Tag Archive: Stumbling Block



Galatians 3:16-17, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.”

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In a previous entry I discussed the righteousness of Abraham, which he was granted by God because of His faith. This was not only due to his belief in God, but his faith that God’s promises were steadfast. In addition, I discussed the “offspring,” promised and made known to Abraham. This offspring was to be a singular person, and through Him the world would be offered the reconciliation unto God. Here, in Galatians, Paul presents the argument of the singular seed that was to come by and through Abraham’s bloodline. As profound as this is, Paul goes further, dipping a bit into history to reveal the true nature of the covenants.

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Within the philosophical and theological boundaries of the Christian “religion,” we tend to separate the covenants of Moses and Jesus, and break the Bible down, in a general sense, into both the Old and New Testaments. Man loves to put things and ideas into categories or groups, that by their division, they may be easily sorted and understood. Concerning the division of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the old and new covenant, I conclude there is nothing specifically wrong with this. However, one stumbling block does arise that I have witnessed, but this is the fault of man. It usually concerns those new in the faith or exploring it. It doesn’t seem too uncommon for those whom Christ is calling to be curious about the differentiation between the God of the Old Testament and the New, rather than looking at it as a complete revelation from and of God.

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We need to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ, and in fact everyone, that the Scriptures represent a singular narrative that explicitly shows God and reveals He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Why the wrath shown in the Old Testament? Paul gives us a clear answer:

“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us . . .” -1 Corinthians 10:11

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So am I saying its wrong to refer to old and new? Not at all! In fact, the Lord Himself declared prior to Christ that a new thing was being done, and a new covenant will be established with Israel. The Book of Jeremiah says in Chapter 31, Verse 31:

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.'”

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Yet, if it was shared with Abraham, what is it that makes it new? Simply, it is new in human, temporal terms. It is not as if man, who is subservient to God, caught God unaware and He had to hatch a new plan to save man. Rather, God’s plan was destined from the beginning. God, let it be known that it is a new covenant, because this is truly what it is in the context of time. Time has no bearing on God, for God controls time, and since time is under God’s belt, to God it is already finished. If anyone believes differently, then one cannot believe in the omniscience of God, for God would be subservient to time. Furthermore, if He is subservient to time, He could not be God, and our faith would be meaningless, for by and out of God came Christ. Yet, to God, it is time that has no meaning. The breadth of its meaninglessness is shown by eternity. We usually think of eternity as it corresponds to time, that time will stretch forever, but in actuality, eternity is a place where time doesn’t exist. The extent of the meaninglessness of time to God is made clear in 2 Peter 3:8:

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

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Therefore, according to time, which we all are subservient, the law came before, and Christ after, and in temporal terms it is new, or more recent. Yet, that’s not all, by this new covenant it gave the law unto the hearts of man, and revealed God unto the world, so that no man or woman is without excuse. Yet, God did promise the new covenant unto Jeremiah and Abraham, and because He refers to it as “new” to Jeremiah, we see that though the promise was made known, and though the revelation of Christ to come preexisted some 430 years prior to the Law, it doesn’t negate the temporal relativity of the coming of Christ and the Spirit. In addition, as Paul says, the two don’t cancel each other out, but instead, they compliment each other to such perfection, they become united and fulfilled in Christ.

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It is not necessarily disrespectful or wrong to conclude that the two covenants, outside time, represent one great covenant, where man can be saved through faith, as Abraham was. This, I would argue, when approaching this issue in human linguistics, that the covenants represent old and new revelations, through which God’s attributes and power were proclaimed to man. First, His nature, commandments, and wrath. Secondly, His grace, love, and peace.

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The plan of God was singular, but we can differentiate between the covenants, because of what they revealed to man and by the manifestations of God. Under the old covenant, God spoke through the prophets, yet in the new, God came to earth, became man, taught to a multitude, was crucified, and rose again. By this, man does not need to turn to a prophet to know God, but now, His Son and Sprit dwell within our hearts, upon which the law is now written.

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“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. 15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” -Romans 6:14-15

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Once a subject comes to the Lord, and evil’s grasp over a person begins to weaken, the enemy reaches into his well worn bag of tricks to pullout a biggie. Those who come to the cross know that they are forgiven for their sins, and the newly created, not yet having moved onto solid food (Hebrews 5:11-14), may be approached with the temptation that Christ’s blood, which grants righteousness through faith, gives one freedom in sin. God’s perfect word addresses this very thing. Yet, even as I mentioned , that this is a common temptation when first coming to the Lord and knowing only the elementary truths, it can, in fact, afflict even those who have moved onto a more mature diet.

