We are getting close to that time of year when people will start posting Top 5 or Top 10 this, that, and the other thing posts. Some of these posts will be things like the Top 5 Bible versus of the year, according to BibleGateway.com. I did that a few years ago and it was quite predictable: John 3:16, Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 4:3, Proverbs 5:3-6, and Romans 8:28.
Usually these verses are ripped kicking and screaming out of context and used like a rabbit’s foot or a lucky charm. If the verse fits for our immediate concern, we are quick to rip it from the pages of Scripture to make us “feel” better in the moment. Never mind the deeper messages behind these verses, we want instant gratification. Not only do we want instant gratification now, we want it before we even know we want it.
With that in view, I thought I would offer up five Bible versus that will never make the list, never end up on a bumper sticker, and never end up on a Christianity-Lite product, but should be at the heart of every Christians’ walk with Christ. These verses help us see our deep need for the gospel, even after we have walked with Christ for years. These verses show us our fallen nature, even in our redeemed state, and help us see that we still need the gospel while it is yet today (Hebrews 3:13). So here are my top 5 verses that will probably not end up on your bumper, but should be engraved on your heart:
- “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:40).” Let us take head of these words. They were spoken by Christ to Peter and the other disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane before Christ was arrested and sent to the cross. He was warning them of what was to come, and we should heed the warning as well. We tend to think we are strong, but we are not. Not a single one us is free from the reality that temptation is just around the corner, real temptation, temptation that can destroy our lives. To ignore this warning, knowing that even Peter succumbed to this weakness, is the ultimate in pride on our parts. Do we really think we are smarter, stronger, or better than Peter in some way? We are not. Therefore we should “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
- “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do (Luke 17:10).’” This one is a reality check for most of us because it shows us that even when we live the Christian life as we are called to do, we have no reason to boast in our achievements. As Jesus tells us, we have simply done what we are supposed to do. There is no room for boasting in the Christian life, it doesn’t matter if we lead a thousand people to the LORD, or simply resist sin to the point of pain in our lives. We are only doing what He told us to do in the first place. When the standard is perfection, there is no room for extra credit.
- “God, be merciful to me a sinner! (Luke 18:13)” These are the words uttered by the tax collector in a parable Jesus told us concerning how it is we should pray in order to be justified before the LORD. We don’t like this verse because it reminds us that we are still sinners, yet today. We are new creations in Christ, but we need to remember that we are sinners before the LORD, saved by grace, through faith in Christ alone. Again, this is another text that shows there is no room for boasting in the Christian walk. This is why this verse never ends up on Happy-Christian-Lite Calendar. We don’t want to be reminded that we still need the gospel.
- “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24)” Again, in this verse, we see our frailty. The story here was of a boy being healed and the father, seeing that he believes, knows that his faith needs to be deepened. We tend to think that we are the master of our spiritual growth, but again, we are dependent upon Christ for even that. This is not a popular message among those who trust in easy-believism and do-it-yourself Christianity. If we could do it ourselves, we would not need the God-Man to die on the cross on our behalf.
- O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24). Nope, this verse will never make in the “Inspirational Daily Calendar” or any other such nonsense, unless it ends up there by mistake (see the above photo). This verse doesn’t show any victory in the Christian life at all. Paul is looking at the Law, trying to figure out how to live according to the Law. He knows the Law is good, but when he sets out to live according to the Law, his flesh gets in the way and he sees how wretched he truly is. This verse applies to anyone who thinks they have the power to live according to God’s precepts and that they have measured up somehow. Truth be told, we need the gospel today, just as much as we did the day we first believed.
I want you to see two things from this list. First, I want you to see how silly and trite the drivel is that comes out of the Christian publishing industry. It’s all “Best Life Now” garbage and is not indicative of the real Christian life we have been given.
Secondly, I want you see that we need to be careful about taking verses out of context when we think they meet our needs. A verse may truly meet your need, but more than likely, the verse is there to show something grander about being in Christ than just an immediate felt need. So don’t be quick to list off favorite verses unless you know what they mean in context, and show what we really need as believers.