The necessary dedication behind discipline

Our walk of faith is one of tireless self-evaluation and training in righteousness.

Our walk of faith is one of tireless self-evaluation and training in righteousness.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win. Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore run like that, not aimlessly. I fight like that, not beating the air, but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.”

This admonition of Paul to the Corinthian believers should be a motto placed on the wall of every congregation to this day. Paul would accept absolutely no compromise when it came to matters of obedience or disobedience to Yahweh. He was so intent on keeping his focus on the righteousness of God and he says he would beat his body into submission if his desires outweighed what was right.

The phrase he uses here means to strike under the eye, as if giving someone a black eye. This conjures up imagery of prizefighting, where fighters train their body is so hard so that they may endure the battle in the arena.

If that’s the level of discipline needed to be successful in worldly games with and earthly reward such as a crown or head-wreath of victory, how much more is at stake in our spiritual lives that we should exercise the same vigilance and determination in keeping ourselves pure?

Yeshua put it this way to his disciples:

Matthew 5:29-30: “If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna. If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.”

The issue was not the physical chopping off of hands or gouging out of eyes, but having the same level of diligence in making sure our bodies are disciplined according to God’s word. This is the seriousness with which Yeshua commands his followers to be consistent in their walk of righteousness.

Paul carries this idea forward with the concept of putting our flesh to death. There is nothing more final than the concept of death. If the flesh is dead, it can’t continue to rise up in rebellion to the commands of God.

  • Colossians 3:5-6: “Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.”
  • Romans 8:13: “For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

It’s true, we must die to ourselves in order to live for Messiah. If we are not willing to make that level of commitment in our walk, then perhaps we need to rethink our understanding of just what it is Yeshua taught.

Matthew 10:38-39: “He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me, isn’t worthy of me. He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. “


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

Vigilance in worship

It takes effort, consistency, and sacrifice to worship God in a way that he desires.

It takes effort, consistency, and sacrifice to worship God in a way that he desires.

Worship today has come to mean many different things to different people. For most, worship is what happens every Sunday at the local church building from 10:30 am to noon. The style of worship varies; some prefer traditional hymns in a quiet, classical style from the European Middle Ages; for others, it is a celebratory party-like atmosphere with flashy performances and contemporary, upbeat tunes. In yet other congregations, it is complete silence, waiting for God’s Spirit to move upon someone to speak and provide insights from God’s holy perspective.

In the Bible, we see that worship encompassed many of these different expressions. The priesthood of Israel had specific and intentional responsibilities within the service of the Temple that had grown and morphed over time. While their primary sacrificial duties were laid down by Moses, as the temple was established in the days of David and Solomon, we find that other duties relative to music and singing became established within the realm of the priestly worship.

1 Chronicles 23:1-5 – When David was old and full of days, he installed his son Solomon as king over Israel. Then he gathered all the leaders of Israel, the priests, and the Levites. The Levites thirty years old or more were counted; the total number of men was thirty-eight thousand by headcount. “Of these,” David said, “twenty-four thousand are to be in charge of the work on Yahweh’s temple, six thousand are to be officers and judges, four thousand are to be gatekeepers, and four thousand are to praise Yahweh with the instruments that I have made for worship.”

These traditions carried on throughout the years and became part of the Israelite priestly and liturgical environment. However, with the destruction of the second temple in 70 A.D., the earthly priesthood and the liturgy of the temple worship were abolished. There were no more proscribed rites or ceremonies for the people of God in relation to liturgical worship.

Now, don’t think that I am saying it is somehow wrong or misguided to continue to create songs or sing together to honor and praise God; that is not the point. In fact, believers in Messiah have been encouraged by Paul to do so.

Ephesians 5:18-20 – …be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to Yahweh, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Yeshua Messiah…

Rather, I am describing something that goes beyond any type of liturgical and sometimes mechanical praise toward to God. Even though the second temple was still standing in Paul’s day, God had provided him insights into the future of his Kingdom and the coming age. Paul knew that God was working a spiritual work among his people that would far surpass any physical representation or temple service that God could provide.

When it came to describing the type of worship that was acceptable to God, Paul naturally grabbed hold of a principle taught by Yeshua about what true worship in the service of God looks like:

Romans 12:1 – Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.

The believers who were presenting themselves, body and spirit, to God were the ones who were honoring the true spirit of worship that God desires. Yeshua had taught this same principle.

John 4:23-24 – “But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”

Living a life of sacrifice means diligently and consistently laying down our own desires at the feet of God and seeking to accomplish his purpose in our life. This is the path of believers in abiding in him, walking according to his commandments above the demands of the culture around them. To love Yahweh your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, to truly do this, is to walk a sacrificial path of true worship that honors God and brings glory to his name. The new covenant is a martyr’s covenant; we must die to ourselves in order to live for him.

Matthew 16:24-25 – Then Yeshua said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.

This is the heart of true worship: becoming a living sacrifice where every thought is captive to Messiah and every action is an action based on the love of God for all of his Creation. This is where true worship lies, not in the halls of music and self-performance, but in the quiet and determined attitude of self-sacrifice.


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

No longer common or unclean

What did Peter really learn from his vision in Acts 10?

