Paying Attention to Retention
The beginning of all bad things is when people ignore God.
See a brief paraphrase/commentary on Rom. 1
synopsis of Rom 1 18-32
People see the created world, (and we are also created with an inner conscience which speaks clearly of a creator and a sense of right and wrong), and yet we do not acknowledge the Creator - his existence, relevance, or praiseworthiness. We fail to make the connection between an orderly, complex, and magnificently engineered, beautiful Creation and an intelligent, superior Creator. Because of this, our thinking becomes futile and hearts become dark.
In this, people claim to be wise but are in fact, fools because they live in denial of the greatest reality - the existence/relevance of God.
Instead of giving our attention and praise to God, we give it to other people or other things that we or God created. It would be like people lavishing praise on a work of art, without giving one thought or acknowledgement to the artist. (And in the process, somehow thinking themselves clever or praiseworthy for recognizing the beauty of the art work!).
Furthermore, and as a result of their wilful ignorance of God, people indulge in every kind of lust, which degrades people and brings shame and guilt.
The final stage of this regression is that people do not retain the knowledge of God and as a result, God gives them over to despicable practices. We see this process of regression in our culture today (and it has been seen in every culture). (These practices demand increasing levels of evil - regression away from what is natural and God-approved, in order to satisfy.)
The danger is that we as christians can find ourselves on the same path, when and if we go along with the cultural thinking/worldview, which at its core, tries to live in denial of God.
We may not think we are involved in the extremes described in the passage, but we do ignore God when we live our lives after the pattern of this world and do not allow the knowledge of God which we possess to transform our thinking (See Rom. 12:2). And we are therefore in danger of being on the same downward regression, and experiencing the same dire consequences laid out in the passage.
In other words, if we don't retain the knowledge of God - though we may hear it or read it, bad things follow.
Unless we make concerted effort, we will be naturally trained in the self-deluded value system of the world which again, ignore God and his ways, and which substitute it's own value system, patterned after the lusts of our unregenerate nature. These offer material pursuits, pleasures, and the 'worship' of people and things apart from God. (Also, this is a short-term, delusional worldview which doesn't take into account eternity and judgment.) So we are trained to get up, go to work, store up money, get more things, be consumed with cultural entertainments, tv shows, sports, politics - all of which come out of the Rom 1 mentality of those who deny God (or his relevance to our daily life) - but oh yes, we'll give God a little corner on Sunday.
Jesus said that the religious leaders of his day actually nullified the true word of God by their traditions. Many times traditions, especially religious ones, are actually man's substitutions for God's truth.
This can also lead to a segmentation in our thinking, or a double-minded life, where we take on a worldview which ignores God or minimizes him in most of our daily life, yet offers lip-service on Sunday.
In fact, many christians are practicing atheists, because they live in practical denial of God, though they acknowledge him on Sunday.
So, unlike culture, we must think it worthwhile to retain God's word.
We also know that we have an enemy that tries to steal the word. So even if we are sincerely seeking to hear God's word, it's sometimes the case that we can be encouraged on Sunday during a message, and yet by midway through the afternoon football game, not be able to recall what that message was.
So how do we retain God's knowledge - His word, and allow it to change our thinking and lifestyle?
People enrolled in a college class generally highlight relevant lines in their textbook, take notes, review the notes, test themselves on the information taught for the week, practice examples related to the teaching etc etc.
First of all then - we need to consider the received knowledge as valuable and necessary, and to understand that not to do so will result in failure.
Other things to do include:
writing things down
reviewing those things
implementing those things when tested in real life
Honestly assessing, with God's help, how you are doing with that process
As much as we have an enemy trying to steal the word, one advantage we have as Christians is that we have a counsellor, the holy spirit who is always with us, who will "lead us into all truth", and who will bring to our remembrance things when we need it.. But we must do our part in co-operating with him.
Hebrews asks the question "how can we saved if we ignore such a great salvation?" the root word of ignorance is ignore...which is back to the original point of not valuing God's knowledge (not thinking it worthwhile to retain it).. and setting into motion the cycle of negative degradation which results from that.
James says that if we just hear the word, and don't make effort to implement it in our lives, then we live in self-deception.
Finally, Psalm 50 gives a warning to those who forget God, but also a promise..
This passage is a contrast between people who merely give outward appearance or nominal acknowledgement of God (sunday christians) versus those who truly acknowledge God in their hearts.*
22 "Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you:
23Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless d I will show my salvation.�
the one who truly rejects the worlds delusional system of worshiping people and things (cars and songs and american idols and sports heros and politicians etc etc) and instead recognizes the false system of the world and that there is a creator who is instead worthy of our attention, praise, and obedience, and whose instruction is worth the effort to retain in practice in our lives - he is the one God will show his salvation to. That person will live in a state of favor, peace, and divine protection.
*Here are some further notes (edited) on the passage from the Pulpit Commentary.
Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me - That is, he truly honors me; he is a true worshipper; he meets with my approbation. The word here rendered ""offereth"" is the same which is used in Psalm 50:14, and means "he that sacrifices:" here meaning, he that presents the sacrifice of praise. So the Septuagint: "the sacrifice of praise glorifies me." So the Vulgate. The idea is, that the worship which God requires is "praise;" it is not the mere external act of homage; it is not the presentation of a bloody sacrifice; it is not the mere bending of the knee; it is not a mere outward form: it is that which proceeds from the heart, and which shows that there is there a spirit of true thankfulness, adoration, and love.
And to him that ordereth his conversation aright - that is, to him who is attentive to his going; who seeks to walk in the right path; who is anxious to go in the road that leads to a happier world; who is careful that all his conduct shall be in accordance with the rules which God has prescribed.