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Monthly Archives: October 2012

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                                   Help My Unbelief!

By Wayne Jackson

 
It is an episode fraught with mystery; one about which we wish we knew more. A man brought his son, who was possessed of a demon, to the Lord’s disciples. He wanted the Master’s men to cast out the evil spirit, but they could not. Jesus pinpointed the problem; the disciples’ faith was lacking (Mark 9:17-19; cf. Matthew 17:20). Accordingly, the lad was brought directly to the Savior himself. As they came near, the malignant force threw the child into a convulsion, and the boy fell to the ground, foaming at the mouth.
 
The father subsequently informed Christ that this had been going on for a long time, and the lad had suffered much damage. The gentleman then said to Jesus: “If you can do anything, help us.” Note carefully that “if” (Mark 9:22). The Savior then said, with something of a rebuke, “If you can!” The meaning obviously is: “What do you mean, if I can? All things are possible to him who believes.”
 
There are two points to be noticed here. First, the Master was saying this to the father: “The issue is not my power; it is your faith!” The man obviously had some faith in Christ or he would not have approached the Lord. On the other hand, his trust was not at the level it needed to be. He still had some doubts. Perhaps he was growing; but the fact is, he was struggling.
 
Second, the Lord’s affirmation that “all things are possible to him who believes” is limited by the context. The Lord was not asserting that one can do anything he believes he can do. You may be led to believe that you can spread your arms and fly off the Golden Gate Bridge, but regardless of what you believe, you’ll fall straight into the bay. Here is a point that must be understood. The supernatural works that were possible during the ministry of Jesus are not possible today, inasmuch as God himself has removed miraculous phenomena from the church (see Miracles).
 
In response to Jesus’ challenge, the father cried out, with the sort of agony that only a parent could know: “I believe; help my unbelief” (9:24). What a strange statement. Does it not contain what appears to be a contradiction? “I believe; help my unbelief.” Jesus did not so view the matter; rather, he immediately rebuked the unclean spirit and commanded it to leave the boy—never to enter him again (9:25).
 
The spiritual confusion of this father is so typical of the intellectual and emotional turmoil that can plague any of us at a given moment in our lives. No one is characterized by a “red-hot” faith around the clock.
 
We know there is a God who made us. The evidence is so utterly overwhelming that only a foolish person can deny it (Psalm 14:1; cf. Romans 1:20-23). Furthermore, intellectually we know that our Heavenly Father cares for us. The historical fact which demonstrates that he gave his precious Son for us is ample evidence of his boundless love. Nobody can argue that God doesn’t care—in the face of the cross! “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
 
Be that as it may, sometimes, when we are hurting so badly (and pain can generate confusion), our hearts may overpower our heads. By that we mean this: our agony forces clear logic to the side, and we begin to “think” with our feelings. We still believe, but we are angry. We feel neglected; we don’t understand why the Lord doesn’t rush to our beckon call. Sometimes we pout. We refuse to talk to him (i.e., we don’t pray). We think we will punish him by refusing to assemble with other Christians for worship. We may even say harsh and thoughtless things to him, almost literally shaking our fist in his face.
 
At times like these we need to get hold of ourselves and give ourselves a good shaking. We need to cry out, “Lord, help my unbelief!” We need to ask for his patience. We need to weep before him. We ought to analyze our situation and attempt to determine if we have contributed to our own problems; and if so, is there anything we can do to help remedy the circumstance. What we absolutely must not do is give in to our frustration. Once we cease struggling with our faith, and let it slide, we are headed down a slippery slope that may lead to eternal ruin. What a horrible thought to contemplate. Lord, I believe; but help me in my times of unbelief!
 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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QUESTION: AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER? WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE IN OUR ROLE OF RESPONSABILITY? WHAT SAY YOU?

                   Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

You may be familiar with the story in which the title for today’s article was spoken, and probably just as familiar with its popular usage today. In the Bible story, Cain had killed his brother Abel and God said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” (Genesis 4:9). Cain’s reply was this familiar statement and question: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:10). If the cold-hearted attitude of Cain was not already evident by the murder he had committed, it was surely manifested in his reply to God! As the question is used today, it is usually used as a reply to someone who has asked about the condition or situation of someone else, and is meant to imply that the respondent has no responsibility towards the one in question [who may literally be a brother, or at least a brother in Christ]. And when it is used, there is an underlying resentment that someone would even think we had any responsibility towards this one.

When Cain uttered those now-familiar words, he demonstrated the ultimate in apathy, basically saying, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” It is no different today when disciples of Jesus Christ have this same attitude towards their own brethren! Surely we cannot imagine Jesus ever uttering these words, right? Did Jesus ever demonstrate a lack of concern for others — no matter what their condition or how they got there? If anything, we see Jesus welcomed the potential interaction with — and welcomed an opportunity to care for — others. At no time do we see Jesus turning people away because He simply did not care for them and their condition. Never did He say, “That’s not my responsibility.”

Within the religious world, there are some who see their faith as theirs alone and one that does not seem to actually involve contact or any sort of interaction with others; they are cold and apathetic towards others, and even in cases where they could easily help out a brother or sister in need, all they can see is the other person’s individual responsibility for his own situation and, thus, his personal responsibility to correct it or solve whatever problems have resulted. In so doing, those who refuse to act fail to see their own personal responsibility for helping him! The difficult part in this is getting them to see that the very thing they are demanding of others is being ignored by self! While they coldly demand that the one who ‘got himself into trouble’ somehow extract himself from the situation, the cold-hearted one fails to remember that Jesus has commanded us to help those in need and give without expecting anything in return (cf. Matthew 5:40-42), and has forgotten the rhetorical question of the apostle John, who asked, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (I John 3:17). The answer to that rhetorical question should be obvious: it does not! And in both of these texts, it should be clear that when others are in need, we all have an individual responsibility to help them.

 

Let us note that those passages are also unqualified commands and statements. Jesus did not say we should give our cloak if we think they are worthy, or only if their previous coat was not lost because of their own carelessness, or only if they have tried to get a job to earn money to buy their own cloak; John was not implying that we should help our brother in need only if we think they deserve it, or only if their need did not come because of poor choices, or only if they have gone to government agencies first. God expects us to help others in the same way He has helped us: with grace and mercy — and towards all men.

 

Think about that for just a minute: Where would we be if God helped us in the same manner some brethren ‘help’ others? Can you imagine God looking at man’s spiritual condition and saying to Himself, “Now why should I help them? They got themselves into that situation on their own — they can get themselves out of it!”? And if we sinned more than once after we obeyed the gospel, He would sternly chastise us and set tougher restrictions and higher demands before He would act to forgive us next time. He might even simply refuse after so many times, angry because we keep getting into trouble and He has to keep getting us out. Doesn’t it sound ridiculous when we apply human actions to God? It should!

 

Though the Scriptures are plain about our responsibility toward our brethren, some brethren approach their needy brethren with an attitude that our faith should follow the ‘American spirit of rugged individualism’ that preaches a message of stubborn self-reliance and a refusal to accept help or charity from others unless they have lost both arms and at least one leg. Those who live with this attitude are not content to personally live this way, but steadfastly believe everyone else should, too; so when someone is in need, the first thought that comes to mind is, ‘He got himself into that mess, and he needs to get himself out of it!’ Help is offered only begrudgingly, and even that is often a bare minimum of help that is offered. Often, too, it is a matter of seeking to place blame first and finding solutions later. Surely we can do better than this!

 

What is missing in those who act so parsimoniously with their help is evident: compassion. Maybe it is the brother who grew up and was what many call ‘a self-made man’; because he had a good home life and because he was successful in much of what he has done, he believes that everyone else should have the same successes he had and should have made the same wise choices he did; maybe it is the sister who has a good husband and family who believes the woman who is in a struggling marriage is somehow at fault because her husband has become worldly and is about to leave her for another woman; maybe it is the older woman who has raised godly children who looks contemptuously at the young parents who are struggling to keep the world out of their children and their children out of the world — and are losing. In each of these cases, what is needed is compassion and concern — not a reprimand.

 

A couple comes to you, telling you they have marital problems; how do you respond? A mother comes to you who is afraid she has lost her daughter to the world; how do you respond? A man comes to you telling you he has a problem with gambling or alcohol or pornography; how do you respond? A brother or sister comes to you in need of some temporary financial support; how do you respond? In each of these cases, do you say ‘It’s not my responsibility’ or do you show compassion? Yes [of course], spiritual guidance and Scripture should be given, but let us not be so keen on pointing out past errors and the corrective texts that we forget compassion and mercy. That was a major fault of the Pharisees (cf. Matthew 23:4, 14, 23).

In all cases where God gave His people instruction as to how they were to treat or respond to those in need, there was nothing stated about finding out how they came to be in need; that is not the point! Yes, some brethren will make bad choices and end up in financial need; they still need our help. Yes, some brethren will make bad choices and put themselves in spiritual danger because of unlawful marriages; they still need our help. And, yes, sometimes, parents will not train their children as they should and they will suffer the inevitable consequences later; they still need our help.

Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes, I am. And so are you. Knowing this, let us resolve to be less judgmental or apathetic towards our own brethren — even in times when we think they are undeserving of our time or resources. None of us deserved the spiritual help God gave us, yet He was willing to give His Son for us.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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HOW OFTEN DO PEOPLE REFLECT UPON THEIR OWN MORTALITY? WHY DON’T INDIVIDUALS STOP AND REFLECT UPON THEIR ETERNAL DESTINY?

                What a Christian has to Show for His Life

 

Intro.

 
1. Most everyone at some point reflects upon his mortality, Psa. 90:10 (Eccl. 12:1-8).
 
2. “What have I accomplished?” What do I have to show for my life?” “What will I leave to others?” Lk. 12:15-21; Matt. 6:19-21; 16:26
 
3. Christians can/should have a different outlook on life, Phil. 1:19-24.
 
4. What a Christian has to show for his life:
 
 
 
I. FAITH, Heb. 11:1, 6; 2 Cor. 5:7.
 
A. Faith that Holds Jesus as Lord, Jno. 8:24.
 
1. Sovereign Ruler of the world – Therefore, of my life, Matt. 28:18; Col. 3:17.
 
2. When we live in harmony with His will we have a meaningful, accomplished, fulfilled life!
 
B. Faith in God’s Word and Power, Heb. 13:5-6.
 
1. Content with life’s lot, placing faith in God’s presence and promise!
 
2. Contentment is not complacency; it is attitude of sufficiency free of covetousness. Phil. 4:11-13
 
C. Faith that Produces Conversion.
 
1. Some faith does not, Jno. 12:42-43.
 
2. Faith that justifies, Rom. 5:1.
 
3. Faith that continually converts/trans­forms the soul and life is it learns and grows, Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:17-24.
 
D. Wherever You Go, Leave Faith in the World, Lk. 18:8; 2 Tim. 1:5.
 
-The legacy of faith is not one day, but a lifetime (2 Tim. 4:7).
 
 
 
II. FORGIVENESS, Eph. 1:7.
 
A. From God for Our Past Sins, Acts 3:19; 1 Jno. 2:12.
 
1. Sins of our youth, Psa. 25:7 (6-11).
 
2. Sins of our ignorance and injury, 1 Tim. 1:12-15.
 
3. Become a Christian through preaching Jesus, Acts 13:38; 26:18.
 
B. From God for Our Present Sins, Acts 8:22; 1 Jno. 1:8-2:2.
 
C. Forgive Others when they Sin Against Us, Matt. 5:7 (6:12).
 
1. Christians ought to be the most merciful people on earth.
 
2. Tragically, can be the most vindictive and accusing toward others.
 
3. Carry forgiveness with you wherever you go and your load will be lighter, Rom. 12:17-21.
 
D. Leave Forgiveness in this World, Lk. 6:36-38 (Acts 7:60).
 
1. By accepting God’s forgiveness in Christ you are forgiven and you are showing others how they can be forgiven.
 
2. As you forgive you teach others to forgive.
 
 
 
III. FUTURE, Jas. 1:15.
 
-Millions if not billions live with no expectations for the future; meaningless, futile lives without hope.
 
A. The Christian’s Future Holds the Prospect of Spiritual Growth and Maturity, Phil. 3:11-14.
 
1. We must set the daily goal of spiritual growth to achieve it.
 
2. Forget the past (do not be deterred by its failures) and stretch forward to future successes and rewards.
 
B. Christians Trust in Our Living Hope, Heb. 6:18-19.
 
1. Faith, forgiveness and future, 1 Pet. 1:3-4.
 
2. We do not faint like those of the world; our future is bright, 2 Cor. 4:16-18.
 
a. Heavenly home with Jesus, Jno. 14:1-3.
 
b. Crown of righteousness, 2 Tim. 4:7-8.
 
C. Christians Leave this Future to:
 
1. Our children, Psa. 78:4-7 (2 Tim. 1:5).
 
2. Our brethren, Josh. 23:14; 24:15.
 
3. The lost, Mk. 16:15-16.
 
 
 

Conclusion

 
1. The Christian has faith, forgiveness and a future unmatched by anything the world has to offer.
 
2. The Christian need not fret over his mortality. Indeed, the Christian longs for the day when mortality ends and immortality begins! Phil. 1:21-24
 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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A TWO-PART LESSON ON WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT OUR BEING DECEIVED

 
 

                    DECEIVING OURSELVES (2)

 

Intro.

 
1. We are under Christ’s warning to not be deceived & devoured by sin – 1 Pet. 5:8-9.
 
2. Part 1 studied various sources of deception we must know & avoid.
 
3. Among the most tragic & dangerous deceptions we must know & avoid is when we deceive ourselves.
 
a. “No man was ever so much deceived by another as by himself.” (Greville)
 
b. “To be deceived by our enemies or betrayed by our friends in insupportable; yet by ourselves we are often content to be so treated.” (Francois, Duc De La Rochefoucauld)
 
4. It is extremely difficult to overcome, demanding honest & thorough examination of one’s own heart & life – 2 Cor. 13:5.
 
5. We deceive ourselves…
 
 
 
I. BY THINKING TOO HIGHLY OF OUR OWN WISDOM – 1 Cor. 3:18-19.
 
A. The Problem Of Pride – Prov. 3:5-7; 26:12; Isa. 5:21 (Rom. 12:3, 16).
 
1. Must distinguish between opinion & truth.
 
2. “Everyone is entitled to my opinion!”
 
B. Trusting That We Know Better Than God – cf. Jer. 37:9-10.
 
1. Man’s profession of wisdom shows his ignorance – Rom. 1:21-23.
 
2. One must become “foolish” (humbly recognize his limitations) to be wise (approved by God) – 1 Cor. 3:18.
 
3. True of one’s religious life, too! – Jer. 10:23; Prov. 16:25.
 
 
 
II. BY BEING ONLY HEARERS OF GOD’S WORD – Jas. 1:22-25.
 
A. Only Those Who Do God’s Will Are Saved – Matt. 7:21-27.
 
1. Yes, we must hear the word of God to be saved – Lk. 8:12.
 
2. But we must also obey the gospel we hear! – Lk. 6:46; Heb. 5:9
 
a. “Faith only” will not save (Jas. 2:24).
 
b. “Direct operation of HS” will not save (Acts 10:47-48).
 
c. Just living a “good, moral life” will not save (Acts 11:14).
 
d. Not living a faithful Christian life will not save (Rom. 12:1-2; Lk. 6:46).
 
B. If We Think Obedience Is A Burden, We Are Deceiving Ourselves! – 1 Jno. 5:3; 2:5.
 
1. Is it a burden to worship God? – cf. Mal. 1:12-14
 
2. Is it a burden to put God first? – cf. Neh. 13:15-17
 
 
 
III. BY SAYING WE HAVE NO SIN – 1 Jno. 1:8 (Rom. 3:23).
 
A. When We Say That “Sin Is Not Really Sin.” (redefine sin – disease, different lifestyle, man’s opinion, etc.)
 
B. When We Live As If “Ignorance Is Bliss” – Lk. 12:48.
 
C. When We Think We Can Sin & Get By With It – Gal. 6:7-8; Deut. 29:19-20.
 
 
 
IV. BY THINKING WE ARE STRONGER THAN WE ARE – Gal. 6:3.
 
A. We Need To Keep A Humble Heart About The Power Of Sin’s Temptations – cf. Col. 3:12; Rom. 12:16.
 
1. “How could anyone ever do that?!” “I would never commit that sin!” (Pride is a deceiver! – Obadiah 3)
 
2. Shows that we have under-estimated the strength of sin & over-estimated our ability to resist temptation!
 
B. When We Become Over-Confident In Our Spiritual Strength, We Are Ready To Fall – 1 Cor. 10:12; Mk. 14:27-31.
 
 
 
V. BY NOT CONTROLLING OUR TONGUES – Jas. 1:26.
 
A. Worshippers Of God Deceive Themselves This Way – Jas. 1:16.
 
-James has already shown Christians that hearing w/o doing is of no profit, now he shows that doing w/o controlling one’s tongue makes one’s worship vain!
 
B. Misuse Of The Tongue Is A Widespread Problem Among Us! – Jas. 3:2-8
 
1. False teaching – Jas. 3:1.
 
2. Expressions of bitterness & malice – Jas. 3:10 (Eph. 4:31).
 
3. Profanity – Eph. 5:29.
 
4. Gossip – “rumor or report of an intimate nature…a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others.” (Merriam-Webster) – Prov. 20:19
 
5. Backbiting – secret speech intended to belittle, defame & destroy – Prov. 16:28.
 
6. Jas. 3:10 – Be warned! These things should not happen!
 
 
 

Conclusion

 
1. We are all targets of Satan, the great deceiver (Rev. 12:9).
 
2. We must be strong in the strength of the Lord to not deceive ourselves! – Eph. 6:10
 
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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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A TWO-PART LESSON ON WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT OUR BEING DECEIVED

 
 

                            DO NOT BE DECEIVED (1)

 

Intro.

 
1. Deceive: “to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid”…”synonyms beguile, mislead, delude.” (Merriam-Webster)
 
a. Deceive – implies imposing a false idea or belief that causes ignorance, bewilderment, or helplessness <tried to deceive me about the cost>.
 
b. Beguile – mean to lead astray or frustrate usually by underhandedness; it “stresses the use of charm and persuasion in deceiving <was beguiled by false promises>.”
 
c. Mislead – implies a leading astray that may or may not be intentional <I was misled by the confusing sign>.
 
d. Delude – implies deceiving so thoroughly as to obscure the truth <we were deluded into thinking we were safe>.
 
2. There is a clear contrast & choice before us – 2 Tim. 3:12-17.
 
3. God repeatedly warns us! Do not be deceived by…
 
 
 
I. SIN – Heb. 3:13; Rom. 7:11; Jas. 1:12-16.
 
A. That It Satisfies Our Desires (Lusts) – Titus 3:3.
 
B. That It Gives Us Lasting Pleasure – Heb. 11:25.
 
C. That It Brings No Eternal Consequences – 1 Cor. 6:9-10 (Rom. 6:23).
 
D. That It Is Not Seen & Punished By God – Gal. 6:7-8.
 
 
 
II. THE ERROR OF FALSE TEACHERS – Matt. 24:3-5 (11, 24-25); 2 Pet. 2:1-3; 1 Jno. 2:26.
 
-“We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never deceived us.” (Samuel Johnson)
 
A. That Their Teaching Conforms To The Faith – 1 Tim. 4:1.
 
B. That Their Teaching Comes From Christ (apostles) – 2 Ths. 2:1-3
 
C. That Nobody Can Be Sure About All Truth – cf. 1 Jno. 3:7 (Jno. 16:13; Jno. 8:32).
 
D. That They (teachers of error) Are Not Deceivers – 2 Jno. 7-10; 2 Cor. 11:3-4.
 
 
 
III. HUMAN WISDOM – Col. 2:8.
 
A. Persuasive Words – Col. 2:4 (2-3 – void of divine wisdom & knowledge).
 
B. Empty Words – Eph. 5:6. (fruitless: don’t be left “empty-handed”).
 
C. Smooth Words – Rom. 16:17-18 (“good” words & polished speech).
 
 
 
IV. RELIGIOUS FERVOR WHICH LACKS DIVINE APPROVAL – Col. 2:18-19.
 
-Testimonials, visions, experiences, emotionalism – Col. 3:17.
 
 
 
V. THE INFLUENCE OF EVIL ASSOCIATIONS – 1 Cor. 15:33.
 
A. Where We Live (people we live around – cf. Lot, 2 Pet. 2:7-8).
 
B. Where We Work – cf. Titus 2:9-10 (Col. 3:22-23).
 
C. Where We Play – cf. 1 Pet. 4:2-3.
 
 
 

Conclusion

 
1. Jesus warned us: “Take heed, that no one deceives you.” (Matt. 24:4).
 
2. We must heed His warning!
 
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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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ARE YOU BUILDING YOUR LIFE ON THE ROCK OR THE SAND? ARE YOU THE WISE MAN OR THE FOOLISH MAN?

                On What Are You Building Your Life?

Intro.

 
1. Prov. 4:7 (5-9) – Wisdom is the principle thing.
 
2. Jas. 3:13-18: Two choices: Wisdom from above is shown through its (our) good works (Earthly wisdom seen by its works, too).
 
3. Matt. 7:24-27 – A simple contrast between wisdom & foolishness that applies to everyone’s life. We are all building our lives on some sort of foundation that carries with it eternal consequences.
 
 
 
I. THE FOOLISH MAN: BUILDING ON SAND – 7:26-27.
 
-(This person hears but does not obey Jesus – cf. Jas. 4:17; Lk. 8:14)
 
-Some reasons for (ways of) not obeying Jesus’ words:
 
A. Rebellion – 1 Sam. 15:22-23.
 
1. By changing Christ’s words – 15:22; cf. 15:3, 9; Gal. 1:6-7.
 
a. Call evil good & good evil (Isa. 5:20).
 
b. When God’s commands of morality, true worship, godliness, etc. are changed in favor of human wisdom, rebellion occurs!
 
2. Disobedience is rejection of God’s word – 15:23; 13:13-14.
 
3. Today: Become a Christian; Separate from world; Treat spouse properly; Neighbor; children…….Are you rebelling?
 
B. Ignorance (cf. Eph. 5:17).
 
1. Leads to:
 
a. Error – Matt. 22:29.
 
b. Alienation from God – Eph. 4:18.
 
c. Sinful lusts – 1 Pet. 1:14.
 
2. No excuse for sin – Lev. 5:17. -Doesn’t remove the guilt of sin
 
3. Can be remedied – Acts 3:17, 19 – Repent & be converted!
 
-Study – learn – live
 
C. Apathy.
 
1. Spiritual indifference is punished – Zeph. 1:12; Matt. 24:48-51.
 
2. Serve the Lord with diligence – Rom. 12:11; Gal. 6:9.
 
3. Characteristic of one who hears but doesn’t obey Jesus’ words!
 
D. Ritualism.
 
1. Lip service – Matt 15:6-9 — Hypocrisy.
 
2. Hated by God – Amos 5:21-24.
 
E. Feelings.
 
1. Deceptive, yet comforting – Prov. 28:26 (14:12).
 
2. Feelings can interfere with righteousness – cf. Jas. 1:19-20.
 
3. Cf. Saul – Acts 26:9-11 (23:1; 24:16).
 
 
 
II. THE WISE MAN: BUILDING ON ROCK – 7:24-25.
 
A. The Rock of Obedience (Two Parts):
 
1. Hear the words of Christ – Lk. 8:8, 18 (Matt. 13:16, 23).
 
{Rom. 10:17; Jno. 6:44-45; Acts 17:11-12}
 
2. Do the words of Christ – Matt. 7:21; Heb. 5:9.
 
-Obedience is faith & love at work – 1 Jno. 5:1-4.
 
 
 

Conclusion

 
1. Prov. 10:25; 12:7 – The house of the righteous shall stand (cf. Rom. 1:16-17).
 
2. Jas. 3:13 – Are you building your life upon the sand or the rock?
 
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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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FOR GOD IS WORKING IN YOU, GIVING YOU THE DESIRE AND THE POWER TO DO WHAT PLEASES HIM; PHIL 2:13 (NLT)

                       How God Works in Our Lives

 

Intro.

 
1. How human works relate to salvation has long been a point of controversy, Jno. 6:28-29. Clearly, God expects each person to be active in his salvation & service, Jas. 1:21-25; 2:14-17, 24.
 
2. Question: Is it God working or man working when truth is believed & obeyed; when Christ is followed & God is feared?
 
ANS: Both occur, Eph. 2:5-9 (Faith is a work we do, Jno. 6:27-29; 1 Jno. 3:23).
 
a. Without Christ we can do nothing (implies ability to do), Jno. 15:4-5.
 
b. Paul could “do all things” thru Christ (Paul was active), Phil. 4:13.
 
3. We must abide in Christ – His word abides in us – to be saved & bear fruit; to do all God wants us to do, Jno. 15:4-5, 7-8; Eph. 2:10.
 
 
 
I. YES, GOD WORKS IN THE LIVES OF CHRISTIANS.
 
A. “The Power that Works in Us,” Eph. 3:20-21.
 
1. Not a mystical experience; not a direct action of the Holy Spirit.
 
2. CONTEXT identifies the power (dunamis) that works in us:
 
a. Father grants strengthen with power, 3:14-16.
 
b. Spirit of God works on the inner man, 3:16.
 
c. Result: Christ dwells in heart by faith, 3:17 (Jno.14:21,23-24)
 
d. Benefits: Rooted in love, able to lay hold of & know the love of Christ & be filled with all the fullness of God, 3:17-19.
 