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As Romans 6:15 urges us not to sin while we are covered with grace, The Book of Hebrews reiterates the danger of using Christ’s blood as an excuse for iniquity:

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” -Hebrews 10:26-27

In Exodus 34:7, there are three kinds of sin that are mentioned. There are those sins, which result from the habitual acts and thoughts of the human nature, more or less, because of our “natural” faulty faculties, by which we fall short of the Glory of God. For instance, catching ourselves cursing at someone in traffic. I will refer to these sins as a “breach.” Though I may give these kinds of sin different terms, this is strictly for the purposes of differentiation, and by no means necessarily reflect how the Lord may judge these sins, which is not for me to say. These are just general categories that seem to be implicit in Scripture.

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The second category, and addressed throughout this entry, is iniquity. Iniquity is willful sin in the sight of God. The willful sins are of greater consequence. We know this, not only because of the dangers represented through God’s word, but as those who have engaged in willful sin under grace (as I have) should be able to testify, the conviction by the Spirit concerning such sin weighs more heavily than does the conviction of a breach.

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Thirdly, and yet first in terms of severity, is “transgression,” or willful rebellion. To rebel against the ways of God, is to rebel against the nature of God, and in such sin there is no forgiveness, for there is no repentance. True repentance is not merely the asking for the forgiveness of sin, but turning and walking away from it.

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The similarities of the last two examples reside in the fact that they are both willful. Yet, in the case of transgression, it is a willful rebellion against God. Between iniquity and rebellion there is a subtle difference, in which the degree of the rebellion is emphasized. In iniquity, while one does certainly rebel in the very act of the willful sin, and in fact all sin is disobedience, the rebellion in the heart may not be to the degree of transgression. The latter is often strove for in a permanent sense, that the transgressor is not willing to give all to God, or even allow God to work in that area of sin.

As with some breaches, iniquity too can be habitual by nature. This is usually due to our indulgences in that sin, either prior to coming to Christ, or those times when people fall away and rebel willingly, as I too am guilty of. So for such people like myself, where is the hope? Does it exist for those like me who, by my own admission, have rebelled and fallen away (more than once) having both iniquity and transgression represented in my life? It is somewhat distressing personally to read verses like the one contained in Hebrews. Is there any hope if one is guilty of iniquity?

By the grace of God, I am here to tell you, absolutely! There is still hope, for as I stated earlier, in regards to the convictions of the Spirit, which are manifest when those sins that reside in the scope of iniquity are committed, the conviction is a lot, “heavier.” By the mere conviction alone, we see the Holy Spirit still communicating with us and weighing a burden of conviction upon our hearts. Taking this into account, and knowing that the Holy Spirit is, “a guarantee of what is to come,” (2 Corinthians 1:22) we know by the Word itself we may still be under grace.

Yet, let us not undermine the danger in such intentional sin and disobedience. As with Samson, the Lord eventually left him, and as the Scriptures tell us, he was not even aware that this was the case, which is the biggest tragedy. Thus, when iniquity becomes so prevalent in our lives, we may not know when we have moved from under grace to under wrath. To which point this occurs is not for me to say, nor would I, lest by doing so I may cause a stumbling block for others, for man has a tendency to push the limits of what is right, edging as close as he can before crossing the ethical boundaries he perceives, or that which have been set by the Lord. This kind of knowledge is reserved for the Lord and is between the Lord and the trespasser. The fact is, with a willful progression and steadfastness in iniquity, Hebrews suggest that by engaging in this with abandon, there is no sacrifice to cover the sin!

However, even to those who have at one time in their life, “trampled on the blood of Christ,” or fallen away, you have hope abounding! This is because of our gracious, merciful God, to whom belongs all the glory! Even Samson, though the Lord left him, at his end called on the Lord, and by doing so, God gave him the strength to destroy the temple. In addition, as the parable of the prodigal son testifies, there is much rejoicing in heaven when a former son, or daughter, returns to the Lord. In fact, more so than that of the righteous.

Our Lord is gracious and loving, but He warns us sternly not to take advantage of the grace He has offered us. It has been wrought with the blood, pain, suffering and humiliation experienced by His one and only Son, our savior, Jesus Christ. Shall we choose to hammer the nails deeper into Christ by continuing to sin, knowing full well what Christ endured on our behalf?

