For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 (NKJV)
One of the best ways a changed life will be demonstrated is in our attitude toward God’s Word. I’m sure we’ve all either heard or read skeptics and unbelievers that were critical, even resentful, toward God’s Word. I worked with a guy in Tahlequah that told me that the Bible was full of good information. You just had to read it and figure out what parts of it were true for you. Critical, skeptical, selective and rejecting are all attitudes that are characteristic of unbelievers and should never be true of believers.
I once listened to part of a sermon by a guy where he went through his Bible and tore pages out, wadded them up and threw them in front of the pulpit. He did this to demonstrate what we do when we selectively decide what parts of the Bible we are going to obey. He would read where the Bible says we are to forgive others, give generously, share the Gospel, help the needy or crucify the flesh and say, “But we don’t want to do this.” So he would rip it out, wad it up and throw it away. Now personally I could never bring myself to do that to a Bible, even as an illustration. However, the ripping, wadding and pile of pages must have been a startling image. His point was profound. The parts of the Bible we are just absolutely not going to obey we might as well tear out, wad up and throw away.
Unfortunately, in many instances, the only real difference between those who are theologically conservative and those who are theologically liberal is honesty. Those who are theologically liberal will plainly admit that the entire Bible is not necessarily inspired and authoritative for our lives. Therefore, they feel no need to obey those things they decide are outdated or uncomfortable. On the other hand, those who are theologically conservative affirm that the entire Bible is inspired and authoritative for our lives. Yet very often, they will pick out parts of the Bible they don’t want to obey and will simply ignore it. In the end they are doing the same thing the liberals do but without the honesty.
It is really hard to take seriously the claim that the Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God when we only obey those things we want to obey. It’s really hard to take seriously the claim that we have received the Bible as the Word of God instead of as the word of man when we act as if obedience to God’s Word is optional. Does your response to God’s Word demonstrate that you’ve received it as the Word of God or as the word of man? Does your response to God’s Word demonstrate that it is the authority in your life?
The response of the natural man, or the unsaved man, is to resist and reject God’s Word. Now they may verbally affirm the authority of God’s Word but they deny with their lives what they affirm with their lips. We set an example of a changed life when God’s Word has such authority in our lives that when our lives don’t match God’s Word we bring our lives into conformity to God’s Word instead of trying to make God’s Word bow to our lives.
Take a moment and think about the way you respond to God’s Word. The way you respond sets an example, the question is what kind of example is it? Is it the example of a changed life because you respond by embracing it through obedience? Or is it the example of the natural man who resists and resents God’s Word?