What is the Real Meaning of the Verse, “Wise as a Serpent and Harmless as a Dove?”

by | Jan 27, 2014 | Encouraging, Instructing, Winning | 72 comments

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

What did Jesus mean when He told His 12 disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves as he sent them forth on the Great Commission?

Sounds like quite the balancing act doesn’t it? 

A serpent is wise, with keen eyesight and is quick to learn. A dove is innocent, meek and gentle.

When the Holy Spirit appeared, it would do so in the form of a dove.

Jesus saw a necessity in this balancing act because, as He put it, he was sending them out “like sheep among wolves.”

Lose this balance, and you will be devoured by the world.

That metaphor rings just as true today.

How do you witness without offending? How do you tell the unsaved about the Glory of Christ without being confrontational?

That balancing act is attainable if God is in charge, much the same way Isaiah 11:6 is attainable because God can do anything.

     “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.”

As Christians, we are all “sent out,” in one form or another, to spread the Gospel, be it at work, at play, talking to neighbors and strangers, or actively engaged in evangelism.

We are all God’s ambassadors. Yes, we are Not of This World, but we have to live in it, thus the need to be balanced in our witness.

As such, we should speak diplomatically – yet with conviction — when talking to others about Jesus.

What About Phil Robertson?

As I think about Matthew 10:16, I recall the recent furor caused when Phil Robertson, the small-town Louisiana patriarch of the nationally televised A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty,” gave an interview lashing out at the homosexual community. 

Robertson may have been wise in the understanding of the Bible, but in my opinion, not harmless as a dove in the way he approached the subject.

Does that mean Christians can’t criticize or give an opinion or warn others of an issue they feel is wrong? Not at all.

But if one compares “angrily speaking out” against the backdrop of Jesus’ love, one would be careful how they championed God’s balm of salvation.

After all, Christianity is in the cross-hairs of Satan and he is the prince of this world.

This is not a condemnation of what the “Duck Dynasty” star said, only how it looked in the context of being “wise as serpents, gentle as doves.”

Was Robertson wise? He did reference God’s word in the Bible in Leviticus 18:22: (“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”)

Was he harmless as a dove?

Well… in the public relations world of speaking your mind, No — especially when you are a national figure and there are groups and media watching you, ready to pounce on you as a Christian and your godly beliefs and brand you as “bigoted” and “intolerant.”

This is exactly what happened to the “Duck Dynasty” star. An uproar ensued over his comments.

While many rallied to his side, the damage was done.

A&E momentarily suspended Phil, a major advertiser temporarily pulled its ads in knee-jerk reaction, and once more “Christians” as a whole were seen as intolerant and bigoted.

But that’s what happens when you are “harmless like a sledgehammer.”

What About Westboro Baptist?

The same holds true with the misguided folks from Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, whose vitriolic anti-homosexual rants have included picketing military funerals and painting Christianity with the brush of extreme ideological intolerance.

Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas City misrepresents Christianity and the heart of God regularly

Recently, while a Westboro contingent was in Hollywood to picket the Golden Globe awards, they took time to picket in front of El Segundo High School.

The group holds up hate signs that read: “Thank God for AIDS,” “God Hates Fag Enablers,” “Death Penalty for Fags” and “Thank God for IEDs (improvised explosive devices).

Is this a good Christian witness? No way!

Is this being harmless as doves? No.

Do you think that people who see Westboro as a representation of “godly Christian love” would ever want to hear about Jesus? No.

Christians are not to be lukewarm in their zeal for Christ, but neither are they to be loud, brash and in-your-face repugnant.

The great majority of Christians are not in the mainstream media spotlight, but they are in God’s spotlight.

How to Handle Confrontations That Are Against Your Christian Beliefs

If a Jehovah’s Witness comes to your door, do you rip up their Watchtower magazine and tell them they are going to Hell, or do you gently point out that God’s word says you can’t earn your salvation and show them these two verses?

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

If a Mormon comes to your door, do you launch into a rant about how the religion took root in the 1820s when a young Joseph Smith of New York said an angel named Moroni visited him and led him to some buried plates that were translated into the Book of Mormon?

Or are you gentle as a dove in pointing out that Mormonism contradicts the Bible in major ways?

Mormons have questionable doctrines when it comes to “Christianity,” believing in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon as the “words” of God.

That in itself fails to heed the warning of Deuteronomy 4:2:

     “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.”

Mormons believe God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three separate gods, in direct contradiction that there is only one God (the trinity). 1 John 5:7 tells us:

     “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy   Spirit; and these three are one.”

What about Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus?

Do we scoff and snicker at them for their belief systems?

Or are we wise as serpents and harmless as doves if and when we witness to them? Ask yourself, how would Jesus talk to them?

Jesus’ command is marvelous in its simplicity: Be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.

And when you are confronted by doubters and false doctrines about Jesus, keep Romans 10:13 close to heart:

    “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord (Jesus) will be saved.”

It is truly one of the wisest statements you will ever read … and one of the gentlest arguments you can ever make.

72 Comments

  1. Collie Coburn

    Finding that balance is an ongoing process. Keep loving God, and loving others.

