Actively loving our neighbors

A compassionate heart cannot remain inactive when becoming aware of real needs.

A compassionate heart cannot remain inactive when becoming aware of real needs.

Romans 13:8-10 – “Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up by this commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.”

Paul writes this passage in the context of being faithful with the State authorities, paying taxes, and culminating in verse 14 by “putting on the Lord Yeshua.” It’s as if all of Paul’s logic in the daily life of the believer is wrapped up in “throwing off the deeds of darkness, and putting on the armor of light,” ( v. 12).

The key aspect of this armor of light is love; not the syrupy, undefined, wishy-washy love of our current pop culture, but a love that has a definite purpose and character. Paul defines this type of love as a love that does no wrong to a neighbor. It involves throwing off the deeds of darkness, which he defines as: “carousing and drunkenness…sexual impurity and promiscuity…quarreling and jealousy,” (v. 13). When we are acting in any of these ways with others, we are not acting in love. The armor of light can only be exposed when we “throw off” these “deeds.”

If we are to do no wrong to a neighbor, it implies that we should do right to our neighbor. In Hebraic thinking, there is no static condition in which we do neither good nor bad. If we are not doing good, then we are by default doing bad, and if we are not doing bad, then we are to be doing good. The text of Torah from which this principle of loving our neighbor is derived mentions we should not even hold any grudges against our neighbor.

Leviticus 19:18 – “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.”

This specific command is dropped in the midst of all kinds of things we should not be doing to our neighbors (Leviticus 19:11-17):

  • do not steal from them
  • do not oppress them
  • do not rob from them
  • do not be unfair with them
  • do not spread slander about them
  • do not jeopardize their life
  • don’t harbor hatred toward them

According to Paul’s logic in Romans 13, these would all be included in “deeds of darkness.”

If these are the negative qualities, then the positive qualities contained within the armor of light must be the opposite:

  • give generously to them
  • cheer them up and support them
  • act with fairness
  • speak well of them
  • help to protect them
  • show practical love toward them

This practical outworking of a love that is defined in this manner shows what type of love the Bible is talking about when it comes to our neighbors. It is a love that acts in positive ways towards others. It doesn’t just think happy thoughts towards them, but it actively works to build them up and contribute to their well-being.

In what ways can you act in this manner toward your neighbors, friends, and family? All of these individuals come under the umbrella of “neighbors” in the biblical sense. How can you manifest the armor of light most practically and effectively? By looking at these brief examples, we can see it involves taking our focus off of ourselves (the deeds of darkness that serve our own pleasures and interests), and placing our focus instead on the needs of others for their benefit. This is how we can then begin to “put on Yeshua” by living out his command:

Matthew 7:12 – “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”


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.

True holiness is God’s presence through his Word in our hearts

Those who live and abide by God’s precepts are doing so because it makes up the very essence of who they are.

Core of the Bible podcast #75 – True holiness is God’s presence through his Word in our hearts

Today we will be looking at the topic of holiness, and how those who live and abide by God’s precepts are doing so because it makes up the very essence of who they are. These ongoing actions of obedience cause believers to be holy and set apart from all others.

We begin in Jeremiah 46:28 – Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, for I am with you,” says Yahweh.

The one thing that set ancient Israel apart from their neighboring tribes and countries was that their God was present with them. While other kingdoms and countries had their gods, their idols, and their temples, Israel actually had the very presence of the God of the universe with them. God allowed himself to be physically present somehow within their Mishkan, the tabernacle, or the portable sanctuary that traveled with them. His presence resided in that Most Holy Place, by all accounts hovering above and within the ark of the covenant which contained the tablets of the Ten Words, or what we call the Ten Commandments.

This covenant, these Ten Words, are what separated Israel from their neighbors. This is what made them holy. They had been instructed to abide by the actual commands of God, written with his own finger, etched eternally into stone.

A Jewish site called Chabad which explains various aspects of the Hasidic Jewish traditions, conveys what happened at Matan Torah, the Giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

“Of the 613 biblical commandments, G‑d selected these ten commandments for special attention. He directly communicated them to the Jews without using Moses as an intermediary, and inscribed them on the tablets which were placed in the Holy Ark within the Holy of Holies. It is evident that although all the mitzvot [commands] are vital, the five carved into the first tablet were chosen because they form the basis of our relationship with the Creator, while the latter five serve as the foundation of our relationship with fellow people.” What happened at Matan Torah?

Even according to their own teachings, to Jews the Ten Commandments form the basis of all of the rest of the instruction of God. This ironically echoes the teaching of Messiah where he also relates the importance of the most important commandments:

Matthew 22:35-40 – And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest? ” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. “This is the greatest and most important command. “The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

Since the first five of the Ten Commandments apply to the Creator, and the second five apply to our fellow people, we see how the teaching of Yeshua validates obedience to the Ten Commandments.

Now, the giving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai was not a private event that would simply be related thousands of years after the fact. There was no fanciful prophetic vision or private revelation; these words had been conveyed to the entire assembly of Israel at once as God himself spoke these words from Sinai. Everyone heard his voice, everyone felt the weight of his presence and struggled with the fear, real fear, at hearing the resounding and penetrating voice of God. Scripture tells us:

Exodus 19:16 – On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled.

Hebrews 12:19-21 – For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”

Even to this day, Jews recount the awful dread at the unique event that had overtaken that vast community of wilderness dwellers. From the Jewish News of Northern California, an article discusses what happened when God spoke at Sinai:

“For example, the rabbis have said that each of the commandments was said simultaneously in 70 languages and that the Torah was written with black fire on white fire. Another midrash [traditional legend] suggests that each individual heard revelation differently, according to their capacity, just as the manna tasted different to different people.” When God spoke at Sinai

Sefaria, a Jewish site that presents and evaluates the Hebrew text of the Tanakh conveys the following in an article titled “What really happened at Sinai?”:

“What did they see? The Torah was given through seven voices. And the people saw the Master of the Universe revealed in every one of these voices. That’s the meaning of the verse ‘All the people saw the the voices.’ (Exodus 20:15) These voices were accompanied by sparks of fire and flashes of lightening that were in the shape of the letters of the ten commandments. They saw the fiery word pouring out from the mouth of the Almighty and watched as they were inscribed on the stone tablets, as it says, ‘The voice of God inscribes flames of fire’ (Ps 29:4). And when the people actually saw The-One-Who-Speaks-the-World-into-Being, they fainted away. Some say that their spirits left their bodies, while others say that they entered a prophetic trance. These visions brought them to trembling and shaking and a blackout of the senses.” (Midrash Exodus Rabbah) What really happened at Sinai?

Once again going back to the previous Chabad article on the Matan Torah:

“This was no simple handing over of a book of lore; G‑d gave us His Divine laws for us to study and follow. This was a transitional moment in our history—a moment known as Matan Torah (the Giving of the Torah.) No longer were we merely the descendants of a great man named Abraham, or simply a Middle-Eastern people known as the Israelites. We had now become G‑d’s people, chosen to learn His Torah and keep its laws. It’s a moment we celebrate every year on the festival of Shavuot.”

Israel was born of revelation of God himself, a revelation of his expectations of conduct that were conveyed to an entire people at once. To Christians, the term “the Revelation” references the last book of the Bible, where the risen and glorified Yeshua reveals an outline of the outworking of the Day of the Lord, the culmination of the age. To Jews, the Revelation always references Sinai, where Yahweh revealed himself to the entire nation at once. It is THE watershed event in all of Jewish tradition and their sacred history, and rightly so. This revelation of God is what set them apart as holy and distinct from all other nations. The ten commandments born of this Revelation of Yahweh were placed into the heart of their most sacred place (the ark of the covenant) and they carried them within this central sanctuary throughout their wilderness journeys and into the land promised to them.