Core of the Bible podcast #81 – No longer common or unclean

What did Peter really learn from his vision in Acts 10?

Today we will be looking at the topic of vigilance, and how, when we receive instruction from God, we must be faithful in keeping it at all costs and without hesitation. Along the way, we will investigate the meaning of what was considered a common thing, and what was considered unclean. These designations were critical to the Hebraic understanding of how they were expected to interact with others in the world.

Acts 10:10-14 – [Peter] became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing something, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and an object that resembled a large sheet coming down, being lowered by its four corners to the earth. In it were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky. A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” “No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

This story of Peter’s vision is typically used as a way of teaching that God was declaring all foods “clean” or acceptable to eat. However, looking more closely at the context and outcome, we can learn more about its true meaning, along with some aspects of vigilance in our walk with God.

During Peter’s vision, when he heard a voice commanding him to kill and eat any of the animals in the vision, Peter immediately responded with: “No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

The response from the voice was: “What God has cleansed, do not call common.” After three repeated occurrences, the sheet and the animals were taken back up into heaven.

Now, what’s interesting to note here is that in the original text, two different Greek words are used to describe the status of the animals. Peter says that he never had eaten anything common (koinou) nor had he eaten anything ritually unclean (akatharton). Now there is wisdom in understanding the difference between that which is common and that which is unclean, so let’s take a look at how these topics were covered throughout the Tanakh, or Old Testament.

Leviticus 10:10-11 – “You must distinguish between the holy and the common, and the clean and the unclean, and teach the Israelites all the statutes that Yahweh has given to them through Moses.”

Here we find the importance in distinguishing between four Hebrew words describing four different conditions: qodesh (holy), chol (common), tame (unclean), and tahor (clean or pure).

So is this designation of holy/common, clean/unclean just a repetition of the same two qualities or is it describing four different categories? Let’s look at some other example verses to see if we can gain clarity.

Before there were ever any official commandments at Sinai, we see that there was a recognition of clean (tahor) and unclean (tame) animals:

Genesis 7:1-2 – “Then Yahweh said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate…'”

So the first mention of tahor/clean is in regard to animals, distinguishing those that are clean from those that are not tahor.

We next move to the wilderness after Israel came out of Egypt and learn the distinctions that were set down within the written Torah conveyed to them in the desert.

Leviticus 11:46-47 – This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.

So, clean/tahor and unclean/tame animals are here defined in God’s Torah.

Now as we look to define that which is holy versus that which is common, we can look at some passages from the writings of the Prophets, starting with Ezekiel. In Ezekiel’s vision of the temple and its surroundings, he conveys how some areas of the temple complex were distinguished from others.

Ezekiel 42:20 – He measured the temple complex on all four sides. It had a wall all around it … to separate the holy [qodesh] from the common [chol].

Here there is no mention of clean and unclean, just how a wall separated the holy and common areas. The one area of the temple complex was holy, restricted only to priests and God’s people, and the other area was common, available to anyone else. A similar example of this is brought out in the land allotments that Ezekiel conveyed from his vision.

Ezekiel 48:13-15 – And alongside the territory of the priests, the Levites shall have an allotment …They shall not sell or exchange any of it. They shall not alienate this choice portion of the land, for it is holy to Yahweh. “The remainder … shall be for common use for the city, for dwellings and for open country. In the midst of it shall be the city…

Here, part of the land is holy or qodesh for specific use by the priests, and the other part for use by the rest of the city is common or chol.

So from these passages, we can learn that the distinction between holy and common appears to be one of purpose: that which is holy is set apart for a specific use by priests or God’s people only and that which is common is for everyday use by anyone. By contrast, that which is clean or unclean appears to be inherent in the thing itself, for example, those animals which were approved for eating versus those which were not approved for eating, likely due to the risk of contracting illness or disease.

Now here is a really interesting contrast brought out in the book of Haggai when he was asking the priests to give a ruling in a matter of holiness versus uncleanness, a contrast spanning both groups:

Haggai 2:12-14 – “If a man is carrying consecrated [holy/qodesh] meat in the fold of his garment, and it touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, does [that food] become holy? ” The priests answered, “No.”  Then Haggai asked, “If someone unclean [tame] by contact with a corpse touches any of these, does it become defiled? ” The priests answered, “It becomes defiled.”  Then Haggai replied, “So is this people, and so is this nation before me — this is Yahweh’s declaration. And so is every work of their hands; even what they offer there is defiled.”

Haggai is here using this example to show the priests how they were not accomplishing their God-given purpose of being a light of holiness to the world; instead, they had become so corrupt they had become unclean and were defiling everything they touched.

So here we have a cross comparison of these two categories: holy-common and clean-unclean. When we sift through all of this information, we can begin to see how this description helps us understand the categories a little better. From Haggai’s example, it is determined that something that is holy can’t make something holy just by contacting it; like Ezekiel, he is confirming the holiness is in the purpose of the thing, not its physical qualities. By contrast, something that is unclean CAN defile something else; once the unclean thing touches something, it also becomes unclean.

So how does all this apply to Peter’s vision and our discussion at hand? Well, we need to remember through this discussion that common means “for common use, that which is not set apart as holy.” And in Peter’s vision, God claims to have cleansed that which is considered common (i.e., the non-Jews who seek after him).

