“Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these” (Jer. 7:4, KJV). The NET records this passage as, “Stop putting your confidence in the false belief that says, “We are safe! The temple of the LORD is here! The temple of the LORD is here! The temple of the LORD is here!” What was going on with these people in Jeremiah’s day?
In context, notice that God has sent Jeremiah to warn this sinful nation of their sin. He went to the gate of the Temple and cried out, “amend your ways and your doings” (Jer. 7:2-3). They responded, “The Temple of the Lord,” as if God would spare them from destruction because the Temple was in Jerusalem. They were reminded twice in this chapter not to trust in those lying words. The mere fact the Temple was in Jerusalem would not save them when the Babylonian army swept over them.
What would save them? God said salvation would come when they “amend” or change their ways (Jer. 7:5). In other words, repent, and they would be allowed to dwell in the land (v. 7). Notice that the key to their salvation was not in having the Temple in Jerusalem but living as God told them to live (v. 5-7). Even though many years had passed, the words of Joshua 24:14 were still true, and they needed to worship God “in sincerity and in truth”! They could not “ride the fence” by practicing their abominations and then turn around, beaming about having the Temple there (Jer.7:9-15). That Temple was made of physical material and could be destroyed (and was, II Kings 25)!
Friend, beware that you don’t have the same attitude as the Israelites of old did. It is easy to slip into the mindset that I am bound for Heaven so long as I am a member or have my name on the “roll” of a sound church. This is not always the case! Don’t misunderstand; we know that salvation comes through Christ (Lk. 19:10), and all those who are saved are added to His church (Acts 2:38-47). My point is that we must examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5) and make sure our actions match our words (Rev. 22:14; Lk. 6:46)! The people in Jeremiah’s day had to “amend” or change their ways because their actions did not match their words (Jer. 7:9-11). It takes more than merely having our names written on a piece of paper to be saved. We must be active in the Lord’s work (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10; Jas. 1:22-25; Heb. 5:9)!
It pains me to say this, but there will be people condemned to an eternity in Hell because their actions, speech, and thoughts were not in line with the Scriptures (II Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:31-46). Yes, some of these will be people who claim to be members of the Lord’s church. Why will this happen? It will happen because they weren’t slaves to God (Rom. 12:1-2) but obeyed only when they felt like it. When they were confronted with their sin, they said, “I’m a member of the Lord’s body!” Just like those folks said, “The Temple of the Lord!” As if that were all that was required! Sadly, Christ will say, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). Let’s learn a lesson from this text and not act like those in Jeremiah 7!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Solomon declares that “a good name is better than precious ointment” (Ecc. 7:1). He wrote identical words in Proverbs 22:1. What makes a good “name” so important? Why would we want a good “name”?
First, understand that a good “name” speaks of a good reputation. What do people see when they see me? Be honest! Do people see a hypocrite or a genuine person? Do people see someone trying to serve God or self? It is a true statement that our actions speak louder than our words! Yes, we are known by what we do (Prov. 20:11; Matt. 7:16).
What are you doing? Do your actions match your speech? Do you tell people not to steal, even though you steal (Be it money, time on the job, dishonest on taxes, etc.)? Do you tell people not to commit adultery even though you are doing it (If you have never committed the act, remember adultery is possible in the heart, too, Matt. 5:27-28.), do you tell people to keep God’s law while you are breaking it? These are a few ways that we can be hypocrites and ruin a good name (Rom. 2:21-24).
Many seem not to care about their name or reputation, and yet, Solomon points out that there is something valuable in it (Ecc. 7:1; Prov. 22:1). What are we doing to preserve and grow the good name we have as citizens in our community? People need to know that we are honest, trustworthy, and kind people. Do folks know this about us? Men like Cornelius (Acts 10) and others stand out in my mind as having a good reputation among men, and this reputation has lasted through the years. Abel had a good reputation, and by it, “he being dead, yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4).
The best reputation we can have, however, is when we accept the name of Christ (Mk. 16:16; Acts 11:26). “There is none other name under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus Christ lived for 33 years on this earth and had the best reputation of all. Though He was unjustly taken and killed, all recognized He died innocent of any crime and free from all sin (Matt. 27:19; Lk. 23:4, 14; Jn. 18:38, 19:4, 6; I Pet. 2:22). He then invites us, those who have sinned and marred our reputations, to accept His good name and be free from sin, giving us the ability to start over (II Cor. 5:17). We put to death the old man of sin and rise up a new man, ready to do the Lord’s will (Rom. 6:3-6). We can honestly say that we have a new life. There are things I used to do that I do not do anymore. At the same time, there are things I used to avoid and scoff at that now I do wholeheartedly! This is such a radical change that our Lord compares it to a birth (Jn. 3:3, 5)! The result is a new and better reputation than I ever had, and I don’t intend to ruin it. I understand that this “good name” (Christ’s name/reputation) is better than precious ointment, riches, or anything that this world has to offer (Prov. 22:1; Ecc. 7:1). It is for this reason that all I say and do is done “in the name of” (in connection with the reputation of) Christ (Col. 3:17)! I strive daily to do nothing that would mar Christ’s reputation that He has offered to me.
