Taking correction to heart

We must overcome a casual approach to godly living.

In the text of the New Testament, we find the apostle Paul had written to many different congregations of the early believers. In his writings to the congregation at Corinth, we have an example of a preliminary communication and a secondary, follow up letter, as well.

One of the things that becomes obvious is that the tone of the first letter expresses frustration over their apparent careless attitude and shallow understanding of message of the gospel of Messiah. Yet, the second letter delves into matters with more depth and a demonstration of their overall growth in their spiritual development.

This can be shown by how they were dealing with those who were conducting flagrant sin within the congregation. In his first letter, Paul had learned that one of their members was a man who was having a relationship with his step-mother.

1 Corinthians 5:1-2 – It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is intolerable even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been stricken with grief and have removed from your fellowship the man who did this?

This type of relationship was forbidden by Torah, and yet the congregation was not taking it seriously.

Leviticus 18:8 – ” ‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.

This was just one specific instance of their casual approach to maintaining their purity and abiding by the Torah, or instruction, of God. Yet, in the second letter, we find that the upbraiding they had received from Paul had actually caused them to regather their spiritual senses and become vigilant in their earnestness to be obedient and holy.

Proverbs 15:5 – Only a fool despises a parent’s discipline; but whoever learns from correction is wise.

Paul, acting as their parent, had the difficult task of outlining correction for them. And yet this upbraiding had its desired effect; so much so, in fact, that he praises them for their taking his instruction to heart and following through in taking their faith more seriously. The Amplified Bible captures the sense of his parental pride:

2 Corinthians 7:11 – For [you can look back and] see what an earnestness and authentic concern this godly sorrow has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves [against charges that you tolerate sin], what indignation [at sin], what fear [of offending God], what longing [for righteousness and justice], what passion [to do what is right], what readiness to punish [those who sin and those who tolerate sin]! At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in the matter.

From these insights, we can learn that sometimes we need to be confronted with our shortcomings so that we may understand what course corrections we may need to take. When we begin to take our favored status as believers in the one true God for granted, we can become lax in our conduct and our interactions with one another. We can become dismissive of the instruction of God and the high standards God has for his people. However, for those who are truly seeking God, being made aware of inadequacy will typically fuel a driving desire to become more diligent in our walk.

While the Bible teaches we are accountable to one another, the primary way that God reminds us of our present state is through his Spirit and his Word. By faithfully and prayerfully seeking to understand him more, he can provide the deepest level of guidance and correction through his Word. If we are wise, as the proverb says, it is up to us to demonstrate with all that we are and all that we do that we are learning from his correction. Our goal is to become more like him and to become earnestly vigilant in whatever he requires of us to become his representative people.


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 wisdom of God that guides believers

Staying close to God should cause us to exhibit his characteristics.

The Bible has many different genres of writings: historical (like the books of Kings, Chronicles, gospels, Acts), general instruction (epistles of Paul), wisdom (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom of Solomon, and Ecclesiasticus) and prophecy and apocalypse. Whether one includes the apocryphal books of Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus in the canon, the concept of a personification of Wisdom in a female character is represented in the wisdom literature, sometimes referred to as Lady Wisdom.

The inception of this character is revealed in the book of Proverbs:

Proverbs 8:22-23 – “Yahweh possessed me at the beginning of his way, before his works of long ago. I was formed before ancient times, from the beginning, before the earth began.”

In the poetic style of the Hebrew, Wisdom is represented as imbued within the very foundation of the Creation itself, guiding and working alongside Yahweh as the reality of this physical universe was created. From this, many Christians have come to see this passage as literally speaking to a pre-incarnate Yeshua as co-Creator with Yahweh God. It is clear that in this passage wisdom is represented as an attribute of God himself, however, I would align this as a figurative representation more closely with his Spirit than a pre-incarnate Yeshua.

As such, the godly aspects of wisdom are said to be desirous for learning, long life, and righteousness. Because of this, believers should demonstrate the same characteristics that are learned by remaining close to the Wisdom of God.