In a moment, we will explore this cleansing process as it was understood by the traditional Jews of the day, and why it is so significant to this discussion.


In Yeshua’s and Peter’s day, something that may have been considered “common” was a term that had come into use within the lexicon of the Pharisees and their fastidious over-compensation in matters that were not clearly marked out in Torah.

For example, in Mark 7, some of these practices are described:

Mark 7:1-3 – The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around [Yeshua]. They observed that some of his disciples were eating bread with common — that is, unwashed — hands [right here we have the distinction clarified for us within the narrative: common=unwashed]. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, keeping the tradition of the elders [Note: this is not a Torah instruction, but a tradition of the elders].

So, with the koinos meaning of common defined as “unwashed” for us here in Mark, we can then see how this applies in the vision that Peter had in Acts 10.

Acts 10:15 – Again, a second time, the voice said to him, “What God has cleansed, do not call common.”

This shows that God had cleansed that which, through their tradition, was considered common or unwashed. In that time, non-Jews were looked upon as common, like dirty hands that needed to be washed. The traditional Jewish thinking was that they were to be avoided because through contact with their unwashed condition they thought they would become contaminated, as well. However, we know from the passage in Haggai that holiness has to do with purpose and has nothing whatsoever to do with physical contact. Besides, Peter’s vision said that God had cleansed those “dirty hands” when they came to him in faith, and they were therefore no longer to be considered separate from the believing congregation.

This is the exact meaning that Peter pulled from the vision when he met with Cornelius and his group.

Acts 10:28 – Peter said to them, “You know it’s forbidden for a Jewish man to associate with or visit a foreigner [again, this is based on tradition, not Torah], but God has shown me that I must not call any PERSON common or unclean.”

Peter had taken away from the vision, not that all FOODS were now clean, but that all MEN who earnestly were striving after God were to be considered on an even par with the Jewish believers.

Acts 10:34-35 – Peter began to speak: “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the PERSON who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

Peter had taken the real meaning of the vision to mean that God was breaking down the barriers between men of different nations, and that the door of faith in Messiah would be opened to all who were willing to come. This was even confirmed to be the correct interpretation as the foreign men were visibly affected by receiving the Spirit of God (10:44-45).

It is impressive to see how Peter had maintained his ritual purity throughout his life. He claims to have strictly followed the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 without fail. In his day and age, there were many opportunities to eat the wrong foods, due to the foods that were sold in the common marketplaces. Peter demonstrates that he was always vigilant to ensure he never violated the commands of God by eating foods outside of the restrictions of Torah. This, in itself, should be an indication that the vision was not about clean and unclean foods, but about something else, something God was beginning to do among all nations.

Additionally, Peter intimated that he had not only kept the dietary commands of the Torah, but of the religious tradition, as well. This would imply he also did not associate with non-Jews, since they were considered koinos or common by Jewish tradition. We know this is the case because the apostle Paul had to confront Peter when he had held to this traditional Jewish thinking among the believers in Antioch.

Galatians 2:11-13 – “But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. For he regularly ate with the Gentiles before certain men came from James. However, when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision party. Then the rest of the Jews joined his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.”

While there are no time markers in the text, it would make sense that this argument between Paul and Peter occurred prior to Peter’s vision, and that after that vision, he was well-grounded in the in the understanding of the purpose of the Kingdom, and how God would not show favoritism to anyone but was accepting all who would come to him through faith in Messiah. But regardless of the timing of this event, as the growing Messianic movement spread, it was inevitable that non-Jews would be mixing with Jewish believers and there would need to be a recognition of equality among all people.

The apostle Paul confirms this also in several of his epistles, how God was growing the Kingdom with many different nationalities and statuses within the strata of society:

Romans 10:11-13 – “For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame, since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved.”

Galatians 3:28 – “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.”

Colossians 3:11 – “In Messiah there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Messiah is all and in all.”

Ultimately, vigilance in our walk before God comes in many forms, whether our own personal commitment to holiness, or our obedience to the things that God may reveal to us along the way. Peter exemplifies for us a measure of personal vigilance that we can learn from and follow in our own lives. He held tightly to the understanding of Judaism and maintained those traditions faithfully, believing that he was honoring God in doing so. Yet, when God revealed something radical within his current worldview, he was still willing to follow this new understanding wholeheartedly and unreservedly.

When we receive instruction from God, whether through his word or through personal insight, we also must be faithful in keeping it at all costs and without hesitation.


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

The sacrificial requirement of being a disciple

The cost of discipleship involves a practical outworking of love.

The cost of discipleship involves a practical outworking of love.

  • Matthew 10:38-39 – “And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it.”
  • Luke 14:33 – “In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

In my view, modern discipleship, at least from my American perspective, looks very different from what Yeshua taught his followers. Believers attempt to mix in discipleship to Yeshua amidst the trappings of our Western culture. In other parts of the world where biblical principles are being pursued in earnest, American Christians are looked upon as trying to have their cake, and eat it, too. Believers in America, myself included, struggle with the balance of spirituality and wealth. Generally speaking, we love to seek after the principles of the Bible, and yet we still desire to have the latest technology and pursue the highest levels of status among our peers. To the majority of the world outside of this bubble of access to resources, this appears to be duplicitous and insincere.