3. 3:20: The power that works in us is the power of the gospel (produces & strengthens faith, Rom. 10:17; Jas. 1:21; Col. 3:16); cf. the power of faith, 1 Jno. 5:4.
 
4. Col. 1:9-11 is parallel: Both God & man are active.
 
5. Phil. 2:12-13: God works in us as we work for Him:
 
a. Man (katergazomai): to perform, accomplish, achieve…to do that from which something results.
 
b. God (energeo): Effective, to be operative.
 
6. Heb. 13:20-21: God works in us thru Christ (faith) [2 Cor. 5:9].
 
 
 
II. HOW GOD WORKS IN OUR LIVES.
 
A. Through the Gospel, Rom. 1:16; Acts 2:37, 39 (calls, convicts & saves); 16:13-15 (heard, Lord opened heart, baptized…faithful).
 
1. God uses the gospel to convict & convert, Jno. 6:44-45.
 
2. Otherwise, God is blamed for closing some hearts while opening others, Acts 10:34-35 (1 Tim. 2:3-4).
 
3. God is effectively working (energeo) thru His word, 1 Ths. 2:13.
 
B. Through Human Agents.
 
1. Rom. 10:14: Preacher…hear…believe…call on the Lord…saved.
 
2. Acts 8:30-39: Teacher Philip did not negate God’s power that saved the man; introduced him to it.
 
3. “We are God’s fellow workers” (laborers together), 1 Cor. 3:9.
 
4. The work of men (inspired & uninspired) helps perfect us, Eph. 4:11-13.
 
5. God works through us, 2 Cor. 6:1 (Matt. 25:34-40).
 
C. Through Prayer & Providence, Matt. 7:7, 11; Jno. 15:7 (1 Jno. 3:22); Matt. 6:25-34.
 
1. Prayer taps into the Power of the universe, the love of the Father, the devotion of a trusted Friend.
 
2. His word abides in us…keep His commandments.
 
3. God supplies all our needs (Matt. 6:33; Phil. 4:19).
 
 
 
III. WE MUST DO GOD’S WORK IN OUR LIVES, Jno. 6:27-29; 9:4.
 
A. Faith is a Work we Must do (a command we must obey, 1 Jno. 2:23; Phil. 2:12-13); “Trust & Obey.”
 
B. False Notions we must Carefully Avoid:
 
1. Any “work” is earning salvation (merit) (Eph. 2:9; Jas. 2:24).
 
2. Any “work” denies grace (Acts 10:34-35).
 
3. Any “work” is of human origin (Eph. 2:10).
 
4. Any “work” denies God’s power (Phil. 2:12-13).
 
 
 

Conclusion

 
1. We must allow God to work in our lives. God works in our lives through faith (which comes from the word of God).
 
2. When we live by faith, God is working in us to produce what pleases Him (Heb. 13:21).
 
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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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                      Struggling with Life’s Injustices

By Wayne Jackson

 
A gentleman who professed an identification with the Lord, became quite disenchanted with Christianity. When an interested friend inquired as to the nature of his problem, he replied:
 
According to the Bible, God promised that those who follow him will be blessed with health and prosperity. As I observe Christian people, I see vast numbers who are sick and poor. I can no longer believe in the promises of God.
 
What response should be made to this troubled man? There are three possible ways to evaluate the argument stated above.
 
First, there is the charge that God has failed in his promises. This suggests either he is unable to complete his pledges (in which case he is impotent), or else he had no intention of fulfilling his bargain (which would make him deceptive). In either event, the fault would lie with God.
 
Second, one may suppose God is both willing and able to bless humanity with physical-material health and wealth; and, invariably, he does. Those who enjoy wholeness and prosperity are the righteous; those who do not are flawed in character. Any lack, therefore, is with man.
 
Third, another possibility is that the assumptions of the argument cited above are grounded in a misunderstanding of certain passages relating to physical and material well-being. In this case, the problem would be with the critic’s misinterpretation—not with the texts of the Bible.
 
Let us give consideration to each of these possibilities.
The Skeptical Theory
 
The first of the above listed propositions partakes of the nature of that ancient argument employed so often by skeptics. If God cannot do it, he is powerless, hence, not God; if the Creator will not do it, he is malevolent, thus, not God. If he has both the power and the will, why the seeming injustice?
 
The assumption in this position, of course, is that ignorant man is qualified to pass judgment upon divine actions. Consequently, if the Maker of men is not operating according to how we might do it, he is faulted as lacking either ability or will. But the “ways” of Heaven are beyond human analysis (Job 9:12b; Isaiah 55:8; Romans 11:33).
 
The fact of the matter is, God, in real history, has demonstrated both his ability and integrity in keeping his promises. Twenty centuries before the birth of Christ, Jehovah promised Abraham that through his “seed” all nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 22:18). The prophecy pointed to the coming of Christ (Galatians 3:16).
 
Even though Abraham and Sarah were aged, and without offspring at the time, the patriarch never wavered concerning the promise, for he knew that “what [God] had promised, he was able to perform” (Romans 4:21). Too, God’s integrity was never suspect, for, as the writer of Hebrews noted (in discussing this very circumstance), it is an immutable proposition that it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:13-18).
 
The messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, combined with the facts relative to Jesus of Nazareth, confirm both the integrity and ability of the Almighty.
The Character Argument
 
The idea that one’s character can be determined by his physical well-being, or his material prosperity, though widespread, reflects an erroneous generalization. While it occasionally is the case that the Bible provides examples of prosperity as a result of righteousness, that is far from the rule. Consider two cases from the Old Testament.
 
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar insisted that Job’s plight (during which he lost all his material resources and his health) was a result of his lack of spirituality. The patriarch supposedly had committed grievous sins; if he would only repent, God would restore his well-being. The truth was otherwise. Job’s losses were the result of his goodness; he was Jehovah’s unique servant (Job 1:8; 2:3). The Lord permitted Job’s deprivation because he was proud of him, and knew he could maintain his integrity (13:15).
 
Reflect upon the case of Asaph (Psalm 73). He surveyed society and noted the “prosperity of the wicked” (v. 3). He almost abandoned his faith at this seeming inequity—until Jehovah showed him the “latter end” of evil people (v. 17), and he learned the lesson that godliness cannot be judged by material status.
 
And what of this?: (a) Jesus’ circumstances during his earthly sojourn were those of the impoverished (2 Corinthians 8:9); the Son of man did not even have a place to lay his head (Matthew 8:20). Did these meager conditions reflect God’s lack of fidelity? (b) Paul frequently was in situations where he lacked material prosperity (2 Corinthians 11:27); in addition, he was afflicted with a terrible physical malady (12:7). Surely it will not be suggested that these difficulties were the result of the apostle’s evil way of life.
Misunderstood Texts
 
Without doubt, there are biblical passages that promise prosperity and well-being, in some sense, to those who are faithful to God.
 
When the nation of Israel left Egypt, Jehovah informed them: “I will put on you none of the diseases which I have put on the Egyptians: for I am Jehovah who heals you” (Exodus 15:26). And Isaiah declared that “by [Christ’s] stripes we are healed” (53:5).
 
Solomon affirmed that the one who honors God with his substance, with his first-fruits, will have overflowing prosperity (Proverbs 3:9), and Malachi described the Lord as opening the “windows of heaven” and pouring out a blessing too bountiful to receive (3:10).
 
How are these passages to be explained? There are a number of scriptural truths that will help bring balance to this oft misunderstood subject.
Principles of Well-Being
 
Death was visited upon man because of his transgression of divine law (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12). In this earthly environment, therefore, humanity will never be exempt from sickness and death. Be that as it may, there are principles within sacred Scripture that will, as a general rule, enhance longevity.
 
There were many sound principles in the Mosaic code that facilitated the good health the Israelites generally enjoyed. Dr. S. I. McMillen has discussed this theme in his book, None of These Diseases (1963). (See also our chapter, “The God Who Heals,” in Jackson, 2000.)
 
As a rule, it is assumed that parental love will motivate mothers and fathers to train their children in sound health principles, so that it “may be well” with them, and that they “may live long upon the earth” (Ephesians 6:3). This certainly does not mean, though, that the Christian’s children are immune to illness, or will never die prematurely. This is a principle, not an inflexible law.
 
