When you receive written correspondence from someone—a birthday card, a thank you note, a love letter—you find many a sentimental, eloquent, and inspiring word in it. You would not be entirely cynical to wonder sometimes how deeply the person meant what he said.
I do not mean that your correspondent was lying or making it up out of whole cloth. But it is good to be apprised of human nature, as Jesus was (John 2:23-25). We tend to not let our yes be yes (Matthew 5:37), and we tend to manipulate our way through life with words (Psalm 12:4), and we tend to be fickle and shallow (the crowd that praised Jesus on a Wednesday asked for his crucifixion on a Friday). It is interesting to come across a box of old, yellowed letters in the attic and read pledges of eternal friendship by people you have not heard from in decades, and who have long forgotten what they wrote.
But the Word of God is not like that. It is one of the wonderful enticements for me in reading the Bible daily to realize that I can pick out any verse in the 66 books and know that God has total recollection of having written that verse. Moreover, He meant every word of it at the time, and still means every word of it.
Because this is the case, you can put your full weight on any given word of Scripture and not risk making a fool of yourself. It was true when God wrote it, and it is still true now. He meant what He said then, and He has not forgotten He wrote it. You will not be in danger of coming to God and telling Him you are praying based on Malachi 4:6 for the reconciliation of your family, only to hear Him say, “Malachi 4:6? That doesn’t ring a bell.” Or, “Malachi 4:6? Why, that was sooo fifth century B.C.”
Today, the “random” verse I am putting my full weight on is one I have chosen from Romans 6, after studying the context. It goes like this:
“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ.”
Unlike any number of letters I have received, I am contemplating, believing, and mining this statement from God for all it’s worth. I am putting my imagination up to the task of considering myself dead when it comes to the power of sin in my life. I realize from the rest of the chapter and the book that if I wrongly allow it to, the “dead man” can still be revived enough to exert power over me and put me in bondage again. But that is his bluff—he is really a dead man. His authority over me is ended, except for what I cede to him in folly by continuing to believe in him instead of reckoning myself dead to him, as God commands. I was married to him once, so to speak, but now I “belong to another” (Romans 7:4).
The apostle Paul is at pains to explain the deep reality of that new yoking by comparing it to a marriage. Just as I am no longer married to my first husband, Young (that yoke was ended by his death, and now I belong to my husband, David), likewise I am no longer under the authority of my first nature (“the old man,” or “the flesh”). Therefore, there is no ontological necessity for me to be in bondage to any sin today—neither to the voices of guilt and condemnation nor regret nor any other tyrannical lust. I am reckoning myself dead to all that, as God commands me to. And when I so reckon, I do not do it as a psychological trick I play on myself, but as aligning my mind with reality.
So that’s the verse I’m believing to the ultimate as I go through my day today. But you can pick any verse you like and do the same. And whichever one you pick, know that God wasn’t just rambling, He meant every word.