Are you guilty of practicing “pen-knife” religion?

Posted 2/9/19

A pen knife, or pocket knife, is a tool that most are familiar with. It is very useful if used in a safe and proper manner. We often use it to cut away things that we do not want. Have you ever …

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Are you guilty of practicing “pen-knife” religion?


A pen knife, or pocket knife, is a tool that most are familiar with. It is very useful if used in a safe and proper manner. We often use it to cut away things that we do not want. Have you ever considered that you or I may be guilty of using a pen knife in our religious practices and beliefs?

Consider the situation in Jeremiah 36. The prophet of Judah was told by the Lord to write down the things revealed to him regarding Judah and the nations around her. 

Judah, as her sister Israel had done in the past, was involved in sinful practices associated with idolatry. Judah was guilty of spiritual adultery. God's message to them was that He would bring judgement on them because they did not repent at the preaching of the prophets.

The time in history was the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Jeremiah did as the Lord commanded and had Baruch the son of Neriah, a scribe, to write down on a scroll the words of the Lord. 

Jeremiah was confined and not able to go to the temple. He told Baruch to go and read the words of the prophecy to the people who would gather at the day of fasting in the temple. This day of fasting occurred in the fifth year of the king. When the time came, he went and read the scroll, Jeremiah 36:8. One of the people who heard the prophecy read was Michaiah, the grandson of a scribe named Shaphan. 

Michaiah went to the king’s house where the princes of Judah were gathered and told them the words he had heard read by Baruch. The princes sent for Baruch themselves and had him read the words directly from the scroll in their presence, Jeremiah 36:15.  

The princes told Baruch to go and hide, both he and Jeremiah, because of the words they heard read. Then princes went to King Jehoiakim and told him what they heard from the scroll from Jeremiah. While the princes were gathered with Jehoiakim, he sent a scribe named Jehudi to go and get the scroll from Elishama’s chamber and bring it to him. It was winter time and the king had a fire burning in his winter house.

Jehoiakim listened to the words as Jehudi read them. It only took three or four columns being read before the king took a knife and cut the scroll and threw it into the fire, burning all of it up. 

Jehoiakim did not like what he heard. He did not like what God had to say. Are you guilty of this?  And further, did cutting and burning up the scroll change what God had said would happen to Judah? 

You see, just because we don’t like some passages in the bible, ignoring them or cutting them out of our bible doesn’t remove our responsibility to obey them.

The story in Jeremiah 36 did not end with the burning of the scroll. Soon afterwards, God’s word came again to Jeremiah and he was told to write another scroll. In this scroll Jeremiah was to write a message to Jehoiakim telling him he would die and that his family and servants would also would be punished. 

News of doom because of sin and defiance of God. Punishment for rejecting God’s word.  What is the lesson for us?  

God has promised that His word will abide forever, 1 Peter 1:25. We are going to be judged on how we receive God’s word, John 12:47-48. We will be judged by Jesus based upon our faith and obedience to His words, 2 Corinthians 5:10.  

Will you accept the gospel and obey it? Or, will you take out your knife and cut away the commands you do not like? We are told to believe in Jesus, John 3:16 and John 8:24.  Jesus said that we are to repent of our sins or perish, Luke 13:3. Jesus said that the believer is to be baptized to be saved, Mark 16:16.  

The apostle Peter told a group of Jews who believed in Jesus to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins, Acts 2:38. And John said in Revelation 2:10 that the faithful will receive a crown of life. What will it be? Close your knife and open up the book. Hear it and obey it. Don’t be like Jehoiakim.

Robert Knowles is a member of the McArthur Heights Church of Christ.