God’s Simple Lists: Personal Influences

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:25, ESV).

As fallen human beings we do not have to work hard to make things complicated. The definition of the word “simple” is a case in point. According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, this one, “simple” word has a total of six definitions. For the purpose of this blog post, I would like to call your attention to two of them, namely: “plain and uncomplicated in form, nature, or design” and “of very low intelligence”.

I am an engineer by profession, and in my field, these two definitions are, in practice, opposites. Designing something, which is “plain and uncomplicated in form, nature or design”, requires a high level of intelligence, and, for a human being, a lot of careful thought, planning and execution.

In engineering design, simplicity is the ultimate goal. A successful design is one in which every part has its function and nothing is wasted in material, form, movement or functionality.

This kind of simplicity is not only the gold standard in the engineering of physical projects; it is also a standard by which we may measure concepts and ideas. To explain a concept accurately, completely, and yet with an economy of words is quite a challenge—one that, like its counterpart in the physical world of engineering, requires a high level of intelligence. And it is with this standard in mind that I would like you to consider with me the unparalleled simplicity of God’s Word, the Bible.

It is commonplace for us to hear people dismiss the Bible as simplistic. However, nothing could be further from the truth. I will show you what I mean. I would like you to consider all the personal influences in someone’s life. Your mind is probably bouncing back and forth between dozens of ideas, right?

I suspect that if we were all to add our lists together we would come up with hundreds of distinct items and, even with so many items, our lists would still be incomplete—definitely not “simple”, according to our first definition.

Now let’s look at God’s list of influences in a person’s life. God’s list has only four items, and unlike our attempts to catalog our own influences, it is perfectly complete. It is as follows:

  1. The World: The fallen system of wrong ideas, values and beliefs that draws us away from God and His Kingdom. The world infiltrates the church (sometimes in ways which are imperceptible to the inattentive). Popular culture and the pressure to conform to it would be one of the obvious presentations of the world system.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (John 15:18–19, ESV).

  1. The Flesh: Our fallen nature, which we all inherited through Adam’s disobedience. Our flesh gives us the wrong idea of good and evil and a wrong perception that man is God. It draws us toward everything the world presents and against God and His will. It presents itself in our evil desires and actions.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19–21, ESV).

  1. Satan and His Demons: Satan is the ruler of the world system. Satan and the demons are fallen angels that can present themselves as angels of light to deceive people and encourage their rebellion against God—much like Satan did with Eve in the Garden. They aren’t afraid to employ God’s Word, but they twist it, to lead people into disobedience against God and the truth He has revealed to us in the Bible.

31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out (John 12:31, ESV).

  1. God: Creator of all things. God controls everything and influences everyone with what we call common grace by which He restrains evil in the world. For all who truly accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, God specifically reveals Himself in the Scriptures through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13, ESV).

Amazing, isn’t it? Four items: The World, The Flesh, Satan and demons, and God. Simple, according to our first definition—the kind only an incredibly intelligent mind can produce.

I marvel at the wisdom of the Lord when He explains life to us in such a simple manner. And this is just one example.

The Bible contains many of these amazing lists—lists that are so short but at the same time totally complete: no waste, no flaw, nothing overlooked, and nothing unforeseen. God’s Word was true for ancient men, it is true for men in the present, and it will be true for men in the future.

Clearly the Bible’s simplicity is not the product of an author “of very low intelligence”, but comes to us from the infinitely intelligent mind of God Himself.

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12–13, ESV).

So in answer to our question, “Is the Bible too simple for the modern man?”, we respond with a resounding,  “No, it is not! Not at all.” For in truth: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV).

My challenge to you is to identify the daily influences in your life in order to evaluate where they come from. Hopefully, you will identify the bad influences and follow the only one that is good—the one that comes from our Creator through His word and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Glory of God changes everything


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