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Quoting Scripture Like the Devil June 5, 2006

Posted by fajita in Bible/Meditations, Christianity, Philosophy/Religion.

Psalm 90 11-12 says: 

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
       to guard you in all your ways;

 12 they will lift you up in their hands,
       so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

I read the above passage this morning and it spoke to me in a different way than ever before. I reflected on the fact that I first read this scripture years ago as quoted by Satan in Matthew 4:6.

The Devil quotes scripture. That is an interesting concept. Does the fact that the Devil quoted scripture make it not true? Does the fact that it is scripture make it true? This starts to get confusing, doesn't it?

Truth must be more complex than merely something appearning in print, in the Bible no less. Why didn't Jesus obey the scripture when quoted to him by Satan? I mean, who cares who is quoting truth, right? "Truth is truth," as Chuck Colson is likely to say. Well, yes and no. Truth is truth, but your claims to know it fully and completely might just be as overrated as the Devil's claims to know truth, or use it truthfully. And furthermore, even if you do know truth, does that mean you are using it in a way worthy of truth?

What the Devil said was true, I am sure, when he quoted that scripture. I bet the angels would have caught Jesus had he jumped from the temple roof. If we leave truth as a simplistic cause and effect formula, then we can know it so easily. However, no one is his right mind wants Jesus to jump and thus make a deal with the Devil.

When the truth is used in untrue ways, truth no longer remain true in that context. Contaminated truth is no truth at all, but rather a tool to bring about some kind of untrue end.

I have heard sermons loaded with scripture and void of truth. I have heard sermons void of scripture and deeply true. Finally, I have heard sermons with truth and scripture together. But even more important, I have heard people extract promises, rules of morality, and "how to's" from the Bible that are scriptural, but untrue. This is so important becuase when people choose to live their lives with the Bible, then they are going to need to be careful how they use the Bible.

Let's make a big assumption that the Bible is true and that it is the Word of God. Then it is even more important that caution is used in understanding what it means and what it doesn't mean.

Satan's problem was not accurately quoting scripture. On that count I think he memorized his Bible verses very well. A+ on that one. The problem rest in the intended use of the scripture and the actual meaning of the scripture. Just because the angels would catch Jesus if he jumped, does that mean that he needs to test it out? Maybe and maybe not But it certainly doesn't mean he has to prove himself to Satan.   

When it is the Devil misusing scripture, it is a compfrtable conversation, but when we look at how perople do it, ministers doit, or how I do it, then it gets a little scary. I'm not saying Bible believers need to avoid the Bible because its truths are unknowable, but rather to be careful what is really motivating the need for a certainty, a truth, or a rule that the Bible may never even intend.

Be careful, you might just be quoting scripture like the Devil.



1. John Alan Turner - June 5, 2006

I think you’re using the word “true” in a Platonic sense, and that can lead to confusion. Plato asked, “Is a thing true because God says it is true? Or does God call a thing true because he recognizes truth when he sees it?”

In other words, does God create truth or simply acknowledge truth?

The problem is we’re seeing truth as something outside of God himself. Plato had a categorical problem (and so do most preachers) when it comes to truth.

Truth is ultimately a Person; Jesus said, “I am the truth”. Therefore, a thing is true or not to the degree that it corresponds to the character and nature of God himself. In other words, true truth is godliness. If it is not godly, it is not true.

2. Donna - June 5, 2006

Just last week a girl I work with whose husband has been both abusive and out of work for over a year told me that he told her she was not fulfilling her Biblical duty as a wife if she separated from him. I told her next time he said that to tell him that even Satan himself could quote scripture. That didn’t change the facts of the situation.

3. fajita - June 5, 2006

I am more concerned about truth being true if Colson says it is, not God. I am pretty sure God’s reality is truth. Colson seems to know what is godly and what isn’t. There is mystery in God and thus would there not be mystery in truth?

If God is truth and God cannot be fully known by humans, then truth cannot be fully known by humans (oh crap, methinks I just used a syllogism). If this kind of mystery is – true – then the infinity of God should leave room open for truth being, in human perecption, open ended to some extent.

4. John Alan Turner - June 5, 2006

And that’s why I frequently quote Art Lindsley: “I am starting with a basic understanding of truth as that which corresponds to reality, as perceived by God. Only God sees reality in all its complexity. What we understand is partial and limited. Yet partial truth can be real truth as long as we do not take it for the whole truth.” (Art Linsdley, TRUE TRUTH, p. 19).

Incidentally, Colson wrote an endorsement of Art’s book.

5. spiritualoasis - June 5, 2006

Very thoughtful post! Keep them coming!! -bw

6. Elizabeth Haddon - July 18, 2006

The verses you are confused about are an example to all us humans that Satan does in fact know and quote scripture in order to tempt and confuse. Jesus was not expected to follow the scripture that Saten quoted to him because Satan was tempting him to use his divinity in earthly ways to PROVE that he is the Son of God.

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