Proverbs 8:6-9 – “Listen, for I speak of noble things, and what my lips say is right. For my mouth tells the truth, and wickedness is detestable to my lips. All the words from my mouth are righteous; none of them are deceptive or perverse. All of them are clear to the perceptive, and right to those who discover knowledge.”

If wisdom is an emanation of godly characteristics, then these qualities should be evident within the lives of believers, as well. Our speech should be based on noble things, speaking what is right at all times, always speaking the truth with righteousness without any deception. The things we say should constantly guide those who desire to know more about God and to help them discover more about him.

As believers in the one true God, we should always represent him honestly and knowledgeably. As an example of this, the apostle Paul’s admonition to Timothy was to ensure he was grounded in the truth, working hard to teach others what was right about God.

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.”

We also should work diligently and prayerfully to ensure we possess the wisdom that comes from God, speaking righteously and honestly about him at all times, so that we may faithfully guide others to also find the truth in 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.

The power to forgive and overcome evil with good

God expects that we overcome our adversaries through forgiveness and kind actions.

Core of the Bible podcast #56 – The power to forgive and overcome evil with good

Today we will be looking at the topic of forgiveness, and how God expects us to honor and forgive our adversaries; yes, not just our family and friends but our adversaries. Retaliation against personal injustices are meant to be met with godly forgiveness and meeting the needs of our enemies. Thankfully, as we shall see, he has also provided us the ability to do so.

1 Samuel 24:9-13 – “David asked Saul, ‘Why do you listen to rumors that I am trying to harm you? Today you saw how Yahweh handed you over to me in the cave. Although I was told to kill you, I spared you, saying, ‘I will not raise my hand against Your Majesty because you are Yahweh’s anointed.’ My master, look at this! The border of your robe is in my hand! Since I cut off the border of your robe and didn’t kill you, you should know and be able to see I mean no harm or rebellion. I haven’t sinned against you, but you are trying to ambush me in order to take my life. May Yahweh decide between you and me. May Yahweh take revenge on you for what you did to me. However, I will not lay a hand on you. It’s like people used to say long ago, ‘Wickedness comes from wicked people.’ But I will not lay a hand on you.

The story of Saul and David encompasses many facets of spiritual instruction within the lore of Israel. In this instance, David and his men are being pursued by a jealous Saul, then present King of Israel, because Saul thinks David is heading a rebellion to overthrow him. The pursuit comes to a climax when Saul unknowingly enters a cave into which David and his men are already hiding. David even gets close enough to cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

This incident highlights Yeshua’s teaching that we should not harm our enemies, paraphrased below.

Matthew 5:38-41 – “Never retaliate; instead, offer to go above and beyond for those oppressing you.”

David could have been justified in taking vengeance on his enemy who was quite literally pursuing him to kill him. However, in our day and culture, those who may be adversarial to us are rarely out to physically kill us. They may speak badly about us in an unjustifiable way; they may actively try to work against our objectives; they may use us for their own personal ends; but they are rarely out to actually take our lives.

If David could be so forgiving and honorable in a justifiable situation with a sworn enemy when his life was in danger, shouldn’t that give us hope that we can, and should, have the ability to overcome the advances of our adversaries?

We can gain some additional insight into this concept by reviewing the text a little more closely. David mentions a saying that was prevalent in his culture and his time, “Wickedness comes from wicked people.” Yet even a thousand later, Yeshua substantiated that very same perspective in his teachings.

Luke 6:43-45 – “A good tree doesn’t produce rotten fruit, and a rotten tree doesn’t produce good fruit. Each tree is known by its fruit. You don’t pick figs from thorny plants or grapes from a thornbush. Good people do the good that is in them. But evil people do the evil that is in them. The things people say come from inside them.”

In the same way David affirmed “wickedness comes from wicked people,” Yeshua also says, “evil people do the evil that is in them.” Even though this may be the case, Yeshua also encouraged his followers to take a very specific stance with those who may be displaying this wickedness that comes from inside of them:

Matthew 5:38-42 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to oppose an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn your other cheek to him as well. If someone wants to sue you in order to take your shirt, let him have your coat too. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to everyone who asks you for something. Don’t turn anyone away who wants to borrow something from you.”

