do, we consider that individual trustworthy; when they don’t, we de-value what that person says because they are inconsistent and therefore unreliable. In essence, we are conducting “fruit inspections” as part of our normal course of interacting in a society of individuals.

Looking at these passages, we can see how Yeshua is teaching that the heart is the driver of what we say and do. If our speech and actions are not where they need to be, we may be in need of some work on our hearts.

This is where things can get challenging.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 – The heart is more deceitful than anything else, frail and weak ​– ​who can understand it?  I, Yahweh, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve.

Notice how Yahweh lets us know that the difficulty we face when we explore our own hearts is that we can easily be deceived when doing so. It’s like being dropped into a dark cavern without a map and being expected to know where every winding passage leads. The light from our headlamp only shines for a limited way in front of us. From time to time, the cavern walls crumble with the threat of cave-in due to the frailty and weakness of the structure. We may travel for hundreds of yards down  a passage only to reach a dead end.

Additionally, we have difficulty being objective when we explore our hearts because we are intimately and inextricably emotionally tied to outcomes that are based on our heart motives which can be weak and unsupported. When we discover long-standing perspectives that may be unfounded or not as we expected, we can become disoriented and lose our way within the emptiness of failed ambitions or missed opportunities.

But the good news, according to Jeremiah, is that Yahweh also says that he understands our heart by searching out its depths, and testing and trying the mind. He provides everyone according to their way, “according to what their actions deserve.” In this type of biblical karma, God is providing an experience for each person based on what actions are being driven by the heart’s disposition.

If this is the case for all of humanity, then it is in our best interest to look to Yahweh as the Creator of all to understand the true condition of our heart.  This is not something we should attempt on our own due to the potential dangers we just discussed. If the heart that we have is so frail and deceptive, how can we control what comes out of its overflow in our speech and actions? How can we fill our hearts with love and forgiveness that is necessary to engage with others in ways that our Creator desires?

In a moment, we will see how God has provided a solution to the challenges we face in the wayward directions of our hearts. He himself can provide the motivation and strength that is so critical to living a life that has real and demonstrable love for others.   

If we revisit what Yeshua taught in relation to our hearts, that we speak comes out of the overflow of whatever good or evil is stored up in the heart, then it is in our best interest to know how to ensure that we have only good in our hearts. However, from what we have learned so far, the heart is frail and can be deceptive even to our own reasonings.

There was a promise made to ancient Israel that we can look to to help us understand how God views the situation. Israel had become corrupt before God, and because they refused to listen to his instruction, they were removed from the land he had promised to them and they were spread among the nations as a punishment for their disobedience. Yet, God reveals this happened as a way of teaching them that they would need to rely on him, not their own strength and reasoning, to accomplish his Word.

Ezekiel 36:23-28 – “I will honor the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations ​– ​the name you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am Yahweh ​– ​this is the declaration of Yahweh GOD ​– ​when I demonstrate my holiness through you in their sight.  For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave your fathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

This is an amazing passage that provides us some critical information in the discussion of the heart. Yahweh said in order for Israel to be the light to the nations that they were destined to be, he would need to not just renovate or repair but to replace their collective heart with a new one. This new heart would provide the motivation and strength, guided by his own Spirit, to actually follow his statutes and ordinances, as he had originally intended for them.

This same thing is also mentioned in the famous passage in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 – “Look, the days are coming” ​– ​this is Yahweh’s declaration ​– ​”when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. “This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt ​– ​my covenant that they broke even though I am their master” ​– ​Yahweh’s declaration. “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” ​– ​Yahweh’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. “No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know Yahweh,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them” ​– ​this is Yahweh’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.

This teaching that would be in their hearts would be placed there by God himself. He would provide them the new hearts of obedience that would accomplish his purpose in the world. Ezekiel relates that the nations would come to know Yahweh when they saw him demonstrate his holiness through them by restoring them to himself, even though they had strayed so far from him.

When Yeshua arrived to instruct the nation one last time before they would disappear from the world stage, he pronounced the same message to Nicodemus, a leader in Israel, this message previously revealed by Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

John 3:3-8 – Yeshua replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  “How can anyone be born when he is old? ” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born? ”  Yeshua answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

To be born of the Spirit of God was another way of saying they needed to have a new heart. This was the only way for Israel to have the contents of their hearts switched from evil to good. God was doing a work with the remnant of his people who would hear this message of the kingdom to become the born-again people of the new covenant and the new Creation. In doing this work in their lives, God would be demonstrating his holiness among his own people, and through this faithfulness those from among the nations would be drawn to Yahweh, as well.

