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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Did God Really Say He Creates Evil?


Some folks are eager to find things that make God look bad. Recently, someone brought Isaiah 45:7 to my attention for this purpose:  “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” KJV(1) 

By ignoring the rest of Scripture, they concluded that God is responsible for evil. 

However:

1. Scripture explains that God created a perfect world and when mankind sinned, evil entered the world.(2) 

2. Scripture describes God as pure goodness, love and light.(3) 

3. The Hebrew word ra' in this passage is best translated “adversity,” not evil.(4) 

4. The context of the passage is reward and punishment, not the origin of good and evil.(5) 

God does create justice through adversity: He punishes unrepentant sinners and refines the faith of His children through adversity. 

But He doesn’t create sin, encourage sin, or cause sin.(6) 

Many verses in Scripture, when pulled out of context or read in a single translation can appear to say something they don’t.(7) 
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(1) The King James is a good translation, but just like other good translations, it has passages that don't best reflect the original Greek and Hebrew. That's one reason it's good to study several good translations. The original Hebrew and Greek are the most accurate forms of Scripture, but God intended for all languages to enjoy His Word, so we shouldn't get too hyper about translation differences. Many of the Hebrew and Greek words have no equivalent in other languages, so we do the best we can.

No translation is "perfect" but all of the major translations are good for reading and study. The King James Version was written before the oldest manuscripts of Scripture were discovered (the Dead Sea Scrolls), so it contains passages not included in the original manuscripts but added later by scribes. These added passages do not contradict Scripture, but the newer translations omit them because they were not part of the original manuscripts. Some people claim that newer translations are less accurate than the KJV due to these missing passages. That's not true. 

See Isaiah 45:7 in the NIV, ESV, NASB, NLT HERE and GNT, AMP, and NKJV HERE

For more on translations, see: Why Are the Newer Translations Missing Verses?, Missing Bible Verses, Is the King James the Only Reliable Bible?

(2)  Genesis 1:31; Genesis 3 
(3)  Punishing evil is a good thing and God promises to do so: Isaiah 13:11, Revelation 21:5-8. God also uses adversity to discipline His children so they will turn from sin: Hebrews 12:1-12. And He uses adversity to refine our faith: 1 Peter 1:6-7
(4)  Strong’s Concordance 
(5)  Isaiah 45
(6)  There is no darkness in God: 1 John 1:5. God never causes sin: James 1:13. Everything coming from God’s hand is good: James 1:17.  
(7)  See Pieces Parts, Prayer in Context, 3 Ways to Discern Spiritual Truths.  

Bible Study

1. Punishment and justice are not highly valued in our modern culture, but they are part of goodness. Situations need not be pleasant to be good. All God does is good, but not all He does is pleasant.

Hebrews 12:7-11: Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 

See Discipline, Punishment, Condemnation and God Punishes

2. God is perfectly good, pure, just, righteous, loving. He is never evil, never tempts people with evil and certainly does not create evil.

1 John 1:5: This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 

James 1:13: When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone… 

James 1:17: Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 

See Good Things Can Sometimes Be Unpleasant


copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Plank-Eye Epidemic

Plank-Eye Disease: Cause and Cure - Matthew 7:1-5

It has troubled the planet from the beginning of time, but it seems to be more epidemic of late. It’s a terrible vision problem that damages the mind and eventually affects the heart. 

Unfortunately, most folks who have it are in denial and never get the help they need. 

What is it? 

It’s plank-eye disease described in Matthew 7:3-4: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”  

It comes from overlooking our own sins and concentrating hypocritically on the sins of others. It causes us to lose perspective of the truth.

The cure: 
Listen for God's conviction and genuinely repent of our sins. Only then will we “see clearly” enough to deal with our own sins and help others deal with theirs (Matthew 7:5; Galatians 6:1). 

Bible Study 

1. The passage below describes the Pharisees' hypocrisy using a different analogy.

Plank-Eye Disease: Cause and Cure - Matthew 7:1-5
Matthew 23:25-26: “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. 

The Pharisees thought themselves “clean” because they looked good on the outside, but their hearts were filled with hypocritical judgment and sin. 

2. We can avoid self-righteousness and hypocrisy by viewing ourselves honestly. 

Romans 12:3: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

3. Like King David, we must understand how much God values genuine repentance.

This is part of the psalm David wrote after God punished him for his sins with Bathsheba and Uriah:

Psalm 51:16-17: You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. 

The root word for the Hebrew word "contrite" (dakah) means "crushed." David understood the crushing blow his sins had on his well-being and how they hurt the heart of God.

copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Hurricanes, Fallen Trees, & Biblical Correction

Hurricanes, Fallen Trees, & Biblical Correction

Hurricane Irma blew down an eighty-foot pine in our front yard. 

Were it not for another large pine blocking its path, we’d have lost part of our roof. 

I couldn’t help thinking of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” 

In the end, the fallen tree had to be cut up and removed, but godly friends in our lives not only block us from paths of destruction, they lift us up when we fall and restore us to an upright position in Christ. 

Unfortunately, we’re often afraid to “push against” a falling brother for fear of being rejected or called judgmental. And we’re often resistant to those who try to keep us from falling. 

What can we do? Pray for good, honest friends and pray to be a good, honest friend (Galatians 6:1). Pray that we will be unafraid to give and receive Biblical correction (Proverbs 19:20). 
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You might enjoy the other devotion I wrote about this tree: 6 Ways to Keep Rooted

Bible Study

Hurricanes, Fallen Trees, & Biblical Correction
1. One purpose of godly teachers is to correct and rebuke.

These are Paul's instructions to Timothy and Titus:
2 Timothy 4:2: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.

Titus 2:15: These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

2. The Word of God is meant to help us live godly lives and one thing it does is rebuke us when we’re wrong.

2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

3. Christian brothers and sisters have a responsibility to gently correct those who are falling away. 

Galatians 6:1: Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.  

2 Timothy 2:25: Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will learn the truth.  

See also Jude 1:23 

4. Wise men and women receive correction and listen to advice.

Proverbs 19:20: Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.  

Proverbs 15:32: Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.  

See also Proverbs 8:33 and Proverbs 12:15

copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com.