If we are to be considered followers of Yeshua, then we need to abide by the principles he endorses, or rather, requires, of those who would claim to be his. Yet none of these principles come naturally. If we are slapped, our reaction is to slap back. If someone sues us unjustly, we want to fight back and have our day in court. If we are forced to comply with governmental initiatives, we try to find ways to circumvent them. We typically avoid those who would ask us to give and borrow so we can hang on to our own resources.

In John 14:15, Yeshua says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Yet if all of these principles he commands his followers to do are contrary to our natural reactions, then how is it that he expects us to follow his commandments? In just a moment, we’ll review one of the key teachings that Yeshua brought forward to tell us how to do just that.


During his last few hours before he was given up to the authorities in Jerusalem, Yeshua provides some insight for us in what were to become his parting words to his disciples.

John 14:15-17 – “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

Yeshua says that after his departure, provision would be made for the disciples to continue to follow his teachings. The Spirit of truth would be given to them and would provide the following benefits:

  • dwell with and be in them (14:17)
  • teach them all things (14:26)
  • bring to remembrance his teachings (14:26)
  • testify to the truth of Messiah (15:26)
  • guide them into truth (16:13)
  • tell them things to come (16:13)

Additionally, Yeshua mentioned in other teaching settings how the disciples would be able to provide irrefutable answers to those in authority when they were arraigned before judges: this would be possible only because the spirit of the Father would be speaking through them (Matt 10:20; Mark 13:11).

This “Helper” would help the believers in all of these ways. Notice, all of these ways are characteristics which were supernatural, not just improvements on the natural: indwelling, teaching, remembering, testifying, guiding, providing foreknowledge; these were all characteristics beyond each of the disciples individually, yet they were to be empowered with these abilities by the Spirit of God dwelling in them.

So, the types of non-retaliatory actions that Yeshua encouraged his followers to abide by must have required a very special form of forgiveness. This type could only be displayed when relying on the Spirit of God providing the strength to do so by indwelling them.

In the passages just mentioned, Yeshua painted in broad strokes in what ways the Spirit of God would be assisting the believers. The apostle Paul, however, expands on this further when he writes about the contrast between the Spirit and the corrupted nature evident in the world “which cannot receive” the Spirit because it “neither sees nor knows him,” as Yeshua had said.

Romans 8:3-9 – “For what the law couldn’t do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh; that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is hostile toward God; for it is not subject to God’s law, neither indeed can it be. Those who are in the flesh can’t please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

The dynamic of the holy Spirit living within the believer is the fulfillment of the covenant that Israel had been looking forward to for centuries.

Jeremiah 31:33 – “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”

This is how the believers were to live up to standards that were unattainable by purely doing their best to live out of the flesh. This is why fleshly works have no value in the sight of God; they cannot accomplish the depth and complexity of what God intends. The believer must be transformed to allow God to work through them; this is what makes biblical faith come alive. This is how we become image-bearers as God intended, ruling and reigning in his Creation with the wisdom and understanding that comes from him.

Romans 12:1-2 – “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

In order for believers to do things that are not natural, but supernatural, they must go through a transformative process. Paul here calls it a “renewing of the mind.” This mind renewal transforms the believer into an individual accomplishing the will of God in this world.

Yeshua called it being born anew, or born from above.

John 3:5-8 – “Yeshua answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into God’s Kingdom. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

To be born of the Spirit is to be transformed and empowered to accomplish God’s will on the earth. This is the good news of the kingdom, and how the kingdom continues to grow within each generation.

So a logical question then becomes: How then does one receive this holy Spirit in order for this transformation to take place? Yeshua and the apostles provide that answer and more throughout the pages of the New Testament writings.


While there are many religious traditions that may answer this question differently, the teaching of Yeshua and the apostles is that the holy Spirit is available to all who simply ask.

Luke 11:9-13 – “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? “Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
James 1:5 – “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach; and it will be given him.”

Asking God for us to be participants in his will through his Spirit working in and through us is the answer. When we ask in sincerity, he will provide us what we need so his will can be accomplished on this earth as he intends.

2 Peter 1:3-8 – “…his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and virtue, by which he has granted to us his precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust. Yes, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge; and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control perseverance; and in perseverance godliness; and in godliness brotherly affection; and in brotherly affection, love. For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to not be idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Yeshua Messiah.”

See, God’s provision of his Spirit causes us to not be idle nor unfruitful in the things that Yeshua has instructed us to do. So if we are instructed to be forgiving to the unforgivable, we can now do so. If we are instructed to not seek revenge for offenses against us, we can now do so.

This is a highly significant truth in the panorama of religious life because this is the very thing that sets apart a biblical faith from every other worldly religion in the world that boasts some code of ethics or good works. Those religions may provide lofty goals that some of their followers may discipline themselves to achieve some of the time, but God has provided not only lofty ethics but the power to accomplish all of them all the time!

This is such a foreign concept among believers today because we are generally taught that our flesh is sinful and useless and we will only experience freedom from these sinful tendencies in the life to come. However, the gospel message is the complete opposite! The good news of the Kingdom is that we can begin to live by its standards here and now AND also into eternity beyond this life! We have been set free from the sinful tendencies that weigh people down so we can exhibit the love of God here and now.

John 8:34-36 “Yeshua answered them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin. A bondservant doesn’t live in the house forever. A son remains forever. If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

A true biblical faith is not just one religious tradition among a host of world religions, but an empowered lifestyle of burning brightly with the energy and power of God. As Peter says, to “escape from the corruption that is in the world by lust” in our lives, and to overcome the evil in this world with good actions.

Romans 12:17-21 “Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. For it is written, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says Yahweh.’ Therefore, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

1 Peter 2:11-16 – “Beloved, I beg you as foreigners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having good behavior among the nations, so in that of which they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they see, glorify God in the day of visitation. Therefore subject yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether to the king, as supreme; or to governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evildoers and for praise to those who do well. For this is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God.”

As believers, God has provided us the resources needed to carry out his expectations that we overcome our adversaries through forgiveness and kind actions. This is not just some hope for a distant future in another age, but real-world, practical advice for believers in this day and age. Why would the early believers have been commanded these things if they were not attainable then? And if they were attainable then, why would they not attainable now?

Our goal, no, our mission, is to exhibit godly characteristics in the face of an ungodly world as a demonstration of the reality of the One who dwells within us for his honor and glory. To merely profess lofty ideals but never attain them is not an option that has been provided by the message of Yeshua and the Bible. We are to be the lights in this world, a light that stems from the light of God himself.

1 John 1:5-7 – “This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don’t tell the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua Messiah, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”

Therefore, we can truly forgive our adversaries and not seek retaliation as Yeshua instructs us, but only as we walk in the light of God with the provision of his Spirit.


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 power to live as kingdom people

All who claim to be believers in Messiah should be exhibiting these lofty qualities.

2 Peter 1:10-11 – Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Yeshua Messiah will be richly provided for you.

Peter here speaks of the eternal kingdom, and how one “enters” this kingdom. He mentions entrance into the kingdom is evidenced “in this way,” and “if you do these things.” What things is he speaking of?

2 Peter 1:8-9 – For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Yeshua Messiah. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins.

Peter expresses that some specific qualities provide fruitfulness and usefulness in fulfilling our understanding of Messiah. These qualities are based on “cleansing from past sins,” the forgiveness extended to those believers in Messiah. Once one believes in Messiah and is cleansed from past sins, a new set of qualities should be evident in their lives.

2 Peter 1:5-7 – For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

These qualities that are based on past forgiveness include supplements or contributions to the faith which has brought forgiveness. He says these qualities, “these things,” should be evident in the believers’ lives: goodness (or virtue), knowledge (or wisdom/understanding), self-control (self-mastery or restraint), endurance (steadfastness), godliness (devotion/piety toward God), brotherly affection (love for the brethren), and love (affection and benevolence towards all). These are the qualities of the eternal kingdom. All who claim to be believers in Messiah should be exhibiting these lofty qualities.

This should provide us pause for reflection. Are these qualities evident in our lives? If not, why not? Have we truly recognized our forgiveness from past sins, or are we “blind” and “short-sighted” as Peter lays out?

