A. In the 1987 classic comedy The Princess Bride, the Sicilian Vizzini, played by Wallace Shawn, is constantly describing events he had not foreseen as “Inconceivable!” Eventually, his hired swordsman Inigo Montoya, the Spaniard, as portrayed by Mandy Patinkin, tells him, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
B. Similarly, there is a list of words for which the common usage simply does not match the meaning in Scripture, nor even the dictionary definitions.
Many have the regrettable tendency to use the word “anxious” when “eager” is what is meant. “Anxious” communicates worry or nervousness, and God’s people shouldn’t be characterized that way.
A. Philippians 4:6-7
We are taught by Paul to replace anxiety with peace through prayer.
B. Luke 12:22-31
“An anxious mind” implies a lack of trust in God’s provision.
C. Luke 22:15
It is possible to have an “earnest desire” without being anxious.
Too many are “proud” of their country, their branch of the military, their school, or their sports team. Gratitude for being part of something special or deriving some pleasure in a sense of accomplishment are not the problem, but pride certainly is.
A. Mark 7:20-23
Jesus condemns pride as defilement.
B. 1st John 2:15-17
Pride does not originate with the eternal God, but with the temporal world
C. 1st Peter 5:5-6
The exact opposite of pride, humility namely, is enjoined upon the faithful.
D. Proverbs 11:2; 13:10; 18:12; 29:23
Pride has deleterious consequences, but humility does otherwise.
E. Galatians 6:14
There is really only one exception to the rule against pride; boasting in Christ is right and good.
There is an unfortunate habit among the majority whereby compliments are identified as flattery. If a compliment is sincerely intended, then that is what it is: a compliment. However, if the compliment is duplicitous, being offered with an ulterior motive, then it is flattery, and that is never acceptable to God.
A. Proverbs 29:5; 26:28
Flattery is warned against in Scripture as having a destructive outcome.
B. Psalm 12:2-3
Flattery is a tool of deception.
C. Romans 16:18; Jude 16
Specifically, it is used to deceive people into believing religious error.
D. Proverbs 2:16; 7:21
Moreover, it is the tool of seduction, the flirtation that brings about fornication and adultery.
Hopes and wishes are often mistaken for one another. Whereas a wish is merely a desire, a want, or a preference, hope is so much more. Hope is confidence in expectation. It is trusting anticipation.
A. Romans 8:24-25; 1st Corinthians 15:19
Hope is a proper fixation on the unseen, an awareness of the better that is to come.
B. Titus 2:11-13; 1st Peter 1:3-5
In particular, the Christian’s hope is set on Christ’s coming and the heavenly inheritance.
C. Hebrews 6:17-19
Our hope is a sure and steadfast anchor based on the immutable promises of God. This isn’t mere wishful thinking! It is so much more.
D. 1st Timothy 3:14; Romans 15:24
Of course, we are permitted to have hope about lesser things, too, but even then the word carries the meaning of realistic expectation.
E. 3rd John 13-14
Wishes, too, are allowed, so long as we perceive the distinction between wishing and hoping.
Inspiration is often reduced to the equivalent of motivation or encouragement, yet its real meaning is far deeper. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States may well be described as brilliant documents, but inspired they are not. Shakespeare may have been a talented playwright, but attributing inspiration to a witty rogue belittles the true meaning of inspiration.
A. 2nd Timothy 3:16
The Greek word here describing Scripture means “God breathed”. Even the English word it is translated into for us, “inspiration”, means “in spirited”, to put the Spirit in, to breathe in. Of all writings of all time and place, Scripture, and only Scripture, can be described this way.
B. 2nd Peter 1:20-21
The source of any piece of Scripture was never the man who penned it, but the Holy Spirit who moved that man to do so. We must not hold any other text in such regard, no matter how beloved.
C. Genesis 2:7
The breath of God is a life giving force. What God did to animate mankind, He likewise did to the words of holy writ.
Often intended to convey amazement, the word “incredible” literally means “unbelievable”. While many things may correctly be described as beyond belief, nothing in God’s word should be so described.
A. Acts 26:8
The resurrection of the dead is truly marvelous, but must not be thought “incredible”. It’s amazing, but not unbelievable!
B. John 20:27
The same Greek word that is “incredible” in the preceding passage is rendered “unbelieving” here, in which Christ tells Thomas, “Do not be unbelieving, but believing”.
C. Revelation 21:8
Unbelievers, those who are incredulous toward the gospel, will perish.
D. Acts 8:13
Amazement should produce belief, not render one incredulous.
“Christian” is a word cheapened and bastardized by its common usage. Scripturally, it is not an adjective used to describe anything ever, so there really never can be “Christian” homes, “Christian” schools, “Christian” nations, “Christian” businesses, or “Christian” books. Correctly employed, the word is a noun, specifically a person. As used in God’s word, it is a far narrower word than most would prefer to think.
A. Acts 11:26; 26:28
According to its application in these verses, a “Christian” is a disciple, one who has been “persuade[d]”. Given that the word is derived from the name “Christ” it necessarily follows that a Christian is a disciple of Christ, one persuaded to follow Jesus.
B. Matthew 28:19-20
The Master commanded that those who are His “disciples” be “baptized”.
C. Galatians 3:27
Baptism is the means whereby one gets “into Christ” and has “put on Christ”.
D. Matthew 7:21-27
Not everyone who calls Jesus “Lord” is accepted by Him. It takes more!
By Bryan Matthew Dockens
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