TruthTexts Article: Did God Really Say – Part Two articles

Written and Posted by Timothy Smith

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“Did God Really Say…?” - Part Two

(A Longer, More Uncomfortable Article Than Usual)

Introduction to a Longer than Normal Article:

This article is a challenge for all of us. I will clearly state here that I have been guilty of many of the behaviors and attitudes listed in this article. As any believer does, I have needed to turn to God (and the people I have hurt) and ask for forgiveness. Even the strongest believers, after years of faithful obedience, will find themselves in this situation. See Romans chapter 7 for Saint Paul’s own admissions of guilt – but don’t forget to go on to Romans 8 for the one and only solution! We will look at all of that in the next article. But this one lists a lot of human failings. And God’s TruthTexts shine a bright light on your and my attitudes and actions. So any light that is shed on you in this article is shining equally on me and every other human being across time.

The life of a follower of Jesus is a journey of growth and learning, of “moving towards the goal of true maturity,” as J. B. Phillips put it. Everything in this article is put there because you and I have decided to live more like Jesus. If that’s not our goal, then this article might seem to be the most legalistic and judgmental collection of nonsense ever assembled. But the process for a believer is always, “Lord, how do you want me to live? How can I depend on your power more and more, so that I may follow you better and better?” As always, test everything that I write, using God’s Word, and read every TruthText carefully to verify every statement I make. This is a wise thing to do when reading anyone’s statements about God and his word.

“Did God Really Say...?” Part Two

Truth Texts

The snake was more clever than all the wild animals the Lord God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must never eat the fruit of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1 GW)

“Try to learn what pleases the Lord,” said Paul in his letter to the believers at Ephesus. (Eph. 5:10 NCV)

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (Paul wrote this in 2 Timothy 2:19, NLT)

Morality Without A Written Guide? (Sort Of…)

We have to dive into the depths of human weakness and failure for a few moments, but I promise that there’s very good news at the end of it. This segment deals with “right” and “wrong” as we think of those ideas in actual, daily practice. Call it ethics, or the natural law, or morality. And both you and I do things that are frequently at odds with our own (supposed) beliefs. Let me make this as clear as I can: everything I say about “humans” applies far too often to me, myself, and I. I’m not judging you. I’m judging us. Join me in front of the mirror.

This whole website is based on the belief that God has spoken, we can find out what He says, and we can find the power to follow what He says. But I’m going to pretend for a moment that we don’t have any Bible verses or stories about Jesus. Has God still spoken? Can “right and wrong” exist? As Romans 2:1  in the ESV states,

...You have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on

another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things!”

I start with a simple question: what would determine right and wrong if we had no written laws and no scripture or moral tradition to guide us? I put together a list based on my own reading, and discussions with wiser folks than me. This list shows up elsewhere in these articles, because it’s a good reminder of God’s laws “written on our hearts” – which God’s written TruthTexts expand on and clarify for us.

Of course, we will move on to TruthTexts to give us an even better understanding. And the solution comes only from God’s Word! There’s no hope for us at all before a holy and just God without faith in Jesus. As Peter writes, “…you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” ( 1 Peter 2:9b, NLT). In His Kingdom, we are forgiven, cleaned up, and blessed with new lives. And we also get the power, through God’s Holy Spirit, to live more and more like a Jesus Person. Although we will sometimes fail, our direction in life is now towards the light of Heaven, and we have shifted our ownership from the evil kingdom to the One we know to be the Light of the World. This all sounds cosmic, because it is. It sounds almost too good to be true, because the shift in ownership was invisible. But the results soon become visible to ourselves, and to the people around us.

But for a moment, let’s try this experiment, and pretend that we don’t have any written rules for living, The list below demonstrates that we are “without excuse,” as Paul wrote. We somehow know, without being told, what breaks the laws of Heaven, even if we have never accepted God’s only solution in Jesus. Take a look:

Here’s a list of what we could call “Basic Morality,”

where “it” is an action we are judging as right or wrong.

1. If it wouldn’t be OK for someone to do it to me, then I can’t do it to someone else.

2. If it wouldn’t be OK for everyone to it, then I can’t do it either.

3. Doing the “wrong” thing for the “right” reasons is still wrong.

4. Two “wrongs” do not make a “right.” If I try to use this argument, I’m just making  excuses for my bad behavior.

5. If I point out someone else’s failures, it doesn’t excuse my own failures. And it’s not even  a very good  distraction from my shortcomings, because even after pointing fingers, my  failures are still there!

6. These rules do not disappear just because I want them to. All of the principles apply also to me or they may as well apply to no one.

The Easy Path of “Practical Atheism”

Now if you are the logical type, you may notice that items in this list overlap each other a bit. That is because we humans have a tendency to come at a moral dilemma from many angles. We try all these angles in an attempt to excuse what we deep down know is bad behavior. We are more than willing to ignore what we know is right behavior, in search of what seems to work for us at the moment. We believe there is a “greater good” that will somehow flow out of our questionable behavior. But deep down, this dishonesty is all for our own selfish purposes. So we try to become our own determiners of truth and behavior, to become a god and a bible for ourselves. When I remember that we humans have a tendency to think and act this way, I can see it so clearly in the motivations of others. But naturally, I line up excuses when the spotlight turns to my own actions! I need someone else who truly loves me to point out my faulty thinking and dangerous actions. And then I need to be willing to listen to that person!

What’s really going on here is simple: like giant toddlers, we think we are the center of our universe. In adults, this has been called “practical atheism” — acting as though there’s no supreme ruler over us. We elevate our own thoughts and actions to the level of some self-written (and constantly changing) scripture to live by. When we do this, and when we as a society tend to do this, we will blame anything other than ourselves for our own failings. If a class at school is boring, then we pretend that gives us the right not to work hard to pass it anyway. We blame fat and sugar, not the fact that we are overeating. We blame the gun, not the shooter. When an airliner was hit by a missile some years ago, comedians summarized the guilty country’s official response as, “Why did your airline brutally attack our innocent missile?” Then there’s the ever-popular response when someone dislikes our misbehavior: “Mommy, Mommy, Billy hit me back!” (From the Family Circle comic strip, I think). And so it goes, even between nations, with worldwide consequences!  

All of the above examples are symptoms of people who make themselves the center of the universe. That is what “practical atheism” boils down to. Forget what we claim to believe; what do we actually do? We avoid looking at our own behavior, or we deny it or make excuses for it. Eventually, a small thought nags at the back of our minds: what if there really is an eternal authority out there? Is there something, or Someone, that has an origin outside of the human realm, or even outside of time itself? If so, then we’d be responsible for anything we did that opposed that authority. And we humans desperately avoid even considering such a thing, often to the point of plugging our ears and running in rage in the opposite direction.

There have been few TruthTexts from the Bible up to this point. We needed to take a hard look at life according to the script we keep writing for ourselves. If we even ignore the 1 through 6 “Basic Morality” list that we all know to be true, how much more likely are we to avoid listening to God? This one true, real God claims us for His very own, and wants us to find the joy of living under His power.

“People love darkness, rather than light, because their own deeds are evil,” said Jesus in John 3:19.

And Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:13-14 to:  

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (ESV)

Jesus is the only one who can make those kinds of judgments, and He makes it clear that His purpose in coming to Earth is to lead us to the life that only He can give! Jesus explained it this way, in a statement that contains both eternal hope and a grave warning,

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the

World through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not

believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of

God’s one and only Son. (John 3:17-18 RSV)

Those Horrible Human Behaviors (God’s Opinion Of…)

So, just out of curiosity, let’s look at God’s opinion, expressed through His “TruthTexts” across the centuries, on a short list of horrible human behaviors. It is a mark of how far we have fallen from God’s ways that some of these words seem like a foreign language to us. But check out this list to get a clear picture, not just of actions that God hates for us to do, but also for a better idea of what God wants for us.


Romans 12:19 says, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.”

Leviticus 19:18 says, “Don't be angry or try to take revenge. I am the LORD, and I command you to love others as much as you love yourself.” (CEV)


The last of the famous Ten Commandments states, “Do not desire to possess anything that belongs to another person...” (from Exodus 20:17, CEV).

Colossians 3:5 says, “So put to death the sinful, earthly things living within you... Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” (NLT)  

Hebrews 13:5 says, “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’”

LUST, FORNICATION, and ADULTERY (Abuse of our Sexual Desires)  

I Corinthians 6:18 says, “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body (NLT).”

I Thessalonians 4:3 says, “It is God's will that you keep away from sexual sin as a mark of your devotion to him (GWT).

In Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus says, “You know the commandment which says, ‘Be faithful in marriage.’ But I tell you if you look at another woman and want her, you are already unfaithful in your thoughts.”

GLUTTONY (Abuse of Food or Drink)  

A short note here: some TruthTexts give God’s guidance about both the desire for food and the desire for sex, natural human needs of the body that can be filled to God’s glory, or abused and damaging to us. So this issue and the previous one have similar guidance from God. It may come as a shock that controlling our eating can be something that honors God and that God has promised to help us with that issue. I Corinthians 6:13 says,

You say, ‘Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.’ (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies.”

A few verses later, Paul writes,

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (I Cor. 6:19-20 NLT)

Finally, in Romans 14:17-19, Paul says,

“God's kingdom isn't about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness. All this comes from the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ in this way, you will please God and be respected by people. We should try to live at peace and help each other have a strong faith.”

If you are discouraged already by this list, remember, God’s solution is coming! The last verse of Romans chapter 7, Paul’s great confession of human weakness, ends with,

“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:28a, NIV)

Therefore, the next section is called “But Thanks Be to God!” There’s a link at the bottom of this study. But follow through with our honest look at the ways we humans can mess up, and I promise that we’ll break out into the light as soon as we can!

Below is a list of some of the other human failings I could discuss. The gossip, slander, etc. may eventually be the topic of a series of articles on Christians and social media, if I can write it without burning up with guilt. We all know those are tough issues. But looking hard at our human failings is all part of a lifelong process of being guided by God’s Spirit. Seeking the truth of God’s Word, guided and powered by the Spirit, is the only way we believers have to line up our actions with our Lord, Jesus. And it’s the only way to get the love and peace that God has promised to us. Now on to that list! I’m sure all of us could add to this list of human failings:






So, feeling guilty yet? We must never ignore our failings, but we are not to drown in our failings, either. God gives the only effective pathway out from under that terrible list. Our enemy, the devil, not only tempts us to do wrong, but then beats us over the head with it, trying to convince us that we are no longer worthy of God’s love and forgiveness. But we must strongly acknowledge that “being worthy” is not in God’s equation. We respond to the undeserved love and favor that God gives us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. And he gives a new life freely to all who ask for it. But after reading this “terrible list,” if you have the tendency to argue, “Did God really say that about (Behavior X)?” then please feel free to do your own search of God’s Word, to be sure that this article didn’t misquote anything. For as Jesus said,

“My sheep hear my voice, and they will not listen to anyone else.” (see John 10:3-5)

So are we listening?  

Final BIG Point: Mirrors and Old Refrigerators

Don’t stop here! This has been a terrible wallow in some of the most horrible and rebellious human activities. And we didn’t even deal with some of the “worst” ones! You know all those home renovation programs, where somebody just has to open that refrigerator in an abandoned house, resulting in guaranteed gross-out? Well, we just opened that refrigerator. But maybe the more appropriate comparison is that we’ve been shown a mirror, revealing to us our own thoughts and actions. And we both know that this is an incomplete list. But sadder still is when we realize that you and I are very capable of falling into any of these behaviors and more. We could even make a habit of practicing them. The solution, the very personal solution for you and for me, is found in the next article, “But Thanks Be to God!”  In that article we will examine TruthTexts from people in the Bible who found the only way out of this mess, and have told us about it. Once again, I say, “Don’t stop here!” The link to the concluding article is below the questions. Go there, please!

Take Action!

Be sure to look up the verses in this chapter in whatever translation of the Bible is the easiest for you to understand.* Read the whole section that each verse came from, and make sure that the words I have said about them are true. Once you are sure that I have given you accurate information, ask yourself the questions. Finally, ask God to show you what you should do next.

According to Romans 14:17-19, what is God’s Kingdom all about?

What does Paul challenge us to do in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20?  (See also Romans 12:1-2)

What did Jesus tell us about His sheep (His followers) in John 10:3-5?

So who should be our authority when we wonder whether some

behavior is right or wrong?

Look at Hebrews 13:5, quoted above.

What promise has Jesus given us in that verse?

Find the paragraph in the article that starts with “Feeling guilty yet?”

Describe what the devil tries to do to us, and what God gives to us.

Does this give you hope and confidence as a believer?

What was the most discouraging part of this part of the study?

Please remember to go on to the next segment, “But Thanks Be to God!”  

for a close up look at God’s great solution! (Link Below)

* I use many translations of the Bible in this article. Any of them would serve to support the points made in the chapter. All verses with no listed translations are my own paraphrase; please check with your own favorite Bible to be sure I got the right idea.

Please Go On To The Article Titled

“But Thanks Be To God!”

Please tell me what you’ve learned, and what I could add to strengthen this study!

– Timothy Smith,

Here’s the same list as a graphic. Feel free to pass it on if you find it helpful. Remember that this is not the “Gospel.” It has only the most basic of guidelines so that people will behave themselves!

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