Romans 15:8-12 – For I say that Messiah became a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises to the fathers, and so that Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praise to your name.  Again it says, Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people! And again, Praise Yahweh, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples praise him!  And again, Isaiah says, The root of Jesse will appear, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; the Gentiles will hope in him.

God knew all along that once he chose Israel, they would fall away and he would have to scatter them throughout the known world. But this was also with the understanding that in drawing them back to himself through Messiah, others from among the nations would also be drawn to him. This was and is the method that God has set in place to draw all people to himself through Messiah Yeshua. God has demonstrated himself faithful with Israel, thereby providing a firm foundation for those of other nations to come to him, as well.

If we are to be speaking and demonstrating forgiveness and reconciliation with others, then that forgiveness and reconciliation will truly need to be in our heart. This can only be accomplished when we step out of the way of our old natures and allow God to work through our renewed nature in those situations.

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 – Therefore we know no one after the flesh from now on. Even though we have known Messiah after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more. Therefore if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new. But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Yeshua Messiah, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Messiah, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

As this message of reconciliation spreads, more and more people have their hearts changed out to become hearts of obedience guided by the Spirit of God. That’s the good news of the kingdom. The even better news is that, knowing we still have the capability to slip and fall accidentally from time to time, we still retain the ability to ask for ongoing renewal when we mess up.

1 John 1:6, 9 – If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. … If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If, as Paul writes, we are new creations, then we need to operate within the new Creation of God’s kingdom, and live and abide by its principles, not the principles of this old Creation. Both Yeshua and Paul convey that the principle of reconciliation and forgiveness is a core principle of God’s kingdom. If our hearts have been renewed, then that forgiveness and reconciliation can truly reside in our new hearts. What we place in our heart from that time on is up to us.

Our ability to speak this forgiveness and reconciliation to those around us appears to be a choice that we have every day, but only when we recognize and remember who we really are. It is in this fashion that God is honored among the nations when his children are operating with the righteousness of his kingdom regardless of the outward situations and conditions they encounter. When the abundance of the heart is good treasure, then that good treasure can’t help but be shared with those who need it most.


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Overcoming our social dilemma

Re-connecting with others allows us to connect more completely with God.

Re-connecting with others allows us to connect more completely with God.

  • Matthew 5:23-24 – “So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

Based on this teaching of Yeshua, it is apparent that God desires us to value our relationships with others as much as we value our relationship with him. This is a principle that has far-reaching consequences in our current culture and social dynamic.

In general, I have the impression that most people in our Western society generally don’t like other people that much. This is evident in t-shirt slogans and memes that put down others, or that claim superiority over the masses of ineptitude around them. It is evident in the political tactics of candidates to sling mud at opponents in the hopes of appearing more balanced and fair. It is evident in the callous disregard for common courtesies in public. And it is evident most prominently within the negativity and polarity generated by our interactions online. All of these social strata begin to resonate with similar themes that devalue our collective experience and worth.

However, if Yeshua teaches us to value reconciliation with others on the same plane as our desire to commune with God, then it becomes clear that we have some work to do in our relationships. We need to re-learn how to be good humans, if for no other purpose than for simple politeness and good manners as we seek to respect those around us in a way that honors God. We don’t have to agree with or condone everyone who may have different views with us, but we do need to re-connect with our common humanity.

In the personal sphere, this also implies we must have stores of forgiveness in reserve to honestly and openly overcome differences with our primary and closest relationships, whether family or friends. I have seen family disputes and long-standing feuds between siblings as well as with parents devolve into bitter hatred and on-going conflict. The stress of these interactions then spills over into the lives of those around those connections, causing further ripples farther out into other areas of life.

Against this backdrop of general discontent and conflict in relationships and human interaction, Yeshua’s teaching on reconciliation and forgiveness stands in stark relief as a slender but persistent beacon of hope; hope for life and growth and sharing. What will it hurt us to forgive those who have wronged us? Likely a chunk of our pride which can indeed be painful and humbling. But the result on the other side of that pain and humility is the hope for a fresh start. It provides us the ability to return to an open and unrestricted relationship with God when we mimic his desire for reconciliation.

As a believer in Messiah, being a good human is not optional. We must set the example for others by following the examples that have been set for us.

  • Romans 12:17-18 – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Seeking peace amidst those who hate it

Believers recognize that the justice of God is real, but that does not relieve us of our responsibility to pursue reconciliation at all times.

Believers recognize that the justice of God is real, but that does not relieve us of our responsibility to pursue reconciliation at all times.

Psalm 120:5-7: “Woe is me, that I live in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar! My soul has had her dwelling too long with him who hates peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.”

The psalmist is decrying his situation among those who are brutal as the nation of Meshech and idolatrous as the people of Kedar. These were surrounding nations from the nation of Israel known for their barbarous traits, and the psalmist uses their names as epithets for the wickedness of those who would oppose him.

His stance before Yahweh, though, is that he is for peace, and even though that is what he speaks, it is responded to with further aggression. Ani Shalom, the phrase “I am for peace,” illustrates the author’s intent with those who oppose him. To be for peace is to be a reconciler, someone who seeks to find the common ground between themselves and those who would oppose them. Yet, despite his best intentions and efforts, it appears that his enemies continue to battle against him.

To this ongoing aggression, the psalmist can only resort to the justice of God.

Psalm 120:1-4 – In my distress I called to Yahweh, and he answered me.  “Yahweh, rescue me from lying lips and a deceitful tongue.”  What will he give you, and what will he do to you, you deceitful tongue?  A warrior’s sharp arrows with burning charcoal!

This is in line with the biblical principle of allowing room for the vengeance of God, but only after we have made unmitigated advances toward reconciliation and peace. So many times, we are quick to call down the judgment of God on those who are at odds with our purposes and plans, only to find that God expects us to at least make honest attempts at reconciliation prior to releasing the situation to his vengeance.

Romans 12:19-21 – Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says Yahweh. But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

The apostle Paul here is encouraging believers to do the hard thing first by going above and beyond for one’s enemies, and never to pursue revenge based on personal grievance. Our role as believers in Yahweh is to seek peace at all costs, and only then will the justice of God be realized amidst those who are adversarial. Ani Shalom, “I am for peace,” should be the phrase on every believer’s lips.

Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The graciousness of our forgiving God

Our gracious actions towards others are a reflection of the graciousness which has been extended to us by God.

Our gracious actions towards others are a reflection of the graciousness which has been extended to us by God.

When Yeshua taught his disciples to be forgiving, it was not some new principle that they had never been aware of before. It was something that he emphasized was important for them to practice, since their Father in heaven practiced it. If they were to be considered his children, they should likewise exhibit his characteristics.

We would be hard pressed to find a more stark example of this forgiving nature of God than to review the life of one of the most notorious kings of Judah: Manasseh.

2 Chronicles 33:1-2, 9 – Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in Yahweh’s sight, imitating the detestable practices of the nations that Yahweh had dispossessed before the Israelites. … So Manasseh caused Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to stray so that they did worse evil than the nations Yahweh had destroyed before the Israelites.

Manasseh was so enamored with idolatry that the text says he caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit greater abominations than even the original Canaanites whom God had Israel conquer because of the horrific nature of their detestable practices. You may recall that when Moses was preparing the Israelites to take the land, he reminded them at that time why God was doing this.

Deuteronomy 9:4 – “When Yahweh your God drives them out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘Yahweh brought me in to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’ Instead, Yahweh will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness.

God had used Israel as a cleansing, purifying force to clean the land of the impurities of the wicked practices of the Canaanites. Here in the Chronicles, it is recorded that Manasseh was so idolatrous it was worse than the original idolatry that caused God to raise up the army of the Israelites in the first place. So, as it turns out, God had to resort to a similar strategy to once again demonstrate justice against a nation of rebellious idolaters.

2 Chronicles 33:10-13 – Yahweh spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they didn’t listen. So he brought against them the military commanders of the king of Assyria. They captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze shackles, and took him to Babylon. When he was in distress, he sought the favor of Yahweh his God and earnestly humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. He prayed to him, and Yahweh was receptive to his prayer. He granted his request and brought him back to Jerusalem, to his kingdom. So Manasseh came to know that Yahweh is God.

Even though Manasseh had become so depraved, he finally came to his senses, but only after God had raised up the Assyrians to come against them for their rebellious idolatry. But even so, it appears to have been a sincere repentance, and we know this because of the actions that Manasseh demonstrated after coming to truly realize that Yahweh is God when he was restored to Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 33:15-16 – He removed the foreign gods and the idol from Yahweh’s temple, along with all the altars that he had built on the mountain of Yahweh’s temple and in Jerusalem, and he threw them outside the city. He built the altar of Yahweh and offered fellowship and thank offerings on it. Then he told Judah to serve Yahweh, the God of Israel.