So, if this revelation of God is so central to the history of God’s people, it makes sense that it would also still be central to the ongoing history of God’s people today.


To this day, what sets God’s people apart is this same covenant, the Ten Words. There is no equal among the religious communities of the world.

The illustration for believers today comes through what is pictured in the wilderness journeys of Israel: just as God resided in that Most Holy Place within and above the ark of this covenant, God’s very presence resides within these Ten Words, the Ten Commandments. Just as the Ten Commandments were placed into the “heart” of the tabernacle within the ark of the covenant, God’s commands are placed in the heart of every believer through the renewal of the holy Spirit. As we seek to fulfill these commands placed in our heart, then we are truly following in the footsteps of our Lord, the Messiah Yeshua.

Matthew 5:17-19 – “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

According to Yeshua, the Kingdom of Heaven is populated by those who abide by the commandments of God. This is the everlasting covenant that remains forever. Most people don’t realize that the Ten Commandments ARE this everlasting covenant, therefore it can never go away.

Exodus 34:28 – Moses was there with Yahweh forty days and forty nights; he did not eat food or drink water. He wrote the Ten Commandments, the words of the covenant, on the tablets.

Deuteronomy 4:13 – “He declared his covenant to you. He commanded you to follow the Ten Commandments, which he wrote on two stone tablets.

This is why they were written in stone, by the very finger of God himself. In what other way could God ever illustrate the importance and everlasting nature of these commands?

By contrast, the “new” covenant ushered in through the ministry, life, and death of Yeshua is a martyr’s covenant. It is a covenant of dying to self so that the words of the everlasting covenant, the Ten Commandments, can actually be lived through us in this life.

The apostle Paul writes about it this way

Romans 6:6-7,11-12 – “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin … So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Messiah Yeshua. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.”

Through faith in Messiah, this everlasting covenant is placed in the hearts of those who would receive them, those who are called by his Name and who live and abide by its precepts because it makes up the very essence of who they are.

Jeremiah 31:33 – “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says Yahweh. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Through faith in Yeshua, the holy Spirit of God resides within believers to cause them to abide by the universal principles of God’s commands. This is related by the apostle John:

1 John 3:7-9 – “Children, let no one deceive you. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who commits sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s works. Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because his seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God.”

This is a difficult passage for most Christians, because they are taught all people are sinners due to a fallen nature and they can never escape the clutches of sinfulness until after physical death. But the Bible doesn’t teach this. In fact, John says that “everyone who has been born of God does not sin.” This type of language causes Christians to stumble; however, it is not meant in the absolute sense, but in the practical sense. Why do believers not sin, according to John? Because, having died to themselves, the commands of God that have been placed in their hearts can be truly lived out. He describes it as “his seed [that is, God’s seed] remains in him.” As Proverbs tells us:

Proverbs 4:23 – Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.

The heart is the seat of all emotion and the wellspring of actions, so if the heart is good, the actions are good. If the seed is good, the tree is good. And as Yeshua said, if the tree is good, the fruit is good.

Matthew 12:33 – “Either make the tree good and its fruit will be good, or make the tree bad and its fruit will be bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.”

Therefore, as believers abide by the commands of God placed in their heart through the holy Spirit within them, they do not sin, because sin, by definition, is the breaking of God’s commands, or his law.

1 John 3:4 – “Everyone who commits sin practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.”

However, if, as God spoke through Jeremiah when he said, “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts,” then the passage in 1 John makes sense because it says, “whoever has been born of God does not sin, because his seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God.”

God has not done away with this old covenant, the Ten Commandments. In fact, according to Jeremiah and Yeshua, the commandments of God are the very heart of the new covenant in Messiah.

Here’s something else to consider: Paul wrote that the faith of the early Messiah believers depended on the fact of the resurrection of Messiah.

1 Corinthians 15:17, 19 – And if Messiah has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. … If we have put our hope in Messiah for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.