Would you like to have such a good reputation? Do you realize that the only way this is possible is to start over? In Christ, you can have such a beginning! If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), and are willing to repent of your sins (Lk. 13:3). If you will confess your faith in Christ (Rom. 10:10) and then be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), you can be saved (Mk. 16:16)! You can have a new start (II Cor. 5:17). You can have a new name (Acts 11:26), which means a new reputation and a new beginning.
Start over today and see the blessings that come when we do things the Lord’s way. Become a Christian and see this wonderful reputation, and know that it is worth preserving, protecting, and promoting through the rest of your life! This “good name” is the best name! Become a Christian today.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The first seven verses of Ecclesiastes 5 remind us to be careful about the words we say. As we read this passage, we see that “a multitude of words” is associated with foolish behavior (Ecc. 5:3), vanity (v. 7), evil (v. 1), and sin (v. 6). Parallel to this thought is what Christ taught in Matthew 6. He said that the heathen (Gentiles, nations, etc.) think they will be heard in their prayers because of their “much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). The point being that God did not acknowledge their “speaking.” Most men see through the tactics of someone who “talks too much”! Friend, don’t be like that.
How many times do we “shoot off our mouths” and not consider what we said until later, if ever? Solomon, by inspiration, makes it clear that our words can cause us great trouble. We are reminded here that God is vigilant in noting what we say (Ecc. 5:2b). This warning is repeated in such New Testament passages as Matthew 12:36-37, and James 3:1-12. In the book of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher reminds his listeners that our mouths can cause our flesh to sin (Ecc. 5:6). Friend, how closely do you watch what you say? David said, “I will keep my mouth with a bridle” (Ps. 39:1). What will you do? In an age of “social media,” let us be reminded that our “rash words” can be written as well as spoken. Are you careful to guard the words you type on social media? If not, why not? Are you careful about the stories you share on social media? Typed words will condemn us as quickly as the words that come from our mouths!
As we read Ecclesiastes 5, we note that verse four tells us to make sure and pay our vows when we make them. While this is not a passage talking exclusively about marriage, marriage vows are promises we make to our spouse and God, promising, “til death do us part,” among other things. Married people, are you honoring your vows? Man’s vows are so significant that it is written that it is better for us not to vow at all than to make a vow and not pay or fulfill it (v. 5). How are we doing in honoring the vows we make? See, if you make vows, but do not honor them, then you are a liar (Rev. 21:8)! Making vows also includes our debts! If you promise to pay someone back when you make a debt, then this is a vow. You need to make sure and pay your debts as you promised to do!
“By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words, thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:37). Let us take the words of Christ and Solomon to heart. Our words are precious! Our words are the vehicles of our thoughts. We need to control our thoughts and make sure we do not “engage our mouths when our brains are in neutral”! “Keep thy foot” (Ecc. 5:1) means behave yourself! Let us behave ourselves and watch our words when we offer our sacrifices to God (Ecc. 5:1; Heb. 13:15; I Pet. 2:5), and watch our words daily! Jesus said our words can save, or our words will condemn.
Why is it that many of our politicians have no respect by the populace? It is because these people talk a lot, they promise (vow) a lot, and many times, their words amount to nothing! We judge them as liars because they promised things and never fulfilled their promises/vows! How refreshing it would be for a politician to come along who didn’t promise anything except to represent the constituents to the best of his ability! That’s enough!
Someone said that they prayed that their words might always be sweet, for one day they may have to “eat them”! How true! James 1:19 reminds us to be “slow to speak,” and how this is needed today! Let us follow the command of Ephesians 4:29 and 32, Ecclesiastes 5, James 1:19, and chapter 3 when we speak! We will be blessed immensely when we are not “rash” (hasty) to speak.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
John warned, “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (II Jn. 7). Speaking about an antichrist or “the” antichrist produces fear in the hearts of many. In light of the coronavirus pandemic and the hardships that have been produced from quarantines, business shut-downs, and the like, there are many concerned that perhaps these events are foreshadowing the end of the world. People are concerned about “the” antichrist entering the world stage and ushering us into “the end of days.”
