How many times do we assume we know what the verse is talking about and then add our own personal thoughts to it? I do it all the time. How could I not? I’m human with a very active brain. My thoughts are running all the time. I have had to train myself to stop and not assume I know what the Word of God is saying until I’ve correctly understood it. I ran into some folks the other day who were so proud of their version of the Bible. They said it wasn’t an accurate word for word translation, but a “thought for thought” translation. That creeped me out. Who are they to try and read God’s mind? I can only think my own thoughts. God can add revelation to my thinking, but I’m in charge of my thoughts. To teach and train that we can translate the Word of God based on what we think God said is hookie pook. How do I know?
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” 1 Peter 1:20
“Private” is the Greek word idios which literally means, one’s own. “Interpretation” is the Greek word epilysis which means, letting loose upon. The Word of God is not for one’s own letting loose upon with our own thoughts, conclusions and interpretations. God said what He said and meant it. All we must do is find out what He accurately said then let the truth make us free.
So why am I so fired up about this? Because as I watch Hollywood’s versions of heroes come across the screen and then see people assume that the Biblical heroes were like them I shudder. It’s like when we attribute our only experience with a father in our earthly father to how God operates. Some fathers are abusive, manipulative and harm their children. That’s not God. Folks, God is not a man. We have to separate the two. Another thing people do is they read their own mistrust into God. They don’t trust what other people say or even what they say so they read that mistrust into what God says. This mistrust then leads to them doubting God and failing to obtain the fullness of the abundant life. Doubt leads to fear and fear leads to broken fellowship with God. If you can’t hear what God is saying how can you walk out on His faithfulness? How can you learn to trust Him? How can you see the abundant life? If I’m reading a “thought for thought” translation and the person, whose thoughts they are doubts God what am I learning? How am I gaining faith which is the opposite of fear?
God’s Word either interprets itself or …there is no interpretation. IF there isn’t an interpretation, then why did God give it to us? Therefore the Word of God must interpret itself.
This is why I love the Word of God. I don’t need anything fancy, I just need to get back to the accurate translation. The Word of God is written by God. He is big enough to speak for Himself.
With that, let’s look at our verse in Philippians today. Keep in mind that we’ve seen Paul, by revelation, exhort us towards keeping our eyes on “the hope” and abiding in joy and faith. He advises us to stay strong and stay together. He wants them to look at things from God’s perspective and not man’s. Yesterday we saw that our task, given by God, is to first believe in Christ and second to experience, on behalf of him, the abundant and power-filled life of an ambassador, and now our last verse of the first chapter in Philippians in context of the prior verses.
“Only let your conversation (behavior) be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30) Having the same conflict (contest) which ye saw in me and now hear to be in (concerning) me.” Philippians 1:30
I once spoke with a Bible scholar about the theme of Philippians being an athletic contest like the Olympics. Look at the words striving together, they are one Greek word synathleō which is made up of two. Syn, meaning striving as a unit, like a team, and athleō meaning in a contest or arena. We get our English word “athlete” from this Greek word. Do you see the theme now? Isn’t it awesome how the Word can interpret itself? Paul was in Athens, and Rome. These are the places of Olympic origins. No wonder he was thinking sports. He may have been a sports buff himself. The Word doesn’t tell us but, look at all the references to being an athlete. I’ve heard it said that we are athletes of the spirit. We are in the same contest as Paul was and we need to stay toned, in shape and ready at the drop of a hat to compete. Why? Because our adversary is always ready. Paul is a quarter back telling us, his team, to huddle up. He says, do you see how I spun, and jumped and swiveled away on that last play. You do that too. The devil thinks he’s got us pinned, but he doesn’t know we’re going to come out fighting in the second half. He doesn’t know about our comebacks through Jesus Christ. He doesn’t know we’re going to spiritually kick his behind on the next play.
What will your second half look like? Will you come out on the offensive walking in God’s love?
“And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Ephesians 5:2
That’s how Christ did it. He blew away his opponents time and time again. We can do it too. We can make our second half 100 times better than we ever thought it could be when we don’t budge off our line. Our line is the Word of God. Hold tight to what Paul showed us and hold tighter to what the Word of God (the play book) says.
God bless you today!