Games People Play With God
by Jerry Vinson
December 13, 2000
People, myself included, have a fascination with sports and games. I must admit that my interest has faded over the past two decades, but I still enjoy watching and participating in various sports and games. Sports and games are enjoyable, but my life could go on just as well without them. There really are more important things in life. Kept in their proper place, games can be fun and harmless. There is a danger, however, when people start playing spiritual games with God. Consider a few popular games that people are playing.
"Balderdash" is a board game that I enjoy playing. The object is to define a selected word if you know its meaning. If you don't know the definition, you make one up in hope that others will choose your redefined meaning.
The apostle Peter commanded, "If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11). Based upon this Scripture, I have heard numerous faithful preachers, past and present, exhort people to "Call Bible things by Bible names!" - that is, to "speak as the oracles of God." I exhort people today to do the same.
Many do not follow this sound principle given by Peter so long ago. Bible words are often redefined, resulting in inaccurate biblical concepts and teaching that is contrary to God's revealed word. Men are playing spiritual "Balderdash" with God's word.
"Baptize" means to "immerse, plunge, submerge, or dip." Consult any reputable Greek lexicon or dictionary to verify this. Baptism involves going into water, being buried in the water, and coming up out of the water (Acts 8:38-39; Romans 6:3-4). Today, some use the word "baptize" to mean sprinkling or pouring water on a person. This is not biblical - it's spiritual "Balderdash."
"Church" refers to the body of saved people whom the Lord has "called out" of sin. We read, "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). The church of Jesus Christ is composed of every saved Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:1-22). Today, many people refer to a physical building or to worship itself as "church" - "That building is the _______ church." Or, "I'm going to church." Others use the word as an adjective to describe a home - "I'm looking for a church home." This is not biblical - it's spiritual "Balderdash."
"Fellowship" is a spiritual union and partnership that exists between God and His people as they work together towards common spiritual goals. Those who embrace and follow the apostolic doctrine have "fellowship with us (the apostles, JDV); and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3). Today, most people refer to eating, visiting, and social events as "fellowship." Religious groups often advertise worship / praise services followed by "fellowship" (eating / recreation) in their "fellowship" hall (eating / recreational facility). This isn't biblical - it's spiritual "Balderdash."
Also, it is becoming more common to hear the term "fellowship" used synonymously with the term "church." For example, a Baptist church in my community is called "New Hope Fellowship - A Fellowship of Faith." Another church in my community calls itself "Trinity Fellowship." And then there is the newest church - "Grace Through Faith Fellowship." This is not biblical - it's spiritual "Balderdash."
Sinners who believe on Jesus Christ are commanded to "repent and be baptized...for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). Once saved, these are added to Christ's "church," or body (Acts 2:47; Eph 1:22-23). They are then spiritually united in "fellowship" with God and His people (1 John 1:3). This is biblical - not "Balderdash."
"Adultery" is another word that should be understood. "Adultery" is a sexual sin. It is committed when a person, male or female, who has been bound by law in reference to a husband or wife, engages in sexual intercourse with one other than that spouse to whom God has joined them.
Some have redefined "adultery" to mean "the act of divorcing and marrying another." According to that line of reasoning, the man who looks upon a woman to lust after her must be thinking about divorcing his wife and marrying the woman for whom he is lusting (Matthew 5:28). And Peter must be referring to men who have eyes full of divorcing their wives and marrying another, that cannot cease from sin (2 Peter 2:14). And the Pharisees apparently caught a woman in the very act of divorcing her husband and marrying another man (John 8:3-4). "Adultery" is not the act of divorcing and marrying another - that is spiritual "Balderdash."
In the book of Hosea, Gomer, the wife of Hosea, turned out to be an adulteress while they were married. I seriously doubt that anyone believes she was "divorcing and marrying another" while she and Hosea were married. Following her persistent adultery, Hosea put her away, divorced her. We read, "Bring charges against your mother, bring charges; for she is not my wife, nor am I her husband. Let her put away her harlotries from her sight and her adulteries from between her breasts" (Hosea 2:1). Observe that Gomer's "adulteries" took place "between her breasts." "Adultery" is clearly a sexual sin.
"Adultery" can also continue to be committed after the "adulteress" has been put away. Hosea 2:1 states, in regard to Hosea and Gomer, "she is not my wife, nor am I her husband." In Hosea 3:1, Hosea is told by the Lord, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery..." Observe, "She is not my wife," (2:1) and she "is committing adultery" (3:1). "Adultery" is a sexual sin that can take place after the adulteress has been put away from her husband and before she marries another man. "Adultery" is clearly a sexual sin. This is biblical - not "Balderdash."
The Psalmist wrote, "One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord..." (Psalm 27:4). He understood the importance of pursuing the one thing that really mattered. Everyone needs to give up the bad things for the good things. Every Christian needs to give up the good things for the important things that really matter.
"Trivial Pursuit" was a popular game a few years ago. Contestants tested their knowledge of trivial facts in several categories. It's a fun game to play occasionally. Today, I see people playing spiritual versions of "Trivial Pursuit" with God.