The proverb cited above (3:9) contains a secluded truth supplied by the subsequent context. Derek Kidner has observed that generously giving to God of one’s first and best in “the face of material pressures” is, in truth, a test of faith, and is a vivid commentary on a man’s character (1964). Such a person, who so selflessly serves God, will be honor-bound to treat his fellows fairly. The practice of noble ethics in business (discussed in vv. 27ff) will generate respect and rebound to the righteous man’s personal prosperity.
 
Again, though, this is not an iron-solid rule; obviously there will be times when the generous and honest Christian becomes the victim of those who take advantage of him. Such cases, however, do not invalidate the principle.
The Use of Figurative Language
 
The Bible abounds with figures of speech. Hyperbole (exaggeration for emphasis) is common (cf. John 21:25), and metonymy (one thing put for another) is a frequent teaching device. In his classic book, Hermeneutics, D. R. Dungan consumed more than forty pages in discussing this latter figure alone. How does an understanding of this type of expression fit into our discussion?
 
There are occasions in Scripture when spiritual concepts are conveyed in physical or material terms. A failure to recognize this teaching mode can result in the misinterpretation of important biblical texts.
 
(1) When Isaiah declared that “healing” would result from the benefits of Jesus’ death, he was not speaking of physical healing, but a healing (forgiveness) from sin, as the immediate context reveals (53:5-6; note “transgressions,” “iniquities”), and this was confirmed later by Peter (see 1 Peter 2:24-25).
 
(2) The prophet Joel spoke of “those days” when Jehovah would pour out his Spirit and supernatural phenomena would result (2:28-30). In Acts 2, Peter informed his Hebrew auditors that the events of that day (the apostles being overwhelmed by the Spirit’s power – v. 4; cf. 1:5) were a fulfillment of Joel’s oracle (2:16). This was the commencement of the Christian age.
 
In connection with this wonderful era, Joel announced that “the mountains shall drop down sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk,” etc. (3:18ff). The prosperity here described is not an agricultural boon; rather, the material is used to depict the spiritual. Those who attempt to literalize all the prosperity passages should take note of this idiom.
 
A survey of the terms “rich” and “riches,” as used in the New Testament, will demonstrate that these words are employed far more frequently of spiritual prosperity than they are of material wealth.
The Mysteries of Providence
 
We do not deny that God can, and does, bless his people in a physical-material way, consistent with his own will, by means of his providential activity upon the earth (see A Study of Divine Providence).
 
God had mercy on Epaphroditus, who had been “sick to the point of death” (Philippians 2:25-27)—with apparently no miracle involved. This does not mean, though, that every child of God will recover from terminal conditions. To draw general conclusions from isolated Bible examples can lead to a variety of errors.
 
The Lord providentially directed his ravens to provide Elijah with bread (1 Kings 17:4, 6), and he has urged us to petition him for our daily sustenance (Matthew 6:11); but that does not mean that the child of God will never be bereft of food. He may be in need due to self-sacrifice, persecution, natural disaster, or plain laziness (see 2 Corinthians 11:27; Acts 11:28; 27:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:10).
 
One’s level of physical-material well-being, or lack thereof, is: (a) not a reflection upon God’s ability or his concern, and (b) not the measure of a person’s standing before the Lord.
A Concluding Point
 
There is a strong argument that may be made against the position being reviewed that almost seems too obvious to mention. If it were the case that an inflexible rule obtains in the divine order of things, that spirituality produces health and wealth, the following would clearly result:
 
(1) Little children, the purest of earth’s society, would never get sick and die; yet, in many third-world nations, sweet children starve, their bodies are racked with disease, and they prematurely go to God.
 
(2) The wicked of the earth sometimes are more prosperous than the godly, and the righteous do not always outlive the non-Christian population.
 
(3) If wealth was the direct result of becoming a Christian, men would be prone to accept the gospel, not because of their convictions regarding God’s Son, but merely out of materialistic self-interest. Such would bring no honor to either the Creator or the creature. The Almighty expects motives nobler than this.
 
One should never allow life’s difficulties to distort his view of God.
 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

SLAVES SERVANTS SPIRITUALITY AND SERVICE; WHAT’S THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THESE FOUR?

                          CHRISTIANS ARE SERVANTS

 

Intro.

 
1. The apostles & prophets of Christ regarded themselves as His servants (Paul, Rom. 1:1; Timothy, Phil. 1:1; James 1:1; Peter – 2 Pet. 1:1; Jude 1)
 
2. Every Christian is a servant of God – Rom. 6:22.
 
3. A person can serve either sin or righteousness – Rom. 6:15-18. We cannot serve both at the same time – Matt. 6:24.
 
4. What is a servant? doulos {doo’-los}
 
a. a slave, bondman, man of servile condition (1 Cor. 7:21).
 
b. metaph., one who gives himself up wholly to another’s will (1 Cor. 7:23).
 
c. devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests (Matt. 20:27-28).
 
5. How do we become servants of Christ? What must we serve (and not serve)? What must characterize our service?
 
 
 
I. BECOMING SERVANTS OF CHRIST.
 
A. We Have Been Bought With A Price – 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 7:23.
 
1. As a master purchased servants, so Christ, by His blood, has purchased us to be His servants – 1 Pet. 1:18-21.
 
2. Therefore, our duty is to Christ – 1 Cor. 7:23.
 
B. We Must Present (Offer, Yield) Ourselves To Christ As His Servants – Rom. 6:16.
 
1. Not a forced purchase!
 
2. 6:17-18 – Transaction occurs when we obey from the heart the gospel!
 
a. To “do sin” makes one a bondservant of sin – Jno. 8:34.
 
b. Likewise, to “do righteousness” makes one a servant of it – 1 Jno. 2:29.
 
 
 
II. CHRISTIANS MUST NOT SERVE:
 
A. Sin – Rom. 6:1, 19-23 (6:11-14); Jno. 8:34.
 
1. A conscious decision & effort of our part to not obey its lusts.
 
2. Will we sin? Yes. Will we serve sin? No! – 1 Jno. 1:6; 2:1-2.
 
3. The wages of sin is death – Rom. 6:23.
 
B. Mammon – Matt. 6:24. (Money, treasure, riches – Materialism).
 
1. 1 Tim. 6:9-10 – “Minded to be rich” makes us servants of $.
 
2. Matt. 6:25 – These things are not as important as you are! (Matt. 16:26).
 
C. Their Own Belly (Given Up To Selfish Pleasure & Desire) – Rom. 16:18; cf. Titus 3:1-3. (False teaching, 6:17; malice, hatred – 3:3)
 
D. The Creature Rather Than The Creator – Rom. 1:25.
 
1. By exchanging His truth for the lies of man – 1:25 (19).
 
2. By making God after our own image – 1:22-23.
 
 
 
III. CHRISTIANS MUST SERVE:
 
A. God – Matt. 4:10; 1 Ths. 1:9; Heb. 9:14 (Matt. 22:37).
 
B. Christ – Jno. 12:26.
 
1. With sacrifice – 12:25.
 
2. When we forego our liberties – Rom. 14:16-18.
 
3. And when we stand in sound doctrine – Rom. 16:17-18.
 
C. Righteousness – Rom. 6:19-22.
 
1. Sanctified (set apart) from sin’s dominion (6:14).
 
2. Using the word of God – 2 Tim. 3:16-17.
 
D. One Another – Gal. 5:13; 6:2 (Matt. 20:26-27; 25:40).
 
1. The spiritually weak – cf. 1 Ths. 5:14.
 
2. The spiritually strong – cf. 2 Tim. 4:16 (1 Ths. 5:14-15).
 
E. All Men – Gal. 6:10; 1 Ths. 5:15.
 
 
 
IV. OUR SERVICE TO GOD MUST BE CHARACTERIZED BY:
 
A. A Willing Mind – 2 Cor. 8:12. (Not forced, coerced)
 
B. Devotion – cf. Phil. 2:19-22.
 
C. Humility – 1 Pet. 5:5 (Acts 20:19).
 
D. Sacrifice – Matt. 20:28.
 
E. Reverence – Heb. 12:28-29.
 
 
 

Conclusion

 
Matt. 24:45-51 – Servants will be judged & rewarded by their Master, Jesus Christ!
 
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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

HOW MANY OF US LIVE UP TO THE STANDARDS OF GOD’S TEACHING ABOUT MEEKNESS AND HUMILITY?

Meekness and Humility

                           God’s Cure for Pride, Haughtiness, and Egotism

What does the Bible teach about meekness, humility, gentleness, and lowliness? How can God help us overcome pride, arrogance, haughtiness, self-will, selfishness, egotism, and self-assertiveness?

