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The Unchanging Word Demands Change

1 Peter 1:25-2:1
... but the word of the Lord endures for ever.’ And this is the word that was preached to you. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. (NIVUK)

Without standards to determine the weight of a gram, the length of a kilometre and the volume of a millilitre - we would all be in a mess.  Without standards, fair trading would be impossible; medicines would be either dangerous or ineffective; and constructions would fail (Proverbs 11:1).  Every profession needs standards which enable us to trust engineers, teachers, dentists, lawyers and accountants.  In the same way, it is a great blessing that we can know where we stand with the Lord. God's Word is His written standard against which we are all judged, and by which His kingdom operates in mutual trust (Hebrews 4:12).

That is one of the reasons why God’s Word must be read, shared, preached and explained. Without its clear authority, there is no way of knowing what pleases God (Ephesians 5:10).  For those who reject the Word, God allows that the truth-vacuum will easily be filled by soulish self-seeking, counterfeit religion and demonic lies (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).  The Word eternally stands at the pivot point of truth and error, bondage and freedom (John 8:32).  Blessing comes to those who hear the Word preached, and obey it (Luke 11:28).

In the same way that it is the responsibility of quality controllers to reject every substandard product, each Christian is responsible to remove evil and twisted thinking, false behaviour and ungodly speaking from their life (Titus 2:12). Although salvation is by God's grace alone, we still need to exercise faith if we are to receive it (Ephesians 2:8-9). Likewise, our sanctification is by God's power alone, but we need to cooperate actively (Philippians 2:12-13). So Christians must learn to identify and reject all malice (wanting bad things to happen to others), deceit (planning how others will believe your lies), hypocrisy (lying to others about yourself), envy (resenting others who have got what you want), and slander (spreading lies about others) (Colossians 3:5-9).

Where these bad qualities have made their homes in our character, it is because we gave them permission to stay. So we must also recognise that it is our fault they have stayed so long. We have no other good option before God except to repent of all such sins and decide that they must go. The process of demolishing the habits of a lifetime can only start when we agree that God's standards are right and ours are wrong. Rejecting sinful habits is impossible without repentance, but once we repent, we can identify and reject the temptation the next time it comes. Others may think you are strange not sinning with the crowd (1 Peter 4:4), but remember you are not being measured by their values of the world, but by God's unchanging Word.

Prayer 
Dear Lord God. Thank You for revealing the true standards of Your kingdom through Your Word. Forgive me for having tolerated what deeply offends you. Give me the courage to examine my life so that I see where I do not meet Your standards. Then help me to repent and to reject sinful habits. May I know that I am accountable to Your Word and not to the shifting values of the world around me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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