One of the most sensitive books anybody can deal with is the Bible. The devil knows this. That is why he uses the scriptures to lure people into sin.
He tried it with Jesus in the wilderness. “Turn this stone to bread,” he told Jesus. But Jesus replied that man shall not live by bread alone. The devil was excited that Jesus was quoting the scriptures (Deut 8v3) and he went on to quote the scriptures too.
He said to him in the third temptation quoting Psalm 91v11-12 to “jump down from the mountain because it is written God will send his angels to take charge over you so that you won’t strike your foot against a stone.”
But Jesus, the author of life Himself would not fall for it. “You shall not put the Lord your God to test,” Jesus told the devil.
Today, the devil still uses the Bible to lure men to do things that are not expedient. In the case of Jesus, the devil was right with the scripture he quoted. But the circumstances he was asking Jesus to do what he wanted him to do was wrong. And Jesus would not be swayed. He knew doing it would be tempting God.
Indeed, many of us are tempting God with our indiscretions and our propensity to use scriptures to satisfy our selfish ambitions.
Rightly dividing the word
The other end is that many of us cannot rightly divide the Word. We think it is safe to pull a scripture out of the mass and apply it. This has led many to error and made many do things that have backfired and cost them their destinies.
Some think the Bible is a supermarket where you can go to pick what you want and leave without paying attention to other things. Some don’t even have a clear understanding of the redemptive work of Christ. Yet, some can’t differentiate between the Old and New Testaments.
Many don’t even know that the Books of the Bible in its original form had no punctuation marks, paragraphs, or verses. So when we don’t have this basic understanding, the temptation to manipulate the scriptures primarily out of ignorance will be there.
But then there are some clear instances where we should be temperate enough to understand what God is saying.
Why is Bible called the word of God
The first question is: Why do we call the Bible the word of God? Is it that all the words in the Bible were words that God spoke directly? No.
The Bible contains the word of God, the word of man, the words of angels, the words of the devil, the words of nobles, the words of poets, etc. It is a collection of books but its central theme is Jesus. That was the basis for the canonization of the various books of the Bible.
But we call the Bible the word of God because it is a sincere and unpretentious account of the story of humanity and divinity. The Bible is a book of Truth. The content of the Bible are true account of the past, present, and future.
There is no other book that is as sincere as the Bible. It is God who breathed in man to write the words. So when the holy spirit holds your hand, you can not but write what he wants you to write.
Let’s take for instance the story of King David. He committed adultery and murder. In today’s church world, such accounts won’t be documented for a lover of God. How can the story of David’s immoral lifestyle be included in a holy book? No. By human standards, the account will not be recorded.
But because the Bible is the word of God, it had to be recorded for our learning. We can’t say the same of many biographies and autobiographies. There is always something to hide.
About Jimmy Odukoya
I have gone all these lengths to provide a background for the subject of this discourse. The newly appointed Pastor of Fountain of Life Church recently granted BBC an interview where he used the Bible to justify his fashion sense. He wears earrings, tattoos his skin, and goes about with artificial dreadlocks. Yet, he gleefully defends his actions using the Bible.
In the first place, many did not give a hoot about his look because some felt it was a personal fashion preference, which is fine. But to justify it with scriptures is not only unkind to God, it is unkind to the Christian faith.
In the first place, he shot himself in the leg by even quoting Exodus 32v2 to defend his dress sense. Here is what that scripture says, And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
Three sets of people were asked to bring earrings: Sons, daughters, and wives. Where are the husbands? Aaron was addressing the men in that scripture to tell their wives, their sons, and their daughters to bring the earrings on them. It is clear from this scripture that the men had no earrings on them. If they had, Aaron would have asked them to bring it.
But that is just scratching the surface of his misquote. A further study of the Bible makes it clear that Hebrew slaves as noted by Exodus 21v6 were known to have their ears pierced as a sign of servitude to their masters.