When we read the Scriptures, though, we learn something completely different about “antichrist.” There is nothing said about an antichrist or “the” antichrist ushering in anything. This is not to say that the doctrine of antichrist (I Jn. 4:3) is not serious, because it is. When we understand what this is, it is a fearful thing. The definition of “antichrist” is “opponent of the Messiah” (Strong’s). Therefore, we do not want God to consider us “antichrist” or Christ’s opponent.
Understanding the definition is just one aspect of our study. Let us make sure we use the word (in this case, “antichrist”) in its proper context. Therefore, to understand this teaching, let us first read everything the Bible says on the subject of “antichrist.” In this case, God speaks about “antichrist” in four places (I Jn. 2:18, 22, 4:3; II Jn. 7). After reading those verses, we can see the attributes of antichrist (opponent to the Messiah) include:
- There is more than one who could be considered “antichrist” (I Jn. 2:18).
- He denies that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah). He denies the Father and the Son (I Jn. 2:22).
- He will not confess that Jesus came in the flesh to the earth (I Jn. 4:3; II Jn. 7).
- He is a deceiver (II Jn. 7).
By reading all God says on the matter, we can appreciate that it is a serious and dangerous thing if God considers you “antichrist.” At the same time, there was nothing in those passages said about The Judgment Day, a 1000-year reign, a world-wide power, a world leader, war, rapture, death, resurrections, or any of the other things people generally talk about when they speak about the “antichrist.“ John didn’t even use the term “the” antichrist! He said (by inspiration) that there were “many antichrists” (I Jn. 2:18)! Don’t forget that he wrote this some 2000 years ago. Those opposed to the Messiah have been around for a while!
Now, to the context of II John, we see that antichrist (v. 7) is contrasted with walking after God’s commands (v. 6) and making sure we don’t lose what we have in Christ (v. 8). Let us heed John’s warning. Let us do what God says, and be faithful to His commands. When we think about the subject of “antichrist” in its context, we can see how it is that there were many in John’s day, and how there are many yet today!
Don’t be deceived by false teachers and do not oppose His truth, including the fact that yes, Jesus Christ came in the flesh. Our Savior is real! His word is true! He made a way for us to be saved, and when we believe He is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), repent of our sins (including being His opponent -- Lk. 13:3), confess Christ as God’s Son (Rom. 10:10) and be baptized (Acts 2:38), we can be forgiven of our sins!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Truth is a precious commodity today. Many people lie to us. Some lie for self-preservation, others lie to get our money. Still, others lie because they know no other way! They are like the people in II Peter 2:14 who had “exercised” their hearts in this way. A multitude of excuses can be offered for why men are dishonest, but the fact remains that such actions are not of God, but are motivated by Satan (Jn. 8:44). God tells us not to lie, but to speak the truth (Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:25). His word is truth (Jn. 17:17), and Christ is the embodiment of truth (Jn. 14:6). To lie, therefore, means we are drawing closer to Satan rather than drawing closer to God (Jas. 4:4, 7-8; etc.).
Perhaps this is why the Holy Spirit inspired John to speak about the truth in ⅓ of his second letter (II Jn. 1-4). The truth is so important to God that it warrants being mentioned four times in just eleven sentences. There is nothing like the truth! Think about it -- our society treasures the truth. We might not think so at first, but if we do not treasure the truth, why is calling something “fake news” an insult? Why do we have men swear to tell the truth when in court? Why are there “truth in advertising” laws in America? Why is there such a clamor and concern for “CGI,” “AI,” and other technologies taking over? Is it not because they have nearly reached the point where we can’t tell the true from the false? Some dinosaurs will still remember the question, “Is it real, or is it Memorex?” What happens to a society when we can no longer separate fact from fiction? Yes, truth is a precious commodity. God recognized this when He inspired John to write to the “elect lady and her children” about the truth (II Jn. 1-4). Look at some unique characteristics of truth that make it stand above dishonesty in II John 1-4.
- Truth can be known (v. 1).
- Truth abides in us (v. 2).
- Truth is eternal (v. 2).
- Truth cannot be taken from us (v. 2). We might leave it, but it cannot be taken.
- Truth forms strong relationships (v. 1, 3).
- Truth must be obeyed (v. 4).
- Truth shapes the manner of our lives (v. 4).
Are we interested in truth? It is a fact that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18). Therefore, God’s word is truth (Jn. 17:17)! The longer we spend time in it, the more we are exposed to the truth. The longer we speak of it, the longer we are speaking the truth! Is there anything more appealing than that? I don’t think so! Long ago, George Washington was quoted as saying, “I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” Why not make this your goal as well, friend? If we lose the interest and capability to be honest then we have lost it all.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs