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Lesson # Matt. 10:16b
Study Material - Matt. 10:16b
You must be in fellowship prior to your Bible study, so that the spiritual information you receive can become a source, of blessing to your soul and produce spiritual growth.
16 Behold [idou] , I [ego] send [apostello] you [humas] forth [apostello] as [hos] sheep [probaton] in [en] the midst [mesos] of wolves [lukos] : be ye [ginomai] therefore [oun] wise [phronimos] as [hos] serpents [ophis] , and [kai] harmless [akeraios] as [hos] doves [peristera] . KJV-Interlinear
16 'Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves. NAS
Again, as we stated yesterday, forewarned is not forearmed, but it gives the opportunity to forearm ones self and to be prepared in the event of trouble. Many a believer enters into the spiritual life with high hopes. Those high hopes may be reasonable, or they may be very unreasonable. Here Jesus instructs the Apostles, as He instructs each one of us, to be smart in life, not stupid. He instructs each one of us to be reasonable, not unreasonable. He instructs each one of us to enter life with our eyes open, not closed.
The word for shrewd or wise can have a dual meaning. A cunning person who has unscrupulous intent takes on the meaning of deceit. A fast salesman may talk fast and sell you a three legged horse.
A cunning person who has integrity uses the meaning of the word with respect to his wisdom. Wisdom comes from three sources - from books or academic wisdom, from the street or life wisdom, and from the Word of God, which adds spiritual wisdom to the two former wisdom's and ties all three together making you really smart, or at least potentially really smart.
Shrewd as serpents and harmless of doves. This means that you are smart when you approach life, but you are honest and do not try to take advantage of anyone else. If you enter into a contract you check out all of the terms, or you have those with whom you are contracting, to read and understand all of the terms. Of course there will always be those who, despite your care, will never be satisfied. You cannot help that. But you can help the way you approach life.
There are three levels of law that control life. We have already reviewed them but here is a quick summary. The first level is the law of the jungle. This law is filled with all manner of prejudice, violence, unfair circumstances in life. The second level is that which was placed into effect by God the laws of establishment, which is intended for all peoples (believer and unbeliever alike) and is there to offset the jungle laws. These are your volition, marriage, family, national entities, law and order (proper due process), respect for authority, respect for the privacy of others, the right to freedom and the pursuit of prosperity, and so forth. Again, these apply to all of humanity so that mankind will not destroy himself in the jungle environment. And of course these goods laws of common sense are under constant attack. Morality is challenged by the enticements of lust. The correct concepts of leadership are always challenged by the lusts for power and lusts for authority. Liberal and socialistic regulation concepts challenge the ideas of self determination and freedom to decide for ones self. Politics is the best example of these various challenges and warring factions and the back and forth swings of power in the jungle.
Now the third set of laws are the spiritual laws, which we learn on a daily basis through our daily Bible study. Spiritual laws are far superior to any of the above. Whereas the former have a limited life, the spiritual laws of God are eternal. Spiritual laws are more than just regulations recorded in volumes of books, they are an entire pattern of thinking, a complete changing over of ones mind from things of this world to things of greater importance.
The teaching of Jesus to the Apostles came when they were young spiritually. Throughout the ministry of Jesus, the Apostles had virtually no challenges to themselves. Their life was relatively pressure free. They did not stray too far from Christ, but always returned to Him for that was where their comfort and security lay. They had not attained a level of self determination or of self autonomy.
Having a sense of these characteristics of life gives one the wherewithall to deal with the variety of situations that life happens to throw at you. You can approach any given situation with the appropriateness of the situation and gain the best solution possible. This is what it means to be shrewd, to be smart, to be wise. And this of course means that you have to be prepared. Preparation requires some form of learning process, a study process, some degree of desire to want to learn. Col. 4:5 supplements this concept of being wise so as to be able to face the challenges of life that will inevitably confront us.
Being smart, wise and cautious in life does not mean that you employ the same tactics as any opponent so as to win your argument or whatever confrontation you encounter. A dove is harmless yet it maintains its freedom of mobility in life. You should not intend evil for evil, but maintain your higher principles of integrity which you should be learning from our daily Bible study.
What is the advantage in life to approaching life in this manner? Won't the jungle laws devour us as we try to approach life in an honest fashion? No. The spiritual laws are what we live by. In them, God controls all outcomes. We may not like a given outcome for the moment, but in time we will be able to look back the see and understand the wisdom of that result. The jungle simply devours all that live in the jungle, all that are not protected by some other higher law. The laws of establishment protects society and are thus higher than the jungle laws, but they are still within the environment of the jungle and subject to being followed, modified, or even rejected by humanity.
A prosperous and free society is an example of a society that follows (for the most part) the laws of establishment. A society like the one in history which burned witches at the stake, is an example of a modified set of rules. A society can take otherwise legitimate laws and modifies them, or modifies their interpretation, for the convenience of popular thought, or for maintaining some convenient power structure. Liberal minded politicians follow this pattern of thought. The time just prior to the flood is an example of a society that has rejected all laws of establishment, and that is a society which is very close to self destruction. The next such evil society will exist in the Tribulation. As you drift away from God, your freedoms will fade and your miseries will increase.
Those who maintain their Bible study program and advance in their spiritual life will come under the laws of the spiritual life. God steps in and provides and preserves, and guides in accordance with His will. Our life in this sphere is in the safest of all the above environments. Regardless of the results in our life, whether extreme prosperity or extreme persecution, we are not at fault, nor should we be disillusioned or disappointed. Our evaluation in life comes from God, not from this world. Anything that happens in life here on earth is limited and will eventually end. If we maintain our spiritual attitude and persevere in our daily study, then anything that happens to us in life, we know, will be for our best interest. If we lack something then we should also know that it is in our best interest. In these matters we need to defer to Gods wisdom.
So, be smart, be cautious, but do not be surprised at the things that you will encounter in life. Smart decisions yield greater opportunities. Foolish decisions limit ones opportunities. Being oriented to life, being oriented to the spiritual life give you greater insight into life. Being emotional and reacting to life demonstrate ones weak faith and open you up to even greater disappointments and miseries.
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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