makes the time, takes the time, to see if it is so. Not every believer spends time in the Word. That is one of the reasons I started Operation Actually Read Bible. To encourage people (myself mainly) to read the Bible, to abide in The Word, to spend time reading, meditating, studying Scripture. While I've been fairly consistent in sharing my progress reading--mainly through my Sunday Salon posts. I don't often journal what I'm reading about, what I'm learning, what God is showing me. (I'm not sure that this is absolutely necessary. But. I do know that I like to read posts like that on others' blogs. So maybe it's time I tried to doing a little something myself?)
So, I was reading in Romans--one of my favorite, favorite books. And I had come to the sixteenth chapter. I'll be honest. While I spend time reflecting and meditating and studying Romans 1-15, I'd never really given much thought to the last chapter of Romans because on the surface--at least--it's all about Paul greeting various people. But. This time I noticed verse 19. "For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil." (Emphasis mine). It goes on to say in verse 20, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you." (I include verse 20 not so much it "spoke" to me then but because of something I realized much later. Mainly the connection with Genesis 3:15. But also because it later occurred to me that God's grace is sufficient. See 2 Corinthians 12:9.)
There's so much in that half of verse! Do you think it is harder to be wise in what is good OR harder to be innocent in what is evil? Or are they equally challenging, equally demanding? On the one hand, to be wise in what is good means abiding with Him, spending time in His Word, walking closely with our Savior and Lord. For only God is good. (Mark 10:18) And to fear the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111:10) It calls for us to commit our hearts and minds and bodies to the Lord. To live for Christ. To make more of Him and less of ourselves. On the other hand, we are born having a sinful nature. Sin comes easy to us. (You can read Romans 1-7 if you don't believe me.) So to be innocent in evil? Well, that takes some commitment too. For how easy it is to lose our innocence--depending on how you define innocence--just in our daily contact with the world. (You don't even have to leave your home to face worldly temptation.) How hard it is to unsee something we shouldn't have seen. To unhear something we shouldn't have heard. (Not to mention "unthinking" or "unsaying" something!) How difficult it becomes to stay away from something that we know is "bad" for us. How easy it is to say, it won't hurt if just this once I read that book, see that movie, hear that album, play that video game, etc. How easy to say, I'm not really addicted to that sin--or that sin, or that sin, or that sin. I could stop any time. (They may even try to prove it by giving it up for Lent. Showing that they know it is wrong to begin with, perhaps? Showing that deep down they know they should give it up completely?) It brings to mind Robert Boyd Munger's short little work called MY HEART CHRIST'S HOME. Just seven or so pages, you can download a pdf and read it yourself if you like.
So let's go back to the start of it all. Go back to Genesis 3, the message of the serpent: "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Eve (and Adam, I suppose) assumed that this was a good thing. That knowledge was knowledge was knowledge. That knowing about evil would be a good thing. But it was a lie that led to disobedience, a lie that led to the blame game, a lie that led to pride, a lie that led to shame and guilt, a lie that led to pain and suffering. Not to mention death. So maybe it is harder to be innocent in what is evil.
But. God is there for us. God has provided a way. He is able to renew our hearts and minds. He is able to cleanse us from sin. He has taken God's wrath--the wrath we deserved for our sins--so we could take HIS righteousness.
Romans 5:6-11 reads, For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person--though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.
Romans 12:2 reads, Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
And then, of course, there is Romans 8. It is hard to know exactly what to quote from that wonderful, wonderful chapter! But. I went with Romans 8:24-39.
24For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:24-39, King James Version)
So what do you think? Do you think believers struggle more with "being wise in what is good" or with "being innocent in what is evil"? Do you think being discerning is a good thing? a necessary thing? Do you think growing in knowledge of God, growing in relationship with God, helps you fight your sin nature, fight temptation? Have you found the Word of God to be the sword of the Spirit? (Ephesians 6:17)
*Psalm 34:8 from the New American Standard Version.
** Romans 16:19-20 from the New American Standard Version.
***Genesis 3:5 from the New American Standard Version
****Romans 12:2 from the Holman Christian Standard Bible
*****Romans 5:6-11 from the Holman Christian Standard Bible
******Romans 8 from the King James Version
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible