Finish Strong Series
A Strong Faith
- 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Intro: Paul the Apostle is an excellent example of what it means to finish strong.
He started out strong. He started out with power and might. Notice his beginning.
- Acts 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
He got saved and was baptized in verse 18, and in verse 20, he’s preaching Christ.
In verse 22, he increased in strength.
To say that Saul started out strong is an understatement!
How was he able to finish as strong as he started?
He had a strong faith.
A. Faith in God’s Path – I have finished my course vs. 7
His first words as a believer were, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
His last words were, “I have finished my course.”
Paul was fully persuaded that God had a specific plan for his life.
He trusted God completely with that plan.
That plan involved:
- labours more abundant,
- stripes above measure
- in prisons more frequent,
- in deaths oft.
- of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
- thrice was I beaten with rods
- once was I stoned
- thrice I suffered shipwreck
- a night and a day I have been in the deep
- In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
- In weariness and painfulness,
- in watchings often
- in hunger and thirst
- in fastings often
- in cold and nakedness.
Yet Paul never lost faith in the fact that God had a very specific plan for his life.
He was able to finish strong because he maintained a strong faith in God’s Plan for his life!
B. Faith in God’s Precepts
Paul’s reaction to God’s first command to him was simple, obedience.
He stumbled, and needed a hand to guide him, but he made it his priority to do exactly what God told him to.
- Acts 9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
He learned from day one NOT TO WALK BY SIGHT; but by faith.
NOTE: Saul couldn’t SEE WHERE HE WAS GOING, but he KNEW where he was going!
Saul said to his servants, “I can’t SEE where I’m going, and I need all the help you can give me, but I know EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be!”
Saul placed much importance on the commands and precepts of God from DAY ONE.
Notice his letter to Timothy near the end of his ministry.
He’s expressing a desire for the companion of his books, especially the parchments in verse 13.
The emphasis was on the WORD OF GOD!
SEE II Tim. 3:15-17, II Tim. 4:2-4
C. Faith in God’s Person – Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.
Paul spent his entire life trying to please ONE – his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
- II Tim. 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
His first effort to join the church was met with rejection and fear.
In this letter (II Timothy 5), Paul made multiple references to the loneliness that comes with discipleship.
He’s begging for company in verse 9.
He’s naming those that had forsaken him in verse 10.
He’s asking for assistance in verse 11.
He exposes the troublemakers in verse 14 and 15.
He confesses the pain he endured at being abandoned by everybody in verse 16.
But in verse 17, he reveals the source of his faith and his ability to continue on.
He was serving GOD.
He was preaching Christ.
He was confident that God would deliver him and preserve Him.
Paul wasn’t able to finish strong because he had hooked his wagon to a man, or a movement.
He hooked his wagon up to the Person of God, the Precepts of God and the Plan of God, and that was how he finished strong!!!
A Strong Focus
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
A. Focus On Christ our Initiator – vs. 2 Looking unto Jesus the author…
1. He Initiated our Redemption – author of our faith
When He was on the cross, I was on His mind.
Before the foundation of the world, He had a plan of redemption for me.
How could I doubt His love and His commitment to me when I understand how far back He had me on His heart?
- Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
2. He Initiated our Relationship – the joy that was set before him
For me to allow others to interfere with my relationship would be unjustifiable.
He initiated a relationship with me, and He deserves for me to give Him my due attention and love in return.
- 1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
3. He Initiated our Race – let us run the race that is set before us
- I Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
B. Focus On Christ our Inspiration – vs. 3 For consider him…
1. We are Inspired by His Shameful Suffering
Sometimes the solitude and shame of being a Christian in this wicked world is discouraging.
He despised the shame, but He finished strong!
2. We are Inspired by His Solitude of Sinners
- Vs. 3 – For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself…
If we always have to be in the majority, and be surrounded by supporters to finish strong, we won’t!
3. We are Inspired by His Striving against Sin
His fight against sin and wrong eventually cost him His life.
We have not yet resisted unto blood.
Our stand hasn’t cost us our life.
It cost Jesus his life.
Can that not inspire God’s people to finish strong?
C. Focus On Christ our Intercessor – vs. 2 …and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God
- Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
- He prayed for Peter.
- Luke 22:31, 32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
- He prayed for all of his disciples.
- John 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
- He prayed for all of us.
- John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
- His ministry in Heaven today is praying for us.
- Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
- Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
- Romans 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
QUESTION: Do you think the resurrected Lord Jesus can get a prayer through?
How can we not finish strong with the Savior in Heaven, praying for us?
A Strong Following
Intro: If I am going to finish strong, it stands to reason that I must serve strong, live strong, be strong and follow strong now. When a race is being run, it is always exciting when there is a group running toward the finish line. One may be in the lead, but there are a few other runners in hot pursuit. Running in a pack, striving to overtake the first place runner and win the race.
In our race, we must not lag behind, but we must follow strong after Him.
- I Cor. 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ. That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was an excellent example of what it means to follow strong.
TURN to Philippians 3:10-21
A. A Greater Knowledge – I want to know more
B. A Greater Power – I want to do more
C. A Greater Fellowship – I want to be more
How? Vs. 12 – I FOLLOW AFTER…
Notice verse 17 – BRETHREN, BE FOLLOWERS TOGETHER OF ME AND MARK THEM WHICH WALK SO AS YE HAVE US FOR AN ENSAMPLE.
Paul’s admonition was to follow Christ as He followed Christ, and to use allow all those that do to motivate us!!
Signs of a strong following are:
I. Peace with the Past – forgetting those things which are behind…
One of the biggest hindrances to God’s people finishing strong is the occasional bumps and bruises along the way.
- Unexpected problems.
- Unresolved conflicts.
- Unforgiveness toward those that hurt us.
- Problems of the past.
- People that let us down.
- Our own mistakes and failures.
- Things we wish we could do over.
Not only the negative things in our past hinder, but the positive can as well.
We may fail to do more for God because we live in the memory of our past accomplishments.
Paul said in our TEXT:
- Philippians 3:7, 8 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Paul said: I don’t think about all the “good things” in my past. I don’t think about all the losses in my past. I am forgetting my past hurts, past pain, past mistakes, past accomplishments.
- Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
II. Pursue the Possibilities –reaching forth unto those things which are before
INTERESTING NOTE: The word “things” is found twice here in verse 13.
- The “things” which are behind.
- The “things” which are before.
What a blessing that it is not the same word in the Greek.
The “things” in my future are different from the “things” in my past!
Don’t let the “things” in your past rob you from the “things” God has for you.
The word “reaching forth” literally means to be stretched out. (Elisha and the son of the Shunammite woman)
It could be serving in the church in a number of capacities.
- Serving in the nursery.
- Volunteering to work in the bus ministry.
- Serving as a usher.
- Getting involved in the outreach and visitation ministry.
- Serving in the nursing home and retirement home ministry.
- Being willing to teach a Sunday School class or serve as an assistant.
- Praying about the call to preach.
- Praying about surrendering to go to the mission field.
III. Press for the Prize – I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God
NOTE: The word “press” here literally means: to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavour to acquire
The word “mark” here is the Greek word skopos skop-os’ (“scope”) an observer, a watchman; the distant mark looked at, the goal or end one has in view
Though the mark may be far in the distance, our strong FOCUS (through the scope of a strong FAITH) should provoke a strong FOLLOWING!!
The high calling of God here is not Paul’s call to preach.
The word here literally means “vocation”.
Every believer is called with a high calling of God.
- Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
- I Corinthians 7:20-24 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
- 2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
- Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
God has a plan – a job – a vocation for you.
You and I should press – to eagerly endeavor to acquire God’s plan.
The only way we will ever FINISH STRONG is we are STRONG IN OUR FOLLOWING of God’s call.
1. Are you at peace with the past?
2. Are you in pursuit of new possibilities to serve the Lord?
3. Are you pressing toward the mark – the end goal of victory for every called of God believer?
A Strong Fellowship
Intro: In this series, we have examined the importance of a strong faith, a strong focus, and a strong following. But tonight, as we celebrate our High School Graduation, I want to emphasize one more area that I believe is vital to finishing strong. In order to finish strong, we need to have a strong fellowship.
First John uses the word “fellowship” three times in chapter 1.
Look at verse 4:
- FULL- to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally; I abound, I am liberally supplied; to render full, i.e. to complete; to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim to consummate: a number to make complete in every particular, to render perfect; to carry through to the end, to accomplish, carry out, (some undertaking); to carry into effect, bring to realisation, realise of matters of duty: to perform, execute
I. A Strong Fellowship with God
- 1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
A. This is accomplished by reading and studying His Word.
- Psalms 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
- Note : The word “offend” here means a stumbling block, fall; ruins; means or occasion of stumbling, stumbling block
B. This is accomplished by an intimate prayer time.
C. This is accomplished by a life of meditation.
Verse 1 is what qualifies John to help us in our fellowship: an intimate knowledge of Christ.
- That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
- They heard Him.
- They saw Him.
- They studied Him.
- They experienced Him.
II. A Strong Fellowship with God’s People
At least twice in this chapter John makes reference to fellowship with God’s people.
A. Our Fellowship with God’s People Began with the Word
- 1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us:
Our common bond is our faith and belief in the precepts of God’s Word.
B. Our Fellowship with God’s People is Built by our Walk
- 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
A life of sin will destroy your relationship with the church.
A life of disobedience will destroy your desire to fellowship with God’s people.
Following God and walking in His truth and His light will draw you closer to Him and to God’s people.
Obedient Christians are joyful and cheerful Christians.
Disobedient Christians are withdrawn and distant.
If you want to finish strong, work on building a strong relationship with God and with His church.
A strong relationship with Christ builds a spirit of consecration.
A strong relationship with the church builds a spirit of confidence and cooperation
- Ask God to help you have a strong faith in Him.
- Ask God to help you have a strong focus on Him.
- Ask God to help you have a strong following of Him.
- Ask God help you have a strong fellowship with Him.
And trust me. You will finish strong!!
God’s Definition of Greatness
II Kings 4:8
Intro: This Shunammite woman was an example to all of us of God’s definition of greatness.
God called her “a great woman”, yet her name is not even mentioned.
What made her so great?
I. She was Serving – v. 8-10
She compelled him to come in and eat.
It was an honor to have company in their home.
She was hospitable and caring of the needs of others. (see vs. 13)
II. She was Sanctified – vs. 9 I perceive that this is an holy man
The fact that he was holy didn’t intimidate her.
It provoked her to love and good works.
She must have been familiar with holiness for her to discern holiness in Elisha.
She was willing to make some drastic changes in her home to accommodate Elisha.
Her passion for a holy man prompted her to do more for God and the ministry.
III. She was Satisfied – vs. 12-13
She had no desire to be paid or recompensed for her service.
She did what she did because it brought her joy and satisfaction; not to be noticed.
She desired no recognition for what she did.
IV. She was Sweet – vs. 20
She wasn’t a mean and ornery person.
She was kind and gracious and loving.
She held her son all morning, never complaining.
V. She was Self-Controlled – vs. 20-26
She held her child in her arms until he died.
She didn’t become hysterical.
Her faith in God kept her calm.
She went up – vs. 21 she went to God. Our problems should make us look up!!
She laid him on the man of God’s bed – she laid her problem at the feet of God
She shut the door upon him – she left it with God
She went out. She trusted in God and his power.
VI. She was Sincere – vs. 27, 28
It wasn’t the dead child that vexed her; it was the possibility that it was her fault.
She was concerned about the reason.
She remembered doubting his word years ago.
VII. She was Submissive – vs. 33-36
She didn’t try to tell God how to fix her problem.
She didn’t try to tell Elisha how to help her and her family.
She stayed out of his way and let God deal with it however He chose.
She was probably downstairs preparing a meal for Elisha.
She was willing to stay out of the way.
Conclusion: Every one of these characteristics are traits that God highly values. Though we don’t know this woman’s name, we know that in the sight of God, she was great.
Are you great in the sight of God?
Wisdom That Is From Above Series
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Wisdom That Is From Above Series Intro
There is a wisdom that is prevalent in our world today, as well as in our churches.
It is being preached from the pulpits.
It’s being taught in the classrooms.
It’s being propagated through music, film, books, seminars, etc.
This type of wisdom is in DIRECT OPPOSITION to God and everything He stands for.
When we were saved, God delivered us FROM THE WORLD.
- John 17:6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world:
God describes it as:
1. Earthly – this is its Domain
- John 17:14-16 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
- 1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
- 2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
2. Sensual – this is its Desire
- Jude 17-19 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
Definition: SENSUAL – the sensuous nature with its subjection to appetite and passion
EXAMPLE: Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden with her SENSES:
- Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
The wisdom of God doesn’t appeal to the senses of man.
It only appeals to the heart of a spiritual man; not the heart of a carnal man.
God and His wisdom is UNATTRACTIVE AND UNAPPEALING to the carnal man.
SIGHT – He will not appeal to the eyes of an unbeliever or a carnal man
- Isaiah 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
HEARING – His Word will not appeal to the ears of an unbeliever or a carnal man
- Acts 7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
- 2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
3. Devilish – this is its Depravity
- DEFINITION: resembling or proceeding from an evil spirit, demon-like
- Only time this word is found in the KJV
- John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.
Several times in the Bible, God equates the carnality of man to the characteristics of demonic activity.
- Gal. 5:14, 15 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
Wisdom That Is From Above Is Pure
I. Godly Wisdom is Pure in its Conversation
- Vs. 13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
A. Notice the Question – who is?
I don’t believe we have to “wonder” if we are counted as wise; I believe we can know it.
B. Notice the Qualifying – let him shew out of a good conversation
C. Notice the Quietness – meekness of wisdom
II. Godly Wisdom is Pure in its Contemplation – vs. 14 (in your hearts)
A. There will not be Strife – But if ye have bitter envying and strife
- 1 Corinthians 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
B. There will not be Self-glory – glory not
Paul said it this way in I Cor. 13 – Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.
C. There will not be Stubbornness – lie not against the truth
Godly wisdom will not deny the truth.
Godly wisdom will not dismiss the truth.
Godly wisdom will not disregard the truth. (Prov. 1)
III. Godly Wisdom is Pure in its Construction – vs. 16
A. Godly wisdom produces Godly Answers
Definition of CONFUSION: instability, a state of disorder, disturbance, confusion
Satan specializes in confusion and disarray.
- First Mention Principle: The first time we find the word “confusion” in the Old Testament is Leviticus 18.
It is dealing with sexual perversion of the worst degree. God said it was “confusion”.
- First Mention Principle: The first time it is found in the New Testament is in Acts 19. It was a result of the preaching of Paul exposing false religion and idolatry.
- 1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
B. Godly wisdom produces Godly Accomplishments
- Worldly wisdom will yield every evil work.
- Godly wisdom will produce good works.
- NOTE TEXT: Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
Conclusion: The only way your works will ever be anything other than evil is if you’re born again!
Unsaved people are incapable of producing good works.
Wisdom that is from Above is Peaceable
Intro: Notice the context of this kind of wisdom. In these verses, we find the words “strife”, “bitter envying” and again in verse 16 “envying and strife”, “confusion” and “every evil work”.
This is the complete opposite of peace.
Definition of PEACEABLE – relating to peace; peaceable, pacifist, loving peace
I. The Introduction to Peaceable Wisdom
We were called the “children of wrath”.
- Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
The Bible states that the way of peace was foreign to us!
- Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
These verses describe the nature of the unbeliever.
- Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
- Colossians 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
- Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
- 1 Peter 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
Only when we got saved did we begin to understand true peace.
- Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
- Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
The wisdom that was from above first of all compelled us to make peace with our Creator.
READ EPH. 2:12-17 – we see the word PEACE mentioned numerous times.
The first step to living a peaceable life is to be born again; saved by the blood of Jesus Christ!
- We stopped fighting God. – Saul on the Damascus road was kicking against the pricks.
- We stopped fighting against the Word of God.
- We stopped fighting against the Work of God.
You will never submit to PEACEABLE WISDOM until you make peace with God.
II. The Identification of Peaceable Wisdom
Some people simply do not want to live a quiet and peaceable life.
They love strife and contention and debate and controversy. They feed off of it.
They look for it, they stir it up, they hide behind a mask of spirituality and exhibit very carnal behavior.
This WISDOM IS NOT FROM ABOVE. Mark it down. God condemns it!
Somewhere along the way, a person that sought to have peaceful relationship was labeled a “compromiser”.
Somehow, through misinterpreting many Scriptures, there is a lot of people that think that being a Spirit-filled Christian means you have to be mean, ornery, hateful, argumentative, confrontational, and spend all your time debating, rebuking and reproving people. This kind of wisdom is EARTHLY, SENSUAL AND DEVILISH!
There is nothing SPIRITUAL about being confrontational and contentious.
- Proverbs 21:19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
- Proverbs 26:21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
- Proverbs 27:15 A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
- Romans 2:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
- 1 Corinthians 11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
- Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
- Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.
- Proverbs 18:6 A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.
- Proverbs 22:10 Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
- Proverbs 15:18 A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
- Proverbs 16:28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
- Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.
God’s Word does talk about “earnestly contending for the faith”.
But standing for truth and defending what is right is impossible while displaying carnal and ungodly behavior.
- 1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
III. The Indications of Peaceable Wisdom
A. Peaceable Wisdom will affect your Personal Life
- Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
- Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
B. Peaceable Wisdom will affect your Prayer Life
One of the reasons why the Christian should pray is to have a quiet and peaceable life!
- I Timothy 1:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
C. Peaceable Wisdom will affect your Public Life
- Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Living peaceable with all men doesn’t mean you will agree with them, or condone everything they do.
But the phrase “earnestly contend for the faith” doesn’t mean you fight with every person you meet!
- Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Wisdom That Is From Above Is Gentle
Intro: Gentleness is a virtue that highly regarded throughout the Scriptures. For some people, gentleness is a natural attribute. For others, it requires the filling of the Holy Spirit.
The definition of “gentle” in this text is: suitable, moderation, fair, mild
It may be easy to be gentle when everything is going your way, but what about when it is not?
Though the attribute of GENTLENESS is highly regarded, it is only found 9 times.
- The word GENTLENESS is found 4 times.
- The word GENTLE is found 5 times.
I. Wisdom That is from Above is Evident in its Gentleness
Gentleness is a qualification of the bishop.
- 2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
Gentleness is COMMANDED by God for all Christians.
- Titus 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
- QUOTE: “A gentle word, a kind look… can work wonders and accomplish miracles.”
We are not to be gentle only to those that we like and approve of; but to all men.
- 1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
One of the 9 fruit of the Spiritual life is GENTLENESS.
- Eph. 5:22, 23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
It can’t be dismissed as “it’s just not my nature”.
Every one of the fruit of the Spirit will not be your nature!
NOTE: The OPPOSITE of GENTLE is: harsh, mean, hateful, rambunctious, impatient, sudden, violent
In the last days, men will be: Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, (2 Timothy 3:3)
You cannot be gentle without self-control.
Gentleness is a witness of strength, authority, power and confidence.
“Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength.” ― Ralph W. Sockman
“I choose gentleness… I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.” ― Max Lucado
If there is a Christian attribute that is misunderstood, it is gentleness.
It is nothing new to have to QUALIFY your meaning when dealing with this subject.
Some interpret meekness as weakness.
Some interpret gentleness as cowardice and compromising.
The Apostle Paul had to explain himself too because of the “thinking of some”.
- 2 Corinthians 10:1, 2 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh,
Key to understand: You can be CONFIDENT, BOLD AND BIBLICAL and still be gentle.
Some issues simply must be addressed.
Some people must be dealt with.
Some problems must be solved.
You can have the meekness and gentleness of Christ, and still be bold and Biblical.
Paul was thought by some to be carnal simply because he dealt with problems.
NOTE verse 11 – they accused Paul of writing boldly, but being weak and contemptible in person.
Paul’s demeanor was graceful, and his writings were dogmatic.
This tells me that Paul was much more patient and graceful in PERSON than while PREACHING!!!
Paul LOVED the people he worked with.
- I Thess. 2:7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
Rebels and critics will accuse a BOLD AND CONFIDENT PREACHER for being arrogant.
They will accuse a GENTLE PREACHER for being a compromiser.
I love what Paul had to say about this!!
- 2 Corinthians 10:18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
A sign of spirituality is being able to receive the message and not choke on the method.
To be able to appreciate the substance and not focus on the style.
To be able to receive the instruction and not be offended at the indignation.
ILLUSTRATION: The nation of Israel was dying of thirst. Moses in his anger and frustration SMOTE the rock rather than SPEAKING to it. God judged him for his pride and disobedience. But guess what? Water STILL came forth – even in though his method was completely contrary to God’s instructions. And guess what else? The people of God DRANK THE WATER because they needed it!! Even if the truth is robed in barbs, it is still the truth. A spiritual man will receive the truth will all readiness of mind and not disregard it because of any carnality in its delivery.
Our goal should be to be the caliber of Christians that do not have to be handled with “kid gloves”.
But we should also strive to be the caliber of Christian that knows how to deal with others with “kid gloves”.
II. Wisdom That is from Above is Enabling in its Gentleness
When studying a word or a concept, I enjoy FIRST MENTION PRINCIPLE.
II Samuel 22, David is writing a psalm of thanksgiving after God delivered him from Saul and the hand of all his enemies.
This exact verse is also repeated in Psalm 18:35. Look at the context:
- 33 God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.
- 34 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places.
- 35 He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
- 36 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.
- 37 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip.
- 38 I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them.
The context of the first time (and only times) that the word GENTLENESS is found in the Old Testament, it is God being gentle to man – and as a result, enabling him to become an overcomer.
I believe that understanding God’s RESPONSE of gentleness and God’s REASONS for gentleness is vitally important.
Our text says “The wisdom that is from above…” is gentle.
If we are going to pray for Godly wisdom, we are praying for wisdom that is like God – it is gentle.
- QUOTE: “When I look at the clues that indicate the nature of Jesus – born in a barn, questionable parents, spotty ancestry, common name, misdirected announcement, unattractive looks, reared in a bad neighborhood, owning nothing, surrounding himself with unattractive co-workers, and dying a shameful death – I find his whole approach unable to fit into the methods that automatically come to mind when I think about “winning the world.” His whole approach could easily be described as nonthreatening or nonmanipulative. He seemed to lead with weakness in each step of life. He had nothing in the world and everything in God and the Spirit.” ― Gayle D. Erwin
Being gentle with others sends a message of love, compassion, support and confidence.
- “Gentleness is not apathy but is an aggressive expression of how we view people. We see people as so valuable that we deal with them in gentleness, fearing the slightest damage to one for whom Christ died. To be apathetic is to turn people over to mean and destructive elements, to truly love people cause for us to be aggressively gentle.”
- “It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect. The more perfect we are the more gentle and quiet we become towards the defects of others.”
Gentleness will many times turn a situation around.
- Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
III. Wisdom That is from Above is Effective in its Gentleness
A. Notice the Effectiveness of the Savior’s Gentleness
ILLUSTRATION: There was a woman taken in adultery.
TURN TO JOHN 8:1 – Neither do I condemn thee – go and sin no more!
The tools of Christ weren’t scorn, but a smile.
His most effective tool was truth wrapped in tactfulness; not condemnation robed with contempt.
- He was gentle with the woman at the well.
- He was gentle with the demoniac of Gadara.
- He was gentle with the children.
- He was gentle with the lepers and the blind and the halt and the lame.
- He was gentle with Pilate.
- He was gentle with the thief on the cross. “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise!”
- He was gentle with “Doubting Thomas” in the upper room.
- He was gentle with Peter on the seashore after he fed them fish.
B. Notice the Effectiveness of the Scripture’s Gentleness
- Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
- 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
C. Notice the Effectiveness of the Spirit’s Gentleness
- Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Conclusion: Today, the voice of the Savior is gently calling. Today, the Spirit is gently pulling and drawing. But one day, it will be too late. The gentle, loving voice of the Savior will be replaced with the judgment and condemnation of God on those that did not listen to his voice. Don’t put off getting saved today!
Wisdom That Is From Above Is Easy To Be Intreated
I. Being Easy to be Intreated requires Honesty
We live in a world of make believe.
Fantasies have never abounded like they do today.
All around us, fiction is flourishing.
The news headlines are not even true.
- “History is a set of lies agreed upon.” ― Napoleon Bonaparte
People surround themselves with lies and fables until the truth actually becomes anti-climactic.
The lines between REALITY and UNREALITY were blurred long ago.
- Their world is fake: fantasy games, movies, fiction novels
- Their music is fake: it glamorizes a lifestyle that is anything but glamorous
- Their moods are fake: numbed with booze; prescription drugs
- Their friends are fake: social networking has redefined what true friendship really is
The Bible is clear.
YOU SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH.
- John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Let’s be honest – the wisdom of the world is failing everybody that falls for it.
Read the headlines.
A football’s imaginary girlfriend gets more media attention than a doctor that has murdered hundreds of babies.
The wisdom of the world is indeed foolishness if people will be honest!
QUOTE: “How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” ― Abraham Lincoln
People are living in a state of denial.
- They are in denial about what is acceptable and unacceptable.
- They are in denial about what is right and wrong.
- They are in denial about what God said.
- They are in denial about what is really going on in their life.
- They are in denial about what they need to change to please God.
- Isaiah 30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
The reason that I believe that the truth is so clear is the fact that the Bible is so powerful.
- Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
- Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
NOTE: The part of this verse that says, “even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit” is very compelling.
The spirit is the spiritual part of an unbeliever that is dead and has to be quickened by the Holy Spirit.
The soul is the mind, emotions, and will of the person.
The Word of God is able to divide asunder the spirit and soul, forcing a person to recognize the truth, even in spite of their will, their emotions or their mind.
No matter what they’ve heard, or what they believe, or have determined to do, they know it is truth.
Illustration: Acts 26:24-28 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
II. Being Easy to be Intreated requires a Hunger
God’s people of all people should have an appetite for the truth.
It was the truth that saved them.
It was the Truth that they placed their faith in for salvation.
The characteristic of a born-again believer is their desire to know the truth.
QUOTE: “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” ― Winston Churchill
There are different levels of hunger for the truth.
NOTE: Paul commended the Thessalonians for their love for the truth.
- 1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
But look what he said about the Bereans!
- Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
If we could get people to get as hungry for the truth as they are for:
- A paycheck
- A raise
- A career boost
- A new house, or car
- A championship for their favorite team
- Or whatever..
- Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
- Isaiah 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
III. Being Easy to be Intreated requires a Humility
- QUOTE: “A true genius admits that he knows nothing.” ― Albert Einstein
Illustration: Luke 19 – Zacchaeus climbed a tree to find out more
Illustration: Acts 8 – The Ethiopian eunuch – “How can I, except some man should guide me?”
Illustration: Acts 9 – Saul on the Road to Damascus – “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
Illustration: Cornelius – Acts 10:22
What did these three men have in common?
They were men of Power, Position, Prestige, and Possessions.
But they only had to be confronted with the truth ONCE and they believed.
They swallowed their pride and pursued the Word of God.
The Bible says: Romans 3:4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar;
Conclusion: Are you going to be like Pharaoh, and have to have God strip you of everything you hold dear, the whole time asking “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?” or will you be like Saul on the road to Damascus, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
How you respond to the truth is a STEWARDSHIP issue: are you being faithful to obey when you hear His voice?
Wisdom That Is From Above Is Full of Mercy
Intro: The Bible word “mercy” is a beautiful word. It is found in some use of the word over 340 times. One of the characteristics of a person that has been endowed with “wisdom that is from above” is they will be “full of mercy”.
DEFINITION OF MERCY: kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them
Let’s look at this virtue this morning and see what God’s word says about it.
I. Our Example of Mercy
FIRST MENTION PRINCIPLE: Genesis 19:15
A. Lot was an Unqualified man. – Gen. 18:32 I will not destroy it for ten’s sake…
God was under no obligation at all to save Lot and his family.
They failed to meet the criteria.
God went out of his way to show mercy to this man and his family.
B. Lot was an Unresponsive man. – and while he lingered… vs. Gen. 19:16
God sent angels to literally DRAG this man and his family out of harms way.
They lingered; they failed to appreciate what God was doing for them.
They failed to respond to the warnings and the mercy of God.
C. Lot was an Uncooperative man – Gen. 19:18 “Oh, not so, my Lord:”
Even after being delivered, Lot failed to cooperate with them by following simple instructions.
He had his own idea of how he should live his life, even after his life had been saved.
He owed it to these angels to follow their directive, but he said, “not so, my Lord”
II. Our Exposure to Mercy
We have been exposed to the mercy of God!
- Psalms 145:8 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
- Psalms 86:15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
- Lamentations 3:22 It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
A. At the Time of our Salvation
- Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
- 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
- 1 Peter 2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
B. At the Time of our Supplication
- Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
C. At the Time of our Suffering
- James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
D. At the Time of our Sinfulness
- Psalm 51:1 « To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. » Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
III. Our Extending of Mercy
Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?
He will have a wisdom that is from above that is characterized by being “full of mercy”.
Because God has been so merciful to us, we will in turn be merciful unto others.
- Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
- Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
We learned from the example of Lot that we should show mercy to:
A. Those that we think are Unqualified
People that we don’t think deserve it are the ones we should show mercy to the most!
B. Those that we think are Unresponsive
Those that fail to listen to our warnings need our mercy more than anybody else.
C. Those that we think are Uncooperative
We get upset with people for not “lining up” and “getting it together”.
We fuss and complain and stop working with people and helping people because they fail to cooperate.
God’s mercy extends to those that are stubborn and hardheaded and selfish.
Our mercy should also.
If we have Godly wisdom, we will be FULL OF MERCY.
DEFINITION OF MERCY: kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them
PRIME EXAMPLE: The impotent man in John 5 that wanted to be healed for 38 years but had no man to help him.
HE WAS LYING BESIDE THE POOL OF BETHESDA – WHICH MEANS “HOUSE OF MERCY”.
But there was nobody with enough mercy to help him! For 38 years!!
It’s those that can’t do it alone that need our help more than anybody else!!
Conclusion: We need to ask God to help us be full of mercy towards those that are miserable and afflicted.
If you are here today, and in need of mercy from God, He is full of mercy!
The rich man that died and went to hell cried for mercy, but it was too late!
- Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
The Wisdom That Is From Above Is Full of Good Fruits
Intro: The Bible has a lot to say about fruit. It is even mentioned in the first chapter of the Bible.
This would be the FIRST MENTION PRINCIPLE OF FRUIT
- Genesis 1:11, 12 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
There is a comparison throughout the Scripture, comparing physical fruit to spiritual fruit.
A. The Purpose of the Fruit Tree – the fruit tree yielding fruit
B. The Properties of the Fruit Tree – after its kind
C. The Potential of the Fruit Tree – whose seed is in itself
D. The Performance of the Fruit Tree – And the earth brought forth…
E. The Pleasure of the Fruit Tree – and God saw that it was good.
The same thing applies to the believer.
Notice what David said about the child of God in Psalm 1
- Psalms 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
A. We should be bearing glorifying fruit
- John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
B. We should be bearing God’s fruit
- Romans 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
C. We should be bearing good fruit
- Colossians 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Wisdom that is from above will be characterized by being FULL OF FRUITS.
Here are several fruits that will be found in the life of a wise man.
I. The Fruit of Repentance
- Matthew 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
NOTE: This is the first time you find mention of fruit in the New Testament.
- Matthew 3:7 ¶ But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
- 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
- 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
- 10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
John the Baptist reminded the Pharisees: God wasn’t impressed with their –
- Position – vs. 7
- Pedigree – vs. 9
- Pride – vs. 9
BUT – God was looking for PROOF.
- James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
NOTE: The wisdom that is NOT from above is:
Earthly, sensual, devilish.
Notice the similarities in the soil of Matthew 13, and the earthly wisdom.
1. DEVILISH – Vs. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
2. SENSUAL – vs. 20, 21 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
3. EARTHLY – vs. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
But notice the forth soil – it is also an illustration of WISDOM THAT IS FROM ABOVE.
It was easy to be intreated, – it heard the word, and UNDERSTOOD IT!
- Matthew 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
II. The Fruit of Relationship
- John 15:2, 4 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
The degree of our fruitbearing is directly related to our degree of relationship with Christ.
1. Beareth fruit – vs. 2
2. Bring forth more fruit – vs. 2b
3. Bring forth much fruit – vs. 5
God knows how to help us produce fruit!
- Luke 13:6-9 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
A. It is cultivated by Changing the Normal – till I shall dig about it; three years of idleness
- Hosea 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
B. It is cultivated by Changing the Nutrition – “and dung it”; necessary and helpful
Note: Probably was an unpleasant job for the husbandman, so he neglected it.
It cost him later on.
To produce the fruit of godly wisdom, we will need to hear things we don’t particularly like to hear.
This is where the ‘BEING EASY TO BE INTREATED’ comes in.
III. The Fruit of Righteousness
A. Evidenced by God’s Chastening
- Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
B. Evidenced by Giving
- II Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
- 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
- 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
- 11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
C. Evidenced by Going after Souls
- Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
D. Evidenced by Giving of Thanks
- Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
E. Evidenced by Godly Life
- Colossians 1:10 – That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.
F. Evidenced by Growth
- Peter 2:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
- 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
- 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
- 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
- 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Conclusion: The person that has received the WISDOM THAT IS FROM ABOVE will not just have one, or two fruit, but will be FULL OF FRUIT.
Wisdom That Is From Above Is Without Partiality
Intro: One of the most committed sins in the local church is the sin of partiality. This problem has been as old as man itself. In our text, we learn that godly wisdom is characterized by a person that is without partiality.
I. The Sin of Partiality
- James 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
A. It is a sin against the Law
James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
B. It is a sin against the Lord
- Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
1. Notice His Essence of Lordship – vs. 1 our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory
When we remember the ivory palaces of Heaven that God left in order to come to earth, we must be rebuked by our lack of love and mercy towards those that are without.
He is described in this verse as –THE LORD OF GLORY – splendour, brightness; of the moon, sun, stars; magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace; majesty; a thing belonging to God
2. Notice His Experience of Lacking – vs. 5 Hath not God chosen the poor of this world
There are multiple examples of Christ’s choosing of the poor:
- He chose Mary to be His mother – a young virgin in the lowly town of Nazareth
- He chose Joseph to be his earthly father – a carpenter by trade
- He chose to have the angels declare the news of the new Messiah to a group of lowly shepherds
- He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger
- He chose John the Baptist to pave the way – a man dressed in camels hair with a diet of locust and honey
NOTE: This is not the fine hair of the camel from which our elegant cloth is made, called eamlet; nor the more elegant stuff, brought from the East Indies, under the name of camel’s hair; but the long, shaggy hair of the camel, from which a coarse, cheap cloth is made, still worn by the poorer classes in the East, and by monks. This dress of the camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle, it seems, was the common dress of the prophets, (Barnes)
- He chose for his disciples men that were unlearned and common laborers
- He chose to spend his days ministering to those that were without
- He chose to put a thief in charge of their finances. – John 12:6
- He chose to sleep on the ground – Matthew 8:20
- He chose to ride into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey.
- He chose to be buried in a borrowed grave.
- He chose to save those of us that were lost and without hope.
C. Notice His Expression of Love – vs. 5 Hath not God chosen the poor of this world
- Job 36:15 He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression.
- Psalms 34:6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
- 2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
II. The Symptoms of Partiality
A. Respecting People for the Wrong Reasons
1. Because of their Possessions
- James 2:2-4 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
NOTE: Jesus was NOT impressed with people because of their wealth.
He had several disciples that were rich.
Matthew 27:57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:
This is evident by several instances:
1. The story of the rich man and Lazarus – thou in thy lifetime receivest thy good things…
2. The story of the rich young ruler – it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle…
3. The story of the widow’s mite – Mark 12:41 and many that were rich cast in much…
4. Luke 1:53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
5. Luke 6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
2. Because of their Position
- I Timothy 5:19-21 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
The context of these verses in the rebuking of an elder.
We are commanded to deal with the sin of an elder, no matter his position.
Just because a man is a pastor, or a missionary, or an evangelist doesn’t mean we should ignore his sin.
There is no position in the church that puts a man above the law, or above rebuke.
One of the drawbacks of this crowd that inflate the position of pastor is their double standard on dealing with sin.
This is partiality – and God hates it!
3. Because of their Power
Even under the Old Testament, the sin of partiality was strictly forbidden.
- Leviticus 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
- James 2:6b Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
B. Rejecting People for the Wrong Reasons
1. Because of their Poverty
- James 2:6 But ye have despised the poor…
2. Because of their Past
- I Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
3. Because of their Prejudice
Sad to say, but many Bible believers are guilty of racism and prejudice against other races.
If there is anybody in the world that shouldn’t be guilty of this sin, it is God’s people.
The Bible is clear – we have respect to persons, we commit sin and are transgressors. Vs. 9
There are still churches that will not welcome people of other races.
There are pastors that will not allow members of some races to be baptized and join their church.
This is blatant partiality – this wisdom is not from above!
- Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
Paul preached on Mars Hill that all nations came from one blood.
Some Christians need to remember that!
They have warped beliefs.
They can work with other races, shop with other races, go to school with other races, but cannot worship with them.
There’s something bad wrong with that kind of wisdom!
It’s earthly, sensual and devilish!!
III. The Solution for Partiality
A. The Right Kind of Following – vs. 1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ…with respect of persons
If Jesus Christ can love everybody the same, and treat everybody the same, so should we.
B. The Right Kind of Faith
1. Christlike Faith – vs. 1
2. Charitable Faith – vs. 13
3. Convincing Faith – vs. 14-26
C. The Right Kind of Friend – vs. 23
If God is your friend, you won’t have any trouble loving others and treating others with respect.
- 1 Peter 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
I. The Characteristics of Hypocrisy
There are several words that are synonymous with the word “hypocrisy”.
They are used throughout the Scripture and are closely related in meaning.
- Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation.
- Galatians 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
Greek: hupokrisis hoop-ok’-ree-sis
the acting of a stage player; dissimulation, hypocrisy
1) to take up another’s statements in reference to what one has decided for one’s self
2) to make answer (speak) on the stage
2a) to impersonate anyone, play a part
3) to simulate, feign, pretend
- 2 Corinthians 6:6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
- 1 Timothy 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
- 2 Timothy 1:5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
- 1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
II. The Condemnation of Hypocrisy
A. Condemned for its Disregard for Personal Sin
- Matt. 7:3-5 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
B. Condemned for its Double-Standard
- Luke 13:14-17 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
C. Condemned for its Deception
- Matt. 23:25-27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones,
III. The Cure for Hypocrisy
A. The Cure for the Hypocritical Unbeliever
There are many unbelievers that are pretending; impersonating; wearing a mask of Christianity.
Jesus spoke of them:
- Matt. 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
- Matt. 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works, And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Paul spoke of them:
- 2 Corinthians 11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
- Galatians 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
Peter spoke of them:
- The whole of II Peter chapter 2 he spoke of false teachers and prophets.
- He uses phrases like “with feigned words” verse 3
- “Sporting themselves with their own deceiving” vs. 13
- “beguiling unstable souls” verse 14
The only cure for them is to admit they have never been saved and accept Christ.
B. The Cure for the Hypocritical Believer
- I Peter 1:22-2:2 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
1. Obey the truth – I Peter 1:22
2. Live in truth – I Peter 2:1
3. Desire the truth – I Peter 2:2
- I Cor. 5:7-8 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Intro: There is a lot of material available on this subject. I have no intention of “reinventing the wheel” or trying to pretend that what I will be dealing with is original. I milk a lot of cows, and make my own butter.
I have studied this subject for years (off and on) and have accumulated a lot of information on this.
Our full potential will not be experienced until there is a clear, Biblical understanding of spiritual gifts.
- 1 Corinthians 12:1: Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
FIRST OF ALL – before we study this subject, we need to understand some vital prerequisites.
1. Salvation – Accept Christ for salvation – Romans 10:9-13
2. Sanctification – Enter into Christ’s victory over sin – Romans 6-8
It is significant that spiritual gifts are not explained in the first chapter of Romans, but in the twelfth chapter, after sin has been identified and conquered in the believer’s life.
3. Service – Concentrate on the needs of others – Ephesians 4:12-13
Only as we begin using our gifts will we confirm them and also see the need for other’s gifts.
4. Self-Examination – seriously searching for God’s grace gift in our lives and how to use it properly.
We will begin tonight with a brief overview and then a more detailed look over the next few weeks.
I. The Principle of Spiritual Gifts
Spiritual gifts are an expression of the “manifold grace of God.”
See 1 Peter 4:10
They are desires, opportunities, and results given by the Holy Spirit to achieve God’s supernatural goals.
Each Christian’s gift is given by the Holy Spirit.
The Greek word for “gift” is charisma, which comes from the word char meaning “joy.”
Charis is the Greek word for grace, which is God giving us the desire and power to do His will.
- Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The Greek word from which “operations” comes is emergeia. Its English equivalent is energy.
As God gives power through our motivational gift, the effects produced by it are the operations (energema) or manifestations of the Spirit.
You may have talent and thought it was a gift — and in a way it is.
All talents are given by God.
But talents are not unique to the saved — unsaved people have talents, as well.
Spiritual gifts, though, are supernatural, grace gifts — not earned or learned.
- Vs. 3 – through the grace given unto me
- Vs. 6 – Having then gifts differing according the grace that is given to us…
Some people also confuse the gifts of the Spirit with the fruit of the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance) is to be manifested in every believer.
The gifts, on the other hand, are uniquely distributed as God sees fit for the building up of His Kingdom.
There are SEVEN DISTINCT GIFTS given in this passage.
ILLUSTRATION of woman tripping over a toy and spilling the dessert in a room of 7 different gifts:
- Prophecy – That’s what happens when you don’t watch where you’re going!
- Ministry – Oh, let me help you clean that up!
- Teaching – The reason she tripped is because somebody left a fire truck on the floor.
- Exhortation – Next time, let’s make sure the floor is clean and that we watch where we are going.
- Giving – I’ll be happy to help fix some more dessert!
- Ruling – Jim, you get the mop. Sue, help her pick that up. Mary, help me fix some more dessert. Jimmy, see if she needs some medical attention.
- Mercy – Don’t feel badly. It could happen to anybody. Are you OK?
Recently we did a series on STEWARDSHIP.
Basically, we are taking inventory of our gifts so we can better apply them.
II. The People of Spiritual Gifts
- Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Every Christian has a Spiritual Gift.
It is activated at salvation when the Holy Spirit unites with our spirit – Romans 8:16-17.
When we are born physically, we possess certain natural abilities.
When we are born again spiritually, God takes these natural abilities and turns them into the means by which He can work through us supernaturally.
Christ “…gave gifts unto men…For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith…” Ephesians 4:8, 12-13
NOTE: Just because you don’t know what your gift is doesn’t mean you don’t have one!
- 1 Corinthians 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
III. The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts
The Bible is clear in I Cor. 12 that the purpose of the gifts are to make the Christian PROFITABLE.
- 1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
Many people think their spiritual gift is for their enjoyment.
But, it is not for your enjoyment; it is for your employment.
If I have a gift, it’s going to bless you. If you have a gift, it’s going to bless me.
Together, we’re going to bless each other.
Understanding and incorporating our Spiritual Gifts will eliminate a life of selfishness and be replaced with a life of service.
IV. The Practice of Spiritual Gifts
It has already been shown that the practice of these gifts is FOR the church and WITHIN the church.
These gifts are not to build you up personally, or to build your ministry.
It is to edify and profit the church of the living God.
There are three types of gifts:
- Motivation – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
- Ministering – 1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
- Manifestation – 1 Corinthians 12:6, 7 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
We have one motivational gift and the possibility of many ministry and manifestation gifts
If one Christian had all seven motivational gifts, he would certainly be self-sufficient and would not need the other members. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
This diversity of gifts requires us to work together; no man is an island!
In the Body of Christ we exhibit unity in diversity.
And what is unity? It is not unison. Have you ever heard a choir? Then, you know that they sing different parts.
That’s what makes it beautiful. God doesn’t want us all to be alike. God has made each of us different.
When we come together in one Spirit, our work is a harmonious symphony of loving service to our King!
V. The Pursuit of Spiritual Gifts
- 1 Corinthians 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
DEFINITION OF COVET EARNESTLY: to burn with zeal; in a good sense, to be zealous in the pursuit of good; to desire earnestly, pursue; to desire one earnestly, to strive after, busy one’s self about him; to exert one’s self for one
- We should strive to discover our gifts.
- We should strive to develop our gifts.
- We should strive to dispense our gifts.
Conclusion: Knowing we have a gift that is valuable to the Body of Christ, we are able to achieve a deeper level of self-acceptance and purpose in life. As we exercise our gifts, we experience personal fulfillment and a deep sense of joy. By concentrating on our gifts, we achieve maximum fruitfulness with minimum weariness.
Most of the problems which we face come when we try to fulfill our spiritual gift in the energy of the flesh rather than by the energizing power of the Holy Spirit. Most of those who have discovered their spiritual gift have done so by detecting misuses of their natural abilities.
The Gift of Prophecy
Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
Intro: One of the common misunderstandings of this gift is that it only applies to preachers. This is not true. Neither is it true that all preachers have this motivational spiritual gift.
There are several excellent examples of characters in the Bible that display the gift of “prophecy”.
Many of them are Old Testament characters.
Since we are studying this series in order to learn how to be more PROFITABLE to the local church, we will look tonight at the life of Peter as an example of this spiritual gift.
I. The Conditions for this Gift
A. God’s Requirements
What guidelines are given for the gift of prophecy in Romans 12:9?
- Love without dissimulation (hypocrisy)
- Abhor (detest) that which is evil
- Cleave to that which is good.
B. The Gift’s Requirements
A clear and pure conscience is very important to a prophet in order for them to perform their function in the body?
Because it allows the prophet to speak the truth with love.
II. The Characteristics of this Gift
A. They are known for the Declaration
A prophet’s basic motivational drive is to apply the Word of God to a situation so that sin is exposed and relationships are restored.
Prophets might be considered the “trumpets” of the Body of Christ who sound the alarm in the face of sin and compromise.
They put a lot of stock in communicating truth.
They feel compelled to express their thoughts, their feelings and their attitude verbally in regards to right and wrong. Again, they are message oriented.
They have a bold sense of confidence in speaking for God.
This many times opens the door for them to have a public speaking ministry.
1. Notice their Propensity to Talk
Prophets need to express their thoughts and ideas verbally, especially when matters of right and wrong are involved. In the written account of the Gospels, Peter spoke more often than any other disciple.
He also became the spokesman for the early Church. (See Acts 2:14; 3:12; 4:8; 11:1-4)
2. Notice their Passion for Truth
Prophets have a special ability to be articulate in defining what is right and what is wrong. Great conviction was brought to thousands on the Day of Pentecost when Peter pointed out, “…Ye have taken [Jesus], and by wicked hands have crucified and slain [Him]” (Acts 2:23).
They have a tremendous hatred for sin and especially despise any form of lying.
Hypocrisy, insincerity and manipulation grieve the heart of this person.
Why does the prophet so despise lying? They have a low tolerance for someone lying to them because they know a person is not close to repenting when they are denying or seeking to cover up their sin.
They don’t see gray areas. Most things are black and white to a person with this gift.
As they use their gift they will be the one who gets to the root of the problem.
The person with the gift of mercy may react to the consequences of the problem and the person with the gift of exhortation may give steps to correct the problem once a person has gotten right with God, but the person with the gift of prophecy is going to make sure you understand the root of the problem.
A prophet is confident in his use of Scripture, because he regards Scripture as the only source of truth.
- EXAMPLE: 2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
They have a deep reliance upon the Word of God to validate their convictions.
You will hear them often say, “The Bible says…”
A mature prophet easily discerns hypocrisy, because God has gifted him to discern Truth.
He is usually more teachable than others, especially when discipline or correction is required.
The prophet accepts absolutes easily. The rest of us try to explain them away; prophets simply take God at His Word.