  2. Peter Guirguis

    I agree with you Collie, I think that’s the basic gist of it 🙂

  3. Hopper

    Thanks for the WISE Blog Ani, How the Jehovah’s witness has it backward. As believers witness about Jehovah and how I have seen some Mormons at CCSB to hear the true gospel. Just as when team Samoa shared the gospel to an seventhday advetist received Jesus Christ, A now sister in the LORD Tusi. So as the Holy Spirit helps the family of God to share Rmoans 10:13. So may our chrildren come to Jesus sharing and living the gospel as in Matthew 10:16. Looking forward to next week Blog, thanks again for Gods encouraging word.

  4. Peter Guirguis

    That’s awesome Walter, our God is always at work 🙂

  5. Pastor Tim

    I know there is extremism at times and that is evident. That is shameful for Christians, but on the other hand the WORD (Truth) must be preached. I do think sometimes Brethren are too graphic in what they say, and there are the extremist that come off as haters, and I wonder about their walk. We are called to love. but true love that is God’s Love, warns! We quote John 3:16 but overlook quoting the following verses through verse 21…

    and here in

    Acts 4: Peter and John Before the Council
    1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them,2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

    We see persecution for teaching and preaching the Word. There is a balance, yet many times that balance is found in The moment and under the Unction of The Holy Spirit. These things we must pray and hold fast to The Lord in His leading!

    The article makes good points, and clear points. Very thought provoking…Yet the bottom line is being able to love God’s way and that means preaching, teaching, warning out of His Love! Some are not as articulate as others, as I am sure was probably even with the Disciples… Yet let us humbly keep each other in prayer on these matters so that we all aim to walk in The Spirit, and do His will accordingly. Thank You for posting!

  6. Peter Guirguis

    Wow, what tremendous insight Pastor Tim! We do agree with your bottom line, that we are called to love others God’s way. Your comment is extremely valuable to the Calvary Chapel South Bay blog community and we’re sure that it will be helpful to many who continue to read this blog post.

    May God bless you in all that you do Pastor Tim 🙂

  7. Margaret Nahmias

    Be discerning and gentle

  8. John Chase

    Balance is important, but we will offend people at times. The name of Jesus is offensive to some, but do we not say the name and avoid offence? I will speak the truth in love, and if people get up and leave I will continue to pray for them and show love.

  9. Peter Guirguis

    Amen to that John, that’s a great attitude 🙂

  10. Larry New

    My problem with your observations is that Jesus offended people whether you realize it or not,and many had high standing in the religious world of that day.Was He,or was He not crucified by those same people?Witnessing to people is one thing. Discernment is another.Tossing money changers tables over and using a whip to run them out of the temple isn’t a very gentle approach. There are a few flaws in your article and attacking Phil Robertson is one of them.We are to work out our own salvation,not attack others.

  11. Thomas Robert Lacovara-Stewart

    To be wise as a serpent is to know well the word….. however, I must diagree with the idea that Phil Robertson was not as gentle as a dove……no one was in fact injured at all…..not even close….. and Jesus never said the dove does not poop and poop hitting your windshield wouldn’t “tick you off” …….there are always ways to look at it I suppose.

  12. Thomas Robert Lacovara-Stewart

    Your comment had the most insight I have seen as a real and true practicing Christian – the Christianity of the old days of before the UNIVERSAL PRODUCT of CONTROL called “The Church”. Which was derived from a blasphemy, as all are to a real Christian that did not reject what Jesus rejected and accept what He told us. Those that do NOT believe ON the Lord Jesus Christ are of the anti-Christ. This would mean Muslims, Jews , regardless……Jesus’ words – there is neither Greek nor Jew, Bondsman or servant, man nor woman , all are ONE in Him. We are being deceived By EVERY ORGANIZED RELIGION in SOME WAY SHAPE or FORM……..the ONLY REAL and TRUE relationship with G-d, removes the need of men who interpret…..BEWARE of the SCRIBES ! Jesus said that these men made His Father’s law ILL & of NO EFFECT. He gave us so much information and some people just cherry pick and nations are smitten and people subjugated as a result of these interpretations…..and mostly everyone is full on believing GARBAGE……and it is OUR JOB to stand up and SPEAK OUT when we see this heresy. IF…….you are a Christian, then your Lord Jesus Christ teaches that the Spiritual SEED of Abraham is those who believe in Christ. PERIOD. This means that the Israel of the Socialist Militarized State IS NOT the Biblical representation of the TRIBES and therefore can not stand in unison while denying Christ. Sorry to bust all of your bubbles on that one. But KNOW THE TRUTH – AND IT SHALL SET YOU FREE – what that means is also what is NOT said, which is…….”Know It NOT, and You will be enslaved to it”. If I am correct, we are a slave of death and lies, the sons of the liar from the beginning……. this is what Christ said…..there is ONLY ONE WAY – it is that simple……and I can with a complicated or simple argument decimate anyone else’s argument using ONLY SCRIPTURE not added commentary on the subject. IF you are truly a Christian…..this is the doctrine Christ taught. To say any other thing and not support it with His words is heresy.

  13. Julie

    Unfortunately, the world isn’t going to like God’s message no matter how you package it. While I agree that we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), I don’t believe Phil Robertson’s delivery contradicted God’s standard in any way. He is one of the FEW public figures willing to stand for God and address, from a biblical perspective, sin. Those who don’t like the message will always attack the messenger. Why are we so quick to run to the defense of the so called offended, and throw those ministers willing to go into rough waters under a bus because they are as expected, vilified by the world who says, “How dare he/she tell me what their God says about my lifestyle. My God is loving and wouldn’t punish people for exercising their personal autonomy.” Phil Robertson GETS IT. So many people are believing the lie that God is all loving and that we as Christians can live by our own terms as long as we’re sharing the love. It’s almost like the world has been taken over by a bunch of hippies, some of which are in the pulpit. Shout out to Phil Robertson and any other brother or sister in Christ that sees the urgency of sharing God’s truth and has the backbone to do it! Charles Stanley always says obey God and leave the consequences to Him. May we all uncompromisingly and unapologetically be Ezekial’s for Christ.

  14. Lynne

    If you were a believing Christian and loved the Lord, but as a young person going through puberty your strong sexual attraction was to your own sex, how would you handle it? Or if your much-loved son or daughter realized he or she was attracted to his or her own sex, how would you react? For us heterosexuals, when did we choose to be heterosexual? We didn’t, it just happened as we went through our teen years, and it’s the same with homosexuals. We are what we are, and The Lord does not make junk.

    We as Christians are instructed to flee from sexual immorality (1Cor. 6:18). In the same letter however, Paul tells the believers that it’s not his business to judge those outside the church, as God will judge them (1Cor.5: 12,13). It’s not our place as Christians to judge the world; we’re responsible for our own actions and those actions are a large part of our witness for Christ. If the world can’t see Christ in our behavior it won’t respond well to anything we say.

    It all comes down to the two greatest commandments – to love God and also love our neighbor as ourselves. So to repeat the questions in the first paragraph, if you were confronted with one of those situations in your own life, how would you want to be treated?

  15. Lynne

    When it’s done with a hateful or judgemental spirit (Romans 14:13) and therefore causes your brother to stumble.

  16. Josh

    I don’t agree with your condemnation about Phil Robertson. I think Phil spoke plainly and was not yelling or demeaning people. If that is too harsh? Then I don’t know what to say, we may as well ban ourselves from talking about the issue altogether. Which virtually many have done. And what is the result? The homosexual agenda has advanced. A lot. Now over half the country supports it. When 20 years ago probably not even 10% would support it. Why ? Maybe it’s because people are not speaking out against it. Maybe other would be Phil Robertsons are afraid of being tarred and feathered in the public arena.
    I think that has something to do with it. And when you as a commentator also condemn Phil Robertson for his statements, I don’t see how that helps other people stand up and speak out about this issue.
    I agree with what you said about the Westboro Baptist’s. They are abrasive and that is not speaking with “gentleness and respect” that the bible says we should.
    But to me, you are being way too politically correct about Phil Robertson, I don’t agree with the line you have drawn. I don’t know how anyone could speak about this issue up to your standards. And I think THAT is problematic. And you didn’t even give an example of how one SHOULD speak about homosexuality.

  17. Thomas Robert Lacovara-Stewart

    That is absurd to say that I am quoting scripture too “graphically” because you think I may be mean spirited ? You do not even know me…..how on Gods green Earth could you make such a judgement ?

  18. Lynne

    You asked a generic question and I gave a generic answer. It wasn’t directed at you personally.

  19. Thomas Robert Lacovara-Stewart

    Was it too “graphic” or generic…….two totally different descriptions for what I said now….and now you have me wondering …….HUH? Could I have been graphically generic ? lol……have a good day…..! ; ) Smile…..and never take things too seriously…… tip of the day to errbodie! lol

  20. Thomas Robert Lacovara-Stewart

    I did not realize my question was classified as such. I think it is more than likely that you find scripture inconvenient to your cause.

  21. Thomas Robert Lacovara-Stewart

    Well under that loose interpretation…..if sharing with someone the truth behind scripture should make them stumble, I do not see how it could possibly the fault of the one sharing the truth. If you mean as to not use in front of a crowd to embarrass I would agree….because that could put someone on the natural defensive and make them feel they had to get even and that would be stumbling……but to spare someone “feelings” in a thread I hardly call “causing to stumble”

  22. Scott

    Excellent analysis!!! As a Christian social worker, this is my vocational life verse. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He came for people like the Samaritan woman. Imagine if he had confronted her about her sin in the same manner as he did the pharisees. That’s the essence of the dichotomy of serpents and doves.

  23. Danny Wright

    I wish you’d quoted what Phil Robertson said so that I could understand your point of his not being wise… IYO.

  24. Julie

    Totally agree with your assessment.

  25. Julie

    My comment makes it look like you commented on your own comment. I think your take on the blog post is exactly my thoughts. Good to know there is someone out there who thinks like I do and we share names. 🙂

  26. Pbarrow2010@gmail.coim

    Help Wanted. Interns and Web Center Owner trainees.
    http://www.patbarrowdesigns.com

    I got a revelation today. Christian talk more then they ever do O/

    Talk talk talk and everyone wants to be right or have the last word.
    What a waste of Holy Spirit time.

  27. Carole

    Preach the gospel always and sometimes used words – St Francis of Assisi

  28. Anonymous

    Be wise as a serpent gentle as a dove was the original subject.

  29. Anonymous

    What does gentle mean in the dictionary?

  30. Anonymous

    Does that mean that we shouldn’t call Catholics the ‘whore of Babylon to their faces’ or is that an allowable exception?

  31. Anonymous

    Lol @ anonymous!

  32. Jorge

    wise as serpents and innocent as dove. Therefore, the word wise means: having judge properly of what is right and true.

    So if someone is preaching we judge what is right and true according to the Word of God. For the gospel of John says,” The helper should come to you to convict sin, concerning righteous, and judgement!

    But as at the same time if someone does not like what you say, is because they know is true and they don’t want to hear it, because they know they are in sin. But, if you see they started to attack; walk away, and be innocent , so they won’t beat the crap of you.

    And is true because I’am trying get my mother save; is been a battle. I told her about God, but she does not believe in Jesus Christ, and “I said,” you need to repent and come to Jesus Christ.; without being angry, but i was bold, she got offensive( and is supposed to) because she is in sin. And she told me to shut up! And i did; so i went out the house with my sister.

    People are going to hate Jesus Christ with a passion. I still pray to the Lord. The end of the age is coming soon.

  33. Cliff

    He was wise as a serpent using scriptural truth. He did not compromise as some of you are doing.

  34. Anonymous

    Right.

  35. Coasty

    I love this Scripture. But I do think that there is room for “John the Baptist types” in this age and every age. I also think of Jesus in the temple when He cleared it. Gentle as a dove? Nope. Different people are called to different things at different times. And with the way the church has become soft and “social” and has allowed this nation and the world to push God out of schools, our lives, our vocabulary, our celebrations, etc. I am thankful for those who speak out harshly. They do have a place.

  36. MaxW

    The way I feel about it is; if you don’t like the way another preaches the gospel, joyfully fill the hole you see left. Cuz you just found an original opportunity for you to share your personal experience with Jesus!!!
    Moreover, Phil Robertson was right. I feel the preaching pendulum has swung too far towards God’s love, and away from the human need for to turn from sin. Very interesting how few times the Bible tells of a nonbeliever hearing every truth they’d need to accept before obtaining true full salvation. I’m sure they heard it before, or will learn it later.
    Thing about only teaching God’s love is, it opens up the door to be a third seed. Jesus says we need to count the cost. If all a person hears is God loves them, once they read about repentance, they may walk away.
    So if you wanna tell people that God loves them just the way they are, yell that truth loud and clear brother! Yet Robertson’s side is just as crucial, so let him tell that too.
    Keep on keeping on!

  37. Landon Moore

    No disrespect meant, but I find your explanation to be trivial and without practical application. I think this really means that we should be aware of the forbidden knowledge of the serpent but not use it. The serpent was the creature that offered forbidden knowledge in the garden of eden. It is the God of the Egyptians, the free masons, most tribal people, all of the hermetic schools, etc. It was the serpent that tempted Jesus in the garden. It is the knowledge of the serpent that we see re-emerging in the new age movement and it is beginning to infect the church. 1 example is the way the NIV Bible changes Jesus from being the cornerstone to the cap stone- see also the Egyptian pyramid, the dollar bill, and the new world order symbols. If you do not know the forbidden knowledge of the hermetic disciplines, you will not realize it when it begins to infect your church and institutions. So I believe the lord is telling us to be aware of it but warning us to not use t to our own ends.

  38. Cherie

    Phil Robertson… “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

  39. Joe Heasley

    I find it disappointing that there are such proud and egoistical individuals promoting their judgmental attitudes on this ‘reply’ forum. As I do not claim this thought as a central thread of my moral Christian certitude, it can not be claimed in retribution that I am a hypocrite. On the other hand, I am angered by what I see as a false piousness of some of the entries and for this there is not going to be a denial of my being a sinner.
    So much for apologies and more to the point. I see where those that believe in a schizophrenic relationship between the serpent and the dove are not only confused in their understanding, but generally take on the role of the very religious folk that Jesus recognized as the spiritually deaf , dumb and blind. These were the individuals that were jealous of their position to judge and condemn in the name of God…but, ironically enough, were, in Jesus’ lights, hypocrites and ‘vipers’.
    Well, as I am far from righteous, or a scholar, to flesh this out further would amount to an exercise where the additional verbiage would dilute whatever worth it held to this point…and little enough that is !
    I do wish to add however, that the impetus of my disappointment lay in the usual; the difference between expectations and the following degree of faulted fruition.
    As has been written; ‘in the beginning’ , there was an interesting and insightful article that I came across while rooting about for another’s view on Matthew 10:16. This of course was the lead article by Ani Maamin (SUPERB),which led into an initial few, excellent views regarding, or at least somewhat connected to the topic I initially investigated.

    Now , the rub. The first few responses sang with spirit and projected or retained a harmony with the author’s presentation of wisdom and humility conjoining as a soulful, instrumental agent, toward a shared unity with the holy spirit in the uncovering of the “Good News” .
    At this point I was inspired. as I had not till that point had this verse ‘live’ within me. Where there had been words within quotation marks, there was now an understanding in my mind’s eye that could be put to the pages of a child’s primer with an illustration that a child would take to heart. The serpent representing an earthly understanding and like it’s dominion, the dove representing the ethereal.
    The reverie was broken easily enough however. Soon I was reading trite and obtuse opinions which were muddled by small ambitions. A challenge of the author’s opinion without a credible argument. Rude attempts at preaching the hard line…etc. ad nauseum. Thankfully these boring elements were interspersed with thoughtful cameos of terse , intelligent moderations.
    Ultimately it proved to be a productive exercise in the nurturance of the printed word, to a living thought. A small piece, but considering the source, not so small a thing at all.

  40. John Erickson

    Phil Robertson was “right” if you happen to believe in the particular brand of nonsense in which he, and apparently you, believe. Meanwhile millions of Christians disagree with you, not to mention believers of every other faith; and the arrogance of their conviction that they’re right, and that you must necessarily be wrong, is only exactly paralleled by yours.

    To any reasonable person looking at all this from the outside, the only conclusion is that you’re all deluded as regards your religious beliefs. You can’t all be right, and practically no two of you agree on all points – and none of you has anything on which to base any of it, other than your religious faith – and therefore your faith and your faith-based opinions are only exactly as good as those of anybody else.

    Believe whatever you want, anyway; just don’t expect anybody else to have to abide by it. This is where Phil Robertson e.g. makes a mistake, not necessarily in terms of “Christianity” (which might mean anything), but in terms of living in a free, open, civil society.

  41. Yoan mojo

    Preaching the good news is an offence to the perishing world.As Christians we should live our faith and not worry about offending others.Can our Christian faith offends the Wolves? Yes,it can.

  42. RamTuffer

    Keep marching Soldiers of Jesus Christ

    John 15:18 King James Bible
    If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

    The Bible then DESCRIBES the characteristics which will mark the generation of Armageddon …

    “But KNOW this,

    that IN THE LAST DAYS

    PERILOUS (savage, fierce) times will come,

    for Men (Mankind … men and women)

    WILL BE

    Lovers of themselves,

    Lovers of money,

    Boasters,

    Proud, (Puffed up…”Nobody is going to tell me what to do!”…”I don’t care what God says!”)

    Blasphemers (mocking God and Jesus),

    Disobedient to parents, (and will not respect authority)

    Unthankful,

    Unholy,

    Unloving,

    Unforgiving,

    Slanderers,

    Without Self-Control,

    Violent (brutal),

    Despisers of good,

    Traitors,

    Headstrong,

    Arrogant (haughty),

    Lovers of Pleasure (“Feeding the lusts of their eyes and their flesh”)

    rather than lovers of God,

    having a FORM of godliness (professing belief … maybe even going to church or synagogue)

    but denying its power … ” (God’s power to help, guide, comfort, heal, and save (from Hell)

    (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

  43. RamTuffer

    And God warns all those who simply “approve of” these things . . .

    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven

    against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men . . .

    For even their women exchanged the natural use

    for what is against nature (lesbianism).

    Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman,

    burning in their lust for one another,

    men with men committing what is shameful (homosexuality) . . .

    that those who practice these things are worthy of death (Hell),

    and not only those who do the same

    but also those who approve of those who practice them!”

    (Romans 1:18, 26, 27, 32)

    (Note: Other offenses were also included which were not listed here.)

    Here, God clearly warns all those who simply “approve of ” these things will be held just as accountable as those who actually do them. This is God’s Word in the Bible. This applies to churches and pastors/ministers/priests/rabbis as well. If you are in a church whose leaders “approve of” or support this activity, remember the Bible warns many churches will turn away from God’s Word and will “depart from the faith” and “will no longer endure sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:1-3, 2 Timothy 4:3-5, Jude 1:3-6).

  44. AniMaamin

    God bless you all, and may He reward you richly in spirit and in truth.

  45. Steve

    We have to remember that we are to preach the cross of Christ. That is where the power of the Holy Spirit lies. Let the cross of Christ be the offense. There is no need to judge. Are we looking get our own views of what the Bible says across to others? If so we are immature in our understanding. This is the root of the 100’s of denominations we see today. Each group separating themselves from the others and using parts of the scriptures to justify themselves. Paul was a very intelligent and well schooled individual, but counted it all as nothing. He determined to know nothing “…but Christ, and Him crucified”. We don’t see it but our religious opinions mainly spring from pride.
    If our true motive is to reach people for Christ, lets return to the simiplicity of the gospel (good news), Christ died for the ungodly.

  46. Simon

    The Word and the Spirit must agree. If you go into battle with the word only it will kill, however if God has anointed you as a prophet the Word although harsh will bring life. Its like any ministry, it can be done in the flesh or the Spirit. the world probably needs a few more anointed prophets , if any are willing to pay the price that is.

  47. Landon

    Loved this reply. Could you expand on what you believe to embody “the church” in Biblical terms? You already offered a definition of sorts. I am looking more for your opinion on the modern incarnation(s) of what it is, and if you believe it even has a solid form, per say.

  48. Dee Blast

    Well said!

  49. Bubba g

    I don’t agree with your condemnation about Phil Robertson. I think Phil spoke plainly and was not yelling or demeaning people. If that is too harsh? Then I don’t know what to say, we may as well ban ourselves from talking about the issue altogether. Which virtually many have done. And what is the result? The homosexual agenda has advanced. A lot. Now over half the country supports it. When 20 years ago probably not even 10% would support it. Why ? Maybe it’s because people are not speaking out against it. Maybe other would be Phil Robertsons are afraid of being tarred and feathered in the public arena.
    I think that has something to do with it. And when you as a commentator also condemn Phil Robertson for his statements, I don’t see how that helps other people stand up and speak out about this issue.
    I agree with what you said about the Westboro Baptist’s. They are abrasive and that is not speaking with “gentleness and respect” that the bible says we should.
    But to me, you are being way too politically correct about Phil Robertson, I don’t agree with the line you have drawn. I don’t know how anyone could speak about this issue up to your standards. And I think THAT is problematic. And you did not give an example of how one SHOULD speak about homosexuality in public discourse.

  50. Jay

    Personally I believe to be “wise as a serpent” means to know what the serpent knows… so that you know how to defend yourself from it’s traps. It’s basically saying it’s a good thing to know your enemies tactics. There’s a lot to learn from them I’m sure and obviously for defensive purposes it’s a no brainer… you can counter their moves, use their tactics against them. Just don’t adopt their tactics for yourselves and become the very evil you’ve been fighting all along, that’s all. Peace.

  51. :andon

    The spiritual nature of the serpent was the occult. The occult is a duality system understanding the interplay between good and evil. The occult system, or magic, is a science relating to metaphysics, frequency, and electromagnetism. Understanding the system will reveal the deception and the components of the great delusion in the last days. Practicing the system will open your spirit to demonic incursion. Nobody understands the occult or everybody would see this and agree. It is a language as distinct as any language on the planet. Go to a Mexican restaurant and you just hear chatter and jibberish. Learn Spanish and you here conversation on concrete things. This is the same with the occult. Learn the symbolism then look around. You will be shocked.

    I am not reiterating because I want to prove anybody else wrong or invalidate anybody else’s opinion. I am driving it home because I am genuinely concerned for every Christian soul and fear the deception Jesus warned his disciples of already upon us. Even the elect would be fooled if he allowed it. If you have not discovered a spiritual deception yet believe we are living out end times prophesy, I strongly suggest you get to looking.

    Bless y’all. Pray for us in Texas. Hook em 🙂

  52. Bill

    The Westboro folks are not Christians at all. They are inside agents working to destroy the credibility of the church. Whether each individual realizes it or not … they are agents of the enemy.

  53. Kackles

    When Mormons came to my apt. they told me about the “prophet” Joseph Smith. I advised them that the Bible says John was the last of the prophets in Matt. 11:13 and Luke 16:16 . That sparked an interest and they wanted to come back but my pastor’s wife, at that time said I should not allow them in my home based on 2 John 10 & 11. I got prepared but they never came back.

  54. Landon

    Interesting passage. If they expressed interest in hearing the truth and you did not receive them, would you not then be failing to deliver the word and would their soul not then be on your hands?

  55. Kackles

    In John 6:44 Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…”. They never came back so it was out of my hands.

    They believed they had the truth and were out to indoctrinate others. Because of our Heavenly Father’s foreknowledge He knows who will accept Him and who won’t. I truly believe He protects those who will and sees to it the right people will cross their path. It happened to me throughout my years of rebellion and I am forever grateful.

  56. Kackles

    JW’s and Mormons don’t believe Jesus is God. I am so sorry, I guess I got sidetracked from the original question reading through this thread and flashed back to my encounter with some Mormons several years ago.

    I believe being wise as a serpent means to look at things from all angles…1 Thess. 5:21 & 22 says, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” It is my opinion, being harmless/gentle as doves is answered in 1 Peter 3:15 & 16, “…Always being prepared to give an answer…But do this with gentleness and respect…” I should have initially just answered with Scripture. That speaks for itself.

  57. CE benson

    Feeding others milk, is keeping them alseep. God wants us awake, that is why we need the meat of the word. The Truth, all aspects of the Gospel, happy and strict. I agree you have to walk a fine line and screaming out YOUR GOING TO HELL at people passing by is NOT IT! To defend Phil Robertson, they came into His church, with his congregation, and filmed him, unsuspectingly. Phil was and is not hiding his belief. He is also is not ENABLING othes sins, by constant tolerance and acceptance. THATS, where we get into trouble. You slack on onc sin, allow another, arrange things for certain sins, “as long as they have boundaries and dont offend”……. This is a corruption of the bible, the words of Jesus and our own souls. There has to be a line and if you dont draw one, one will be drawn for you……… But ask yourself then….. If your not drawing the line, who is? And exactly Where.. is that ? The devil is a wise serpent…. He knows us and the lies we believe… he preys on it.

  58. Shally Joseph

    Well said!

    Indeed it is not expected of Christians to be confrontational at all with unbelievers! In fact that is not the commission given by Jesus. All Jesus said to his disciples was, “Go ye into all the world and ‘preach’ the gospel / good news to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Another writer of the Gospel says – “Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all nations (a disciple being one who believes the teachings of the One being taught about)…….baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded (to observe – simply means to discern, to notice, to perceive, to discover, to distinguish Truth from Error!) …….BRACKETS & Explanations therein are mine.

    So the duty / commission of every Christian / Believer is to specifically be that of a pointer to Jesus; to make known that God’s love is unconditional and only based on the Finished / Complete / Perfect work of Jesus Christ at the Cross and NOT at all based on anything we have done, we do or will do; That All the blessings of God are YES and AMEN in Christ Jesus. However, without Jesus there is a damnation that is forever! It is vital that this latter part also be emphasized but in speech and manner that is gentle but also with the wisdom to know / discern when to STOP or desist!.

    It is important to note here that both gentleness and wisdom, after the Cross, are available to every believer in and through the Holy Spirit. Prior to the Cross there was no way that the disciples could discern anything except by way of receiving reasoning that was evident to their physical eyes through their surroundings – hence Jesus had to use the characteristics of the dove & snake to teach them on how to make their way in the world He had sent them out to at the time.

    Further the work of ‘convicting’ the hearer to this Truth is that of the Holy Spirit.

    Stay blessed in Christ!
    In His Unconditional love & grace,

  59. Curtis Ferrin

    Thanks for your insights. My wife and I, who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, really appreciated what you had to share. This concept is reiterated again in our standard works, where they Lord sent out other disciples and said a different time, “be ye wise as serpents and yet without sin” (D&C 111:11). We feel like part of being wise as serpents includes knowing your audience and knowing what doctrine(s) of Christ’s gospel will resonate with them.

  60. Tim

    There is such a thing as finesse though. Paul didn’t instantly berate the Greek people for all their “Gods.” With your approach he should have unapologetically pointed out their ignorance and corrected their flawed beliefs with the laser of truth. Their feelings be damned because he was right. I don’t know that we have quite the same moral high ground as our footing that Jesus, the Creator did.

  61. Tim

    One simple note that may suggest some of my suppressed predestination/election tendencies: “Flesh and blood” did not reveal to Peter that Jesus was the Messiah, according to Jesus himself.

  62. Addrian Rushing

    After reading these above statements I understand even better why James said “be quick to hear and slow to speak.the tongue is walled in by God himself with ivory bars and jaw muscles but its on a very slippery surface. who can tame it James ask? no one; that is “no man” can. He’s tamed everything that swims,craws. fowls above you name it but he cannot tame his little member in his own mouth. It is set on fire the course of hell.
    May we give ourselves to prayer and fasting and the Word . Grace be with you all who love the Lord Jesus Christ. Pastor Rushing.

  63. Ben

    It seems that zealousness can cause us to model the kind of sin that got Satan expelled by God – thinking that we can do God’s job as judge jury and hangman. And we seem to forget that Old Covenant legalism ONLY applies to Jews. Christians are saved by surrendering and accepting that Christ’s birth death and resurrection were an unearned and unearn-able gift of mercy and grace.

    These misguided impulses are why need to die daily and not lean solely to our own understanding
    Civil forums like this one can be of help in that regard, by letting hearts weigh-in together. Praise Jesus!

  64. WDJDWDJS

    For your principle to be biblically true, then you would have to apply it to every form of sexual attraction. That must include–being attracted only to those who are married to someone else, only to minor children, only to 2 partners at the same time, and we could go on and on. The Lord God does not tempt anyone, He did not cause this fallen world. The first thing one must do is become “a new creation in Christ Jesus” by believing the simple gospel of salvation. then God allows no temptation but that He provides a way out. It is the believer’s accountability to choose God’s way out, or that believer is guilty of sin.

  65. WDJDWDJS

    That sounds good, but it is simply not biblical. Yes we must live a Godly lifestyle, but that does not exempt us from PROCLAIMING the biblical gospel of salvation. I confess I don’t know a lot about (saint) Francis, I do know he taught about being holy—I don’t know that he taught the BIBLICAL gospel of salvation. That is “saved by grace through faith in the Lord God and in His WORK of redemption”—and no faith at all in our own ” works of righteousness.”

  66. WDJDWDJS

    Jews and Gentiles have always been saved in the same way. Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek (gentile), ……for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”
    The ceremonial laws were to make the nation Israel less wicked then any other nation–through which the Redeemer was to come —-those laws did not save anyone. Hebrews chapter 11 makes that perfectly clear. All those listed “by faith” they “believed God” and it was “accounted to them as righteousness”. Abel, Enoch, Noah were not Jews—Abraham, Moses, and all Jews who were saved–all who were saved were saved by grace through faith (by believing God). If anyone could be saved by their own “works of righteousness”– which be as “filthy rags”–(Isaiah 64:6)—then why would God the Father need to send His only begotten Son to die in our place ??? (biblical death is “eternal separation from God”–The Son was temporarily separated from the Father whom He had been with from eternity past. He “became sin for us”—God cannot “look upon sin”
    Ephesians 2:10 ” For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus UNTO good works, which God before ordained that we should walk in them.” after we become “a new creation in Christ” we should live and grow in our new nature.

  67. Romelia MacDougall

    I have a question rather than a comment. In the context of the verse we’re discussing, be wise as a sprang and harmless as a dove, Jesus said this to his disciples as they were going out to the gentiles. How would you approach this inside of your church? I know some things about our worship leader, her lifestyle and her struggle with her life dominating sin. James 4:17 says ” Anyone who knows he good he outs to do and does do it sins”. She know what she’s doing and is supposedly a new believer but I know as a fact and in her own words, ” I’m bored with the word of God”, yet leads the congregations into worship and proclaims His name during worship yet lives a sexual immorality lifestyle. I was discipline this young 21 year old worship leader and I know all the details of her life dominating sin and now it’s a stumbling block for me when I worship. I can’t take it anymore, it’s mocking my God cuz He is a Holy God. The Pastor knows some of this. I’ve suggested for her to step down and get right w/God but she says “they won’t let her Because “they” need her to lead worship. I’m trying to be wise as a serpent with this but gentle as a dove. I told my Pastor I needed a break from her cuz what I know is a stumbling block and I have to take my thoughts captive during worship. It’s affecting me and I. Need to bring this up with my Pastor.

  68. Warren

    I think the article’s point is well taken. I believe the examples need a little refining particularly as to the Mormons. There needs to be a different approach if you want to convince a Mormon he or she is in error. I do not think anything you mentioned would make headway with them.

    They love everything you said about Joseph Smith and an angel showing him the gold plates. They will preach to you. They will point out that Joseph is doing what a prophet does, receiving messages from God and his angels. They will say that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and still speaks through prophets. They will ask whether miraculously translating ancient scripture from gold plates is any more far fetched than Israelite prophets using a staff with a serpent to heal, the Urim and Thummim, the Ark of the Covenant, telling someone to bathe in the river Jordan to be healed from leprosy or Christ using mud to cure a blind man? When it comes down to it, they will say disbelief in Joseph’s story is just a matter of your personal preference of (or dislike of) a people and invite you to pray and ask God for yourself if the miracle of the Book of Mormon is true. They love to talk about the Book of Mormon.

    The scriptures you reference would not be that effect either with a Mormon. He or she will use both of them to argue that your position actually conflicts with the Bible and her Mormon belief is consistent with the Bible. For example, she will ask what about all of the scripture that was revealed after Deuteronomy 4:2, that we know and love as part of the Bible? Many prophets and apostles have added to God’s command as found in both the Old and New Testaments since the day Deuteronomy 4:2 was revealed. Christ himself says a new commandment I give unto you. A Mormon will say the Book of Mormon confirms that God’s pattern continues. He continues to give his word.

    And the concept of the Trinity will never win over a Mormon. A Mormon believes that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are three separate individuals who are one in purpose. They will point out that neither the term “Trinity” nor its concept exist in the Bible. They will point out that Mormons use a biblical term and concept: Godhead. For them one God means a united Godhead, not one person. They will say that their understanding of the Godhead being three separate beings united in purpose is in the Bible. They will quote John 17, particularly verses 11, 21 and 22. Christ prays that his disciples and those who believe his disciples, you and me, will be one with each other and one with God the same way Christ is one with the Father. So a Mormon will tell you that to believe in the Trinity is to believe that the believers all join together in God as one being. In other words if the Trinity is correct–three beings in one–then God and his believers will be thousands, millions, billions in one undivided being–individuality is dead. To a Mormon that does not sound very appealing. They believe that unity is a choice the way Christ chose to submit to his Father’s will. They believe the oneness talked about in scripture is the harmony that individuals choose, such as Zion, communion, submitting our wills to God, eternal family units, the Godhead, etc.

    So it is a good article, but I recommend finding other ways to try to convince a Mormon he or she is wrong.

  69. Nathan McIntire

    So why did Jesus overthrow the tables at the temple and tell the Pharases they were children of the devil?

  70. Jojo Aluad

    Right, like Stephen in Acts 7:51-60

  71. Julie Carr

    We are told to contend for the faith. We are not supposed to let apostasy creep in and pervert God’s word. Homosexual actions and love are abominations according to God’s word. No way are we supposed to gently coo and pretend it’s not a big deal. Jesus is not some hippy dippy love guru. He loves us with passion but He is also holy. If one is speaking person to person, of course one would be gentler, but still the Word is the Word. The Gospel says to repent of our sins, nowhere does it say it’s ok to continue in them. Profane things and actions are not to be put before the Lord as if they are holy. This is a great sin against oneself and ones body, the Temple. I would note that ANY sex act outside of a male and female marriage is sinful. You have free will to decide if you want to sin or not, but unrepented sin is unforgiven sin. Road to hell has wide lanes, easy check in and wide gate. Ignore that at your own risk.

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