Did you know the enemy is not above using scripture to promote his agenda? Yep, the devil is happy to quote scripture out of context if it will convince people to sin. God even exposed his deadly scheme when He asked three gospel writers to record Jesus’ desert temptation. Three times the enemy used the word of God to try to get the Word of God to turn from His Father.
I think that’s why it bothers me that humans still fall for that scheme. Sometime in the two-thousand years between Ezra and my great-grandmother, the enemy convinced the earth’s population that God intended nations to be separate and never intermingle. The evil one used passages like this one from Ezra:
1 After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. 2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”
He whispered these words in some good person’s ear, and someone decided they should keep Italians, Africans, Irish, French, Asian, German and more separated. The enemy even convinced a few folks they could treat people of differing ethnic backgrounds badly. The problem entered when these God fearing individuals who wanted to follow scripture ignored the root of Ezra’s problem.
Long before this the Creator had made allowances for foreigners to become part of Israel. Not only did He give instructions, He gave the modern generation an example when the Almighty embraced Ruth and Rahab and added them to Christ’s lineage.
Israel’s unfaithfulness didn’t stem from bringing foreigners into their midst, it came from allowing these foreigners to bring false gods and ungodly actions with them. Those ancient Christians who started this whole discrimination mess skimmed right past Ezra’s mention of the people’s detestable practices and looked at the list of nations. They forgot that God said, “Don’t deny justice to foreigners . . . Remember that you were slaves in Egypt . . .” (Deuteronomy 24:17-18) The enemy convinced them that the problem was mixing skin color when the issue was–and still is–boyfriends and spouses who pull us away from the faith.
Studying scripture in context is vital. On more than one occasion people with great intentions have fallen for the lies of the enemy because he used a Bible verse to make his point.
Yes, we want to be holy people. We want to follow God’s word and honor Him, but treating others badly, even those who are blatantly living outside God’s mandates, doesn’t honor Him.
We have to find that balance between witnessing and becoming unequally yoked. And occasionally we’ll run across a person like the people in the nations surrounding Israel–folks who have hardened their hearts to the point they will never come to Christ. This still doesn’t give us permission to disrespect them, but when witnessing is impossible, walking away–shaking the dust off our feet–becomes the only option.
To guard our hearts, we need to know scripture. We must read God’s word and bounce our interpretation off of others who are walking with Christ. That way, when the enemy tries to use scripture against us, we’ll be prepared to use God’s best weapon against him.
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