In Matthew chapter fifteen Jesus was approached by the learned scribes and Pharisees to discuss the vital subject of washing their hands before eating. We have known since childhood that this is very important in the control of germs, viruses and bacteria. But, as always, Jesus uses the subject at hand to address a far more important issue. He tells us it is not as important what we put into the body as is that which procedes out of the heart. What we put into the body comes out as harmless waste. But from the heart proceed some truly vile issues: evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, blasphemies and the like. These are very dangerous. While handwashing is important, it is vastly more important that we wash our heart regularly also. Our hearts are cleansed by the blood of Jesus through the sincere act of repentance. You can go to heaven with dirty hands but not with a filthy heart. It really is the inside job that matters most.
Proverbs encourages us to buy the truth and sell it not. We are admonished to speak truth, seek truth, obey truth and walk in truth. Jesus said "I am the Truth." So when then does truth become dangerous? Romans 1:18 speaks of people who held the truth in unrighteousness. God's severe judgement fell upon those who knew truth but did not live and act upon the precious truths that they knew. It is dangerous to know truth and ignore its counsel and to live willfully to the contrary.
Jesus said that if we would continue in His word, we would know the truth and the truth would set us free. To embarce Truth (Jesus Christ) is to know righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Both Job and the Psalmist wrote of songs in the night. Songs are simply life set to music. We sing songs of joy and sometimes we sing sorrows song, night songs. Sorrow may make us better or bitter. Some turn their sorrow into addictions others turn them into songs. The book of Psalms is the songbook of the Bible and it spans the spectrum of human experience and emotion. In the New Testament there are many references to the Psalms. Jesus sang Psalm 22 from the cross in the midst of the horror and the suffering of his crucifixion. Paul and Silas sang at midnight from a Philippian jail, beaten and bleeding but neither broken nor bowed. In the midst of your own pain and sorrow God will give you a song. He still gives songs in the night.
God is a God of substance. He is the substance that holds the universe together. Everything that exists received its substance from the mind and the spoken Word of God. The sun, the moon, the stars and the steadfast earth beneath our feet are all the creation of the God of substance.
People, however, seem to be more into image than substance. Arts, entertainment, fashion and advertisement are all vast industries built on the mirage of image. "Sell the sizzle," we are told with little regard for truth or substance. Pursuing fantasies is much easier than facing the facts.
King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of biblical Babylon, built a massive and impressive image and commanded everyone to worship his image. Almost everyone did, except for three Hebrew captives whose God of substance forbade them to worship images. They paid a price for their convictions but their God miraculously delivered them from the fire that destroyed the men who cast them into the flames.
Hollywood, Wall Street, Madison Avenue and Washington DC all peddle the emptiness of image worship
but their promises and projections are like a mirage in the desert - mere images without substance. Their idols of success leave you empty and unsatisfied; too much is never enough at the altar of image.
God is not into image. His promises, like His Creation, all have substance and bring satisfaction. Jesus said "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) Speaking of Jesus Christ, Paul the Apostle said "...ye are complete in Him." (Col. 2:10)
I have found Jesus to be substantial beyond mere image. He is the "peace that passes all understanding", the "fullness of joy", and, yes, in Him I am complete.
Jesus speaks of a strong man guarding well his household and that no intruder can enter unless he first can bind the strong man. In the Christian life the Strong Man is Jesus Christ. When He rules from the throne of a Christian's heart no one or nothing can overcome him or her because this Strong Man cannot be defeated. When Temptation rings the doorbell and the Strong Man appears at the door, Temptation must flee because he cannot stand against Him.
However when the Wrong Man (self or satan) sits on the throne of the heart, defeat is certain. Alone we cannot stand against sin and temptation. We will be defeated again and again as long as the Wrong Man is ruling the heart. Jesus taught that all manner of sin proceeds from the heart, from the inside out. Sin then is an inside job! No wonder that the Wrong Man is powerless to confront the onslaught of sin and selfishness.
The Apostle John reminds us that "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." But only if the Strong Man is ruling from the throne of your heart. Who rules your life: the Strong Man or the Wrong Man?
Pastor Johnny D. Grissom started his life in Ranger, Texas April 23, 1952 and his Christian life in Midland, Texas June 19, 1967.