Just as a parent lovingly guides a child, biblical warnings aren’t meant to scare believers, but rather to spare us the painful and disappointing consequences resulting from certain behaviors. And in an article featured on Crosswalk, senior Pastor Casey Hough walks us through 10 biblical warnings that are all too often ignored or overlooked.
In the gospels, we frequently encounter Jesus warning the crowds about the destructive teachings of the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20, 16:6). Jesus' disciples following in His footsteps by providing further warnings to believers in the other portions of the New Testament.
While warnings might not always provoke positive thoughts or feelings, they often serve to spare us from unnecessary hardships and pain. In fact, the act of warning others is actually a demonstration of familial love and care for our neighbor. If we know that a particular action or practice is harmful, then the most unloving thing that we could do is to fail to warn others about it.
Here are 10 warnings from the Bible that we should heed and share with others:
Biblical Warnings 1: Never Be Lazy
While God justifies sinners by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, a saving faith is always an active faith. Laziness has no place in the Christian life. In Romans 12:11, Paul instructs the church in Rome to not allow their zeal to be without action. Zeal without action defames the glory of Christ and accomplishes nothing. To this end, we must be mindful not to be lazy in our love for and service to Christ and others.
Biblical Warnings 2: Avoid Sexual Temptation
If there was a road in your town that regularly caused people to drive off of a cliff, warning signs would be posted everywhere. In the same way, Proverbs 5 warns people of the danger associated with sexual temptation. The road of sexual temptation should not be trifled with or walked down by anyone. As the father says to the son in Proverbs 5:5, the words of adulterous seduction always "lead down to death." We must avoid such sexual temptation lest we lose ourselves and "die because of lack of discipline" (Proverbs 5:23).
Biblical Warnings 3: Repent of Your Sins
Not only should sexual temptation be avoided at all cost, but we should all repent of the sins that we have committed. While temptation is not necessarily a sin, once we have transgressed against God's command, we have sinned and are in need of repentance. Repentance is the act of turning away from sin toward God for forgiveness and strength for righteous living. Jesus calls everyone to repent of their sins (Mark 1:15), warning us that failure to repent will result in righteous judgment.
Biblical Warnings 4: End Unkind Speech
One of the easiest ways to sin against God is with unkind words. We are warned in 1 Peter 2:1 that unkind speech, that is, speech that is destructive and not redemptive toward others, must cease among believers. The book of James offers further details about the need for believers to both honor God and those who are created in His image (James 3:1-12).
Biblical Warnings 5: Run from Youthful Lusts
Youthful lusts refer not only to sexual temptations but all desires that arise from immaturity. Such desires do not foster Christian maturity or reflect God's will to others. When we do not flee youthful lusts, we are often caught up in them and held back from God's perfect plan for our lives in Christ. If Paul could warn Timothy to flee such desires (2 Timothy 2:2), how much more do we need to heed the warning in a culture that is marked by rampant immaturity?
Biblical Warnings 6: Renounce Ungodliness
The renunciation of ungodliness is essentially what it looks like to live a life marked by repentance. Repentance is not a one-time event. Instead, repentance is a full renunciation of godless living. Christians must not drift back into the abyss of sin from which God has delivered them. We have received the Spirit of God that we might no longer be "debtors to the flesh" (Romans 8:12-17). Thus, Paul declares that those of us who have responded to God's grace in Christ Jesus must "deny godlessness" to live a "sensible and righteous life" before God (Titus 2:12-13).
Biblical Warnings 7: Quit Stealing
Most people do not think of themselves as thieves. However, some people steal from others without even realizing it. When a person downloads software without paying for it, listens to music that was copied from a copyrighted source, or just does not work hard at their job, they are stealing from someone else. As Christians, we are commanded to "quit stealing," and, instead, work for the things that we need in this life (Ephesians 4:28). By doing so, we reflect the dignity of work and show respect for the work of others.
Biblical Warnings 8: Resist the Devil
James 4:7 instructs Christians to "resist the devil" so that he will "flee from you." While some may be reluctant to consciously resist the devil, the truth remains that the devil is like "a roaring lion, prowling around seeking to destroy us" (1 Peter 5:8). One of the worse things that a Christian can do is ignore the threat that the devil poses to them. They must resist the devil and "draw near to God."
Biblical Warnings 9: Fear the Lord
As Christians work by faith to resist the devil, they need not regard him too highly. The Christian's highest allegiance must be to God and God alone. This is why the author of Hebrews warns his audience to "serve the Lord in fear and awe" (Hebrews 12:28). Just like a child should have a healthy fear of the discipline of their parents, it is right and good to have a healthy fear of their Heavenly Father. We, like the Christians in Philippi, have been called by God to work out our salvation in "fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12) before God, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Biblical Warnings 10: Humble Yourself Before God
In keeping with the last warning, we conclude by reflecting upon our need to humble ourselves before God. Philippians 2:3 instructs us to "do nothing that is motivated by selfishness," but rather in "humility consider others as more important." In the same manner, James 4:7 and 10 teach us of our need to "submit to God" and "humble ourselves before Him" so that we might be "exalted by the Lord." 1 Peter 5:5-6 echoes the same instruction with the promise that God "gives grace to the humble." No matter what situation we find ourselves in, the right response is always humility before God. We cannot and must not exalt ourselves. If God desires such exaltation for us, it is up to him. Our responsibility it so be humble before our God.
Casey Hough serves as the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Camden, Arkansas. In addition to his pastoral work, Casey also serves as an Associate Research Fellow for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and blogs regularly at www.TheRenewedChurch.com.
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