The three types of sin brought up earlier can be recovered by grace with a repentant humble heart. Yet, man in his imperfection still continues to sin, but Christ’s blood has both covered the sins of the past, and of the future. The warning is powerful, as it should be, for as some will testify, including myself, with the indulgence of iniquity you by your own accord have departed from under the cleansing blood of Christ. If this is the case, and I pray it isn’t, then you may find yourself much like Samson, with the Lord leaving you and you being unaware. Woe to the man or woman who in such a state is perishing.


“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” -2 Corinthians 4:16

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This verse is one that I personally need to repeat to myself daily. When one first comes to Christ and is covered by grace, it is often easier to accept it offers the nullification of the sins of the past than it is to understand that this very same grace covers the sins of the future. Now, I am not one who likes to consistently blame our sins on Satan directly, for to do so negates our own responsibility in sight of the Lord. Furthermore, since we are offered forgiveness in Christ, it testifies to our role in accepting and following the temptations or tricks of Satan.

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Before one comes to Christ, Satan’s deceptions center around keeping man from accepting God or coming to Him. Yet, after we are covered by grace, it seems that Satan reaches into a entirely different bag of tricks altogether. One of his favorite tools is one of condemnation for believers.

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"Lucifer in Hell," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1861 (From Dante's "Divine Comedy," Canto 34 of "Inferno")

As I have mentioned before, Satan hasn’t created anything. He merely takes God’s purpose, His great deeds, and twists, manipulates or perverts them, offering them unto man in a way God hadn’t intended. Our responsibility is apparent when we choose to follow either truth, or the lies of darkness.

As Christians, Satan may now attack us in ways that belittle Christ’s sacrifice and/or our relationship with the Lord. When we come to Jesus and are baptized in His blood, we begin to gain a conviction of sin through the Spirit and we may feel guilty or sorrowful for our disobedience in sight of God. Yet, the enemy tries to twist this conviction into condemnation, again making a mockery of what Christ accomplished on the cross.

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"The Darkness at The Crucifixion," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1866

I am no stranger to this lie, and I remain quite convinced it is a common trick used by the enemy that Christians need to be aware of and refute using scripture. This is a verse the Lord led me too early on after my conversion and one that has allowed me to overcome the stumbling block of such condemnation. This is the very same condemnation Christ took upon Himself and freed me of and it is disrespectful to the Lord to say that what He did wasn’t good enough for me, when everything about the message of reconciliation says otherwise.

Yet, let us remember that we are not given a divine “get out of jail free card,” to continue sinning. For to rely on grace as an excuse to continue sinning is to trample on the blood of Christ and take advantage of God’s Son to indulge in your own evil desires. This is disrespectful and evil as well, and I urge all Christians to not fall into that trap. The grace of God is not a pass for sin, but an opportunity to fight against it. Sin still has the ability to easily entangle, that’s why the conviction of the Spirit is so important, not to condemn, but to warn or identify that area in your life that remains a stronghold.

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Give thanks that God does not want you to take on these strongholds alone. It is important that one press on, ignore the taunts from the enemy, work on your relationship with the Lord, and pray He would mold your heart and guide you into victory. If God demanded perfection in man, then Christ wouldn’t have came. What He does demand however, is your love, faith, trust and loyalty.

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Do not lose heart if you slip and fall, for Christ’s grace is sufficient for you, just as it was for Paul. As a river’s water is renewed day by day, Christ, the River of Life, will renew your water day after day, hour after hour, and moment by moment. Though our bodies age, decay and become marred by mud, sweat and blood, the internal self is not bound to such a sentence. Rather we can develop that side of ourselves which is unseen, and gain a richer relationship and understanding of our Savior.

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Do not let conviction of sin, and even guilt, turn into condemnation, which is closely followed by despair, for this leads to death. Rather rejoice, not in your sin, but instead that the Lord by His Spirit is convicting you of it, and is therefore with you, and realize that if He couldn’t cover your sin, you wouldn’t have been granted the Spirit, a deposit guaranteeing what is to come, in the first place.

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“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: 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.” -Romans 12:3

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"The Confusion of Tongues," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

In my earlier post concerning 2 Corinthians 10:7 entitled, “On Proper Pride and Humility,” I discussed a little about the relative aspects of pride and a few ways one can avoid this particular sin in their life. Yet, I feel some added clarification is required, that we may gain a deeper understanding of this sin, in order that it might be identified. Pride has great ability at concealing itself in ones life, by defining it with more clarity, we may illuminate it.