There is great comfort in knowing that even in the depths of some of the most heinous idolatry, God honors those who repent and turn to him. Manasseh’s repentant spirit provided him the opportunity to make amends and to do his best in correcting the wrongs that he had committed. Not everyone gets that opportunity. Sometimes the people we have wronged have moved on or have died, and we have no physical way to reconcile with them. At other times our situation may have changed so dramatically that it we cannot correct the wrongs that have occurred.

But the example of Manasseh should teach us at least one most important principle: God is willing to forgive when we are sincerely repentant of the errors of our ways. It is then that we can learn obedience to do whatever we can to make amends to those who may have been hurt by us, but also to maintain a sense of forgiveness that we have received toward those who would seek the same from us. Experiencing this depth of true forgiveness from God allows us to extend that same type of forgiveness to others.


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Peace and reconciliation are the primary indicators of the children of God

Believers are taught and encouraged to operate within a spirit of peace at all times.

Believers are taught and encouraged to operate within a spirit of peace at all times.

When Yeshua taught his disciples about forgiveness, it was with the idea that they were to be reconcilers, those who promote peace instead of further divisiveness. This was to be true not only among themselves, but with all others, even including their enemies.

Matthew 5:44 – “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

The apostle Paul continued this line of thinking in his epistle to the Roman congregation.

Romans 12:16-18 – Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

The apostle James mentions how it is the wisdom of God which promotes peace, and also how righteousness can only become evident in an environment of peace.

James 3:17-18 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.

If the fruit of righteousness (that is, doing what is right in God’s eyes) can only be sown in peace, then we see how peace itself, as a fruit of the holy Spirit, is a demonstration of God working within our lives.

  • Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.
  • Romans 8:14 – For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

According to the apostle Paul, anyone who considers themself to be a child of God is led by the Spirit of God. Therefore, if one of the fruits of the Spirit is peace, then peace prompted and flowing from God’s Spirit should be evident within their life. This aligns with the teaching of Yeshua

Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Paul encouraged the Corinthian believers, just like the Roman congregation, to have the same mind about living in peace which would be an outward demonstration of their spiritual maturity or completeness.

2 Corinthians 13:11 – Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, have the same mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Living in peace with others is an identifiable characteristic of Kingdom life. If we are attempting to promote the wisdom of God to others, then, according to the apostle James, at its most basic level that wisdom can only be sown amidst an environment of peace and good will toward others.

Romans 14:19 – So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

If we have a shared faith in Messiah Yeshua, then we can build on that to encourage one another. If we encounter others who do not share a biblical faith, then, as children of God shining as lights in this world of darkness, we are still obligated as much as possible to live at peace with them.

Romans 12:17-18 – Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

This is how we demonstrate the love of God to others, not through condemnation, but through being peace makers. This is how we exemplify to others that we truly are children of God. This is how we overcome adversity and bond together as brothers and sisters in Messiah. This is the way of interacting socially with all that honors God and fulfills his desire for his Kingdom becoming evident on the earth.


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The requirement of blessing the haters

According to Yeshua, the words we speak always come from the overflow of the heart.

Core of the Bible podcast #84 – The requirement of blessing the haters

Today we will be looking at the topic of forgiveness, especially in the context of speaking well of those who are haters because, according to Yeshua, the words we speak always come from the overflow of the heart. Understanding who we have become in Messiah allows us the privilege of blessing all others.

Luke 6:28 – “Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”

Our words are important, and in this day of instant and voluminous communication, there are numberless words spent daily in the vast sea of our digital culture. Not all of that communication is helpful, and much of it is downright hurtful. However, as believers, all of our words should be a blessing to others.

The definition of the word that we translate as blessing means to “speak well of” to “praise” or to “wish for the prosperity of.” It is the same word that we get our English word eulogy: an example of speaking well of someone who has recently died or delivering a benediction of well-wishing upon a person or group of people. To bless others is to speak well of them and wish them prosperity and wholeness.