Jesus mentioned those who were caught up in the game of "Trivial Pursuit" (Matthew 6:24-34). These were consumed by worry over the necessities of life. Consequently, they pursued these things, never developing a confiding trust in God to provide. They were as those are today who rarely, if ever, have time for God in their life - certainly no time to pursue things that build trust in Him. They're too busy working long hours, overtime, or second and third jobs, in pursuit of trivial things in comparison to the "one thing" that is most important.
Jesus taught His disciples that God's reign in their life, and their pursuit of His righteousness, was the most important thing. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). "Seek first!" - to do otherwise is to play "Trivial Pursuit."
King Solomon played the game of "Trivial Pursuit" (Ecclesiastes 1 - 12). He conducted a practical experiment to find purpose, meaning, and happiness in this life by doing what most people do. He pursued purpose, meaning, and happiness in life through knowledge, possessions, wealth, luxury, and pleasure. The end result was always the same - "all is vanity and striving after the wind" (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
Solomon's life was empty, incomplete, and frustrated. Something was missing that could not be filled by pursuing any of those things. His conclusion was, "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). "Duty" is not in the original language of this scripture. This scripture is emphasizing that the "whole," the "completeness," of a man is found in honoring and obeying God. To do otherwise is to play "Trivial Pursuit."
Friend, what is the "one thing" that you desire and seek? Are you playing the game of "Trivial Pursuit," or are you pursuing the "one thing" that will lead to eternal happiness in "the house of the Lord?"
Joshua understood the necessity of being sincere and faithful in one's worship and service to God. He said, "Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth..." (Joshua 24:14). Jesus said as much when He declared, "...those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:25).
"Charades" is probably a familiar game to you. Players take their turns acting out a part, pretending to be something or someone that they are not. In the Bible, we read about those who play "Charades" with God. Their scriptural name is "hypocrite," a Greek word that means "one who plays a part." It originally referred to play actors in the theater. Jesus' sternest rebukes were spoken to and against religious "play actors" (Matthew 23:13-36).
In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus warned his disciples not to be like the hypocrites - the religious pretenders. These play actors played the game of "Charades" in three areas: benevolence, prayer, and fasting. Their true motive indicated that they were not sincere in their love for the poor, their adoration and dependence upon God, or their religious piety and devotion. They were playing the part - playing a game of "Charades." You see, one's motive is just as essential to pleasing God as is one's manner of life.
Paul wrote of some religious teachers who played "Charades" with God in the area of morality (Romans 2:21-24). While these correctly taught "Do not steal," "Do not commit adultery," etc., they practiced the very things they condemned. These were hypocrites, pretenders, play actors who were playing a fatal game of "Charades" with God. Because of their hypocrisy, "the name of God (was) blasphemed among the Gentiles," rather than glorified and praised.
There are many people who profess to be Christians, who "worship" regularly, yet live immoral, unethical, and inconsistent lives - just playing a game of "Charades." The world (and God) has no appreciation for religious "play actors" or for the worldly churches who tolerate them - and rightly so! Friend, being a Christian is serious business - not a game of "Charades!"
The Psalmist wrote, "The earth is the Lord's, and all it's fullness, the world and those who dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1). God alone has complete ownership of this world and all of its goods - ownership of heaven, earth, and everything in between. "Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool" (Isaiah 66:1).
"Monopoly" is a popular board game that people enjoy playing. Players try to buy up various properties, utilities, etc. to have a monopoly on them. People today play spiritual "Monopoly" with God.
Jesus warned, "Beware of covetousness. For a man's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15). Covetousness manifests itself in many different ways. Most people assume that covetousness is the desire for what another has. That is only one form of covetousness. It is also a greedy desire for more of what one already has, as Luke 12:15-21 plainly shows. Those Scriptures contain the parable of the rich farmer, a.k.a, the six "I" fool.
There once was a wealthy Texas rancher who owned land in several states. His goal was to connect his properties and have a single ranch that extended from Texas to Wyoming. He died before his goal was accomplished. He failed to realize that his life did not consist in the abundance of the land which he possessed. He played "Monopoly" with God - and he lost!
Paul taught, "But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Timothy 6:9-10). "Greediness," in this Scripture, is the idea of pursuing something with arms outstretched. In this text it is describing the constant, deliberate pursuit of riches - another manifestation of covetousness.
One wealthy billionaire, an oil man, was asked, "How much money is enough?" He replied, "Just a little more." Most people are like him. They're convinced that "just a little more" will solve their financial troubles or secure their financial future. Theirs is not a problem of "not enough" - it is a problem of covetousness, a malady that is rooted in not being "content with such things as you have" (Hebrews 13:5). The oil man is dead now. His money is useless to him. He failed to realize that one should not "trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17). The oil man played "Monopoly" with God - and he lost!
Friend, what is your life? Is yours a life of discipleship and service, or of fun and games? Is yours a life of spiritual devotion, or of worldly ambition? Is yours a life of whole-hearted commitment, or of half-hearted concern? Are you truly taking your spiritual life seriously, or are you just playing games with God?
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