Dirty Water

dirty waterI grew up about 45 minutes from Flint, Michigan. You may have heard about Flint recently in the news. In April of 2014, in order to cut costs, the city began drawing its drinking water from the Flint River instead of Lake Huron.

They failed, however, to treat the corrosive waters of the Flint River with the proper chemicals. As a result, lead leached from pipes and fixtures into the drinking water. Though many residents complained about the water, the local, state and federal governments waited months to respond. On January 5th of this year, the governor of Michigan finally declared a state of emergency in Flint.

Clean-up and treatment efforts are ongoing. Experts still don’t know what long term effects the lead poisoning will have on the residents and especially the children of Flint.

Dirty water is dangerous. It can damage vital organs. It can make you sick. It can even kill you.

God has given us the pure, unadulterated, living water of his Word. The promises of his Word refresh us, comfort us and give us life.

As sinful human beings, though, we tend to muddy the waters. We pollute it by interjecting our own opinions, biases and traditions. We treat God’s Word as if it were a salad bar, picking and choosing what we want to believe. We twist his words to fit our own preconceived ideas.

The waters become contaminated and souls become sick.

Jesus often warned against the dangers of false teachings which spread like leaven. He compared false teachers to wolves in sheep’s clothing. In other words, dirty water is dangerous.

Despite our Savior’s warnings, however, I am noticing a trend in our world today. Many Christians are knowingly drinking polluted water. They are attending churches they know aren’t teaching God’s Word in its truth and purity.

They go because that’s where their spouse attends. They go because it’s a lot closer than their old church. They go because it has programs for their kids, a more charismatic pastor or more convenient service times.

“Don’t worry, pastor,” they tell me. “I know what the Bible says and what I believe. It won’t affect me.” “At least their hearing God’s Word,” their parents tell me. “Dirty water is better than no water at all.”

And there is some truth to that. If I were dying of thirst – if I had to go three days without anything to drink – and you put a glass of water from Flint, Michigan in front of me, I am sure I would drink it. Dirty water is better than no water at all.

For a person dying of spiritual thirst, who doesn’t know Jesus or the forgiveness he won for them, the gospel, even when muddied by false teaching, can save their soul.

But if you have the choice between drinking clean water or polluted water, why would you ever pick the polluted water? Prolonged exposure to dirty water is dangerous. It affects our faith. It hurts our souls. In fact, it can be deadly.

Take Jesus’ warnings seriously. Don’t drink polluted water for the sake of convenience. Expect your church and pastor to be doctrinally pure. If you don’t know what that is, open your Bible. Read it daily. Study. Learn.

Drink deeply from the pure, unadulterated spring of God’s Word.

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  14 comments for “Dirty Water

  1. Andrew
    January 25, 2016 at 9:04 am

    Doctrinally pure also means knowing the difference between doctrine and dogma.

  2. Kim Lahaie Day
    January 25, 2016 at 9:11 am

    I love the analogy, it so works. I hear explanations about why some folks compromise on their church choices, etc. using those very reasons. Praying for clear water!

  3. January 25, 2016 at 9:11 am

    A womderfullife application!

  4. Jim
    January 25, 2016 at 10:01 am

    I appreciate the analogy, but God’s word will always remain. I’m more concerned about the ACTUAL problem of clean drinking water in the world’s poorest regions (Flint included). I wish we worried as much about that as we do about those who might “pollute” the Word of God.

  5. Pat Caley
    January 25, 2016 at 10:07 am

    “Drink deeply from the pure, unadulterated spring of God’s Word.”

    I’m sure every denomination believes they are preaching the pure, unadulterated Word of God. I don’t believe God is a theologian. He’s a saver of souls and I’m sure he will excuse us for our failure to understand perfectly.

    • James Marshall
      January 25, 2016 at 11:33 am

      God’s word is never void of His Spirit who leads in all truth perfectly . Sound doctrine is Spirit led… so our duty in the pulpit is to preach what the Holy Spirit has already taught from eternity.. not try to preach from our own perspective only.

  6. Jan
    January 25, 2016 at 10:34 am

    WE just need to be continually in His word so we know the truth and purity of it.

  7. Matt Z
    January 25, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Thanks for the great warning and reminder about the importance of WHERE we get our spiritual food. Excellent analogy and a welcome devotion. Thanks for sharing your spiritual thoughts, Andrew!

  8. James Stacey
    January 25, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    This is a silly analogy. One man’s purity is another man’s muck. Do you really think ANYONE thinks ‘Let’s mix God’s Word with our own opinions’. Of course not! But the fact if that everyone – yes, EVERYONE – brings to the Bible a whole complex of beliefs, values, prejudices and preconceptions. That’s where hermeneutics comes in; the messy, difficult, and ultimately exhilarating challenge of interpreting the Bible for our age. But let’s not pretend there’s some ‘pure’ reading that some have and some disregard. That’s nonsense.

    • Jonathan
      January 25, 2016 at 3:32 pm

      James, your comment is troubling. If there’s can be no “pure” reading of God’s Word, then one must conclude that the Word itself is not pure. “Interpreting the Bible for our age” is exactly what is meant by mixing God’s Word with our own opinions. It isn’t meant to be molded and reinterpreted into our current way of thinking; it is an unchanging—yet living and active—Word that will change our hearts and shape our thinking, by the Holy Spirit’s power.

    • Craig Nissen
      January 25, 2016 at 3:35 pm

      I tend to agree with you James, was thinking something akin to your post as I read the OP. However, I think you’d have to agree that there are many cases of wacky unbiblical preaching & teaching in our world, purporting to be Christian. How do we describe respectful disagreement over solid biblical study – where one group/denomination elevates certain themes in scripture that another church body does not? I’m a Lutheran, but certainly our theologians pick and choose from the Bible; it is systematic and sensible and a fair representation of the gospel. But I hesitate to call the sound theology of Methodist, or Reformed, etc, theologians ‘dirty water.’ How do we teach our friends, our church members to differentiate between dirty water and ‘flavored’ water?

    • January 26, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      But the mixing of God’s Word with opinion has given birth to relativism, a cancer against the teaching of sound doctrine in the modern Western church.

  9. Anthony
    January 26, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Fact is people do muddy it with their own opinions. It’s easy to do. I even saw one guy doing it in this comment chain for example. James said the Spirit leads us in all truth. If by that you mean by reading the new and old testament written by the Holy Spirit then yes. But he doesn’t supernaturally reveal it. It’s clear enough to be read and believed.
    But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
    John 14:26 NKJV
    http://bible.com/114/jhn.14.26.NKJV

    Notice the promise above is spoken to the apostles not to you. If you want that clarity given to them read the new testament.

    It really is as simple as reading the Bible and believing it. As for me, I ended up a LCMS Lutheran. Why? They are the only ones that literally do that. No ‘do not touch verses’ for them. They literally believe the whole thing no matter how uncomfortable it is.

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