This seems simple and natural among friends and family, but we are commanded by Yeshua to have this same level of concern and care for those outside of our common circle, and in fact, with those who would seek to do us harm. In the verse above, he commands us to bless those who curse us, and to pray for those who would seek to hurt us. This is certainly not a natural response to aggressive behavior, as we will typically be far more likely to respond in like kind toward any aggression or hurt we receive. However, this messianic type of well-speaking is a root sentiment that the apostles taught among the early believers, as well:

Romans 12:14 – Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.

1 Peter 3:9 – Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.

I find it interesting that Peter attaches two distinct aspects to this practice: 1) This is what believers have been called to do, and 2) God provides blessings for those who do. So, to bless others is not only to fulfill our calling that we have received from God, but it is also to receive a blessing from God in return. If we feel that we are outside of God’s blessing at times, perhaps it is because this required practice is lacking in our lives.

In regard to our calling, when we peruse the writings to find out what our calling as believers is, we can see that we have been called to join together with Messiah in the highest standards of freedom, peaceful unity, serving one another in love, and in endurance through suffering.

1 Corinthians 1:9 – “God is faithful; you were called by him into fellowship with his Son, Yeshua Messiah our Lord.”

Galatians 5:13-14 – “For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Ephesians 4:1, 4 – “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, … There is one body and one Spirit ​– ​just as you were called to one hope at your calling …”

Colossians 3:14-15 – “Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.”

1 Peter 2:20-21 – “For what credit is there if when you do wrong and are beaten, you endure it? But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God. For you were called to this, because Messiah also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

These various aspects are the true calling of all believers, and yet it does not appear that we all have come to understand these things very well. With all of the denominational divisiveness and inflammatory rhetoric we express towards each other at times, it seems unlikely that we are living up to our true calling in the eyes of Messiah. If we can’t even speak well with each other among ourselves, how can we be expected to speak well of those who are truly antagonistic towards us or toward the cause of Messiah and the Kingdom of God?

If, as Peter instructs, we are called to “pay back with blessing,” then we should understand this is an obligation we have, not an optional action of some kind. Most people understand that disagreements can quickly escalate into heightened conflict, and this comes primarily at the urging of inflamed emotional responses. However, we have been tasked with preventing the escalation from happening in the first place by not elevating tension; we should be removing the escalation through blessing of others, instead. Because a conflict is typically initiated when one party feels they have been wronged in some way, if they are to truly speak blessing into conflict, they must have a reserve of forgiveness that cannot be exhausted. When we can really and honestly forgive offenses from the heart, we can much more easily speak blessing into those environments. And since this is our calling, it must become the primary way we respond and communicate with each other and with others who would seek to discredit or harm us.

In a moment we will consider how this can be expected to be the calling of believers, even if the natural inclination of our hearts is to respond with equal or greater aggression. The apostle Paul addresses this very idea with the Corinthian congregation which will hopefully allow us to better understand our true status as believers in this world.

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The real challenge we face in our calling is in not only speaking well of anyone who could be considered an adversary, but truly meaning it from the heart. This requires a type of ongoing forgiveness for the wrongs that any others may commit against us. And yet, for our blessing of others to be genuine it has to come from the heart.

Certainly, as we have seen, this is not a natural inclination. But as believers, we have to recognize that we are not just natural beings. The apostle Paul speaks of it this way:

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Paul makes the point that as believers we no longer are to view our life in this world as we have in the past. If we are living the born-again life from above, we have become part of the new creation, and everything is now new. We have new thought process which should drive new actions and new ways of doing things. We have new convictions and new purpose. Everything we see and touch should be driven from this new identity we have in Messiah. This means that we now have new hearts with new qualities and capacities, as well.

With this new calling and purpose, we can now receive the new blessings that come from God based on the righteous words and actions that flow from a renewed heart. The fruit of our way can now be blessed because our way has been renewed to mimic his own ways. We can now operate as God’s image in this world, managing and interacting with his creation in ways he has originally designed for us to do from the foundation of the world.

Luke 6:45 – “A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”

Yeshua instructs us that we are not to call someone a fool or an idiot or be unrighteously angry with anyone because the words we speak always come from the overflow of the heart. He teaches us that if what is in our heart is bitterness and unforgiveness, then that is what will come out of our mouth. However, if what is in our heart is real love and forgiveness as part of God’s new creation, then what comes out of our mouth will be genuine blessing for others.

This heart idea was not a new concept for those with a Hebraic understanding of the world. A millennium before Messiah, Solomon wrote of the importance of the heart condition in the well-being of the earnest believer in Yahweh.

Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.”

