Treating God's Word with Contempt
1 Thess 5:20 do not treat prophecies with contempt .
Contempt. Let us consider what this word really means. I heard a sermon recently that really drove this point home. The context in which I usually hear the word contempt is in reference to a court room situation. Like in the movies, we envision a judge threatening to hold someone in contempt of court for not following the procedures of a trial. Let us examine what contempt of court is.
A man in prison was once released on parole with the condition that he must meet with his parole officer at specified times. The parolee visited the officer once and felt it a burden so he never returned for any of his follow up appointments. The time for him to appear again before the judge arrived, however, the parole officer notified the judge that this man had never kept his appointments. Instead of freeing the man the judge scolded him for not obeying his command and ordered him to go and see his parole officer that afternoon by 5:00pm. Again the parolee failed to show up. Instead of ending his sentence and becoming a free man the parolee was sent back to prison. Why? Because he held the judges order in contempt. He despised it and refused to follow his word. He had the order from the judge, he heard it and understood what he said, but he held that order in contempt and simply refused to obey it.
Do we do that with God's Word? I fear we do almost every day. We can read it, study it, teach it, but we do actually obey it? Not always and when we do not, we are treating God's Word with contempt. We can make excuses as to why we ignore what it says, but that still does not change the fact that our actions show that we despise him rather than honor the Lord.
To treat God's Word with contempt can be done by teaching it incorrectly. Twisting God's Word to teach false doctrines is a contemptable thing to do.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
But we also show contempt when we refuse to obey the Word of God. Obedience is not an action that causes salvation, but it is an action that flows from being saved. If we love the Lord we will want to obey him. Those who do not obey Him, also do not love Him.
John 14:23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Of course we are all going to struggle with our flesh at times. In Romans 7:14-20 we read that even Paul struggled with his sinful nature sometimes doing what he did not want to do and sometimes not doing what he wanted to. But he had an attitude of desiring to want to do right and choosing to walk in the Spirit. If we find that our actions are showing contempt we need to simply stop them. That is what our passage is telling us to do. Do not treat prophecies with contempt. Prophecies are a part of the Word and I can assure you that we are not to treat any aspect of God's Word with contempt. It must be a conscious decision we make every day to not only read the Word but do what it says.
James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Obeying God's Word is a decision we must make. Look again at not only our passage but the context from which is appears. We are given instructions about things that we must do. Are we going to obey, or are we going to show contempt for them? The one who calls you to obey will give you the strength and power to do it, if only you let him. Let us hold God's Word with respect, not contempt.
1 Thess 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.