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Pride at its very core is a lie and deceitful. To have pride in oneself, is to take those attributes one has been granted by God and embellish upon them so they become more than they are. As Paul urges, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” This in essence it what pride is, to think of oneself more highly than you should, or to think about a particular attribute more than you should.

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Therefore, if you stand in front of a mirror and suck it in and flex periodically, as I have been known to do, you are exercising that pride. Also, if you are a big, “Rock Band” fan and picture yourself in your minds eye playing in front of a crowd of screaming women, or men, this is also prideful. Do not use your mind and heart to exalt and exaggerate the self, for to do so is incredibly sinful. In addition, because you will fall short in this elaboration, this can lead to extreme depression, when one doesn’t match up to the conception offered up by the sinful mind.

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In atheism, a popular argument against God’s being, is that if He existed or exists than He is an extremely prideful being. Yet, when we take Paul’s definition, we find this not to be the case at all. God knows exactly who He is and cannot be anything different. Furthermore, because he is the thing-above-which-no-greater-can-be-thought, as defined perfectly in St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Ontological Argument, He is perfectly worthy of worship. In fact, due to God’s knowledge of exactly what He is, this is humility.

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"Sistine Chapel Ceiling (detail)," by Michelangelo. fresco, c. 1508-1512

Paul continues saying, “think of yourself in sober judgment.” This is what humility is when it is in, “accordance with the faith God has distributed.” This being the case then it negates the idea of God being a prideful, and thereby sinful deity. God cannot deceive Himself, for this would present an irreconcilable contradiction, for He would have to imagine Himself greater than He is, which is an impossibility when one applies the definition of God offered by Anselm.

This verse suggests something which may give some insight into what human nature consists of. We are told, again, to think of ourselves in sober judgment in accordance with our faith in Christ. Thereby, since faith plays such a roll in the sober judgement of self, the question arises if we can have any victory against pride away from Christ? I would argue we can’t for the world is based on the self and the flesh. This sin of pride is the very same that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden. In a world where even good actions are self serving and motivated by the self, this doesn’t seem like a complete absurdity.

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"Adam and Eve Expelled," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

To be in accordance with one’s faith, we need to realize that we are indeed imperfect and sinful. This is how Paul had such a lowly conception of himself without sinning. Paul realized how much of a sinner he was and how unworthy he was to both serve God, and be offered grace through Jesus Christ. Paul was completely humble in that he knew what he was and worked for God to serve all man and almost singlehandedly brought about the New Israel among the Gentiles.

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Remember to use discernment and do not elaborately adorn yourself with things like makeup, clothing (but please do wear clothes), jewelry, and anything that you use to magnify your being. This goes for both men and women. Yet, at the same time, we do not need to look like we just crawled out of a gutter whenever we go out in public, but we should use, “sober judgement in accordance with the faith.” Do not attempt to hide the beauty of being that goes beyond mere appearances, but be modest. God has granted you many things and because God is perfect, they are perfect. Do not magnify it by means of worldly things to either please the self or others, for this is a stumbling block to both, and sinful.

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Finally, God has distributed the Spirit to all those in the faith. I can’t address every context and every situation, for such wisdom and omniscience belongs to God alone. Pray to the Lord that He may reveal you by the Spirit of Truth, if such sin is present, and to what degree. Pray that He would help and instruct you how to walk that thin line between both pride and envy, that you may see yourself for who you are, a precious child of the Most High.

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“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” -Proverbs 12:1

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Like it or not, and sometimes we certainly don’t, discipline is an important aspect of life that everyone goes through at one time or another. Whether it be from God, our parents, our boss, friends, or dare I say it, even the law, if we approach discipline with the proper reverence, it can culminate in a blessing rather than a burden. This point is echoed, rather pioneered, elsewhere in the scriptures, when it tells us:

“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.” -Hebrews 12:11

It is not uncommon for man, in his pride, to look at discipline with bitterness, but Proverbs tells us we are viewing it in the wrong way, especially when the discipline comes from the Lord. We are to humbly accept this discipline, for the discipline of the Lord is perfect, good, done for our own good, and motivated by His love for us (Hebrews 12:5-8). Thus, look to God’s discipline as a means of moving you forward, closer to our Lord, instead of letting it become a hindrance to your walk, which can become manifest due to prideful bitterness. The Lord keeps those who are His and calls upon them. His intention is not to push you away due to discipline. As Hebrews tells us, discipline isn’t exactly pleasant, but its an instrument used by the Lord, in order that we may share in his holiness.
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Pride is a major stumbling block to looking at discipline and correction in such ways as the Bible urges. Man, even on an individual level, enjoys feeling that they are perfect and beyond reproach. Thus, when one is corrected in a misconception, then its not to uncommon for the one being corrected to respond in anger, not out of logic, but out of desperation when their pride is pierced. Though remember, there is always the chance you may try to rebuke someone and find out your actually the one needing to be corrected. This happens to me frequently.

