TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

II. What Not to Do

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Chapter 22  Part II

What Not to Do

To live a life of faith, we should ensure that we do not lack faith in God. As such we need to avoid things which hinder faith in God. Notably we should avoid doubt, fear, worry and trusting in other things. Some verses which encourage believers not to be afraid and not to worry are amongst the best-loved verses in the Bible.

Do Not Lack Faith

Do not be lacking in faith . . .

Mark 4:37-40  Now a great windstorm developed and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was nearly swamped. 38But he [Jesus] was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. They [his disciples] woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die?” 39So he got up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Be quiet! Calm down!” Then the wind stopped, and it was dead calm. 40And he said to them, “Why are you cowardly? Do you still not have faith?”  NET

. . . Do not doubt

Matt 14:31  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him [Peter], saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  NET

James 1:6  [James, speaking of one asking God for something:] But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind.  NET

The “wave” imagery depicts weak, unstable faith – wavering between belief of sorts (as shown in asking) and unbelief (as shown in doubting).

Do not test or question God

Ps 78:18-22  They [the Israelites] tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. 19They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness? 20He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?” 21Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, 22because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power.  ESV

We should not speak against God, doubting and questioning such things as his wisdom, his power and his commitment to us. In doing so we in a sense “test” God (v. 18) and display a lack of belief and trust (i.e. faith) in him (v. 22).

Lack of faith is associated with not obeying God

Deut 9:23  [Moses, to the Israelites:] And when he sent you from Kadesh–Barnea and told you, “Go up and possess the land I have given you,” you rebelled against the Lord your God and would neither believe nor obey him.  NET

Ps 106:24-25  They [the Israelites] rejected the fruitful land; they did not believe his promise. 25They grumbled in their tents; they did not obey the Lord.  NET

Lack of faith can have other detrimental effects

Matt 17:19-20a  Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it [a demon] out?” 20He said to them, “Because of your little faith.  ESV

Isa 7:9  [God, to Ahaz:] Ephraim’s leader is Samaria, and Samaria’s leader is the son of Remaliah. If your faith does not remain firm, then you will not remain secure.  NET

Here God warns Ahaz, the king of Judah, that if he did not firmly have faith in God’s promises (cf. vv. 7-8) regarding a threatened invasion (cf. vv. 5-6) failing to eventuate, he would “not last” (NASB; cf. AMP, CEV, NCV, NKJV).

Lack of faith can even bring God’s punishment

Jude 1:5  Don’t forget what happened to those people that the Lord rescued from Egypt. Some of them did not have faith, and he later destroyed them.  CEV

 Questions for Section A

Do Not Be Afraid (I): Instructions

To limit the number of duplicated verses, the references in this and the following section have been grouped according to what was considered to be the most prominent point in each one. Many also have points that qualify them for one or more of the other subsections as well.

Do not be afraid or discouraged

Deut 1:21  [Moses, to the Israelites:] Look, he [God] has placed the land in front of you! Go up, take possession of it, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, said to do. Do not be afraid or discouraged!  NET

Do not be afraid – have faith in God, trusting in him

Acts 27:23-25  [Paul, to others with him on a boat in a severe storm:] For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve came to me 24and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul! You must stand before Caesar, and God has graciously granted you the safety of all who are sailing with you.’ 25Therefore keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be just as I have been told.  NET

Ps 56:3-4  [David, to God:] When I am afraid, I trust in you. 4In God – I boast in his promise – in God I trust, I am not afraid. What can mere men do to me?  NET

John 14:1  Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me.  NCV™

Do not be afraid – be confident

Ps 27:3  [David:] Even when an army is deployed against me, I do not fear. Even when war is imminent, I remain confident.  NET

Do not be afraid – be strong and courageous . . .

Josh 1:6-7, 9, 18b  [God, to Joshua:] “Be strong and courageous, because you’ll be leading this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. 7Only be strong and very courageous to ensure that you obey all the instructions that my servant Moses gave you—turn neither to the right nor to the left from it—so that you may succeed wherever you go. … 9“I’ve commanded you, haven’t I? Be strong and courageous. Don’t be fearful or discouraged, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” … 18Only be strong and courageous.”  ISV

. . . Look to God for your strength

1Sam 30:6  David was very upset, for the men were thinking of stoning him; each man grieved bitterly over his sons and daughters. But David drew strength from the Lord his God.  NET

Eph 6:10-11  [Paul, to believers:] Finally, be strengthened in the Lord [Christ] and in the strength of his power. 11Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  NET

Do not even be afraid of death

Rev 2:10  [Jesus Christ:] Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. The devil is about to have some of you thrown into prison so you may be tested, and you will experience suffering for ten days. Remain faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown that is life itself.  NET

 Questions for Section B

Do Not Be Afraid (II): Reasons

God is far more powerful than our enemies

2Chr 32:7-8  [King Hezekiah, to his army:] “Be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic because of the king of Assyria and this huge army that is with him! We have with us one who is stronger than those who are with him. 8He has with him mere human strength, but the Lord our God is with us to help us and fight our battles!” The army was encouraged by the words of King Hezekiah of Judah.  NET