Keeping of the heart involves a recognition of its content and capacity. If, as believers in the new creation we understand our heart has been renewed, that is, fundamentally changed, we can begin to see how a requirement of forgiveness and blessing toward others can be an expectation that God has for us. Suddenly this lofty ambition does not seem so unattainable because God has now given us the ability to function with this unlimited capacity for forgiveness towards others. The wellspring of life now becomes “rivers of living water” that Yeshua promised for those who would believe in him.

John 7:38-39 – “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom thosCSe believing in Him would receive…

If we are part of God’s new creation, then his Spirit has changed the very make up of our hearts into a conduit for his very own love and mercy to be extended toward others. A river is a powerful metaphor, because a river flows from somewhere (God) and flows to somewhere (others). We are merely a conduit of this river which we can then direct towards all those we meet and interact with.

Following in the footsteps of Solomon’s wisdom in Proverbs, the apostle James illustrates it in this fashion:

James 3:8-12 – “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.”

When it is boiled down to essentials, the issue is really not our tongue, but the well-spring of our heart. If the spring is fresh water, then the tongue will yield fresh water for others. If, in obedience to Yeshua, we are to truly bless those who work against us at all times, then we need to ensure that our spring, our river of the heart, is flowing from the Spirit of God with unlimited measures of real forgiveness. Then no wrongs can be too harsh, no hurt can be too severe. Our obligation to bless the haters becomes as natural as the air that we breathe within the rarefied atmosphere of the new creation. In this way, blessing and prayer for all others will become the living water flowing from our hearts.


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

From hidden sin to open forgiveness

The cost of confession and repentance that still sets people free today.

The cost of confession and repentance that still sets people free today.

Proverbs 28:13 – He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will be shown compassion.

In order to be forgiven, one must recognize that a transgression has occurred, confess or admit to the fault, and then forsake (to let loose, depart from) that practice. This is not just a principle with God, but between people, as well.

Numbers 5:6-7 – “Say to the people of Israel, When a man or woman commits any of the sins that men commit by breaking faith with Yahweh, and that person is guilty, he shall confess his sin which he has committed; and he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it, and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong.”

This demonstrates how wronging someone else is also an infraction against the Almighty. This is why the Law, the Ten Commandments, has commands related to God and to others. When we wrong someone else according to the Law (murder, adultery, theft, lying, coveting) we are transgressing against God.

When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, his heart became grieved that he had not only acted wickedly, but that he had sinned against a holy God.

Psalm 51:1-4 – Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against you ​– ​you alone ​– ​I have sinned and done this evil in your sight. So you are right when you pass sentence; you are blameless when you judge.

God has designed people to struggle under the weight of their secret rebellion. The guilt of wrongdoing can directly affect the emotional well-being of an individual. As David wrote extensively about the effects of sin and forgiveness in his life, we can learn and identify with his struggles of unconfessed sin.

Psalm 32:3-5 – When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

But confessing the sin is only the first part. If we have wronged someone else, we must not only come clean about it, but we must make things right by them. Not only are we to forsake that wrongdoing, but we have to make restitution when possible. This was essentially the “mechanics” behind sacrificial offerings: it demonstrated that the individual recognized their sin and understood there was a cost to their actions. Once the offering was made to God, then the “offering” needed to be made to the one who was wronged. This kept accountability squarely where it belonged: on the guilty individual. Once this was accomplished, forgiveness from God and the wronged party would be a welcome release.

David also experienced this aspect of the confession/offering process.

Psalm 32:1-2 – How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is a person whom Yahweh does not charge with iniquity and in whose spirit is no deceit!

When we hold our sins closely hidden, we are, in effect, deceiving ourselves. According to the proverb stated at the outset of this study, we cannot prosper. As much as we won’t admit it, it affects us. It eats away slowly at our conscience, imperceptibly coloring other aspects of our being. In one sense, sin can be considered a disease, as in “dis-ease” within our emotional selves.

However, when we “come clean,” we are released from that burden. We most certainly will pay a price for doing so, but this is to be expected and welcomed as a natural outcome. As Zacchaeus proudly exclaimed upon his recognition of Messiah:

Luke 19:8 – But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord. And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much.”

This was as Yeshua had intended, as this confession and restitution demonstrated the sincerity of Zacchaeus’ heart.

Luke 19:9-10 – “Today salvation has come to this house,” Yeshua told him, “because he too is a son of Abraham. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

The concept of salvation is much more than a spiritual condition; it is also an emotional release from the weight of hidden shame due to a life of unconfessed sin. When confession and repentance are sincere, the effects of true freedom are life-changing.

John 8:34, 36 – Yeshua responded, “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. … So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.”


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

Contrasts leading to forgiveness

The Biblical injunctions to avoid foolish and impetuous talk remain consistent over the centuries.

The Biblical injunctions to avoid foolish and impetuous talk remain consistent over the centuries.

Matthew 5:22 – “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be answerable to the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be answerable to the Council; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be liable to Gehenna fire.”

This saying of Yeshua appears extreme for such a seemingly petty offense. Anger and name-calling can have you dragged into court and ultimately into the judgment of God. What is even stranger is that it is pronounced in the larger context of murder, a crime which seems much more severe. Why the contrast? And is this a new teaching?

Well, to the first point, Yeshua almost always states things in contrast, as this provides the greatest clarity of the topic at hand. When two contrasts are presented, the truth then becomes self-evident.

Matthew 5:13 – “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by people.”

The salt is understood to be of no value if it loses the very thing that makes it unique among all other minerals or spices. This is a perfect analogy revealing the purpose of the believer is to not compromise their uniqueness as a child of God in a world of corruption.

Matthew 5:14-15 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

The absurdity of lighting a lamp only to cover it with a basket illustrates the same principle: a believer is meant to shine, not to be outwardly like everyone else; we must shine with the light God gives us.

And the teaching of Yeshua about calling someone a fool and being in danger of Gehenna fire was not a new teaching, either. For example, the psalmist warned of the dangers of anger and wrath, how it can only lead to further evildoing, and how evildoers would ultimately receive judgment of God.

Psalm 37:7-9: “Rest in Yahweh, and wait patiently for him. Don’t fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who makes wicked plots happen. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Don’t fret, it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for Yahweh shall inherit the land.”

A similar thought is conveyed in the Proverbs, as well.

Proverbs 18:6-7 – “A fool’s lips bring strife, And his mouth invites beatings. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, And his lips are the snare of his soul.”

In contrast to these judgments of ruin or snared souls, Yeshua encourages love and forgiveness. If we have called someone “empty-headed” or a fool, we are already headed on a path that can lead us down a path of potential escalation, ultimately resulting in a greater judgment. But if we forgive, we cut that path off and open the door to the avoidance of further strife and reconciliation.

  • Matthew 5:44 – “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
  • Ephesians 4:26-27 – “‘Be angry, and yet do not sin’; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”
  • Ephesians 4:31-32 – “All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Messiah also has forgiven you.”
  • Titus 3:2 – “…to slander no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing every consideration for all people.”

Kindness and forgiveness are much more in line with the attitude that God expects of his children. Being understanding and showing consideration, even amidst disagreement, goes a long way toward representing God in a positive light to those who may not know him. A little salt and a little light provide opportunities for healing and understanding.


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

Imitating God

This is how we cultivate peace.

This is how we cultivate peace.

As Paul was writing to the Ephesian congregation, he was nearing the end of his life. Although he was in prison when he wrote this, he recognized that whether or not he would be freed, he was near to completing what God had called him to do.

The entire epistle reads like a farewell letter, like a parent trying to convey as much as possible to ensure their children have everything they need to lead a successful and fruitful life. This is why it is so rich with spiritual direction and drawn from so regularly by teachers of God’s Word today.

One of its core themes can be summed up by the first verse in the fourth chapter:

Ephesians 4:1 – Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received…

To live a life worthy of the calling received; this should be the goal of every believer. Paul then goes on to list characteristics like humility, bearing one another’s burdens, unity, having a renewed mind, speaking the truth, encouraging one another, removing anger and bitterness. And then he lists a quality that is partly hidden by a chapter break in our modern Bibles.

Ephesians 4:32-5:2 – And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Messiah. Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love…

As his children, we are urged to imitate God; the word literally means to mimic him. The characteristic that should most define us as his children is the forgiveness we show to one another, rooted in love.

God set the example by providing a way of forgiveness through Messiah. If we are to imitate him, we should find ways to forgive those around us with whom we disagree, or with those who have been hurtful us in some way. This should be as central to our attitudes toward others as the role that God’s forgiveness in Messiah plays in our own relationship with him.

If we are to be his children, we should be seeking peace with others as he has sought peace with us. Then we will see its fruit borne out in the growing expanse of the Kingdom.

James 3:17-18 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.


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