Hiking in the mountains of Utah, Coty Creighton spotted a goat that didn’t look like the rest of the herd. A closer look revealed that the unusual animal was actually a man dressed as a goat. When authorities contacted the man, he described his costume as a painter’s suit covered in fleece, and he said he was testing his disguise for a hunting trip.
The hunter’s deception reminds me of Jesus’ words: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15). False teachers do not bear the fruit of God’s Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Rather, they “walk according to the flesh . . . and despise authority” (2 Peter 2:10). They are bold, egotistical, and given to greed (vv.10,14). Ruled by their own desires, they exploit people by using “deceptive words” (v.3). The Bible says these wayward spiritual leaders are headed for destruction and will take many unsuspecting and undiscerning people with them (vv.1-2).
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, rather than pursuing personal gain, laid down His life for His sheep. God does not want anyone to be misled by false teaching. He wants us to be aware of those who deceive, and follow Him instead—the true Shepherd of our souls.
At the name of Jesus Every knee shall bow, Every tongue confess Him, King of glory now. —Noel
Many people love to play games that test their knowledge. Recently, a colleague and I were testing a Bible-knowledge game. Since we were seated in an open area of our office, those nearby could hear our conversation. Soon questions ranging from Noah’s ark to the woman at the well were being answered by those within earshot of us. It was a delight to hear various staff members volunteering responses to Bible questions.
A knowledge of the Bible is important, but God desires us to be saturated with His Word and to internalize it so we can grow in our relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to make us more like Christ (Eph. 4:20-24). Consider these benefits of internalizing the Bible: joy and rejoicing (Jer. 15:16); spiritual success (Josh. 1:8); a tool in spiritual warfare (Matt. 4:1-11); correction (2 Tim. 3:15-16); light for our path (Ps. 119:105); wisdom with problem solving (Prov. 1:1-2); and stimulating faith (Rom. 10:17).
Learning about the Bible just to increase our knowledge can lead to spiritual pride (1 Cor. 8:1). But allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us by the Word helps us navigate through life’s twists and turns and respond in love to God and to each other.
My hunger for the truth He satisfies; Upon the Word, the Living Bread, I feed: No parching thirst I know, because His grace, A pool of endless depth, supplies my need. —Sanders
Many books can inform, but only the Bible can transform.
There is no record in the Bible of God speaking to anyone in any form—including dreams, oracles, or visions—from the time of Joseph to the time of Moses. When the people of Israel were led out into the wilderness, it is likely that they had little knowledge of the God who had delivered them and was leading them to a new home. The commands given through Moses were meant to reintroduce God to them and to help them to be people who would be a light to others (cf. Isa. 49:3). By keeping God’s words always in front of them (Deut. 6:6-9), they could live by those words and be transformed into people who showed God to the world.
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to teach the Bible to many people around the world. Because I can speak only English, I often work with interpreters who can take the words of my heart and translate them into the language of the people. Effective communication is directly dependent upon the skill of these translators. Whether it is Inawaty in Indonesia, Annie in Malaysia, or Jean in Brazil, they ensure that the meaning of my words is clearly expressed.
This work of translation resembles one facet of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of God’s people. In our times of prayer, we don’t always know how we should pray (Rom. 8:26), and verse 27 encourages us, saying, “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” When we go to our heavenly Father in prayer, the Holy Spirit comes to our aid by translating our prayers according to God’s good purposes for our lives.
What a provision! Not only does God desire for us to share our hearts with Him, He even provides us with the greatest interpreter to help us as we pray. We can be sure that our prayers will never get lost in translation.
Thank You, Father, for the provision of Your Spirit. I’m grateful that when I pray I can rest in Your help to make my prayers what they need to be. Teach me to lean on His perfect understanding of Your desires.
The participation of the Spirit assures that my prayers line up with God’s purposes.
Today’s passage is filled with hope and comfort. Though Paul describes the deep suffering and groaning of both humanity and creation, his emphasis is on the nearness of our God and His affectionate care for His creation. Paul encourages readers in Rome—and us—with the thought that God knows us so well that His Spirit prays for us, translating our weak words into prayers according to the will of the Father (vv.26-27).