This is not without good reason, as Yeshua didn’t teach about any type of balance between spirituality and wealth. In fact, he taught very clearly that it is impossible to have it both ways:

  • Mark 10:23 – Yeshua looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! “
  • Luke 16:13 – “No servant can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Yeshua taught that wealth, while not inherently evil, has the intoxicating effect of drawing one away from God and consuming their passions. American believers tend to excuse themselves from this analogy by comparing themselves to one another and saying about themselves: “I’m not rich; look at how much this other person has. That’s who this verse applies to.” What we fail to realize is that even some of what we might consider to be meager income and living standards are still miles above most of the rest of the world. We have so much that we take for granted that we can’t even distinguish for ourselves how well-off we are.

Yet, into this rich culture of bounty and excess, the words of Yeshua ring sharp and clear: “every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” This seems so foreign, so alien to the type of spirituality we have become intoxicated with that we tend to skip over passages like this, carelessly assigning its meaning to someone other than ourselves.

However, we do ourselves a disservice when we overlook the spiritual instruction of Yeshua that was intended specifically for us, for anyone who claims to believe in the God of the Bible and yet is focused more on themselves than him. Our attachment to earthly possessions and status should be so thin that, should that silver cord break, we would be no less inclined to honor God. In fact, our faith should become all the stronger with a deeper reliance on him.

As I mentioned, God does not view wealth as inherently evil. For example, even Solomon understood that all worldly blessing comes from God.

  • Ecclesiastes 3:13 – “It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts.”
  • Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 – “Here is what I have seen to be good: It is appropriate to eat, drink, and experience good in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him, because that is his reward. Furthermore, everyone to whom God has given riches and wealth, he has also allowed him to enjoy them, take his reward, and rejoice in his labor. This is a gift of God, for he does not often consider the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.”

If we recognize our place of privilege for what it is, that in itself can take us to a place where we are less attached to those things that can distract us from serving God faithfully. When we can truly say in our hearts that if everything we have was exchanged for only the bare necessities of living and we could still maintain, or increase, our faith in God, then we are moving our faith in the right direction. When we go even further and begin to purposefully and intentionally look for ways to provide for others out of our resources at the expense of our own comfort, then we are beginning to embrace the intent of Yeshua’s teaching.

Being vigilant and watchful with the responsibility for all that we possess is absolutely necessary to true discipleship. When we are willing to sacrificially meet the needs of others at our own expense is one practical definition of biblical love, and the root of what Yeshua desires from the hearts of all of his disciples, regardless of status.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, 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

Standing firm in love

Remaining vigilant in the faith requires constant attention and care for one another.

Remaining vigilant in the faith requires constant attention and care for one another.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14: “Watch! Stand firm in the faith! Be courageous! Be strong! Let all that you do be done in love.”

As the apostle Paul is drawing his first Corinthian epistle to a close, this spontaneous admonition stands in contrast to the comparatively mundane instructions surrounding it. It’s as if he is summarizing the content of the epistle within these simple phrases.

This concept of being strong and standing firm in the faith is a common one throughout Hebraic culture of the Bible.

  • Psalm 27:14: “Wait for Yahweh. Be strong, and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for Yahweh.”
  • Psalm 31:24: “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in Yahweh.”

In Hebrew, the concept of being courageous is equated with being bold, standing firm, being strong, and standing alert. This was the admonition presented to Joshua by Moses as he was being instructed to take the land of Canaan for the Israelites.

  • Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or scared of them; for Yahweh your God himself is who goes with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you.””
  • Deuteronomy 31:23: “He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and courageous; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land which I swore to them. I will be with you.””

Paul appears to be harkening back to these passages of encouragement. The Corinthian believers were struggling on many fronts, both internally and externally, and they needed to be encouraged.

  • 1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Yeshua Messiah, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the congregation. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 – Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.

Interestingly, Paul encapsulates the idea of standing firm and being strong within the practice of recognizing their own weaknesses and loving one another. By loving one another, the believers could stand strong, building one another up in the faith.

This vigilance is necessary for believers today as we stand apart from this world and its value system. There is strength in unity and love. We can overcome internal differences and struggles that we may have, just like the Corinthian believers were challenged to do. May we stand strong together with vigilance in the face of all opposition in this current generation as we seek to honor the One who calls us to himself.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, 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

The ongoing battle against avoiding sin

Although believers are victorious in Messiah, the reality of living for him is a real conflict every day.

Although believers are victorious in Messiah, the reality of living for him is a real conflict every day.

Matthew 5:29 – “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna.

Yeshua is speaking here of the extreme vigilance with which we must guard our spiritual lives. While this example is exaggerated for emphasis, it demonstrates a spiritual principle that is a typical theme in God’s Word.

For example, in Proverbs, the father is advising his son on the dangers of being lured into complacency or led astray by the woman of bad character:

Proverbs 5:3-8 – Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil, in the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps head straight for Sheol. She doesn’t consider the path of life; she doesn’t know that her ways are unstable. So now, sons, listen to me, and don’t turn away from the words from my mouth. Keep your way far from her. Don’t go near the door of her house.

In the ongoing narrative of the opening chapters of Proverbs, the father then continues to urge his sons to avoid this type of woman.

Proverbs 7:24-27 – Now, sons, listen to me, and pay attention to the words from my mouth. Don’t let your heart turn aside to her ways; don’t stray onto her paths. For she has brought many down to death; her victims are countless. Her house is the road to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death.

This same warning is for their own good. It is a warning to remain faithful to Yahweh and to not be led astray by the deceptive nature of sin. In the Proverbs, this worldly sin is characterized by the woman of bad character.

The apostle Paul also warns believers of avoiding sinful practices, but he characterizes sin as the flesh.

Romans 8:12-14 – So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

While Yeshua emphasized the avoidance of sin by removing body parts, Paul goes a step further and says the deeds of the body must be completely put to death in order for the spiritual life to thrive.

These are all different ways of saying the same thing: we must not be seduced by the attractiveness of sin (characterized by the woman). The first step is to avoid those ways all together. However, if we have begun down that road, we must immediately deprive ourselves of any aspect of our lives that has become compromised (exemplified by cutting off a hand or gouging out an eye). If that option has been surpassed, then we must completely “put to death the deeds of the body.” What all of these ideas are conveying is just how destructive sinful lifestyles are, and the seriousness with which sin must be dealt with in the believer’s life.

Many believers look at Paul’s statement of dying to the flesh as being descriptive of the repentant sinner coming to Messiah; the one-time commitment to die to oneself and live the new life in Messiah. However, this statement, as exhibited throughout the Scripture, is a metaphor for an ongoing and continual vigilance by which the believer must separate themself from the sin that is present each and every day. This is not a one-time event but a constant battle that every believer in Yahweh must maintain.

Paul says the believer has the ability through the Spirit of God to overcome these challenges, and to be led by the Spirit, and not by the flesh, is the true hallmark of those who are children of God. Vigilance in this battle means relying on God’s strength to overcome the woman of bad character or the flesh, what the apostle John calls “the world,” all of which can be overcome by our faith in Messiah.

1 John 5:3-5 – For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Yeshua is the Son of God?


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, 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.

The constant discipline of godly instruction

A believer’s heart cannot be satisfied without continual learning and growing.

A believer’s heart cannot be satisfied without continual learning and growing.

Yeshua taught in the sermon on the mount that believers need to have an attitude of constantly asking, seeking, and knocking (Matthew 7). There should be an attitude of openness to instruction that is carried within a mindset of vigilant persistence.

This was not a new teaching to the Hebrew ear. In the book of Proverbs, the writer is constantly illustrating the benefits of wisdom over foolishness, and how wisdom is a godly pursuit that should be followed by all who are wanting to draw closer to Yahweh.

While many of the proverbs stand independently of one another, sometimes a string of verses will be highlighting a common theme. The end of chapter fifteen is one of those themes based on the subject of attaining wisdom.

Proverbs 15:31-33: “The ear that listens to reproof lives, and will be at home among the wise. He who refuses correction despises his own soul, but he who listens to reproof gets understanding. The fear of Yahweh teaches wisdom. Before honor is humility.”

It begins by speaking to the attentiveness of the listening ear that becomes familiar with the topics and subjects that are spoken out of among the wise. It implies that wisdom is widely available, but can be missed by those who are inattentive or uncaring.

It then describes the level of discipline required to gain discernment. One who is unwilling to accept correction cannot themselves become discerning. To reject the admonitions of discipline, one is doing oneself a disservice.

And finally, the theme of ongoing discipline is capped by illustrating the need for the fear of Yahweh. This is a recurring topic throughout the Bible, and the Proverbs specifically, relating how central it is to gaining knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 9:10 – “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 14:27 – The fear of Yahweh is a fountain of life, turning people away from the snares of death.
Proverbs 19:23 – The fear of Yahweh leads to life; one will sleep at night without danger.

To have a respect and awe of God is the foundation upon which wisdom can be built. It is the vast sea amidst which the eager student can draw limitless understanding. Yet, even having this pervasive and widely available resource, the writer of proverbs wisely adds that humility must be present before one attains any level of honor for having gained this wisdom.

All of these aspects of discipline and schooling and attentiveness illustrate the vigilance that is required of those who are serious in their walk with Yahweh. Merely having a surface understanding of his ways has only limited benefits. It is the diligent student who reaps the benefits of their labor in constantly striving to understand more.

Proverbs 2:1-6 – My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of Yahweh and discover the knowledge of God. For Yahweh gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

The believer’s heart should constantly be asking, seeking, and knocking. This is the discipline of wisdom.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, 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.

The regathering of the tribes resulting in a unified faith

Vigilance and resoluteness of purpose defined the early congregations.

Vigilance and resoluteness of purpose defined the early congregations.

During the first century, the dynamic of the gospel of the kingdom being spread across the known world was one of irregular, but steady growth. One of those stages which took this growth to the next level is when the message began being shared even with those outside the accepted Jewish faith. This group of outsiders consisted of Hellenists.

Acts 11:19-21: “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Messiah. The hand of Yahweh was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to Yahweh.”

Scholars have several opinions about who these Hellenists were. As they are mentioned in the Bible, many times the context determines who is being discussed. Were they former Jews who had assimilated into the surrounding Greek culture, or were they just the pagan Greeks who had never known the Bible, commonly referred to as Gentiles?

The weight of history, at least the history of Christianity, has fallen on the side of these people being Gentiles, explaining why so many non-Jewish believers have populated the “Church” over the millennia. However, a strong case exists for these Hellenists being descendants of the Jews who had been scattered during the Diaspora (the captivities of Assyria and Babylon) and who had over time assimilated into the regional cultures. This makes sense of passages which speak of God bringing all of the former tribes back together into his everlasting kingdom.

One of the most famous and descriptive of these passages is the prophecy of “two sticks” in Ezekiel 37.

Ezekiel 37:19-27 – “tell them, ‘This is what Yahweh GOD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel associated with him, and put them together with the stick of Judah. I will make them into a single stick so that they become one in my hand.’ “When the sticks you have written on are in your hand and in full view of the people, “tell them, ‘This is what Yahweh GOD says: I am going to take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them into their own land. “I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will rule over all of them. They will no longer be two nations and will no longer be divided into two kingdoms. “They will not defile themselves anymore with their idols, their abhorrent things, and all their transgressions. I will save them from all their apostasies by which they sinned, and I will cleanse them. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God. “My servant David will be king over them, and there will be one shepherd for all of them. They will follow my ordinances, and keep my statutes and obey them. ” ‘They will live in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They will live in it forever with their children and grandchildren, and my servant David will be their prince forever. “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be a permanent covenant with them. I will establish and multiply them and will set my sanctuary among them forever. “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

The apostle Paul even quotes this passage directly when speaking of believers as the temple of God:

2 Corinthians 6:16 – And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said: I will dwell and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.

This also explains why the “missionary” emphasis was so strong during the first century, since it was imperative the message of the kingdom was spread as far as possible to include all of the former tribes.

Regardless of the specific spiritual intent of these missionary journeys, the ultimate goal was that everyone, Jew, Hellenistic former Jews, and Gentiles would come to Messiah. Once involved in a local congregation, they were all encouraged to respect their differences but to maintain a vigilant unity in Messiah.

Acts 11:22-24: “News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to Yahweh.”

As Barnabas exhorted the believers in Antioch, he encouraged them all to remain faithful to Yahweh with “steadfast devotion.” This phrase speaks to the demonstrable nature of the early faith of the believing communities. The phrase in the original Greek can be translated as “resolute purpose” or “openness of heart.” It is a phrase that is also used in describing the “showbread,” the twelve loaves of bread that were continually placed before Yahweh in the temple. This bread was a reminder of how each of the twelve tribes of Israel was to recognize how they were to remain purposefully open and evident within the presence of God Almighty at all times.

To me, this is a poignant illustration of the work that God was doing among those first-century believers: calling all of the tribes, whether in scattered Jewish outposts or Hellenists, back to himself with the message of Messiah and the kingdom of God. Through their combined reunification, other “God-fearers” of the Gentiles would also be welcomed into the new movement that would grow to become a worldwide phenomenon, which continues to this day.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, 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.

The diligent study of God’s Word

Understanding biblical doctrine is no different than learning and planning for other goals.

We all must learn how to do properly plan things out in order to be successful in accomplishing whatever we set out to do. Understanding biblical doctrine is no different.

For example, if a cross-country trip is in order, there is a fair amount of planning that must be done to ensure a route is identified, that enough supplies are gathered or stops are available, and that incremental goals for resting each night along the way are spaced out in achievable intervals.

On a larger scale, if one is majoring in a certain subject at a college or an institute for higher learning, then the correct courses of study must be achieved incrementally in order to reach the desired goal of ultimately graduating and attaining a degree.

We may take for granted that these types of investments of time and energy are necessary to achieve larger goals, yet many times we view learning about the Bible differently. It’s as if different rules seem to apply and it is expected that even believers who are very young in the faith should somehow instantly understand deep theological ideas.

However, we need to recognize that our faith is (or should be) a constantly growing body of knowledge. The more we learn about the history and culture from which the Bible has been produced should expand our perception of how to appropriately apply the precepts of biblical wisdom.

The psalmist writes about the freedom that is derived through constant study:

Psalm 119:45 – I will walk freely in an open place because I study your precepts.

Yet he also cautions about the dangers of being uninformed:

Psalm 119:155 – Salvation is far from the wicked because they do not study your statutes.

When we neglect a regular intake of God’s Word, we run the risk of making poor spiritual or moral choices or operating on unreliable doctrine. Having a holistic understanding of the context of all of the Bible and not just a few cherry-picked ideas or pet concepts is critical to having a correct worldview.

Even Timothy, a direct student of the apostle Paul, was encouraged by Paul to continue in his studies to ensure his teaching was valid and appropriate for those whom God had entrusted to his care.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.

This vigilance in doctrine should be the standard operating procedure for every believer. We should always be checking our facts and seeking to understand the overall sense of the challenging ancient documents that make up the Bible. We have to recognize that they were not written in an environment of our current culture, but that the human authors were immersed in a reality that was vastly different than our own.

The good news is that with God as the ultimate author of his Word, and this same Spirit available within believers today, we have the necessary resources to correctly discern the truth.

The apostle John speaks to this principle when he writes:

1 John 2:27 – As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, his anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in him.

John was directing his first-century audience to the inner witness of the truth of the Spirit so they could avoid false teaching. This was not to say they no longer needed any type of exposure to God’s Word, but that they were to take responsibility for their own learning by recognizing their inner discernment.

  • 1 John 3:19-20 – This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows all things.
  • 1 John 4:1 – Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This ongoing testing of doctrinal accuracy is a practice that has fallen by the wayside in much of contemporary Christendom. It has done so largely because it requires effort and study to know the principles of God’s Word and not just sharing popular memes or biblical-sounding rhetoric.

1 John 5:2-3 – This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden…

We cannot keep his commands, that is, abide by his Word, if we don’t know them. This involves diligent study and ongoing understanding to ensure that we are operating from a correct biblical worldview. When we do so, we have the corroborating inner witness of the Spirit to guide us into all truth. This is the discipline and responsibility of every believer.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, 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.

No compromise with the sinful practices of worldly culture

The type of vigilance required for maintaining righteousness is extreme and rarely practiced.

Core of the Bible podcast #74 – No compromise with the sinful practices of worldly culture

Today we will be looking at the topic of vigilance, and how the vigilance for righteousness that God expects of us is real, challenging, and unwavering.

Our story for today is taken from the narrative of Israel’s wanderings in the desert, related in Numbers 25.

Numbers 25:6-8 – One of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman to his brothers. He did this right in front of Moses and the whole community of Israel while they were crying at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of the priest Aaron, saw this. So he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand, and went into the tent after the Israelite man.

The type of vigilance required for maintaining righteousness is extreme and rarely practiced. Yeshua spoke of it in hyperbolic terminology, that even if your eye or hand causes you to sin, you should be prepared to gouge it out or chop it off.

In the example of Phinehas, a priest in Aaron’s line at the time of Israel’s wandering in the desert, he demonstrated this commitment to righteousness in an extreme way that he is famously remembered for to this day. The men of Israel had become complacent in their commitment to Yahweh. They began to succumb to the idolatry of the local Midianite population as they were being seduced by the women of Moab.

Numbers 25:1-3 – “While Israel was staying at Shittim, the men began to have sex with Moabite women who invited the people to the sacrifices offered to their gods. The people ate the meat from the sacrifices and worshiped these gods. Since the Israelites joined in worshiping the god Baal of Peor, Yahweh became angry with Israel.”

Due to this rampant idolatry, God sent a plague among the general population that was killing thousands of people. He revealed to Moses and the leaders what must be done to put things right.

Numbers 25:4-5 – “Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Take all the leaders of the people, and execute them in broad daylight in Yahweh’s presence. This will turn Yahweh’s anger away from Israel.’ So Moses said to the judges of Israel, ‘Each of you must kill the men who have joined in worshiping the god Baal of Peor.'”

This directive seems so contrary to our modern sensibilities; surely there must have been some alternative, some form of rehabilitation that could be enacted to reform those who had fallen into idolatry and sexual promiscuity. But there were no compromises, no discussions, no negotiations; those who had sinned in idolatry had to be removed from the population of Israel. Yahweh had been extremely clear with this directive when the Israelites came out of Egypt:

Exodus 23:24-25 – You must not worship the gods of these nations or serve them in any way or imitate their evil practices. Instead, you must utterly destroy them and smash their sacred pillars. You must serve only Yahweh your God…”

Now, before they had even reached the land promised to them by God, the offenders within Israel had become so brazen in their sinfulness that they had continued to proceed in their practices, even as Moses and the assembly leaders were seeking God’s direction and favor. Upon seeing this, Phinehas instantly jumped into action in obedience to God’s command. He didn’t hesitate or wait for a committee to decide on the right timing; he simply got up, grabbed a spear, and followed the offenders into their tent.

Numbers 25:7-8 – So he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand, and went into the tent after the Israelite man. He drove the spear through the man and into the woman’s body. Because of this, the plague that the Israelites were experiencing stopped.

Phinehas is remembered because he unhesitatingly did a difficult thing that God required, and in so doing, saved the rest of the assembly. In his vigilance for righteousness, he saw the iniquity and took immediate action.

This story is a metaphor for us today. The example is extreme because God wants to make sure we understand how serious it is for us to remain in blatant disobedience to his purposes. In our modern permissiveness, we excuse all types of aberrant behavior as being acceptable based on the fact that the biblical culture was distant and removed from our current relativistic and inclusive morality today. However, while the culture may indeed be distant, the moral underpinnings that anchored the ancient Israelites should be the exact same foundation we build upon today.

I hasten to add that I am not advocating here that we should kill everyone who practices a different, idolatrous religion from us. But it is to say that we should be aware of the corruptive power of tolerating sin among the ranks of believing congregations. We may feel that reform is possible if destructive individuals remain connected to the life of the local believing community, however, when we do so we are simply enabling sinful behavior among our own ranks. This is contrary to the purpose of God and needs to be dealt with in a similar swift and decisive fashion as Phinehas did with the Midianite culture. Perhaps removal from the community is the impetus required to jar an individual back to their spiritual senses, where they can repent and return to the purpose of God within the larger spiritual community of believers. This was blatantly exemplified as one workable solution within the life of the Corinthian congregation who had faithfully followed the apostle Paul’s advice after he had called them out on their toleration of sin within their midst.