God is always with his people

Deut 31:6, 8  [Moses, to the Israelites:] Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them, for the Lord your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you!”8The Lord is indeed going before you – he will be with you; he will not fail you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged!  NET

God helps his people

Ps 46:1-3  God is our strong refuge; he is truly our helper in times of trouble. 2For this reason we do not fear when the earth shakes, and the mountains tumble into the depths of the sea, 3when its waves crash and foam, and the mountains shake before the surging sea. (Selah)  NET

Heb 13:6  So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”  NET

God saves his people

Jer 46:27  [God:] You descendants of Jacob, my servants, do not be afraid; do not be terrified, people of Israel. For I will rescue you and your descendants from the faraway lands where you are captives. The descendants of Jacob will return to their land and enjoy peace. They will be secure and no one will terrify them.  NET

God is a refuge for his people, protecting them

Ps 91:4-7  He [God] will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 5You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.  ESV

Verse 4a likens God’s protection of his people to that of a bird protecting its young. The term “pinions” means the outer part of a bird’s wing. A “buckler” (v. 4b) is a type of shield.

God’s promised blessings

Zec 8:15  [God, the people of Judah:] But now I am planning to bless the people of Jerusalem and Judah. So don’t be afraid.  GNT

Luke 12:32  [Jesus, to his disciples:] Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom.  NET

Although they appeared vulnerable like a “little flock”, the disciples were to inherit the kingdom, with the associated authority. As this was their destiny, there was no need to be afraid of what might be encountered in the meantime.

Further reasons

Luke 12:6-7  [Jesus, to his disciples:] Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. 7In fact, even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows.  NET

Isa 43:1-5  But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. 4Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. 5Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.  ESV

There are a number of reasons given here as to why the people should not fear, including some given in the preceding subsections. Further reasons given here are: God has redeemed his people and they are his (vv. 1, 4b); they are precious and honored in his sight (v. 4a); and he loves them (v. 4a).

Note: Being afraid has grave consequences

Prov 29:25  The fear of people becomes a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be set on high.  NET

Jer 1:17  [God:] But you, Jeremiah, get yourself ready! Go and tell these people everything I instruct you to say. Do not be terrified of them, or I will give you good reason to be terrified of them.  NET

 Questions for Section C

Do Not Worry

Do not worry – trust God with your concerns . . .

Phil 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. 7And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  NET

1Pet 5:7  Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you.  NCV™

. . . Ask God to provide for your physical needs

Luke 11:2b-3  [Jesus, to his disciples:] When you pray, say: Father, may your name be honored; may your kingdom come. 3Give us each day our daily bread, …  NET

Do not worry about the cares of this life for God will provide

Matt 6:25-34  [Jesus:] Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? 26Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? 27And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life? 28Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! 30And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little faith? 31So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.  NET

Note that v. 33 indicates that rather than worrying about the cares of this life, we should focus instead on things of God

The futility and dangers of worrying about the cares of this life

Luke 12:25-26  And which of you by worrying can add an hour to his life? 26So if you cannot do such a very little thing as this, why do you worry about the rest?  NET

Matt 13:22  [Jesus, explaining the meaning of a parable:] The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they start worrying about the needs of this life and are fooled by the desire to get rich. So the message gets choked out, and they never produce anything.  CEV

Being worried and preoccupied with the cares of this life can “crowd out” the place of God’s word and his kingdom in our lives, choking our spiritual lives.

 Questions for Section D

Do Not Trust in Other Things

Note that many of the verses or passages in this section not only say to not trust in other things, but also contrast the outcomes of trusting in other things with the outcomes of trusting in God.

Do not trust in other people, but rather trust in God . . .

Jer 17:5-6  The Lord says, “I will put a curse on people who trust in mere human beings, who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength, and whose hearts have turned away from the Lord. 6They will be like a shrub in the desert. They will not experience good things even when they happen. It will be as though they were growing in the desert, in a salt land where no one can live.  NET

Ps 118:8-9  It is better to take shelter in the Lord than to trust in people. 9It is better to take shelter in the Lord than to trust in princes.  NET

. . . People are not worth trusting in

Ps 146:3-4  Don’t put your trust in human leaders; no human being can save you. 4When they die, they return to the dust; on that day all their plans come to an end.  GNT

Do not trust in yourself

Prov 28:26  The one who trusts in himself is stupid, but the one who lives wisely will be kept safe.  ISV

Prov 3:5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.  NET

Do not trust in riches

Prov 11:28  The one who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.  NET

Do not trust in worldly power

Isa 31:1  [Isaiah, to his people:] Those who go down to Egypt for help are as good as dead, those who rely on war horses, and trust in Egypt’s many chariots and in their many, many horsemen. But they do not rely on the Holy One of Israel and do not seek help from the Lord.  NET

Do not trust in wickedness

Isa 47:10-11  [God, to the Babylonians:] For you have trusted in your wickedness; You have said, ‘No one sees me’; Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you; And you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’ 11Therefore evil shall come upon you; You shall not know from where it arises. And trouble shall fall upon you; You will not be able to put it off. And desolation shall come upon you suddenly, Which you shall not know.  NKJV

 Questions for Section E

Pray for persecuted Christians