When a wise prophet is confronted with his sin, he sees it as God sees it and consequently is crushed (if he is walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh).
Prophets are as open about their own failures as they want others to be about theirs.
When Christ appeared to the disciples, Peter fell on his knees and said, “…Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8)
B. They are known for their Dedication
1. Dedicated to the Work
Once prophets are committed to a cause, they are wholeheartedly involved in it.
A prophet has a deep capacity to trust God, based on what God has promised.
The prophet’s attitude is: “If it’s right, do it. Trust God for the outcome—it’s His responsibility.”
Within the context of their commitment, they are quick to respond to situations and opportunities. When Peter recognized Jesus walking on the water, he asked Jesus to bid him to come.
- Matthew 14:28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
- Matthew 17:4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
They have a desire to give evidence of loyalty and total commitment to the Lord.
They want others to know where they stand.
Peter stated that he would never leave the Lord.
2. Dedicated to the Word
Prophets are loyal to truth even if it means cutting off relationships.
- Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
When Jesus asked the disciples if they were also going to leave Him, Peter replied that he would stay because Christ had the words of eternal life.
- John 6:66-69 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Prophets are eager to suffer when it comes to standing for the truth or doing what is right.
Peter rejoiced that he was counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus when he was beaten for obeying God rather than men.
- See Acts 5:29-42
C. They are known for their Discernment
1. Quick to Evaluate People
Prophets tend to make quick judgments on what they see and hear. They also tend to express their views before others speak. In the Gospels, Peter spoke first more than any other disciple.
- See Mathew 14:28; 15:15; 16:16; 16:33; 19:27; John 6:38; 13:6
Prophets have an amazing ability to sense when someone or something is not what it appears to be.
They react harshly to any form of deception or dishonesty.
Peter must have sensed deception in Ananias and Sapphira since he was prompted to question them about it. His condemnation resulted in their deaths. (See Acts 5:3-10)
2. Quick to Warn People
They have a great understanding of cause and effect. They see consequences before the fact. This motivates them to speak warnings to other believers. A person with this gift will not wait until a child has touched a hot stove, rather
when they see the child come in the room where there is a hot stove, they will speak up and say, “stay away from the stove.” The person may have never intended to touch the stove, but the prophet will still issue warning.
They speak with a sense of urgency. They want decisions to be made now.
They have a desire, yes, they even demand, to see a person’s life change (this is what motivate them).
They will make strong appeals for a decision and then for an outward change.
- Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
They know until a decision is made, things will remain the same.
They also know that if there has been true repentance there will be a change.
John the Baptist called for fruits of repentance while warning of the wrath to come!
While they will speak firmly about an issue and may cause a person living in sin to feel very uncomfortable, the person who has this gift becomes that person’s number one supporter once the person repents of their sin.
III. The Cautions of this Gift
With each gift, there are carnal and fleshly demonstrations of this gift apart from the filling of the Holy Spirit.
When a person allows themselves to become controlled by the flesh, here are some of the negative aspects of the gift of prophecy.
With growth and spiritual maturity, these misuses can become a thing of the past if we let God work in our hearts.
- Exposing without restoring – A prophet’s primary concern about stopping the spread of evil tends to cause him to expose a sinner rather than restore him. In so doing, the prophet will fail a test of spirituality. (See Galatians 6:1) The prophet, however, believes that exposure of sin is the first step of restoration.
- Jumping to conclusions – Prophets tend to draw conclusions from a few known facts. Once a hasty conclusion has been made, prophets tend to look for confirming evidence. This action can result in their taking words and actions of the accused out of context in order to prove their points.
- Reacting harshly to sinners – When a prophet sees sin, he tends to denounce it so strongly that it appears to others as “overkill.” After exposing the sin, the prophet tends to expect immediate repentance regardless of whether his rebuke was given in love or was even fully accurate. His motive in magnifying sin is to promote repentance.
- Being unforgiving – It is very difficult for a prophet to make a separation between sin and the sinner. Therefore, he tends to reject them both with equal vigor. Those who hear his harshness interpret his denunciations as angry tirades. Peter’s epistles provide a balance of truth and love.
- Condemning themselves – The harsh judgments which prophets have for others, they also have for themselves. They tend to be extremely self-critical and feel worthless when they fail. After Peter denied Jesus, the heavenly messenger knew his need for reassurance and said, “…Go…tell his disciples and Peter…” (Mark 16:7).
- Being impulsive – Because of his tendency to make quick decisions, a prophet can be very impulsive and can vacillate between extremes. At first Peter refused to allow Jesus to wash his feet; then he asked Jesus to wash his whole body. (See John 13:6-10)
- Cutting off people who fail – Whenever prophets see or hear something that is wrong, they feel responsible to speak out against it. It does not occur to them to ask: “Whose responsibility is this? Do I have all the facts? Do I need to take action at this time?” EXAMPLE: Peter cut off the ear of a soldier in the garden defending Jesus.
- Lacking tactfulness in rebuke – Prophets tend to be painfully direct when correcting others, no matter who they are. This bluntness can cause the prophet embarrassment, as when Peter rebuked Jesus for telling the disciples of His death. Mark 8:31-32 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
- Dwelling on the negative – Prophets tend to divide everything into two classes–right or wrong. Once they label a person or activity, that judgment tends to be fixed in their minds, and they often feel compelled to persuade others to agree with them.
Misunderstandings and other Misuses of the Prophet
Along with the gift of administration the person with the gift of prophecy is many times misunderstood.
Notice some misunderstandings or problems they may have:
- Has a problem relating to people as individuals. Tends to group people together. Not very good one on one.
- Relating to people too harshly. Can come across very judgmental. Very often misunderstood because approach is critical, harsh and judgmental and the message is then rejected.
- A tendency to have poor listening skills. With their strong desire to proclaim truth they come across many times as disinterested in hearing the details of a problem. They don’t seem to be concerned about a person’s feelings.
- Lacking in flexibility. Comes across as “my way or the highway.” No room for compromise. Resist the thought that there can be a gray area. Can be viewed as intolerant!!!
- Can be very impatient. They want to hear a decision now and see an immediate change.
- Their eagerness for a decision may cause people to feel undo pressure to agree with the person instead of making a genuine decision. Also their focus on decisions being made may cause people to feel they are number oriented.
- Can focus more on law than grace. A problem may be that they have a tendency to speak their minds as opposed to speaking for God.
- Another problem is that many times they lack organizational skills.
- Public boldness and strict standards may hinder having close relationships.
When not walking in the Spirit and living a carnal life they can be:
- Deceptive – will manipulate to get their own way. Will lie.
- Disobedient – must have their own way – can be dictatorial and domineering
- Hypocritical – Will still preach against sin, while living in it
- Involved in things that defile – thought life is not clean – can become very impure
- Fearful – afraid of people, afraid of tomorrow (Elijah after Mt. Carmel)
- Rejecting of people – not forgiving. Takes rejection personal as well. (Elijah under the juniper tree)
- Becomes Argumentative – enjoy debating and arguing with people they think is wrong
Note to those visiting our website and seeing this series and the outlines:
Much of the material for this series has been gathered from multiple sources, so I cannot claim much originality other than the outline and some other tidbits scattered throughout. This series of outlines is being posted to aid my church members in following along in their personal studies as we deal with this fascinating subject. If some of these notes look familiar, you will understand why.
The Leaven of the Pharisees
INTRODUCTION to the SERIES
A. The History of the Pharisees
There were three basic groups of people in the Bible days; or three religious sects;
1. The PHARISEES
- We have no record of the existence of the Pharisees in the Old Testament.
- It is believed that they originated sometime during the 400 years of silence between the Testaments.
- The Pharisees derived their name from the Hebrew word “parash”.
- The word literally means “to scatter, to distinguish, to separate”.
- They were expelled from serving or governing with the Sanhedrin sometime around 100 B.C.
- The Sanhedrin was a governing civil body composed of the leading aristocratic members of society.
- The Sanhedrin was overseen by the High Priest.
- The Jewish historian Josephus estimated the number of Pharisees during the life of Christ to be around 6,000.
2. The SADDUCEES are supposed to have taken their name from Sadok, who flourished about 260 years before the Christian era. He was a pupil of Antigonus Sochaeus, president of the Sanhedren, or great council of the nation. He had taught the duty of serving God disinterestedly, without the hope of reward, or the fear of punishment Sadok, not properly understanding the doctrine of his master drew the inference that there was no future state of rewards or punishments and on this belief he founded the sect. The other notions which they held, all to be traced to this leading doctrine, were: —
- That there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit, Matt. 22:23; Acts 23:8
- That the soul of man perishes with the body.
- They rejected the doctrine of life after death.
- They rejected all traditions, and professed to receive only the books of the Old Testament.
They were far less numerous than the Pharisees, but their want of numbers was compensated, in some degree, by their wealth and standing in society. Though they did not generally seek office, yet several of them were advanced to the high-priesthood.
3. The ESSENES – a third sect of the Jews, are not mentioned in the New Testament. They differed from both the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were Jewish monks, or hermits, passing their time little in society, but mostly in places of obscurity and retirement. It is not probable, therefore, that our Saviour often, if ever, encountered them; and this, it is supposed, is the reason why they are not mentioned in the New Testament.
The Beliefs of the Pharisees
- They believed that God was the sovereign Creator.
- They believed that God expressed His will to His creation through Scripture.
- They believed that God granted man the gift of responsibility and moral choice.
- They believed that God expected them to prepare for the coming resurrection, judgment after death. – Acts 23:6-8
- They believed in a coming Messiah.
- They believed in good and evil angels. – Matt. 12:24
- They were firm believers in tithing – Matt. 23:23
- They were firm believers in praying – Mark 12:40
- They were firm believers in fasting – Matt. 6:16; 9:14
- They believed and practiced almsgiving. – Matt. 6:1, 2
- They were adamant about cleanliness, separation, sanctification, etc. – See Mark 7:1-23
- They were dogmatic about strict and literal interpretation of Scripture. – Acts 22:3; 26:4, 5
- They highly valued their reputation for separation and holiness – Phil. 3:4-6
- Some even accepted Christ as their Savior and were saved – Acts 15:5
So what was their problem?? Why would Jesus warn his disciples of “the doctrine of the Pharisees” if their doctrine wasn’t heretical? It was their LIFESTYLE that made them so dangerous!!
- Matthew 16:12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
B. The Hypocrisy of the Pharisees
- Luke 12:1 …Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
- Matt. 23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
- They begin to add to the law of God by overemphasizing their own interpretations – Mark 7:9, 13
- They forced their traditions on everybody else – Matt. 23:3, 4; Mark 7:5;
- The more dogmatic and “strait” they were, the more qualified they were to wreck havoc in the church – Gal. 1:13, 14
- They formed a “pecking order”; a “religious caste system” based on works – John 7:45-49
- They became very prideful because of their separation and works – Matt. 23:5, 6
- They begin to view themselves as the “elite” and the “master” – Matt. 23:2; 6, 7; Romans 2:17-29
- Then they failed to obey their own teaching and traditions and laws – Matt. 23:2, 3
- They rejected the teaching and preaching of Christ because He was His own authority – Mat. 7:29;
C. The Harm of the Pharisees
FIRST MENTION PRINCIPLE: The first mention of the Pharisees in the Bible is found in Matthew 3:7. In the very same verse that they are introduced, John the Baptist called them “O generation of vipers…”
Jesus reiterated this assessment at least 3 times!
- Matthew 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
- Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
- Luke 3:7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
A viper is one of the most dangerous, poisonous animals on the planet.
Generation of vipers. Vipers are a species of serpents. They are from two to five feet in length, and about an inch thick, with a flat head. They are of an ash or yellowish colour, speckled with long brown spots. There is no serpent that is more poisonous than their bite; and the person bitten swells up almost immediately, and falls down dead. See Acts 28:6.
Their poison is referred to as “leaven” at least five times.
In each instance, Jesus is the one warning His disciples of “the leaven of the Pharisees.
Leaven throughout the Bible is always negative; a picture and type of SIN.
Notice the Apostle Paul’s mentioning of “leaven”.
- 1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
1. The Infiltration of Leaven
- It is done Deliberately
- It is done Deceitfully
Matthew 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
2. The Invisibility of Leaven
- Leaven is difficult to see.
