Should you serve God alone?

Reprinted with Permission from: Veritas Domain - The Domain for Truth

For today’s post we will tackle the question the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: Should you serve God alone? Here are the answers which the skeptic believes indicate a Bible contradiction:

Yes

  • “Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”” (Matthew 4:10)
  • “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.” (Matthew 23:10)

No

  • “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;” (Ephesians 6:5)
  • “Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.” (Colossians 3:22)
  • “All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.” (1 Timothy 6:1)
  • Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative,” (Titus 2:9)
  • Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.” (1 Peter 2:18)
  • Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:18)
  • Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20)

(All Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible)

Here’s a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:

  1. When dealing with skeptics’ claim of Bible contradictions it seems one can never be reminded enough of what exactly is a contradiction.  A contradiction occurs when two or more claims conflict with one another so that they cannot simultaneously be true in the same sense and at the same time.  To put it another way, a Bible contradiction exists when there are claims within the Bible that are mutually exclusive in the same sense and at the same time.
  2. One should be skeptical of whether this is a Bible contradiction given the website’s track record of inaccurate handling of biblical passages.  See the many examples of their error we have responded to here in this post: Collection of Posts Responding to Bible Contradictions.  Of course that does not take away the need to respond to this post, which is what the remainder of the post will do.  But this observation should caution us to slow down and look more closely at the passages the Skeptic Annotated Bible cited and see if they interpreted the passages properly to support their conclusion that it is a Bible contradiction.
  3. The skeptic tries to pit Matthew 4:10 and Matthew 23:10 which he claim asserts “You should serve God alone” against Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, 1 Timothy 6:1, Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18, Colossians 3:18 and Colossians 3:20 which the skeptic think is telling us “You should not serve God alone.”
  4. The skeptic is right to interpret Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, 1 Timothy 6:1, Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18, Colossians 3:18 and Colossians 3:20 as” You should not serve God alone.”  Some of these passage does show that we serve others when we serve God.
    1. Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, 1 Timothy 6:1, Titus 2:9 and 1 Peter 2:18 tells servants to serve their masters.
      1. This is to be done as a way of serving God (Ephesians 6:5), to fear/please the Lord (Colossians 3:22), so that Christianity would not be slandered (1 Timothy 6:1).  This shows that this service to others is done for the sake of serving God.
      2. The context of Titus 2:9 and 1 Peter 2:18 also reinforce this theme of serving others is done as service to God.  After Titus 2:10 the next verse says “not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect” (Titus 2:10), reinforcing that slaves are serving God as a way of adorning the truth of God.  After 1 Peter 2:18, the next two verses in 1 Peter 2:19-20 tell us when one serve rightly even with a bad master this finds favor with God.
    2. Colossians 3:18 addresses wives’ submission but it is to be done as fitting to the Lord
    3. Colossians 3:20 addresses children submitting to parents as something that pleases the Lord.  Submission to parents is a way of serving God.
  5. If one looks carefully at Matthew 4:10 and Matthew 23:10 one will see the skeptic wrongly interpret them as “You should serve God alone.”
    1.  Matthew 23:10 should not be taken to say you only serve God and no other human being.  In the context of Matthew 23:10-12 Jesus addresses exalted pride in leadership.  Notice after Matthew 23:10 in Matthew 23:11 Jesus said “But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”  So we see here that serving others is serving God.  This is in agreement with Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, 1 Timothy 6:1, Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18, Colossians 3:18 and Colossians 3:20!
    2. Matthew 4:10 is Jesus rebuking Satan.  Jesus quotes from the Old Testament to talk about worshipping God only.  Matthew 4:10 then is not prohibiting serving others in general but about serving one’s idol/functional god.  That is forbidden, but serving God by serving others is not.  Jesus worship and serve God, and in doing that in the context of the book of Matthew Jesus also said he came to serve others: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
  6. There is no contradiction here.  Seems the skeptic needs to learn of How to Handle Bible Contradictions.
  7. We shouldn’t miss that worldviews are at play even with the skeptic’s objection to Christianity.  The worldview of the author of the Skeptic Annotated Bible actually doesn’t even allow for such a thing as the law of non-contradiction to be meaningful and intelligible.  In other words for him to try to disprove the Bible by pointing out that there’s a Bible contradiction doesn’t even make sense within his own worldview.  Check out our post “Skeptic Annotated Bible Author’s Self-Defeating Worldview.”