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How to Not Be a Pharisee: Studying the Bible Versus Quoting Biblical Cliches

Reformed Eve is a daughter of God, which makes her royalty - no matter what the world throws at her. She straightens her crown quite often.

Understanding Context is Important

An understanding of the original context of a biblical passage is important to its proper interpretation. In today's civilization, it is common to be selective as to which portions of Scripture apply to you, and which parts are better off ignored. Likewise, we are surrounded in a sea of Biblical clichés that are watered down to the point of virtually having no impact. Most of these clichés are applied to situations that have nothing to do with the original context. Nevertheless, I believe that God wanted us to examine the Scriptures in a deeper, more meaningful way, using the context and surrounding situations, in a way that respects the literature and the messages. There are mysteries in the Bible that can only be discovered if we have the reverence and make the time to remove the superficial veil.

Revelation 3: 15-16 says this: "‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." Reading that Jesus will spit us out of his mouth if we are lukewarm is shocking. This supposed assertion is one that has the power and propensity to fill us with fear. However, if we consider it in this context, it doesn't make sense. Why would God prefer us to be colder, rather than draw closer to him, even if we aren't completely on 'fire' for Him yet? This is where curiosity for a deeper meaning of the Scripture should set in.

For most people, cold water is refreshing. Cold water on a hot day quenches thirst. Frigid water, on an exceedingly hot day, is absolutely a gift. In contrast, water that is quite hot can also be a lovely thing. When I lived in Alaska, I visited the Chena hot springs. [2] The hot, natural, mineral springs are known for their healing properties. The geothermal natural system is fed by water that is circulated underground. [1] The heated water is visited by people from all over the world, and in the bitter cold, it is deeply desired. In regards to lukewarm water, it is not something that people truly desire.

In Turkey, there is a city named Denizli, which is near, or at, the Biblical city of Laodicea. Numerous people are unaware that the Romans had a sophisticated aqueduct and water systems, and these systems are what brought hot water to Laodicea from five miles away. The water started off as quite hot, but traveling in systems that were several miles long, the heat dissipated, leaving behind lukewarm water. The water was useless for hot-tub style bathing, and the water was also useless as a refreshing drink. Examples of this kind of water include water you accidentally forgot in your car, or mosquito-filled stagnant water that collects in a puddle.

Jesus mentions that, regarding the Laodicea people, he is aware of their deeds. They allege they are rich. They don't require anything outside of their wealth. However, Jesus knows who they truly, underneath the evidence of wealth. He recognizes what their hearts are composed of. Inside, apart from the gold, fancy dresses, and haughty airs, they are actually, naked, blind, and poor. [3] They allege they are Christian, but they are worshipping the false idol of gold and wealth, instead of performing anything for Christ. They were indifferent to Christ, and therefore, useless due to their comfortable idleness. The Laodicea people became hardened in regards to love, humility and any trait Jesus-like. Their self-satisfying ways were becoming their complete destruction. Self-sufficient, half-hearted people that call themselves Christians are as repugnant, to Jesus, as that lukewarm bottle of water that one forgets in the automobile.

Yes, Laodicea was wealthy, beautiful and prosperous. Christ indicated that these people invest in true spiritual gold and clothe themselves in garments in the color of righteous white, in order to save themselves. Christ wanted the Laodicea people to understand that true happiness, true value, true love, was not found in material wealth, but in a sincere relationship with God. Everything they owned, and were proud of, was as useless as lukewarm water in comparison to the beautiful future of the Kingdom of Christ. God disciplines those who are lukewarm in order to help that person rise out of indifferent, complacent idleness. God wants the Holy Spirit to motivate us, so that we may be honest disciples of Christ, and this will enable us to make a positive difference in this world.

Regarding the scenario, it's great that a cliche-quoting Christian is trying to study scripture, share it, and apply the positive aspect to one's life. But the possible thinking of 'it's better to be pagan than a half-hearted Christian' is not correct. In fact, that kind of thinking is dangerous because it can turn potential Christians away. This kind of thought process, and misunderstanding/misuse of the Bible, can encourage one to turn away from God due to fear, shame or hopelessness. Yes, it's important for a developing Christian to gain a deeper, life-changing understanding, but it's worthless if it's nothing something that will bring others closer to Christ. We have to absolutely understand the context surrounding the Biblical verse to fully understand the deeper significance. God has true treasures in store for us as hidden gems within the ancient words, if we are willing to 'anoint our eyes with eye salve, so that we may see,"[3] as Jesus suggested to the Laodicean church.

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[1] Liang, Jingyan et al. “Carbonate ion-enriched hot spring water promotes skin wound healing in nude rats.” PloS one vol. 10,2 e0117106. 11 Feb. 2015, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117106

[2] Naske, C M. “Curing crippled prospectors: the wonderful waters of Chena Hot Springs.” Alaska journal (Juneau, Alaska : 1971) vol. 15,4 (1985): 16-22.

[3] Tyndale. Life Application Study Bible: King James Version, Black Bonded Leather. Place of Publication Not Identified: Tyndale House Publishers, 2006.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Reformed Eve


Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 16, 2020:

Eve, This is a good artcile. I think you make some good points about the scriptures. I try to look at the whole of what I read, so if you believe, confess your belief, then you ae saved.

I don't think we are lost if we are at a point of learning. I believe God has true treasures for us, and it is really not complicated as we just need to believe.

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