We also understand that the Ishmaelites were the ones who had earrings on from the book of Judges 8v24: And Gideon said to them, “Let me request of you: every one of you give me the earrings from his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings because they were Ishmaelites.)
Odukoya’s defense of the tattoos and the dreadlocks is also laughable. If he had told the BBC man that the dreadlocks and tattoos are personal choices and that people are not obliged to copy him, it would have just been okay.
But to refer to God’s instruction to Samson as the basis for his action is an abuse of scripture. In the first place, he is not a Nazarite neither did he take the vow of a Nazarite. So where did he arrive at the dreadlocks?
Has he read, Leviticus 19:28 “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.”
Why cherry-pick scriptures
The real issue is why pick a few scripture that suits him in the Old Testament? Does he have the capacity to obey all the over 600 instructions in the Torah?
Over time the church has had to deal with the issue of apparel and comportment. The New Testament is clear as to how a believer should look.
Paul admonished that our moderation be known to all men. Peter tells us that our adorning should not be that of outward apparel. While the Bible is never against looking good, it encourages moderation. But then moderation could be subjective.
What is moderate to A may not be moderate to B depending on where both are coming from. So the guiding principle is the motive behind our look and the implication for the people we are sent to.
There is the story of a missionary couple that had to go naked so they could relate with a community of people who don’t wear clothes. The motive is to reach them with the gospel because when they entered the village dressed up, the people ran away from them. After all, they had not seen people in clothes before.
If such couples are asked why they dress naked, they won’t say it’s because Adam and Eve were naked in the Bible. They perhaps will explain the evangelical import of their action. And people watching from outside won’t see anything wrong with their decision to go naked because that is how they roll in that community.
Paul had that dilemma. He said he was everything to everybody so he could be all means win some.
The Old and New
One of the clear differences between the Old Testament and the New as stated by Charles Spurgeon is that the Old is a covenant of prosperity, and the New is a covenant of adversity.
Read also: Jimmy Odukoya: Let every man be true to himself:https://churchtimesnigeria.net/jimmy-odukoya-let-every-man-be-true-to-himself/
In the New Testament, there is no time for believers to engage in frivolities. What we do or say must be done to the glory of God. That is why you don’t ever read about the worldly possession of the disciples. The only account about their material wealth is when they were selling them off so they could be a blessing to those in need.
To stretch it further the old was a shadow, the new is the reality. The Old is like the drawing of an architect for a building, the new is the building itself. When the new comes we discard the old. Anything that cannot be corroborated in the New Testament should not be embraced.
The danger is that if you pick a scripture from the Old Testament to justify your action, then you will have to pick other unpleasant scriptures in the Old Testament including the death sentences on those who disobey the Torah.
Coming to terms
Jimmy Odukoya is yet to come to terms with the enormity of what it takes to pastor a church where there are people of different orientations.
He may appeal to the youth population and even to many in his church. He is also going to attract many others who don’t see anything wrong with his looks. With time many will get used to his dress sense.
But something will shift. He would succeed in creating a class of people who treat the Bible with levity and who think they can use the Bible for their personal preference.
Christian faith and sacrifice
But those who subscribe to Bible tenets will understand that the Christian life is about personal sacrifice. Paul wrote, “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up” (1 Corinthians 10:23).
A child of God understands that his body is the temple of God. We make the mistake of thinking we own our Body and therefore can do anything with it. It is God’s temple. The question we must ask is, what glory will this bring to God.?
1Cor 8v13: Therefore, if [my eating a certain] food causes my brother to stumble (sin), I will not eat [such] meat ever again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
This goes to the heart of what we do as Christians. It is about being considerate and understanding the weak among us. Will Jimmy take a pause and think about the weak who may be offended by his look? Does he realise that it is no longer about what he wants but about the people he has been called to pastor?
The heart of a shepherd thinks about the flock and not about his comfort. Pastoring is not a call to have a good life. It is a call to lay down your life for the flock. Jesus tells us that a good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Pastoring is a call to discomfort.
By Gbenga Osinaike