The resurrection of Yeshua was the validation of everything he taught and lived; that is why it has such priceless value to believers today. And, just as the Ten Commandments were revealed to a large group of people, the resurrected Messiah was also revealed to multiples of individuals, eyewitness who could be consulted by those living at that time, as Paul relates:

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 – … he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me.”

So, if the resurrection never happened, Paul reasons, then our faith is in vain. In like fashion I would add that if the Ten Commandments have been done away with, then all faith is worthless, because those words are the very heart of the eternal covenant. The Ten Commandments are the central foundation of the Kingdom of God that Yeshua ushered in, both in this life and beyond. To be set apart for the purpose of God is to be obedient to him and his ways, here on earth now and into eternity.

This is holiness, being set apart for the purposes of God. He is present within the words of his covenant, and as the covenanted words are in our heart, he is present within us. God is present: this sets us apart; this makes us whole. This holiness through obedience to his words in our heart is the very essence of his kingdom on the earth.


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.

Fear of man or trust in Yahweh

Having the correct perspective strengthens believers to boldly stand for the truth of God.

Having the correct perspective strengthens believers to boldly stand for the truth of God.

Proverbs 29:25 – The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in Yahweh is protected.

Reading this verse as a standalone instruction, it is generally considered to be speaking to the believer trusting in Yahweh rather than fearing what evils another man could do them. It could also be considered as an admonition against cowardice as “the fear of man,” that fear which a man has within himself, is also a snare and a trap.

However, the bulk of Scripture would lean toward the first and most common idea that believers should not fear what any evils a man could do to them, but they should always have a strong and vibrant trust in God.

Psalm 118:5-9 – Out of my distress I called on Yahweh; Yahweh answered me and set me free. Yahweh is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Yahweh is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in princes.

Here the psalmist relates how there is no reason to fear when one takes refuge in Yahweh and calls out to him for help in their time of need. Trusting in God is to be preferred above trusting in man, even in princes, leaders, or an emperor.

1 Peter 2:17 – Honor everyone. Love the brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

While believers are commanded to show honor and respect for their leaders, it does not follow that they should blindly follow and obey them without any reference to the overarching authority and fear of God. Instead, we should take to heart the words of the apostle Peter when met with resistance by the religious authorities of his day:

Acts 5:27-29 – And when they had brought them, they set them before the council [the chief priests and leaders of Israel]. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name [the name of Yeshua], yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Peter here was simply following the example of his Master who taught about the supremacy of God’s authority over the authority of men:

Matthew 10:21-22, 26-28 – Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. … “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”

Yeshua encouraged his followers by ensuring they had a correct view and understanding of the true order of authority. It was this same type of mindset, fearless of the evils of men, that motivated believers to stand up for the truth throughout the history of God’s people.

Hebrews 11:35-38 – …Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

These saints of old demonstrated they did not fear what man could do to them, but their trust was placed firmly in the One who would usher them into his presence as they faithfully stood for his truth.

The principle contained in Proverbs 29:25 is succinctly summarized by the commentary of Joseph Benson:

  • The fear of man — Inordinate fear of harm or suffering from men, which is properly opposed to trust in God, because it arises from a distrust of God’s promises and providence;
  • bringeth a snare — Is an occasion of many sins, and consequently of punishments from God:
  • but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord — Walks in God’s ways, and securely relies upon him, to protect him from the designs and malice of wicked men;
  • shall be safe — Shall be preserved from all real evil, through God’s watchful providence over him.”

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.

Holiness based on fulfilled prophecy and promises

Believers today are participating in the ongoing Exodus of God’s people from the worldliness around them.

Believers today are participating in the ongoing Exodus of God’s people from the worldliness around them.

2 Corinthians 7:1 – So then, dear friends, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Speaking to the congregation in Corinth, Paul encourages them to maintain their holiness or their separation from all impurity of flesh and spirit. He does this by quoting from some promises that are mentioned in the previous chapter.

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 – 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. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says Yahweh; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. And I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me, says Yahweh Almighty.

Paul here appears to be quoting from a specific passage of Scripture, and yet when cross-referencing this passage with the rest of the Torah, we find it is actually a loose compilation of several promises that were provided to Israel at various stages of their history. However, when we view these passages together, an interesting picture begins to emerge.

  • Exodus 4:22 – “And you will say to Pharaoh: This is what Yahweh says: Israel is my firstborn son.
  • Exodus 29:45-46 – “I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. “And they will know that I am Yahweh their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, so that I might dwell among them. I am Yahweh their God.
  • Jeremiah 32:37-38 – “I will certainly gather them from all the lands where I have banished them in my anger, rage and intense wrath, and I will return them to this place and make them live in safety. “They will be my people, and I will be their God.
  • Isaiah 52:9-11 – Be joyful, rejoice together, you ruins of Jerusalem! For Yahweh has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. Yahweh has displayed his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. Leave, leave, go out from there! Do not touch anything unclean; go out from her, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of Yahweh.
  • Isaiah 43:5-6 – “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west. “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up! ‘ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back! ‘ Bring my sons from far away, and my daughters from the ends of the earth —

Each of these promises has to do with the deliverance of the nation and a regathering of God’s people. By quoting a variety of Torah passages, this seems to me to indicate that Paul was teaching that his missionary efforts throughout ancient Europe, Greece and Asia were designed to fulfill these promises: that God would bring his people together from wherever they had been scattered due to previous captivities among the nations. Because this great re-gathering was underway, they were to abstain from all unclean activities to remain pure and holy before God in the day of this great fulfillment of these prophecies.

The reason that this perspective gets overlooked is because where these types of promises are mentioned, believers have always been looking for a physical restoration to the physical land. By Paul using this collection of quotations rather than a single reference is an example of how the gathering of God’s people was to be a spiritual event based on these principles. Israel came out of Egypt into a land of their own. Israel was brought back to their land after a captivity in Babylon. These examples that they were familiar with indicate a principle of a collective of all who were willing to come to the God of the Bible in spirit and in truth out of the worldliness around them. As Paul applied these passages and principles, this was an indication of the great Second Exodus, a mixed multitude leaving the idolatry of their various cultures by becoming holy and set apart for God’s use in his kingdom.

Because this was a spiritual calling and gathering of God’s people, the emphasis for believers to remain holy and set apart is just as valid and relevant in our modern culture as it was in the days of the Second Exodus of the New Testament. We too, as believers in Messiah, can be considered among the sons and daughters of the Almighty. Because of these great and precious prophetic examples and promises, we too should take to heart the admonition of Paul to those early believers:

2 Corinthians 7:1 – So then, dear friends, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear 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 challenge of staying dead

The reality of the new life in Messiah is only possible through death, death to self.

The reality of the new life in Messiah is only possible through death, death to self.

2 Timothy 2:11 – This saying is trustworthy: For if we died with him, we will also live with him…

The life of the believer is all about dying to self and living for God. The problem with this simple concept is that our self continues to want to live. Paul calls this conflict the struggle between the old self and the newness of life.

Romans 6:1-7 – What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Messiah Yeshua were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Messiah was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin.

Paul uses this metaphor of the old self dying throughout his writings:

  • Romans 6:11 – So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Messiah Yeshua.
  • Galatians 2:19 – For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God.
  • Colossians 2:20 – If you died with Messiah to the elements of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world?
  • Colossians 3:3 – For you died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God.

All of these references are simply speaking in metaphorical language about how that, in the believer’s life, one must forsake all previous disobedience to God with the finality of death. A dead person cannot commit sin; this is how abruptly and decisively we must act within the remaining time of our lives.

Paul continues his thought in this “trustworthy saying” that he was committing to Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:11-12 – This saying is trustworthy: For if we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him;

Paul here conveys a sense of endurance in remaining dead to those things that displease God. The word for endure literally means to “stay under,” as in remaining, persevering, bearing up under trials. However, Paul also presents Timothy with the opposite result if we choose to yield to our self and deny the One who calls us to himself.

2 Timothy 2:12-13 – if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

This is reminiscent of the admonition of Yeshua, explaining what will be the state of those who refuse to give up their sinful actions, the breaking of God’s laws.

Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name? ‘ “Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers! ‘

This is why we are constantly reminded to endure and to bear up our trials with a persevering and faithful spirit. The writer to the Hebrews and James also provide similar encouragement under trial, even referring to the endurance of Messiah as a motivating consideration in the believers’ own endurance.

  • Hebrews 10:32 – Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings.
  • Hebrews 12:3 – For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up.
  • James 1:12 – Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

We should recognize that it is through these types of struggles that God is causing us to grow and continually be renewed to become more like him.

Colossians 3:9-10 – …you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.

As we grow in the image of God, we can then become more useful to him in the accomplishment of his purpose in expanding the kingdom of God on the earth. This is why this encouragement to remain dead to sin must become a guiding principle in our daily lives.


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.

Living the new life of compassion

Believers have a godly responsibility to actively seek out and meet the needs of others.

Believers have a godly responsibility to actively seek out and meet the needs of others.

In the letter written to the congregation at Colosse, the apostle Paul has reached the heart of what it means to be a believer in the Messiah.

Colossians 2:6-7 – “As therefore you received Messiah Yeshua as Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Paul encourages the believers that if they have received Messiah and truly accept him as their Master and Teacher, then they should “live in him.” The next several chapters go on to describe what that life that is lived in him should look like.

One of the primary emphases that he focuses on is the believer’s disassociation with worldly entanglements. He creates an analogy of life and death, and how a commitment to the Messiah is the equivalent of dying to this world, and being lived as a new life in him.

Colossians 2:13 – “And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses…”

This new life of living in him should now take our focus off of the negative entrapments of the worldliness around us, and cause us to look “above,” to heavenly ideals.

Colossians 3:1-3 – “If then you have been raised with Messiah, seek the things that are above, where Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Messiah in God.

Colossians 3:9, 12 – … seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices … Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, hearts of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience…

All of these qualities that believers should represent stem from the ideal that we have died to our old life lived in disobedience to God and now are living a new life according to God’s Word with the goals and ideals of the Messiah.

Paul mentions one of the first qualities of this new life as a heart of compassion. The underlying Greek word conveys the idea of deep feelings of sympathy with a person’s difficulties or misfortunes. Compassion is one of the defining characteristics of God, so it is no wonder it should be one of the primary qualities of his children.

When we feel compassionless, it may be that we have lost sight of whose we are, and where our focus should be. Paul clearly says we should seek “those things that are above,” that is, the things of the heavenly kingdom of God. When we can step back and realize that there is an authority and an ideal that reigns above the struggles and injustice of the world system, we should be energized by God to have compassion on those who have not yet come this realization. Having this godly type of compassion causes us to elevate the needs of others above our own, and helps us to begin to bear fruit for God in the darkness around us.

Being dead to this world but alive to God means that we have a great responsibility; a responsibility to respond to the needs around us in godly ways. When we choose to follow the instruction of God’s Word, we become one with the life and teaching of his Messiah and should represent him in honorable and practical ways in the lives of those around us. Exhibiting his compassion is a primary way that we can share the truth of that heavenly kingdom, that there is more to this life than just cold, hard living: that in Messiah there is hope, and life, and peace.


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 immense but achievable responsibility of believers

Being faithful requires constant, intentional commitment.

Philippians 2:12-13 – Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.

Many times this passage is reviewed by looking only at verse 12 regarding the working out of one’s own salvation, and stopping short of verse 13. But verse 13 is the engine behind the ignition key of verse 12, because Paul is conveying that the work that was being done was actually God working in them according to his good purpose.

This passage touches on the duality of the believer’s existence: seeking to be a conduit for the outworking of God in both principle and action. The way to accomplish this effectively, according to Paul, is to do this “with fear and trembling.” I have a sense that many believers today have either lost this sense or never been instructed in it in the first place. This fear and trembling is a principle which conveys that we need to be thoughtful and circumspect in our lives, considering the gravity and eternal impact of our actions upon ourselves, our families, and others.

To be a believer in the Messiah carries with it a strong purpose which demands constancy and vigilance in intentional living. It means making choices for righteousness in situations that may not be the consideration of others who are not believers. Sometimes it means sacrificing elements of comfort or ease for the sake of others. Many times our time, energy, and resources will be spent for the sake of someone else.

All through this epistle, Paul is conveying the principles of this way of life to the Philippian believers.

For example, he touches on the principle of understanding what is right:

Philippians 1:9-11 – And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Messiah, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Yeshua Messiah to the glory and praise of God.

He also shares the responsibility they have in suffering for doing what’s right:

Philippians 1:29-30 – For it has been granted to you on Messiah’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.

These were real experiences based on real decisions that they had to make every day that played into their experiences as believers in Messiah.

Now while all of this may sound very heavy and burdensome, we can also be encouraged from their example, as Paul was convinced of God’s ability to bring all righteousness to pass. He encouraged them that once the work that was begun in them was underway, it would ultimately come to fulfillment.

Philippians 1:6 – I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Messiah Yeshua.

If Paul is to be believed, the “working out” of their salvation was indeed accomplished. They had proven faithful in what he had taught them regarding the faith once received for all the saints, as Jude calls it (Jude 1:3).

If we learn nothing else from the early believers in Messiah, the life of faith was one of constant struggle and commitment with real consequences. This required a whole level of commitment that I believe is rarely seen among modern believers today. It is up to us to demonstrate the same vigilance in outworking the principles of righteousness in this generation. And even if we don’t yet have a full understanding of all that God expects of us, we have this continuing encouragement from Paul as a guiding principle:

Philippians 3:16 – In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.


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.

Pleasing God through holy prayer

We should simply be obedient to his plain will for us.

As the apostle Paul provides Timothy instruction on correct doctrine and appropriate conduct within the congregation, he begins to focus on the various groups within the assembly: men, women, widows, and slaves, along with the roles of overseers and deacons.

But first and foremost is the admonition to prayer; praying specifically for leaders and officials so that the message of the kingdom can be spread through the peaceful lives of obedient believers.

1 Timothy 2:1-2, 8 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. … I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands apart from anger or quarreling…

While violence was common in that generation and persecution was ever present, the kingdom message had been historically spreading through the persecutions and scatterings of the believers, even the persecution brought on by Paul himself prior to his conversion.

Acts 8:3-4 – “But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”

However, as Paul’s missionary efforts throughout the empire were coming to fruition in the waning years of his life, he encourages prayer for peaceful and dignified existence to exhibit the wonderful salvation of God to all.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 – “This [praying for leaders and peace and harmony] is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

I can’t think of a more timely and appropriate lesson that we could learn from the Bible at this time in history. Our country and our world is becoming more fractured and oppositional with each passing week and month. If believers, instead of chastising administrations and leaders would instead join together and pray for them, “lifting up holy hands apart from anger and quarreling,” we may see real change towards peace and harmony. God’s desire of people experiencing salvation and coming to the knowledge of the truth could become much more of a reality than we are currently seeing.

Out of all of the actions we as believers can take in influencing this world, praying for leaders and for peace and unity is something that only we can do. If we believe we have been set apart as God’s people, then, as his children, we have the right and responsibility to petition him for this to come to pass. This is not an opportunity for us to lift up our preferred candidate over others, but a chance to ask for God’s involvement and enlightening of all those in authority, that they would make decisions that honor him and not just try to influence the polling statistics.

If this is something that pleases God, then we should simply be obedient to his plain and hopeful will for us, and the obligation that he has laid out for believers. If we consider ourselves holy and set apart, then it is time for us to act like it.


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.