1 Corinthians 5:1 – “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and the kind of sexual immorality that is not even tolerated among the Gentiles ​– ​a man is sleeping with his father’s wife.”

After a period of time, Paul writes back to the congregation after they had removed this individual from their fellowship.

2 Corinthians 2:6-8 – “This punishment by the majority is sufficient for that person. As a result, you should instead forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, he may be overwhelmed by excessive grief. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.”

This example should be a bellwether, a leading indicator, for all believing congregations. When we shy away from our duty to not compromise with the surrounding culture, it can affect us in ways that will continue to erode spiritual stability throughout the believing community.

In a moment, we will return to evaluate Yeshua’s understanding of the principle of removing sin from among God’s people, along with further ideas for personal purity conveyed by the apostles and some of the classic commentators of recent generations.


In like fashion to the men of Israel, we can be easily seduced by the surrounding idolatry of our day and age. The culture and technology we are immersed in provide ample opportunities for us to be led away, seduced as by Midianite women, from our commitment to the one true God. It is only when those disobedient thoughts and actions are decisively put to death that we can be restored to wholeness with God. As mentioned previously, Yeshua used the example of gouging out eyes and chopping off hands.

Matthew 5:29-30 – “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

Charles Ellicott comments on this hyperbolic or exaggerated language of Yeshua in this way:

“The bold severity of the phrase excludes a literal interpretation. The seat of the evil lies in the will, not in the organ of sense or action, and the removal of the instrument might leave the inward taint unpurified. What is meant is, that any sense [or instrument], when it ministers to sin is an evil and not a good, the loss of which would be the truest gain. Translated into modern language, we are warned that taste, culture, aesthetic refinement may but make our guilt and our punishment more tremendous. It were better to be without them than “for life’s sake to lose life’s noblest ends.”

The apostle Paul wrote about it this way:

Romans 8:12-13 – Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

Commenting on this putting to death the deeds of the sinful nature, the Jamieson-Faussett-Brown review of this passage focuses on the following:

“The apostle is not satisfied with assuring them that they are under no obligations to the flesh, to hearken to its suggestions, without reminding them where it will end if they do; and he uses the word “mortify” (put to death) as a kind of play upon the word “die” just before. “If ye do not kill sin, it will kill you.” But he tempers this by the bright alternative, that if they do, through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body, such a course will infallibly terminate in “life” everlasting.”

Continuing this same theme to the Colossian congregation, Paul wrote:

Colossians 3:5 – “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.”

On this, Matthew Henry writes:

“It is our duty to mortify our members which incline to the things of the world. Mortify them, kill them, suppress them, as weeds or vermin which spread and destroy all about them. Continual opposition must be made to all corrupt workings, and no provision made for carnal indulgences. Occasions of sin must be avoided: the lusts of the flesh, and the love of the world; and covetousness, which is idolatry; love of present good, and of outward enjoyments. It is necessary to mortify sins, because if we do not kill them, they will kill us. The gospel changes the higher as well as the lower powers of the soul, and supports the rule of right reason and conscience, over appetite and passion. There is now no difference from country, or conditions and circumstances of life. It is the duty of every one to be holy, because Christ is a Christian’s All, his only Lord and Saviour, and all his hope and happiness.”

I find it interesting that Matthew Henry says, “there is now no difference from country, or conditions and circumstances of life.” In one sense this is true, at least in regard to the universality of the biblical spiritual scope. However, there are many different countries and cultures affecting the conditions and circumstances of life. Believers in many walks of life throughout the world face many differing challenges that can affect their spiritual life and practice. How are we to overcome these varieties of challenges to the purity of the kingdom message?

The good news is that the same Spirit which empowered Yeshua and the early disciples still lives within the regenerated lives of believers today. As Paul wrote in Romans 8, “if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.” It is the power of the Spirit of God that provides the ability to overcome sinful practices of whatever culture among which we find ourselves.

Yeshua instructed his disciples that they would have power from God to be witnesses throughout the known world at that time:

Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers to be strengthened in the Spirit of God:

Ephesians 3:14, 16-17 – “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, … that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith…”

He also encouraged Timothy to rely on the indwelling Spirit for power, self-control, and guarding of godly gifts.

2 Timothy 1:7, 13-14 – “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. … Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Messiah Yeshua. By the holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”

This is the great plan of God in dispersing believers throughout the world and causing them to live lives of righteousness where they are, to be the light and salt to those who need it most.

Philippians 2:15 – …”that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…”

The same vigilance and determination of Phinehas for the righteousness of his people needs to be evidenced in us today for our own standing in God’s presence. The only way we can be truly set apart for God’s purposes is by brutally putting to death, gouging out, chopping off, and stabbing a spear through the heart of those things in our lives that offend God.

This is the determination needed to remain on God’s path. This is the vigilance it takes to be a child of God. Collectively, we need to mimic the no-compromise mentality of a Phinehas, not waiting, but taking immediate and decisive action on the habits and practices in our lives that are offensive to a holy God.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, 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.