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When one corrects you, realize that you have an opportunity. An opportunity to gain wisdom and knowledge. These opportunities are indispensable, for if you are in the wrong, realize with a proper reaction, you can be made right, and such knowledge may come to serve you and the Lord in the future.

Do not let your pride negate the correction before you, for to be corrected is a blessing that is beyond measure. Our pride, however, at times lets us not accept the correction, and this can be dangerous considering our personal growth in the Lord. Take your correction with praise and realize that another piece of knowledge or wisdom has entered your repertoire, and for that thanks should be given! If you have trouble accepting correction, realize and identify it, and pray to our Lord that you may develop a heart of humbleness.

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If you want to be stupid, then don’t accept any correction and blame your discipline on everyone else. Could you imagine how things would be if nobody accepted any correction? Your mind would be utterly blank and any argumentation posed against you could only be answered with anger and hate. We are not called to these things. Bless those that have corrected you, and praise the Lord that He has sent correction your way. With that I pray you would grow into a man/woman of God, with the wisdom, knowledge, and discernment to be able to lead a multitude to our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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"Jesus Walks on Water," by Ivan Aivazovsky. oil on canvas, c. 1888


“I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.” -Romans 1:4

1 Corinthians 1:22 – “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom.”

Much of philosophy, the liberal arts, and indeed the western tradition can be credited to the Greeks. Great philosophers like Aristotle and Plato offered up theories about the cosmos, thought and metaphysics that are still with us today. In fact, Greek philosophers were the first to suggest a theory of evolution, though it wouldn’t become known as “evolution,” until Darwin. A couple philosophers known for writing theories similar to Darwin’s are, Thales and Lucretius, some 2,300 years prior.

Now it is true that Greeks, especially the Athenians, were considered very intelligent, though their philosophical writing as a whole is made up of treatises both for and against the existence of God. Yet, their own personal belief structure was wildly polytheistic, as were the Romans.

Paul’s meaning in verse 14 is two fold, at least. First and foremost, the message is that Paul’s mission is to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. The second is, because he mentioned the Greeks specifically, that he is to preach the gospel to not only the wise, but the foolish as well. Though, it should be mentioned what’s wise and what’s foolish differ much in the eyes of the Lord than before the eyes of the world.

I myself am a student of philosophy, but I read and present it through a Christian perspective. I agree this probably isn’t for everyone, if not for any more reason than the angry writings you have to read blatantly attacking God and those who follow Him. However, I am analytical by nature and delve deeply into topics, sometimes, honestly, too much. Yet, though it has fault, I believe it is also good in some ways, and again, I utmost try and use my analytical thought to glorify God.


That being said this verse strikes me in another way. Paul and the Romans to whom he was writing would have been more than aware of the significance of this, and not of just the importance of preaching to Gentiles, which was made already apparent by Paul writing them in the first place, but that he was obligated to preach to the most brilliant minds of the time.

Now, I have heard much concerning the debate of how much the mind has a part to play in our relationship with God. Let me just say, so nobody gets the wrong impression, I consider the fact I have all these questions, and that I always have had to seek an answer, to be a lower spiritual condition, if you will, than pure faith. Indeed, it’s been something I have been accused of lacking, simply because I ask questions. Much to their credit, those who have told me this, their motives are pure and feel that it can be a stumbling block, so I don’t regard such criticisms to rude in anyway, though I do disagree that its an absolute stumbling block.

It comes down to a kind of dualism. The freedom our Lord gave us was opportunity for man to either use things the right way, or the wrong way. The scriptures aren’t opposed to the mind. I feel Paul was an amazing example of this, for when one reads his epistles, and one even has a little philosophical background, it’s apparent that Paul was exercising his spirit and his mind. The scriptures give examples of how he “reasoned,” with Gentiles concerning the Lord’s existence and the Gospel. God does not do anything arbitrarily. He gave us a mind for a reason and though I hold those who have a faith beyond questions to a higher esteem than myself, I feel there is a right way to exercise the mind pursuing God that is not only beneficial for my relationship with the Lord, but to those the Lord may place in my path. May He be Praised.

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