Why should people be meek and humble? What problems are caused by pride, arrogance, ego, self-exaltation, haughtiness, and self-will? Should you learn self-assertiveness, or should you learn not to be proud and haughty? What does the Bible teach about meekness, humility, gentleness, and lowliness in contrast to pride, selfishness, self-will, and arrogance?

Introduction:

Two of the greatest characters in the Bible possessed in common the qualities we want to study in this lesson.

Numbers 12:3 – Moses was very meek, above all men on face of the earth.

Matthew 11:29,30 – Jesus said, “I am meek and lowly in heart.”

These men were two of the greatest characters who ever lived. Both were chosen by God to be givers of His law. Jesus was the Divine Son of God. Surely we should seek to be like these men.

Other verses emphasize the importance of these qualities

Matthew 5:5 – Blessed are the meek (gentle – NKJV), for they shall inherit the earth. Jesus declares a “blessing” (happiness) on those who are meek.

Galatians 5:22,23 – Meekness is one of the fruits of the Spirit – qualities that we must possess if we are led by the Spirit.

Proverbs 16:18,19 – Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly.

If we seek to be happy, to be led by the Spirit, to avoid destruction, and to be like great people such as Moses and Jesus, we need to possess meekness and humility.

It is the purpose of this lesson to study these qualities, what they are, and how they will affect our lives. As we study, we will frequently note Moses and Jesus as examples who teach us about meekness and humility.

Definitions:

Meekness

This is an extremely difficult word to translate into English, because we think “meek” implies weakness. Sometimes it is translated (NKJV) “gentleness,” but that also implies weakness.

The best way to know the meaning of a word is to study passages where it is used. As we do, we will see meekness is an attitude or quality of heart [1 Peter 3:4] whereby a person willingly accepts and submits without resistance to the will and desires of someone else. The meek person is not self-willed – not continually concerned with self, his own ways, ideas, and wishes. He is willing to put himself in second place and submit himself to achieve what is good for others. Meekness is the opposite of self-will, self-interest, and self-assertiveness.

This is a sign, not of weakness of character (as some think), but of strength. It requires great self-control to submit to others.

Humility

This is an attitude or quality of mind [Acts 20:19] whereby a person holds low esteem or opinion of his own goodness and importance. Spiritually, one abases himself because he realizes his sinfulness and therefore he is willing to depend on God to meet His needs. It is the opposite of pride, haughtiness, and self-exaltation.

Part I: Meekness and Humility Toward God

In the Bible, meekness is primarily emphasized as submissiveness toward God (rather than toward men). As directed toward God, meekness and humility require the following:

I. We Must Recognize Our Sinfulness and Our Dependence On God.

A. We Must Recognize Our Sinfulness.

Luke 18:9-14

A Pharisee trusted in himself that he was righteous, prayed with himself, thanking God he was better than other people. Note the Pharisee’s emphasis on self, exaltation of self, and his failure to see his sins.

The Publican pleaded for mercy admitting he was a sinner. Note the conclusion in v14 – One who exalts self will be abased, one who humbles self will be exalted! Humility is the opposite of self-exaltation and self-righteousness.

A preacher once preached a sermon on this story and afterward a man prayed, “Lord, we thank thee that we are not proud like that Pharisee”! He was doing the very thing he was saying he was not doing! We are all sinners. We have no right to look down on anyone as if we deserve salvation because we are so good, and they don’t deserve it. We can be more righteous than the Pharisee, but only by humbling ourselves like the publican and calling on God to forgive us.

1 John 1:8,10

If we say we have not sinned, we are liars. We are all sinners, and often need forgiveness. We all deserve to be punished for our sins. We have hope of salvation only by God’s gracious willingness to forgive. We are no better than the Pharisee or publican, in the sense we are all sinners.

B. We Must Depend on God.

Note the example of Moses – Deuteronomy 8:3,11-14,16-18

Moses knew that man lives, not by bread alone, but by the word of God. Our physical blessings come, not by our own power and might, but from God. All good things come from God.

We must appreciate how weak we would be without Him. This leads us to depend on God to meet our needs. In turn, we then appreciate and exalt Him.

Note the teaching of Jesus – Matthew 18:1-4.

The greatest in the kingdom is one who is humble like a little child. I have heard people say a child is humble because it is forgiving. Perhaps, but a child is not just forgiving; he is totally dependent on his parents.

Where does a child receive what he needs? Who provides his food, changes his diaper, and dresses him? When he has pain, for whom does he call? A child is weak, but he knows Momma and Daddy can meet his needs. So humility leads us to humbly admit our need for God.

Proper humility toward God is an admission of our own weakness, sinfulness, unprofitableness, and inability to obtain or accomplish by ourselves the things we need. We need help from someone far greater than we are. God knows what we need and what is good better than we know, and He has power to do what needs done. Humility will lead us to appreciate Him, trust His will, and give Him the glory, rather than exalting self.

II. We Must Submit To God’s Commands.

If we know our weaknesses and our tendency to err, in contrast to God’s wisdom and power, we should be willing to do what He says. We should believe that His will is best and that we will receive His aid only if we obey Him.

A. Note the Examples of Moses and of Jesus

The example of Moses

Numbers 12:3,6,7 – He was very meek. He was faithful in all God’s house.

Exodus 40:16 – He did according to all that Jehovah commanded him, so did he.

Hebrews 8:5 – He built all things according to the pattern shown him.

The example of Jesus

Philippians 2:8 – Having come to earth as a man, Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient, even to the point of dying on the cross.

Hebrews 4:15 – He was tempted in all points like we are yet without sin.

1 Peter 2:21,22 – He left us an example that we should follow His steps. He did no sin nor was guilt found in His mouth.

Both Moses and Jesus are expressly noted for their meekness and humility, and both were thoroughly obedient to God.

B. Applications to Us

James 1:21-25 – Meekness toward God’s word requires putting away filth and wickedness. Be doers of the word, not just hearers.

James 4:6-10 – God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves in the sight of God and He will exalt you. Therefore be subject to God, draw nigh to Him, cleanse your hands, purify your hearts, be afflicted, mourn, and weep. This is the true effect of humility in our lives, just as in Jesus’ life (cf. 1 Peter 1:22).

When we are truly humble, and hold ourselves in low esteem compared to God’s exalted greatness, we will submit to His will. This is why Scripture so often associates repentance with humbling oneself. [1 Kings 21:27ff; 2 Chronicles 7:13f; Isaiah 57:15; 1 Peter 5:5-9; Proverbs 15:31-33]

Matthew 16:24 – Here is an excellent definition of “meekness,” without using the word. To be meek is to deny self.

The selfish person says “I want this, I want that….” True meekness says, “So what! What does God want?” Is this really best according to God’s way? God’s ways are so much better than ours that we will submit.

Someone says, “Well, don’t we ever get to consider what we want?” Yes, but be careful. When it doesn’t matter according to God’s will, then we may consider our own will. But the meek person carefully considers God’s will first, then his own will last. It is very easy to sub-consciously desire to please ourselves, so we conclude an act doesn’t matter to God, when really it does matter to Him. We must question every act, word, thought as to what effect it will have on our service to God. Then we do only what we are sure will please God.

III. We Must Accept Circumstances of Life According to God’s Will.

 

A meek and humble person will accept persecution, mistreatment, suffering, or hardship without rebelling against God and without doubting His wisdom. We will accept the fact that He has chosen to allow this to happen for His good purposes.

A. Note the Examples of Moses and Jesus

Example of Moses:

Numbers 11:10-15 – Moses had problems most of us would never submit to. People constantly complained about his leadership, even though he was just doing what God said. How many of us would have stood for it? No wonder he was called the meekest man on earth! In fact, it was a complaint against him that occasioned the statement that he was so meek (12:1-3).

Example of Jesus:

Acts 8:32,33 – He was led as a sheep to the slaughter [Isaiah 53:7f].

Matthew 26:39 – Was it hard for Jesus to go to the “slaughter”? Did this take meekness? He said, “Not my will but thine be done.”

Philippians 2:8 – Jesus left the glory of heaven, humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of the death on the cross. Consider how much humility and meekness would be required for one to willingly leave the glory of heaven to come to earth to live as a man and die as a criminal to save others.

B. Application to Us

Hebrews 12:2-6 – Jesus was our example. We should be willing to submit to suffering just as He did. We have suffered nothing like He did, yet we often tend to rebel against our problems.

Deuteronomy 8:1-5,15,16 – God allows circumstances that chasten us in order to keep us humble, submissive to His will, and dependent on Him. This will do us good in the end.

We want to control our own lives. I get panicky when I feel unable to do anything about problems I don’t want to face. But facing hardships, that we cannot solve alone, helps make us humble. We see our weakness and we turn to God for help. Then we appreciate Him and see our need for Him.

This does not mean we should blame God for causing all problems that come, nor does it mean we only have problems when we sin. Sometimes our problems are caused by our own sins. But sometimes, like Job, we have not sinned, but God allows Satan to cause hardships. Satan is ultimately responsible for the existence of troubles, but God uses them to make us humble.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – Paul’s thorn in the flesh kept him from being overly exalted. Satan, not God, brought the problem. But God allowed it to remain, because it produced good for Paul. So our problems may be allowed because they keep us from becoming proud and self-reliant.

This does not mean we should put ourselves in hard circumstances, nor that we avoid improving our circumstances. If we can escape our problems, we should do so and give thanks to God. But if He chooses to allow the problem to continue, we should not blame Him but appreciate the lessons such problems can teach us.

Hardships work for our good if we endure faithfully. The meek and humble person realizes this and submits without rebelling or being bitter against God.

IV. We Must Resist Error and False Teaching in the Lives of Others.

 

Some people believe that a meek person should not speak out against error. Anytime anybody rebukes other people for sin, some people think he is self-willed, stubborn, pushy, wants to exalt himself, get his own way, etc. Some people today want to “change the image of the church,” because they oppose a militant stand against error. “We shouldn’t be so forceful in telling people they are wrong. We need to be more meek and loving.”

A. Note the Example of Moses and Jesus

Remember, the Bible expressly honors these men as examples of meekness and humility. Did they resist the errors of others?

The example of Moses

Exodus 32:19,20 – Moses became angry at the sin of God’s people. Vv 26-28,30 – He told them they sinned, and he called for disciplinary action. Yet he was the meekest man on earth! This is the act of a meek man!

I have known people who say a preacher should never become angry in preaching. But Moses did in this case and other cases. And so did Jesus.

“That doesn’t seem meek to me.” Such views show that people don’t understand meekness. Moses is an example of ultimate meekness.

There is no conflict between Biblical meekness and firm opposition to error. The conflict exists only because people misunderstand meekness.

The example of Jesus

Matthew 15:3-9,12-14 – Jesus plainly described the sin of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were offended and Jesus’ disciples told Him so. Did He apologize? No, he proceeded to call them blind guides and told the disciples not to follow them. Should He have apologized for not being meek enough?

Matthew 23:15-17,27,28,33 – Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, sons of hell, blind guides, fools and blind, whited sepulchers, full of hypocrisy and iniquity, generation of vipers. “How shall you escape the damnation of hell?”

These are the statements of a meek man! “I am meek and lowly in heart.”

Jesus was without sin. There is no conflict between meekness and powerful rebuke of sin, even to the point of naming specific groups or individuals who are guilty.

[John 8:41-47,54,55]

B. Applications to Us

Meekness requires that we too oppose sin and false doctrine in the lives of others.

Galatians 6:1 – If a man is overtaken in a fault, those who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of meekness. Meekness does not mean we do not show others they are wrong. We are commanded to show them their error in meekness.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 – In meekness correct those who oppose themselves so they can recover themselves from the snare of the Devil. People are simply mistaken if they think a meek person will never tell others they are wrong. Meekness leads us to tell others they are wrong – the same verses that say to be meek, also command us to correct others!

Meekness, like love, is exercised first toward God.

Meekness is a willingness to submit, but our primary submission must be to the will of God. One must not force for his own personal will to the hindrance of the cause of Christ, but he must stand firmly for God’s way even to the point of resisting all that differs from God’s way. Why? Because God tells us to do this, so we must do it or we are not meekly submitting to God!

Meekness is the quality of character that demands that we must speak out against error. Like Moses and Jesus, a meek person above all else wants to see God’s will respected and obeyed. When a meek person sees people disregarding the will of God, he will be moved to indignation because people are not respectful of God’s will. A meek person cares about God’s will being done!

Elders, preachers, and Christians who speak out against sin are the only kind who are really meek. Those who don’t speak out against error are the ones that are not meek – they don’t have enough concern for God’s will!

Later we will see that meekness affects how we speak out. We should not start by calling people “generation of vipers”, etc., the first time we try to teach them. And we won’t use such forceful language with people who are humbly trying to do right but just have a misunderstanding. But when people have had many opportunities to know the truth and they still disregard it, then strong language is needed. But in all cases of sin, we must help people turn away from sin, and to do so is meek.

Meekness expresses itself first and foremost in an attitude of willingness to submit to God’s will. Are you meek? Are you submitting to His will?

Part II: Meekness and Humility Toward Other People

Meekness toward God is the most fundamental and basic sense in which we must be meek and humble. Yet as it is with love, so it is with meekness: if we are truly meek toward God, this will lead us to be meek and humble toward other people. In our relations with other people, meekness and humility requires us to do the following:

I. We Must Submit to Human Authority Ordained by God.

 

We do not say that men have the right to make laws in religion that fall outside the realm of what God’s word authorizes. But God’s word says that we must also be subject to various forms of human authority. Note some instances where meekness and humility are expressly mentioned regarding our submission to these authorities:

A. Citizens’ Submission to Civil Rulers

Titus 3:1,2 – In the same context where we are told to be meek (gentle – NKJV) and humble toward all men (v2), we are also told to be subject and obedient toward rulers and authorities.

1 Peter 2:13-15 – Be submissive to ordinances of man, whether king or governors, or to proper representatives of these rulers. Why should we submit? Because it is God’s will. Meek submission to God’s law will lead us to meekly submit to rulers.

Why is it that people refuse to submit to laws? Why cheat on taxes? Why disobey speed laws, etc.? Because we don’t want to do what the law says, we want to do what we want. We are self-willed, unwilling to deny self. What qualities do we need so we can avoid these attitudes? We need meekness and humility – willingness to set aside our will and submit to the will of the rulers.

B. Wives’ Submission to Husbands

1 Peter 3:1-6 – Repeatedly God says wives are to be submissive to their husbands. In the midst of this teaching, he requires women to be adorned with a “meek (gentle – NKJV) and quiet” spirit. Note this instruction is in the middle of the discussion of obedience to husbands. Why?

Why do many modern women deny the concept that man is head of the family? Why are so many women unhappy and rebellious toward the idea of following the will of their husbands?

There are several reasons, including the fact many husbands selfishly misuse their authority and fail to treat their wives with honor and respect (v7). But some wives have trouble obeying when their husbands do not accept their wives’ view, even when husbands are respectful. And Peter said wives should obey husbands even when husbands are not obeying God’s word (v1).

Why do women struggle with this? Because it is so “humiliating” to have to do what a man says. Woman has her own ideas about what she wants to do. “My ideas are just as good as his.” “I’ve got my pride, you know.” Many women are encouraged by modern humanistic psychologists to be “self-assertive” and “stand up for themselves.” God says what is needed is a “meek and quiet spirit.”

There are other forms of ordained authority we must submit to: children to parents, employees to employers, etc. None of us is free to do just whatever we want. All of us need to learn meekness and humility.

Note we are to submit first to God; we do not obey man when he tells us to disobey God (Acts 5:29). But we still are not doing what we want. We do what God demands first, then what those in authority demand. We do what we want only when allowed to by God and by proper human authorities.

The solution to our stubborn, rebellious attitude toward authority is meekness and humility.

II. We Must Honor Others Rather Than Exalting Ourselves.

One who is truly meek and humble does not belittle or neglect the good qualities of others in order to obtain glory and honor and recognition for himself.

Romans 12:3 – Don’t think more highly of self than you ought to think, but think soberly.

“Think so as to have sound judgment” (NASB). Be honest and realistic in evaluating yourself compared to others. It is easy to think we more capable than others, have better ideas than others, deserve greater honor than others, when this may not be the case. Specifically:

Admit your weaknesses and especially your sins.

Most people tend to overlook their own sins or downplay the seriousness of them. When I do something, it’s a weakness or personality deficiency; when you do the same thing, it’s a sin. We already showed we are all sinners. None of us deserve the honor of eternal life any more than anyone else.

Appreciate the good qualities of others.

Other people do have good points, and often they are better than we are in some areas. We tend to exaggerate our own good points, and exaggerate other people’s bad points. The fact we have different abilities from someone else does not mean we are more important than they or more worthy of honor than they (note vv 4,5).

Give God credit for what good points you do have.

“…think soberly as God has dealt to each one…” If a sober evaluation shows you do have abilities and righteousness, remember you could as easily have been born in far more deprived circumstances. And you are righteous only because God has forgiven the sins you committed. Give glory to God.

Romans 12:16 – Do not set your mind on high things … Do not be wise in your own opinion.

A humble person does not focus on how to make a big impression on people or how to receive glory and honor. Some people won’t accept any job, situation, or relationship unless they think it will exalt them in the eyes of others. “What will people think?” Give them a job that lifts them up before people, and they’ll do it. Give them a job nobody knows about and it never gets done (or is done only begrudgingly).

The humble person will accept any task whereby he can help people, no matter how humble that task is in the eyes of men. He will associate with any people whom he can help and who will help him serve God, even if the world does not highly exalt those people.

Romans 12:15 – Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

Some people are too proud to be glad when other people receive honor and respect. They think that honor should have come to themselves. Some are too proud to be really sorry when other people have problems. They think those people had it coming to them.

A humble person is sincerely glad when people receive what is really good for them (by God’s standard), and he sincerely weeps with people who are troubled.

[Luke 18:9-14; 14:7-11; 16:15; Titus 3:2,3]

III. We Must Serve the Needs and Interests of Others

A humble person is willing to inconvenience himself in order to help others. He is willing to forego his own desires so other people can receive what they need.

Matthew 23:11,12 – Greatness is measured in terms of service rendered to others.

People then, like now, thought greatness was measured by how much honor you receive from people or how much authority you possess (vv 5-10). If you dominate and control others, you are important.

But we are really great (worthy of being exalted by God) if we humble ourselves to do what is good for others, regardless of what men think. This does not mean authority is evil. We have already seen that God ordained it. Jesus possessed it, yet he was meek. The point is just having authority does not make you great. Service makes you great, and you can do that with or without authority. But service requires humility.

[Matthew 20:25-28; 1 Peter 5:5]

Philippians 2:2-8 – Each should count others better than himself (v3).

This does not advocate false humility wherein we think everybody has more ability than we do. Should my wife think I am a better cook than she is? Should a professional carpenter or musician think I am better than he is? NASB: “Let each one of you regard one another as more important than himself.” I must be willing to let your needs and problems take priority over mine.

V4 – Let each of you look out, not just for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

I should have enough concern for your wellbeing that I am willing to set aside my own desires in order to serve your needs.

Genesis 13 – Abraham illustrates this with Lot. He let Lot have first choice. He could have insisted, as the older man, that he have first choice. But he humbled himself and let Lot choose. Some people think, “You’re first, after me.”

“As I consider you above, you likewise consider me above, and so [on] all around. [The result is] a marvelous community in which no one is looked down upon, but everyone is looked up to” (Lenski). I should deny and sacrifice myself to the point of eliminating self-concern so I can allow your needs to be met.

Vv 5-8 – Jesus is the example. He was meek and lowly.

Though He was in heaven with God, in the form of God, He humbled Himself and came to earth as a man, and obeyed to the point of death. Why? To meet our needs. To be of service to us. We should have that mind in us (v5).

IV. We Must Help Others Overcome Sin.

We have learned that, contrary to some people’s view, meekness does not require us to keep quiet when others sin; rather, we should show them their error. However, meekness toward others will affect the manner in which we do this.

A. Teach with Compassion and Self-control for the Proper Purpose.

Galatians 6:1 – One overtaken in trespass should be restored in a spirit of meekness.

This shows the proper purpose of teaching: to restore the person.

You seek to help bear his burden (v2). You are trying to be helpful. You’re not there to gloat because he fell, nor to remind him you were right (for the sake of exalting self over him). You’re not there to hurt his feelings (though he probably will feel bad, that is not the end result you seek). You are not there to add to his problems, but to help solve them.

Every act should be done with this end in view. In harmony with Scripture and in accord with wisdom, act only in ways that will help contribute to his return to God.

Specifically, strive to let the person know that this is your purpose.

Be compassionate and sympathetic. Let him know the reason you are talking to him is that you care about him.

A man evaluating two preachers once said: The first man told me I was lost and made me feel like he was glad for it. The second man told me I was lost, but made me feel like he was really sorry and wanted me to be saved.

Our manner will never satisfy all the sinners. Some people will become angry no matter how you approach them. Moses and Jesus were examples of meekness, but people complained regularly about Moses and killed Jesus! Whether or not people are pleased, examine yourself to be sure your teaching is not egotistic self-righteousness nor an intellectual exercise by which you seek to win an argument just to prove your opponent wrong.

Remember you have been in the sinner’s shoes. You too have been in sin and will be again sometime. Approach the person with the same sense of consideration that you should be approached, consistent with God’s word. This will not eliminate forceful rebukes or even anger – sometimes they are needed. But it is much easier to be compassionate to people when you remember you have been in their shoes.

B. Avoid Quarrels

2 Timothy 2:24-26 – Teach in meekness those who have been taken captive by the Devil. Again the purpose of the teaching is clear: to help people repent and recover themselves from Satan’s grasp. Be helpful (as already discussed).

But note that we should avoid strivings (quarrels). This does not mean never pointedly telling people they are wrong. Jesus and Moses, two very meek men, both did this.

But sometimes the discussion degenerates till nothing useful or helpful in leading people to repent is being accomplished. Some people argue just to keep from admitting they are wrong. They aren’t honestly considering the evidence but just looking for any silly answer to avoid conceding.

Sometimes people get so angry they lose control and say things they don’t really mean (this could be you or them).

Sometimes people are just repeating the same things over and over. Some try to win the argument by talking longer or louder than others.

Whenever it is clear that people are not really listening and honestly considering the evidence (this involves some judgment), discontinue the discussion. “Cool it” and wait till people can be calmer.

C. Teach with Long-suffering and Forbearance

Colossians 3:12,13 – Lowliness and meekness lead to longsuffering and forbearance. [Ephesians 4:2]

Longsuffering is patience. We must be willing to continue in our efforts. Don’t get angry and lose your temper. Don’t give up just because the person has disobeyed God’s word. What would have happened to us if God gave up on us every time we failed to do as He taught?

Forbearing is putting up with things we don’t like. Sometimes we suffer personal slights from people we are teaching. Do not give up and do not retaliate. Keep teaching the truth. A sinner, when rebuked, will often turn on you and find fault. We are tempted to quit teaching. If this is a consistent reaction, maybe we should teach someone else, but don’t quit teaching. Don’t give up just because we were criticized.

It takes a meek and humble person to keep on doing good despite hardship.

V. We Must Work for Unity, Peace, and Harmony.

Ephesians 4:2,3 – With lowliness and meekness, endeavor to keep unity and peace. Lowliness contributes to peace and unity in at least the following ways:

A. A Humble Person Is Willing to Submit for the Good of the Group

Philippians 2:2,3 – With lowliness of mind, do nothing through faction or vainglory.

The proud, vainglorious man is too concerned for his own ideas and ways. This leads to strife and maybe division. He may cause doctrinal strife by insisting on following his own way rather than God’s way. He will often insist that other people accept his ideas, while he is unwilling to give in to the ideas of others. This leads to conflict.

James 3:13-18 – The meek person avoids envy and is willing to yield.

Peace is often ruined by envy. This is worldly and devilish. The wisdom from above is first pure then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated. The proud person is envious when other people get their way or receive honor. The meek person will give in for the good of the group. He doesn’t care who gets the glory as long as good is done.

Note that meekness still demands doctrinal purity. It is not meek to allow error to go uncorrected – first pure, then peaceable. Peace at any price leads to unity in sin. The meek person wants to please God first. Then he reasons with people for what is best. But he will not press his own desires to the harm of the church.

B. A Humble Person Is Willing to Forgive, not to Retaliate.

 

Colossians 3:12,13 – Again meekness is associated with willingness to forgive when others repent. It helps to remember we were sinners. As we seek God to forgive us, so we should be willing to forgive others. If we don’t forgive, God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:12ff).

What keeps people from being willing to forgive? Why do we hold grudges even when others have repented? Pride. The solution is meekness and humility.

Romans 12:14,16-21 – Lowliness (v16) is discussed in context of not taking vengeance, but blessing our persecutors. A meek person will do this for two reasons. First, God says to let Him take care of the problem, and a meek person is willing to submit to God’s vengeance. Second, a meek person is not motivated by the egotistical satisfaction of “getting even,” but simply by a desire to see things made right. If others make right the wrongs they did, the humble person has no desire for vengeance.

Conclusion

Some people want to please self first and everybody else comes somewhere down the line. Other people will do first what other people want of them. The rule followed by the truly meek and humble person is: God first, others second, self last.

Does your life live up to God’s standard of meekness and humility? Do you put the needs of others before yourself? Are you submitting to God and correcting the sins in your life?

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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