- Its work is slow and quiet.
- It doesn’t stand out; it’s not obvious at first
One of the things I’ve learned after 20 years of ministry is this: I’m fighting an invisible enemy.
I’m trying to deal with problems that are undefined, unclear, unprecedented, unimaginable.
I’m trying to put out fires I can’t see; help people with things that I don’t even know exist.
Sometimes I feel that I am shooting in the dark and hoping to hit the enemy.
Leaven is impossible to see; (like the wheat and the tares). It blends in so well it is camouflaged.
3. The Influence of Leaven
- 1 Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
- Galatians 5:9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
The leaven has infected the whole lump.
An entire generation, maybe two, have fallen prey to the deceptive leaven.
Again – what is leaven? It is HYPOCRISY!
It is having the outside of the cup clean and the inside full of excess.
It is a whited sepulcher full of dead men’s bones.
It is a separated, clean-as-a-hound’s-tooth church member without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Somewhere, we started hearing preaching and teaching that focused on the OUTSIDE and not on the INSIDE.
We gauged people’s growth by how fast they adapted to all of our standards, convictions and preferences.
We valued people based solely on their conformity to our traditions, beliefs and lifestyle.
Therefore, people started “lining up” in order to be accepted.
People starting “cleaning up” so they could be involved in ministry and not be left out.
We congratulated them on their “growth” and they felt spiritual and righteous.
But the matters of the heart were hidden and never dealt with.
A personal relationship with Jesus was never cultivated.
If you had standards and learned how to “worship”, that was the litmus test for most Christians.
And we’ve seen that leaven of hypocrisy leaven the whole lump.
Conclusion: So how do you purge leaven? Physically, it’s impossible. But making a spiritual application, Paul said that we could, and we should purge out the leaven. The only way that is done is to do the OPPOSITE of leaven.
- 1 Corinthians 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
The Leaven of Show
I. The Leaven of Show
In multiple places, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for the hypocrisy of their APPEARANCE.
A. The Appearance of Sincerity – Matt. 23:5
- Matthew 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
1. By Exaggerating their Dedication to the Law
GREEK LEXICON NOTES: a preservative or safeguard, an amulet. The Jews used this word to describe small strips of parchment on which were written the following passages of the law of Moses, #Ex 13:1-10, 11-16; #De 6:4-9, 11:13-21, and which, enclosed in small cases, they were accustomed when engaged in prayer to wear fastened by a leather strap to the forehead and to the left arm over against the heart, in order that they might thus be solemnly reminded of the duty of keeping the commands of God in the head and in the heart, according to the directions given in #Ex 13:16, De 6:8, 11:18. These scrolls were thought to have the power, like amulets, to avert various evils and to drive away demons. The Pharisees were accustomed to widen, make broad, their phylacteries, that they might render them more conspicuous and show themselves to be more eager than the majority to be reminded of the law of God.
I know a lot of Baptists that think that the Bible is a good luck charm!
They talk about the KJV like they invented it, and strap it to their head and their arm and it’s a get out of jail free card!
The Pharisees would make it bigger and wider and very conspicuous.
They thought the bigger their good luck charm, the more sincere it made them!!
I know a lot of people that feel that way about their Bible.
They are very concerned about the name of Bible, the printer, the notes, the style, the make, the model.
NOTE: I am a KJV man from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet – always have been and always will be.
I believe that all other English versions are completely useless and NON-INSPIRED!
But some of the meanest people I know carry a KJV.
Some of the most carnal people I know carry nothing but a KJV, and will tell you that in a heartbeat.
Some of the most hypocritical people I know talk and sing and preach about how much they love their Bible.
2. By Exaggerating their Dedication in their Lifestyle
GREEK LEXICON NOTES: Enlarge the borders of their garments. This refers to the loose threads which were attached to the borders of the outer garment as a fringe. This fringe was commanded in order to distinguish them from other nations, and that they might remember to keep the commandments of God, #Nu 15:38-40 De 22:12. They made them broader than other people wore them, to show that they had peculiar respect for the law.
Again – I’m a firm believer in modesty and dressing right!
I firmly believe that God’s people ought to dress different from the world!!
Some of the most carnal people I know have their outward appearance nailed down in every area.
They even exaggerate it – longer, fuller, more flowing, more modest than anybody anywhere!
B. The Appearance of Sanctification – Matt. 23:25-28
The Pharisees focused on the OUTSIDE – vs. 25 “ye make clean the outside…”
JESUS – THE SON OF GOD SAID VERY CLEARLY – vs. 26 “cleanse FIRST that which is within…”
When did we ever start placing more emphasis on the outside?
Sanctification involves a WHOLE LOT MORE than outward changes!
A man can get saved, baptized and join the church. Within 6 weeks, we’ve got the outside right.
But his spiritual man hasn’t grown. He is still struggling with his heart, his mind, his lust, his temper, etc.
But because his outside has “conformed” to our standards of sanctification, we think he’s doing great.
Many Christians never deal with the heart.
The INSIDE is never dealt with.
- 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Pharisees didn’t like this verse – they only sanctified the body!
NOTE: A sanctification that is only on the outside is not sanctification! It is Phariseeism!
C. The Appearance of Submission – Matt. 23:29-34
Jesus condemned them for acting so reverent toward the prophets of the past.
They were notorious for honoring and remembering dead prophets and former men of God.
They built tombs – memorials – to commemorate the men of God in days gone by.
They garnished the sepulchers of dead men – lived on the memories of the past.
But they had NO REVERENCE for the man of God in front of them!
In fact, they bragged about how they wouldn’t have EVER done anything to hurt one of those prophets.
Their testimony was one of submission, loyalty, and honoring God’s men.
But Jesus said in verse 34 – I send unto you prophets, wise men and scribes – and ye shall kill them!!
They had a double-standard for honoring God’s men.
They had no problem honoring the men of the past.
But they refused to honor the men that God put in THEIR life!
The Leaven of Skepticism
A. Skeptical of the Activities of God’s People – Matt. 12:1-8
1. The Pharisees Following to Uncover Sin – vs. 2
What were the Pharisees doing in a cornfield?
If they weren’t there to eat corn, it’s obvious they were just following Jesus and his disciples around to get some dirt on them.
I know a lot of church members that keep up with what everybody is doing, so they can be the first to know.
There’s nothing spiritual about being an independent Baptist “Sherlock Holmes”.
Some Baptist pride themselves in knowing EVERYTHING about EVERYBODY.
They go to meetings at other churches so they can see “firsthand” just how liberal or compromising they are.
They don’t go to be an asset or contribute; just to sit like a vulture on a fence post and analyze everything.
And then they get on the phone and call everybody that they know and “report” on the church’s condition.
Even if there was a problem, they wouldn’t lift a finger to be a help; they just want to know and talk about it.
They subscribe to every newsletter and publication so they can look for anything that isn’t “right” and tell people.
- 1 Peter 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
NOTE: “busybody in other men’s matters” is one Greek word meaning: one who takes the supervision of affairs pertaining to others and in no wise to himself, a meddler in other men’s affairs
- 2 Thessalonians 3:11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
- 1 Timothy 5:13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
2. The Pharisees False Accusations to Undermine the Saints – vs. 2
Do you know who’s called the “accuser” in the Bible? Satan!
- Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
True Christians do not go around looking for the faults in people and pointing them out.
True, Christ-like charity is described in these verses:
- Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (evil speaking is slander, detraction, speech injurious, to another’s good name)
- Titus 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
- James 4:11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
Do we believe these verses or not?
Were these verses written by compromisers for compromisers?
Or were they written by Christians for Christians?
What about these verses…
- 1 Corinthians 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; (thinketh no evil: to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over)
This is an accounting, math term.
This describes those that “keep score”. They keep a running tally of all the grievances and offences against them.
They keep thinking of it; they keep adding it up. They enjoy keeping a list and sharing a list of all the things that people do to them that isn’t fair or right.
They find themselves looking for it; keeping a journal and a list.
They use this list of offences of others as a counterweight to their own actions.
They put their deeds on one side of the scale, and the deeds of others on the other side.
They justify their faults and failures and problems by focusing on the deeds of others.
What do you think Jesus meant when He said,
- Mark 12:30, 31 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
He said it again in Luke:
- Luke 10:27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
Notice the response of the “lawyer that was seeking to tempt Christ:
- Luke 10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
I imagine there are more than a few church members that “willing to justify himself” might ask this.
The answer Jesus gave was shocking!
Their neighbor was a total stranger! A man that was lying in the ditch, bleeding, naked and dying.
Jesus gave the illustration of a priest and a Levite that failed to love their neighbor.
Then told them of a Samaritan; a half-breed, reject that did what nobody else was willing to do.
QUESTION: If God expects us to treat COMPLETE STRANGERS with the same love as we have for ourselves, how much more should we love our brothers and sisters in Christ?
NOTE THE GOLDEN RULE: Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
3. The Pharisees Failure to Understand Scripture – Deut. 23:25
They were rebuked for their ignorance at least three times in verses 3-8
They were more concerned with their preferences than they were in being Biblically accurate.
The Bible was clear in Deut. 23:25 that there is a difference in EATING corn and REAPING corn.
We have a lot of people today that delight in taking Biblical principles and adding to them.
If you misinterpret Scripture, you will find a lot of wrong in places where there’s not any.
- Titus 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
This crowd that jokes about “being against everything” isn’t joking. They really are against everything.
Makes you wonder how this verse applies to them doesn’t it?
“Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure…”
Bottom line is: If they do it, it’s not wrong. If they don’t do it, it’s wrong for you to do it.
B. Skeptical of the Acceptability of God’s Practices – Matt. 12:9, 10
Can God do that?
How can God work like that?
Why is it that we say “God can do anything He wants to, anyway He wants to”, but it has to make sense to us?
How can God use that person?
How can God move in that church?
How can God use that preacher, or that message?
How can God use that missionary family?
How can God use anybody that came from that school or college?
Question: Do you really think that God needs your permission or approval to work, or do you just pretend that He does?
- Job 40:1 Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.
In the Bible, God used anything. Balaam’s ass, a jawbone, a rod, a broken pitcher, a sling, a maiden, a lad’s lunch, a rooster, etc. He can pretty much do what He wants to, with whatever He wants to use!
C. Skeptical of the Ability of God’s Power – Matt. 12:22-24
They couldn’t believe that Jesus could heal the man in verse 22.
He was demon possessed, blind and dumb.
The people were amazed, but the Pharisees sought to discredit what Jesus did.
They could not say anything good about Jesus, because they had nothing good in their heart. Vs. 34
TURN TO Mark 8:10-21
Jesus warned them about the LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES.
They were worried about not having any bread (they actually had one loaf according to verse 14).
He asked them about the 2 previous miracles involving feeding the multitudes.
They didn’t get it. – see verse 21
How many times do we doubt God and question His power after He just performed a miracle in our lives?
D. Skeptical of the Authority of God’s Person – Matt. 12:38
Note the IRONY – they called him Master – teacher, doctor, instructor
But then they demand a sign.
He had JUST healed a possessed man that was deaf and dumb.
They discredited that as an act of God’s power, then demanded another one.
How many times do God’s people explain away a work of God, only to ask Him to work again?
The Leaven of the Pharisees is the hypocrisy of pretending to live by faith, while demanding signs and proofs!!!
The Leaven of Self-righteousness
Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous,
and despised others:
Intro: The Pharisees had a problem with self-righteousness. Notice the immediate characteristics of this sin.
A. Notice their Trust – it is in themselves
- Psalms 118:8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
- Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
B. Notice their Thinking
- Galatians 6:3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
- Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
- 1 Corinthians 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
C. Notice their Treatment
- Despise: set at nought, esteem least, contemptible, to make of no account, despise utterly
Somehow, there is a school of thought that you can be righteous and despise other people.
I’m not sure how this belief system has survived 2,000 years of Christian influence and Bible exposure, but it’s a shame.
Understand something: You CANNOT be righteous and despise people at the same time!!!
The Bible is very clear; how you treat other people is the PRINCIPLE sign of Christianity!!
The key command to “love thy neighbor as thyself” is found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, Romans, Galatians and James
- James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
But you say – I know a really good man that despises people.
Answer: NO YOU DON’T! You know a Pharisee!!
You know a man that THINKS HE’S A REALLY GOOD MAN, but he’s not if he has a problem despising people!!!
Some Key Characteristics of a Self-Righteous Pharisee
I. Jesus Rebuked their Balance
Notice the Pharisee in Luke 18:12
He placed a lot more emphasis on what he was doing RIGHT than what he was doing WRONG.
Why is it that we justify our wrongs by focusing on our rights?
Have you ever heard somebody talk about “majoring on minors”.
They make the statement, that there is nothing such as a minor issue if God deals with it.
They say things like, “If the Bible teaches it, it’s not minor.”
I understand what they mean, but that is simply not true.
The Pharisee in Luke 18:12 was pointing out that he tithed.
Notice what Jesus said about that in Matthew 23:23 -
- Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
QUESTION: Did Jesus believe that everything was of the same importance?
He referred to judgment, mercy and faith as WEIGHTIER MATTERS.
LESSON: MATTERS OF THE HEART ARE WEIGHTER THAN EXTERNAL RULES AND LAWS.
NOTE: Being a tither but not having mercy is worse than a person with mercy that doesn’t tithe.
Jesus was not saying it’s OK to tithe. In fact, he said they ought to tithe.
But he said that tithing was not a sign of spirituality!!
Why is it that we place more emphasis on what WE are doing right than on what we are doing WRONG??
Our CONGRATULATIONS of our obedience shouldn’t outweigh our CONDEMNTATIONS of our disobedience.
II. Jesus Rebuked their Blindness
- Matt. 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
A. They are Blind to the Silliness of their Straining
Strain: Greek word diulizo (pronounced dee-oo-lid’-zo
The meaning of the phrase “which strain” literally means to filter; to pour through a filter to remove something
Comes from an old proverb which said “to strain OUT a gnat”
The Arabians have a similar proverb: “He eats an elephant, and is suffocated with a gnat.”
They put the pressure on a person and run them through their filtering process
This gnat is literally a fruit fly – almost impossible to see.
In other words, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for LOOKING FOR SOMETHING WRONG WITH PEOPLE.
B. They are Blind to the Severity of their Swallowing
They made a big deal out of little things, and had no problem with bigger things.
The word “swallow” literally means to swallow, to devour, to eat
They tolerate UNBELIEVABLE sin and error and think nothing about it!
This verse applies to a large number of possible scenarios.
There are so many possible applications that it is hard to know where to start.
For a person to strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel is the height of confusion.
It is also a HUGE double-standard.
They filter YOU through their filter system, but let HUGE and BLATANT error by on the other hand.
They don’t see it though – that’s why Jesus called them blind.
III. Jesus Rebuked their Bragging
They were very proud of their holiness.
They were quick to tell you what they DIDN’T do.
- Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
This is not even a false humility. This is FLAGRANT PRIDE AND SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS.
It’s high time God’s people start drawing attention to themselves for their holiness and start drawing attention to GOD WITH their holiness!!!
- Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
This is a direct violation of Scripture.
- 2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
Conclusion: We need a fresh perspective of ourselves. We also need a fresh perspective of the importance of the HEART. Spending all our time working on our OUTSIDE and not allowing God to change us on the INSIDE will continue a vicious cycle of Phariseeism.
Let’s not be guilty of self-righteousness.
- 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Get Out the Weed-eater!
Proverbs 24:30 I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.
Intro: Weeds are everywhere. And they grow naturally. You don’t plant them; they just grow.
You have to plant corn, and wheat, and okra, and green beans, and watermelons.
And you have to cultivate them and maintain them.
But weeds – they grow all by themselves. Everywhere. All year round!
- But make no mistake: the weeds will win; nature bats last. ~Robert M. Pyle
- Crabgrass can grow on bowling balls in airless rooms, and there is no known way to kill it that does not involve nuclear weapons. ~Dave Barry
- When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown
If we don’t watch it, our garden; our vineyard, our hearts, our homes, our church will be overrun with weeds.
We need to get the weedeater out and take care of some weeds!
I. Weeds of Unbelief
- Romans 3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
- Romans 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
- Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
- Allowing the devil to lie to you about God’s power to perform
- Doubt is a natural, carnal tendency.
- Faith is a fruit of the Spirit; carnal people can’t exemplify faith
II. Weeds of Unfaithfulness
- 1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
- Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
Being labeled as an unfaithful man would be one of the worst things that could be said about me.
I would just as soon be called a thief or a liar as to be called “unfaithful”.
It is a requirement of God that a man be found faithful!
- Devotions – prayer, reading
- Giving – tithing, missions
- Church – starting to miss church
- Soulwinning – hit and miss attitude
III. Weeds of Uninvolvement
- It’s easy to let the weeds grow up of getting too busy to help.
- Are you a laborer? Are you a ministry-minded member?
- Do you sit back and let others do something you can do?
- 1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
- Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
- 2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
- 1 Corinthians 16:15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
IV. Weeds of Unforgiveness – holding a grudge; fostering a bitter heart
- Mark 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
- Mark 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
- Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
- Colossians 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Those weeds of unforgiveness will spring up.
- “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” ― Corrie ten Boom
- Forgiveness is a choice. So is unforgiveness.
How To Get God To Move Heaven and Earth For You
Joshua 10:12 Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.
I. Turn your mistakes into benefits – Joshua 9:22, 23
A. They were Deceived – vs. 4
They allowed the enemy to lay a trap; they fell into the wiles of the enemy.
Satan is a master Deceiver; we must be aware of his lies and his tricks!
B. They were Delinquent – because they failed to pray. (vs. 14)
Failure to pray will result in failure to stand.
A negligent prayer life will always blur your discernment of right and wrong.
Keep a prayer life that is strong and faithful.
C. They were Disobedient – Josh. 9:15
God had commanded them to destroy everybody! And they failed.
They made alliances with the enemy.
- James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
D. They were Determined – Josh. 9:23
They turned their mistakes into assets to further the house of God.
They had messed up, but they didn’t let it ruin them.
They took their mistakes, and turned it around and made it beneficial to the house of God!
Most of us are scarred and marred by sin, but God can still use us to help others.
Don’t let your mistakes make you bitter; let them make you better!!
II. Do your best and trust God with the rest – Joshua 10:7-11
A. Notice God’s Promise – vs. 8 God said that He would give them the victory.
B. Notice Joshua’s Pursuit – They stayed up all night pursuing – vs. 9
C. Notice the Partnership – vs. 11 – together they accomplished the task
God told them that he would fight for them, but they didn’t sit down.
They did their part, and let God do His part.
III. Don’t be afraid to ask God to do what’s never been done – vs. 12-14
A. The Request was Unselfish –
He wanted the day to be prolonged so he could fight; not play.
He wasn’t asking for more daylight so he could make another dollar.
He wasn’t wanting to do anything but finish this battle with the enemy.
B. The Request was Unhesitant – he asked God in the sight of all Israel! – vs. 12
Many times I’m afraid we ask for some things in secret so if God doesn’t answer, we aren’t embarrassed.
He prayed in front of everybody.
That is faith!!
C. The Request was Unprecedented – vs. 14
Never had anybody ever asked the sun to stand still.
Never had anybody ever asked the moon to stand still.
In essence, he was asking God to move Heaven and earth.
Sometimes the battle you’re facing is unprecedented.
God is still able to do something that’s never been done before!
IV. Don’t hesitate to deal with the problem when you discover it – vs. 16, 22-27
A. The Enemy was Concealed – vs. 16
They found 5 more enemies, hidden in the cave.
The devil has a way of hiding sin in your life where you can’t even see it.
B. The Enemy was Revealed – vs. 17
But God always has a way of pulling the lid off of our sin!
They “discovered” 5 kings hiding.
Joshua determined to deal with them!
He didn’t let them remain hidden.
These kings represented strongholds in their lives.
These kings had set up thrones and dominions in the land that God had given them.
C. The Enemy was Repealed – vs. 26
They discovered these 5 kings hiding in a cave.
They dealt with them!
When God shows you a stronghold, or a weakness, or a sin, or a fault – DEAL WITH IT!!
Joshua didn’t just leave them hidden in the cave.
He pulled them out, killed them, and put them back, where they remain unto this very day! Vs. 27
V. Don’t stop fighting until the victory is complete – vs. 40-43
Joshua wasn’t content to see God move heaven and earth.
He wasn’t content to experience an unprecedented miracle.
He wasn’t content to kill the 5 kings.
He smote ALL THE COUNTRY – VS. 40
He smote ALL THE KINGS!
He left NONE REMAINING!!
Don’t stop fighting until you’ve gotten complete victory.
Joshua 11:15 – he left nothing undone!!!!
Don’t spend the rest of your life talking about the few victories you’ve had.
There’s still more kings to fight.
There’s still battles to be won.
Conclusion: With an attitude like Joshua’s, God might be willing to move heaven and earth to deliver you!
If Christ Be Not Risen
I Cor. 15:14
Intro: The subject of life after death has been a subject that has been debated and discussed since the beginning of time. The oldest book in the Bible is the book of Job, and in this book we find Job asking:
- Job 14:14 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
One of the oldest Patriarchs, Abraham, believed in the resurrection.
- Heb. 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
During the ministry of Christ, there was a group called the Sadducees. They refused to believe in the resurrection.
They are mentioned in Matthew, Mark and Luke as not believing in the resurrection.
When Paul the Apostle preached on Mars Hill, his mention of the resurrection was met with scoffing and mockery.
- Acts 17:32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
Today, we have a large group of people that deny the resurrection of Christ.
Many of them claim to be Christians, yet deny this vital fundamental.
The liberal Bible colleges and seminaries are pumping out a generation of preachers that deny the resurrection.
I. Then All That We’ve Heard is a Lie
- 1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain
A. The Prophecies are a Lie
1. Old Testament Prophecies
- Psalms 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
- Acts 2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
- Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
New Testament Prophecies
Multiple times throughout the ministry of Christ, He taught His disciples that the resurrection would take place.
- Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
- Matthew 20:17 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
- Matthew 27:62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
- John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.
B. The Preaching is a Lie
- 1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
Imagine the preaching that has taken place since the resurrection.
Imagine the thousands of pastors, evangelists, laymen, missionaries that have stood in pulpits and preached it!
Imagine the thousands and thousands of hours of studying and preparing that has gone into the gospel message being preached all around the world over the past 2,000 years.
Imagine all the thousands of books that have been written, commentaries, gospel tracts.
Paul said it right – If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching and teaching is false.
II. Then All that We Have Is Lost
A. Our Faith is Lost – vs. 14; 17
Paul made this point in numerous places. See text: vs. 14 …and your faith is also vain.
How can we expect Christ to “quicken” us and raise us from the dead if He couldn’t raise Himself?
- Romans 5:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
- Romans 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
- Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
- Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
- I Thess. 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
Paul said in verse 17 – if Christ be not raised, ye are YET IN YOUR SINS!
- That means your sins have never been forgiven!
- That means your prayers are not being heard and none of them have ever been answered!
- That means that the change that has taken place in your life has not been a work of the Holy Spirit!
- That means that the joy and the peace in your heart is imaginary; it’s not real!
- That means that strength you draw from the Scripture is all in your head!
Paul is saying – If Christ Be Not Risen, we are still on our way to Hell!
B. Our Fathers are Lost – vs. 18
Paul pointed out one devastating truth; if Christ be not raised, then our forefathers that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished!
He was talking about those that died, putting their faith and trust in Christ.
- This would include John the Baptist who was beheaded for his preaching.
- This would include James the brother of John that was killed by Herod in Acts 12.
- This would include all of the martyrs and the Apostles that died for their faith.
- This would include every man, woman, boy and girl that has died trusting in Christ.
- This would include my great-grandfather that preached all over South Georgia as a circuit riding preacher.
- This would include my granddaddy that preached on the Grace of God like other preacher I’ve ever heard.
- This would include my wife’s grandmother that died hearing angels singing.
- This would include those old time preachers that we’ve always enjoyed hearing.