If we are truly desiring God’s kingdom to come and his will to done on earth, then we must repent of those things that hinder the realization and achievement of these Spirit-driven characteristics in our lives. Yeshua’s admonition is to “seek first the kingdom.” The kingdom should be first over all other demands and desires in our lives, which Peter says is possible when we rely on the “divine power,” the Spirit of God, who has “given us everything required for life and godliness.”

2 Peter 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

If we are not evidencing these qualities, then we must renew our knowledge in the glory of God revealed in his Messiah. According to the apostle Paul, Yeshua is the good news, the gospel of the fulfillment of the promises made to the ancestors.

Acts 13:32-33 – “And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our ancestors. “God has fulfilled this for us, their children, by raising up Yeshua, as it is written in the second Psalm: You are my Son; today I have become your Father.

Relying on the Spirit of God provided through the resurrection of Yeshua allows believers to live as godly people in this world, true sons of God, representing him faithfully in his kingdom.

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.

Let us always remember to seek first the kingdom, living as his people through the power he has provided us. According to Peter, if we do so, we will confirm our calling and “never stumble.” Through our faithful actions, the eternal kingdom will be evidenced to those who need to hear its message, paving the way for others to also be drawn to God through faith in his Son.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Being clothed with the Spirit of God

Our being set apart by God is not only for our benefit, but so that others can see how God’s standards are possible to live out in this life.

In overcoming the sins of the flesh, the apostle Paul made use of an interesting term in order to describe what this process was like. To his way of thinking, the believer’s life was to be clothed with the Messiah, as if the righteous example and deeds of the Messiah were something to be put on, like you might put on a robe or suit of armor.

Romans 13:12-14 – The night is nearly over, and the day is near; so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk with decency, as in the daytime: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Yeshua Messiah, and don’t make plans to gratify the desires of the flesh.

This thinking is likely the result of Yeshua’s teaching of the empowerment of the holy Spirit. In this respect, the empowerment of the Spirit of God was something that occurred to the individual from outside of themselves; it was bestowed upon them from God.

Luke 24:49 – “And look, I am sending you what my Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

This event, of course, was the day of Pentecost that first early summer after Yeshua’s crucifixion and resurrection. Yeshua describes it as being clothed with power from on high (that is, from God). We see this event being described in the book of Acts:

Acts 2:1-4 – When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.

Paul captures this same imagery and uses it to describe the believers’ unity they have because of this operation of God in their lives.

Galatians 3:26-28 – for through faith you are all sons of God in Messiah Yeshua. For those of you who were baptized into Messiah have been clothed with Messiah. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.

This operation of God has set them apart in holiness. They are now a collective of individuals who have specific purpose in growing the Kingdom of God. But they can only do this as they continue to walk in this holiness, this set-apartness.

So Paul then takes this imagery of being clothed with power from on high and carries the metaphor into the practical aspects of overcoming sin in their lives.

Ephesians 4:20-24 – But that is not how you came to know Messiah, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Yeshua, to take off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new man, created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

He encourages the believers to rely on that empowerment they have received as the tool by which their lives will be changed.

Ephesians 6:10-11 – Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil.

Colossians 3:9-10, 12-14 – Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with its practices and have put on the new, the one being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator. … Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all these is the love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

These qualities and practices he is urging them to “put on” are the qualities and practices evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit.

Romans 8:5, 12-14 – For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit. … 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.

The full context of Romans 8:1-17 is all about living by the empowering of God’s Spirit to overcome the sinful practices that have separated them from God. When they do so, Paul says, they demonstrate they are truly God’s children. God’s children walk in holiness or set-apartness because they are yielding obediently to God’s leading and they are empowered by God to do so.

In a similar way, when we learn to rely on God’s Spirit to overcome the sinful works of the flesh, we demonstrate that we are God’s children to a world that needs to know him. Our being set apart by God is not only for our benefit, but so that others can see how God’s standards are possible to live out in this life. Those who are compelled by our walk of obedience can then also experience this work in their lives and are then empowered to influence others. In this way, each generation carries forward the heritage of faith in Messiah until it ultimately fills 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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Citizens of a spiritual kingdom

The kingdom of God ushered in by his Messiah is not meant to be a physical kingdom on this earth.

John 3:3-6 – Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “How can anyone be born when he is old? ” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born? ” Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. “Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.

In this famous passage of Scripture, we find Yeshua instructing Nicodemus, a Jewish ruler, in the meaning of the kingdom of God. With all of the modern emphasis on being born again or born from above as the defining measure of eternal salvation, in reality, the concept of being born from above is that of spiritual birth into the kingdom of God.

The apostle Paul also recognized and conveyed this truth in almost the same fashion:

1 Corinthians 15:50 – I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

The perishable (this flesh) cannot inherit a spiritual reality. Only the spiritual reality is undying and eternal; everything we can see, all kingdoms and rulerships on this earth, pass away.

2 Corinthians 4:18 – as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

We, however, are not receiving or inheriting a kingdom in this world. No, our kingdom and citizenship in another place.

Hebrews 12:22, 27-28 – Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, … This expression, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what can be shaken ​– ​that is, created things ​– ​so that what is not shaken might remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe…

The kingdom cannot be shaken because it is not of this physical creation.

Yeshua clearly lays out that God’s kingdom, the kingdom of which has been given to him, is a spiritual kingdom, not a natural one.

John 18:36-37 – “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
“You are a king then? ” Pilate asked. “You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Yeshua made it clear that the kingdom of God would not be an observable one with the eyes, someplace that you could see or visit in the flesh. Even then, the kingdom of God was already beginning to become evident during the ministry of Messiah:

Luke 17:20-21 – Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable; “no one will say, ‘See here! ‘ or ‘There! ‘ For you see, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

This was because people were becoming born again and beginning to populate this spiritual kingdom at that time.

Luke 16:16 – “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.

There has never been a design for the spiritual kingdom of God to become its own physical representation in this reality, but for the outworking of the principles of this spiritual kingdom to be worked out through the societies and kingdoms of this world.

Revelation 11:15-17 – The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.
The twenty-four elders, who were seated before God on their thrones, fell facedown and worshiped God, saying, We give you thanks, Lord God, the Almighty, who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.

As we yield to the rulership of the God of the Bible and his Messiah, we live in the outworking of his kingdom in this reality, establishing his rule and reign within the kingdom of this world. This what born again people do, because they draw their life from there. This is who we are as believers in Messiah.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

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

The brightly lit fire of self-discipline

We must be vigilant over our own actions to remain fruitful and effective for God in the work that he has laid out for us.

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

The apostle Paul was writing this to his young protégé, Timothy, in the wider context of reminding him of his spiritual heritage, and to encourage him that he is up to the task of being a leader among the congregations that Paul had been instrumental in establishing throughout Asia.

This “sound judgment” that Paul mentions is a word that also means self-control, self-discipline, and prudence. One of the clear earmarks of the Spirit of God’s influence in our lives is discipline and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.

In writing to Timothy, Paul implies that the intensity of the outworking of the Spirit in the life of the believer is partially dependent on the believer’s participation and focus.

Albert Barnes contributes the following thoughts on Paul’s instruction to Timothy:

“The original word used here denotes the kindling of a fire, as by bellows, etc. It is not uncommon to compare piety to a flame or a fire, and the image is one that is obvious when we speak of causing that to burn more brightly. The idea is, that Timothy was to use all proper means to keep the flame of pure religion in the soul burning, and more particularly his zeal in the great cause to which he had been set apart. The agency of man himself is needful to keep the religion of the heart warm and glowing. However rich the gifts which God has bestowed upon us, they do not grow of their own accord, but need to be cultivated by our own personal care.”

Timothy was tasked with a great many responsibilities, and through them all Paul is encouraging him to remain vigilant, to watch carefully, to be circumspect in all things so that his work can be effective and fruitful.

2 Timothy 4:2, 5 – Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. … But as for you, exercise vigilance in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

It is necessary to exercise vigilance and self-control in all things, otherwise we are no better than a city without walls; i.e., we have no defenses against danger.

Proverbs 25:28 – Like a city broken down without walls is a man without restraint over his spirit!

If we are reminded to continually kindle the Spirit of God’s influence within us into a larger flame, we can stand against any onslaught that may confront us. We must be vigilant over our own actions to remain fruitful and effective for God in the work that he has laid out for us in the ongoing establishment 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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

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

The limitless resource of strength and life

God’s Word and his Spirit is the foundation of a believer’s integrity.

Psalm 1:1-3 – How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in Yahweh’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

At the opening of the book of Psalms is a description of the person of integrity, one who is not captivated and led astray by the sins of those around them. Notice: he does not abide by wicked advice or counsel, he does not take a stand in the way of sinners or dwell with those who arrogantly scorn others.

I have heard sermons illustrating the arc of being led astray by sin in this fashion: it begins by walking in bad advice, then standing with sinners, and finally sitting with those who mock others. Being led astray begins by walking, slows to standing, and ends with sitting among sinners. While it makes a good sermon and is not unhelpful, the underlying Hebrew is not quite that specific. The main focus is not to associate in casual ways with those who are rebellious against the things of God, or one will become like them and dwell among them.

By contrast, the person of integrity will avoid this downward spiral by a very simple and time-honored strategy: to delight in Yahweh’s torah or instruction and to constantly refer to and rely on the principles of God. To the person of integrity, God’s word is delightful, pleasant, and worthy of time and thoughtful study. The word in English is typically translated as meditate, but it also conveys ideas of musing, imagining, speaking and uttering God’s torah. This process is continual, day and night, thinking on, rehearsing and speaking about God’s instruction. This is the foundation of a believer’s integrity.

When one honor’s God’s instruction in this way, the psalmist likens them to a tree that is always vibrant, regardless of the harshness of the environment. If the weather is hot and dry, the tree continues to flourish and bear fruit just as if its roots were tapped into a nearby stream.

Yeshua also references this source of strength in similar terminology.

John 7:38-39 – The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit…

The believer in Messiah who is immersed in the instruction of God will be provided a resource to counter any adverse condition they may encounter. The depths of this resource are limitless, as it is the very Spirit of God himself. Not only will one avoid the snares of the ungodly, but they can also bear fruit in the most inhospitable environments. This is the path of the righteous, the person of integrity.

Proverbs 4:18-19 – The way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom; they don’t know what makes them stumble. But he path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday.

Having the light of the dawn carries hope that the night is almost over, but the righteous person is continually increasing in brightness as they draw from the limitless resource within them. Just as the sun is an inexhaustible source of light and heat, the Spirit of God is an inexhaustible source of wisdom, strength and life. This is the resource available to all believers.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

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

The Ten holy Commandments

Defining the life and practice of every believer in the one true God.

We may be familiar with the Ten Commandments that were revealed by God on Mount Sinai, but perhaps it has gone unnoticed that these commandments are the very fabric of holiness that sets believers apart from the rest of the world. Let’s briefly consider each one within the context of our modern world.

To love Yahweh our God, and have no other gods besides him.
Most people today do not recognize God as being over all, and yet this truth is fundamental. To worship him alone, and to do so in spirit and truth is the essence of biblical faith.

To have no physical representation of any god, including the one true God.
Idolatry remains prevalent in this world to this day. Beyond the plethora of other gods being represented elsewhere, even within the halls of Christian denominations, iconography and representative symbolism abounds. Yet God desires we avoid this preoccupation with representing the un-representable. Our focus instead is to represent him through our faithful words and actions.

To not take his Name in vain.
Many people confess to knowing and believing in Yahweh God, and yet their lives tell a different story. Consistency in our lifestyle matching up with our belief system is essential. If we honor him only with our lips and not with our actions, then our faith is in vain.

To keep the Sabbath holy.
This culture today knows little of special days for rest from worldly activities and focus on spiritual realities. The seventh day was set apart as holy from the beginning of Creation, and recognition of this heritage provides strength and purpose for the other six days.

To honor mother and father.
This principle goes beyond just the recognition of earthly parents to the concept of authority in general. We live today in a world of parents who are not godly, children who don’t respect them, and where general authority is despised. Believers must re-connect this chain of honor in these various arenas of experience.

Do not murder.
Our news outlets are filled with this reality, as are our popular fictional television series which focus on crimes and investigation. While most people may not physically kill another individual, Yeshua heightens this commandment to not even be unrighteously angry with someone, which is where this rebellion begins. Anger is dividing this country and it’s up to believers to be the peacemakers in these storms of contention.

Do not commit adultery.
In the beginning, God created one man and one woman for each other. This is God’s ideal. Faithfulness to that ideal in today’s world may be considered a fairy tale for some, but is necessary all the same. In fact, monogamous faithfulness can provide much needed stability within the family unit. As goes the family, so goes the community; as goes the community, so goes the city, and the country, and the world.

Do not steal.
Not taking anything that doesn’t belong to you involves anything from physical objects to online copyright infringement. Believers are challenged to honor this commandment in all areas of life, and to be examples of righteous actions within their circles of influence.

Do not bear false witness.
Beyond perjuring oneself in a court of law, this commandment applies whenever something falsely may be said about someone else. Believers set themselves apart by being truth-tellers in all aspects of their lives.

Do not covet.
Some believe this commandment sums up all of the others, for if we do not covet what others may have, we will honor God and our parents and we won’t seek to harm others in any other way. According to Yeshua, this is the summary of all of the commandments in the Bible: to love God and love others.

Matthew 22:37-40 – 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.”

Believers are grateful for what they have, not jealous of what they don’t have. Gratefulness is one of the most sincere ways of honoring God, as it involves honoring him with everything we have.

This brief summary of the Ten Commandments should provide us with a fresh perspective of holiness. God has designed these commandments as the means and methods of being uniquely qualified to represent him in this world. The fact that we can still see how impactful they are is testament to the fact of their universality.

To be holy is to be set apart. When we faithfully practice these commandments, empowered by his holy Spirit, then we, too, become holy and set apart which is God’s desire for all people.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Living as a new person

His Spirit can renew our hearts for him.

1 Samuel 10:6, 9 – …and the Spirit of Yahweh will come mightily on you, and you shall prophesy with them, and shall be turned into another man … When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day.

The Spirit of God has the ability to transform believers. Saul, as the first king of Israel, was mightily anointed by God for the task, so much so, that he effectively became another person. The text says that God when the Spirit of God came upon him, God “gave him another heart.”

God’s desired goal with individuals is that when they encounter him in a personal way, they are effectively changed from the inside out.

God had told Ezekiel that the whole nation of Israel was going to be able to receive his influence in their lives. This was to provide them the strength and wisdom to obey his commands.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 – I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.

This was God’s plan for them all along: to become a new people, set apart from all others, and to be obedient examples to the rest of the world. They were to be a nation following his torah, his instruction for all to see. This obedience would not be one of rote compulsion, but one of freedom and joy from the heart.

Jeremiah 31:33 – Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days ​– ​the LORD’s declaration. I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

The only way this could effectively be accomplished was by transforming the individual’s heart to understand and to desire to follow God.

Hebrews 10:22 – let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

Just as God had promised Israel that he would cleanse them from all of their impurities and their idols, he promised that believers in Messiah could draw near to him as they received cleansing for their rebellious deeds of conscience and body.

John 3:3, 5 – Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” … Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

To live as a believer in God and his Messiah is to live as a new person with lives of integrity and righteousness. This is the goal that God has for every individual who comes to him in sincerity and truth, and he can make it so.

Many people come to congregations seeking to change their own lives, as if somehow they can learn enough or do the right “church things” they can mold and shape themselves into who they think God wants them to be. However, all of these passages speak to the changing of the heart to be an act of God, not a twelve-step plan to becoming a better person.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

It doesn’t take a program of study to experience God’s presence in our lives, but it does take a sincere approach that lays down all personal objectives and known transgressions against a holy and righteous God. A true seeker must be willing to die to self, for the call of the true believer is the call of the martyr.

Just like Saul of long ago, God is still willing to transform. Once we have surrendered all to God, then he can mold and shape us into whom he desires us to be for 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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.