March 12, 2006
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15
Love & Believing vs. Superstition
by Jack Northart
The apostle Paul moved with great power, authority and believing in his lifetime. After his conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus recorded in Acts chapter 9, he spoke the Word of God to both Judeans and Gentiles throughout Asia Minor. The good news of Jesus Christ that he taught stirred up the established religious people of that time. On one occasion, he came to the city of Athens and was surprised at what he saw.
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
Athens was a great cultural center where many religions were in prominent display. At that time, it was said that it was easier to find an idol in the city of Athens than it was to find a man. The masterpieces of art left on the mind of Paul was a revolting one, since all this majesty and beauty had placed itself between man and his Creator, and bound them closer to their own gods, but not to the true God.
Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
This city was a modern place, with modern people who had modern ideas. They craved the newest schools of thought and progress. So when Paul came with his "new doctrine," they were all ears.
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
"Ye are too superstitious" is translated another way as, “in all respects extremely reverential” or “much given to religious worship. Paul founded this statement on his own observation of the symbols of devotion which filled the city of Athens, and from which all Greek writers, as well as Paul, inferred the religiousness of the Athenians. The Athenian art, music and overall culture was steeped in every type superstitious cover. On one hand, they believed that they were very knowledgeable and open-minded, on the other, they were showing their ignorance about spiritual knowledge as demonstrated by the next verse.
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
This passage of scripture speaks very loudly to our day and time. People today are blown about by every wind of doctrine and latching on to whatever seems to make the most sense to them or makes them feel better about themselves. However, they remain uncertain and uneasy about life, so they set about to take on superstitious practices "just in case" they are wrong or if they have upset God without knowing it. This was a similar scenario in Athens, and so they added one more inscription "just in case" and called it, "To The Unknown God." Paul took this opportunity to spell out to them what the true God was all about.
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
Man's device is what brought the Athenians to this point of being bound up in superstition. Trinkets, amulets, paintings, statues and other items of man's device held more sway over them than God. It is man's device that continues to do the same thing to people in our day and time.
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
We need not be tossed about like waves on the sea when we look to the one true God and what His Word says to us. He wants us to have enlightened understanding, power and abundance in our lives.
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
God makes all of this available without any help from man. All man has to do is believe this Word of God. Believing, having faith in God pleases Him.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Of all the devices of men that are utilized to show honor and worship to God, they all fall short to the things that God wants most from us.
I John 4:7-11
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
As we put off the things of the world, and put on God's love and believe His Word, superstitions that once held sway over us will disappear, and we will flourish in the more abundant life that God has called us to live.
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