- Dr. Harold Sightler, Dr. Lee Roberson, Billy Kelly, Oliver B. Greene, Maze Jackson, Edgar Thomas …
C. Our Future is Lost – vs. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Paul goes on to make a case for the second coming of Christ.
BUT – if Christ be not risen, we have no hope of every living after we die.
- There is no resurrection.
- There is no rapture.
- There is no Heaven.
- There is no Judgment Seat of Christ.
- There is no Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
- There is no singing around the throne of God.
- There is no walking down the streets of gold.
- There is no eating of the fruit of the tree of life.
IF CHRIST BE NOT RISEN – our future is lost!
Conclusion: But thanks be unto God – verse 20 says it plainly. BUT NOW IS CHRIST RISEN FROM THE DEAD!!!
We know this – not because there were witnesses.
- I Cor. 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
He taught that because of one man, Adam, sin and death entered the world.
And by one man, Christ, life and resurrection entered into the world.
He preached in verse 26 that the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
We know this is true because the Scriptures tells us He’s alive!
We know this because He quickened us and made us alive!
We know this because He lives within our hearts!!
It’s NOT all a lie!
It’s not all lost!
Husbands, Love Your Wives Series
Intro: The whole purpose of this series on the husband’s relationship with his wife is to pattern it after the relationship between Christ and the church.
His relationship with us involved:
A. Paying the Price – vs. 25 …and gave himself for it
B. Purging and Perfecting – vs. 26, 27
C. Provision and Passion – vs. 29 …but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church
Our goal in this series is to realize that in order to love our wives as Christ loved the church, we must understand some of the necessary qualities in a marriage that is essential.
I. Be Reliable
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
The Lord Jesus Christ is immutable – never changing.
- Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
Solomon advised his son in Proverbs 24:21 My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:
One of the biggest problems that I believe is haunting marriages today is a lack of consistency, a lack of stability in men.
It seems to me that men are more unpredictable than most women – and that’s saying something!
Men are moody. They whine. They complain. They are emotional basket-cases. They are not sure about anything.
If Jesus treated the church the way most men treat their wives, we’d all quit and go back to the world!
A. Be Reliable in your Devotion
We know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is devoted to loving us – unconditionally.
- Rom. 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Your wife should NEVER, EVER wonder where your loyalty lies.
She should NEVER wonder if you love her.
She should NEVER have to deal with doubts, suspicions, imaginations, worries, concerns about where your heart is.
Your relationship with other women should be above reproach.
Your actions, your attitude, your attention to other women shouldn’t make them suspicious.
They shouldn’t make your wife feel inferior, or inadequate, or foolish.
- Proverbs 31:28 – …her husband also, and he praiseth her.
You should reaffirm your love for her with:
1. Your Affection
2. Your Attention
3. Your Approval
B. Be Reliable in your Direction
There is no doubt in our mind the direction that our Savior is taking us.
- Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
That path is without a doubt – a path that will take us further from our old self and closer to Him.
- Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Are you reliable, dedicated and committed in the direction that you are taking your family?
- 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
- Proverbs 4: 25-27 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
Being RELIABLE in your DIRECTION is your wife never having to ask:
- Are we going to church tonight?
- Are we going to tithe this week?
- Are we going to put in our faith promise missions?
- Are you going on soulwinning visitation today?
- Are you going to revival tonight?
- Are we going to help this weekend at church work day?
- Are you going to let the kids go there?
- Are you and the pastor getting along ok?
- Are you going to let him get away with that? (the son)
- Are you going to deal with her? (the daughter)
- Are you sure you want to let them watch that?
- Are you sure that you need to be hanging around those guys?
- Are we going to have devotions?
A wife is not supposed to be the spiritual leader in the home.
She doesn’t WANT to be the spiritual leader in the home – even if she thinks she does.
She needs a MAN to lead her and her family – in a constant, steady, non-swerving course.
C. Be Reliable in your Detection
The Lord Jesus Christ reminds the church often that he sees us; he sees everything pertaining to us.
- 1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers:
If we are going to love our wife as Christ loved the church, we must be able to DETECT what is going on!
- 1 Corinthians 16:13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
In this verse, the word “WATCH” means – to give strict attention to, be cautious, active; to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one
Most men are oblivious!! They are in another world!!
We need to make sure that we pay attention to her the way she deserves.
- Do you notice your wife?
- Do you notice all the work she does for you?
- Do you notice her struggles and things that hurt her?
- Do you notice her spiritual battles and spiritual victories?
- Do you notice her loneliness, her sadness, her emotional needs?
- Do you notice her efforts to get your attention, or your praise, or your approval?
- Do you see who she talks to, who she hangs around, who she looks up to?
- Do you see what is important to her?
- Do you know what her dreams are?
- Do you know what she likes? And dislikes?
- Do you see and hear what is going on in your home?
- Do you see your kids?
- Do you see how they treat each other?
- Do you see how they treat your wife?
- Do you see your own faults and failures in your kids?
- Do you see how they respond in church?
- Do you see who they talk to?
NEWSFLASH – MEN HAVE SELECTIVE HEARING; THEY HEAR WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR.
- Do you hear her?
- Do you hear what she is saying to you?
- Do you hear her cries for help?
- Do you hear her cries for affection and attention?
- Do you hear her sharing with you about her day?
- Do you hear you asking for help with the children?
- Do you hear her asking for your advice on a situation?
- Do you hear her concerns about the finances and spending habits?
- Do you hear her talking about things she needs and the children need?
Intro: One of the most wonderful ministries of a husband is the comfort and reassurance that he can provide to his wife.
Jesus Christ spent much of his earthly ministry reassuring his disciples, and He is still doing that today.
Many times he said, “Fear not!”
John 14 begins with “Let not your hearts be troubled…”
I. He Will be Aware of her Condition
I am so glad that Jesus knows where I am, and what I’m going through.
He knows my fears. He knows my limitations. He knows my struggles.
And He still loves me!!!
- John 2:24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
- Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin
A husband that loves his wife the way Christ loves the church KNOWS WHERE SHE IS.
- 1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
- Spiritually – how is her walk with the Lord?
- Emotionally – how does she feel?
- Mentally – what is she thinking?
- Socially – who are her friends?
- Physically – how is her health?
- Intimately – are her needs being met as a wife?
It’s imperative that a husband keep himself in tune with the condition of his wife.
A. Talk to her
B. Pray for her – Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
C. Spend time with her – Hebrews 13:5 …for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
D. Listen to her – we preached about this last week
II. He Will Accept the Challenge
Aren’t you thankful that Jesus is willing to undertake whatever challenge you throw at Him?
- 1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
- Hebrews 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.
I remember that song from the 70’s…
I’ve never had a prayer, He couldn’t answer. I’ve never shed a tear, that He could not dry. And when the waves of life are so high you can’t mount them, He will roll you over the tide.
As husbands, we must demonstrate a willingness to confront the problem that is troubling our wife.
Our wives deal with a large assortment of things that concern them and frighten them and bother them.
Are we willing to roll up our sleeves and undertake the challenge of dealing with whatever it is?
Are we approachable when she has a concern? Or do we say…
- Honey, don’t bother me with that. I’ve got enough on my mind.
- I’m sorry I can’t do anything about that.
- I don’t understand why you worry about everything all the time. Just relax.
- It’s no big deal. They’re just kids.
- Don’t be such a worrywart! Everything will turn out alright!
That’s not how Christ reassures His bride!
He doesn’t mock us, or laugh at us, or ignore us.
He might rebuke us, but He always gets involved!
- Luke 8:24 And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm
Which brings us to our third point…
III. He will Alleviate the Concern
Aren’t you glad that Jesus knows how to settle our fears?
- Psalms 56:3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
He is a PROBLEM SOLVER!!
He can take our messes and fix it – no matter how bad it is.
Jesus doesn’t pass the buck – He addresses the problem and fixes it.
He knows how to reassure His bride.
- Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Aren’t you thankful that HE KNOWS HOW TO HELP WHEN THERE IS A NEED!!!
DO WE KNOW HOW TO REASSURE OURS?
When a woman breaks down, she doesn’t go looking for another woman with fingernail polish and curly hair to help!
She needs a MAN!
God created men to be problem-solvers. Too bad many men are the problem!!!
- Men’s lack of responsibility causes their wife to fear and worry.
- Men’s lack of financial stability cause their wives to fret.
- Men’s lack of concern over the children causes wives to feel overwhelmed.
- Men’s lack of spiritual consistency causes their wives to fear and worry.
- Men’s inability to foresee trouble and work to prevent it is a huge concern.
- Men’s failure to recognize Satan’s devices and falling prey to his traps.
As husbands, we need to reassure our wives by confronting her problem and helping her with it.
Definition: characterized by a preoccupation with love or by the idealizing of love or one’s beloved; displaying or expressing love or strong affection. (it is also defined as: impractical; unrealistic) but we won’t talk about that!!
I. With your Provision
Jesus demonstrates His love for us by the way He provides for His bride.
- Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
- Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
God expects the man to provide for his family!
- 1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
God gave man a curse in the Garden of Eden – work by the sweat of his brow.
That curse was not given to the woman.
Titus 2 tells us that the older women should teach the younger women to be keepers at home.
Just like Christ demonstrates his love for us by taking care of us and providing for our needs, husbands should provide for their wife.
One way that a husband can demonstrate his love for his wife is to provide for her needs.
- I Thess. 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
A man shouldn’t get married until he can shoulder the financial responsibility of caring for his wife.
He should be able to provide her with security that she will be taken care of.
We like to sing and preach and testify about the fact that Christ meets our needs; we should love our wives EVEN AS!!
Men that have to constantly borrow money from their parents or their in-laws to pay their bills aren’t providing!
It’s hard to be romantic with a man that’s starving you to death!
- Proverbs 21:5 The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.
- Proverbs 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
II. With your Protection
Jesus demonstrates his love for us by the way He protects us from danger.
- 1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
We are so thankful for the knowledge that God is on our side.
That Jesus fights our battles.
We need to provide that same security and protection.
NOTE: When walking a lady down the street, always stand on the outside to protect her.
Chivalry involves protecting a lady; be protective and make them feel safe.
- I John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
- Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
- 1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
A. Protect her with your Presence – make her secure by knowing you are there
B. Protect her with your Power – not just physically, but spiritual; she is the weaker vessel
C. Protect her with your Perception
D. Protect her with your Prayers – Jesus prayed for us in John 17:9
III. With your Passion
We rejoice in the fact that He loves us and that He has demonstrated that love to us in many ways.
- I John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
- Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
A. Demonstrated through Affection – don’t just say you love her; show it.
NOTE: The word “love” in Eph. 5:25 means “spontaneous natural affection”
B. Demonstrated through Attention – let her know she’s important to you by noticing her
We sing “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me!”
We love the fact that He keeps us in his care by seeing our downsittings and our uprisings.
Our wives deserve our attention.
C. Demonstrated through Appreciation – show your love by being thankful for all she does for you
A wife should never feel that she is taken for granted.
God blesses us and rewards us for serving Him, and our wives should also know we appreciate what they do.
It’s Time to Make a Choice
Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Intro: It is imperative that we understand who is doing the talking, and understand who he is talking to.
A. Joshua – the Communing Man
This is Joshua speaking. He is one of the two good spies that wanted to cross Jordan and enter into Canaan land over 40 years prior. But Joshua had determined to walk with God at a much earlier stage.
- Exodus 33:10, 11 And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
NOTE: There was something special about Joshua. Nobody had to pump and prime him to seek after God.
His pastor wasn’t trying to talk him into it!
His parents weren’t drilling it into him all day every day.
Joshua saw that God could interact with man face to face, and he wanted that for himself!
It is rare today to find a man that is willing to linger with God longer than the man of God.
B. Joshua – the Confident Man
Out of the 12 spies that Moses sent into the land, only 2 came back with positive reports.
Numbers 13, 14
- Numbers 14:6:6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.
C. Joshua – the Consecrated Man
- Numbers 27:15 And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying, Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;
Because of Joshua’s walk with God, Moses under the leadership of God made him the next leader of the congregation.
D. Joshua – the Conquering Man
Turn to Joshua 12:7-24 – there were a total of 31 kings that Joshua smote.
Joshua actually had a part in conquering the kings that Moses conquered from verse 1 – 8.
After Moses died, