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Still 'On Message'

Philippians 3:15-16
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (NIVUK)

The advertising industry and politicians know that inconsistent communication does more harm than good.  They need to be clear about what they believe and get everybody in the team to know how to express it in such a way that there is no confusion. It is the same with Biblical teaching.  The message is clear but those who do not like the message fail to teach it.  

The Apostle Paul knew that some people might not agree with what he was writing because, in part, the purpose of his letter was to correct their error.  If it was only a matter of knowledge, the humble would accept the truth when it was explained.  But it was a matter of authority as well (2 Corinthians 10:7-8).  Those who resisted the Lord's authority over them would also dispute the Apostle's teaching, because sinfulness hates righteousness.  Paul’s instructions were not to stifle thinking but to encourage godly thinking – thoughts which stem from the truth as opposed to thoughts which come from the world, flesh or devil (Romans 1:21).  

When people first receive Jesus Christ as Lord, they start off with their old habits and ways of thinking about things.  Without learning what God thinks, and seeing how His truth is worked out in the lives of more mature believers, they will not know how to live a new life with Jesus.  Enthusiasm alone will lead to disaster.  Those who have learned how to accept God's truth and put it into practice, become mature.  And maturity shows wisdom by agreeing with the Bible instead of arguing against it!  As we obey the truth, the Holy Spirit encourages us to be hungry to know more (1 Corinthians 2:13).  When the immature disagree, they think they are right and reject the truth; but when the mature think differently, they pray about it and ask God to show them what will please Him and build their relationship with Him (Ephesians 1:17).

But for most of us, the problem is not knowledge but lack of experience.  Most people who follow Jesus have far more information about what is right than they ever put into practice.  So the Apostle urges the Philippians (and us) to live out what we know will please the Lord.  In the same way that some people are addicted to gaining degrees and qualifications, others love to acquire more spiritual information, for its own sake (2 Timothy 3:7).  But gaining more knowledge does not make us more holy, if our lives are unchanged (James 3:13-16).  That would deny the truth we already know, and show that we do not relate properly with God.  However, today could be a healthy new start.  Thank Him for your privileged place in His family and Kingdom, agree that His Word is the truth and decide to obey Him today.

Dear Lord. Thank You for this reminder to start where I am, to trust what You say and put it into practice. Please forgive me for arguing and grumbling, and for refusing to obey You. Please help me to learn from those who are more mature than me, and to be an encouragement to new believers at work and church - by showing that I am obedient to what I know, and hungry to know more so that I can obey You more. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams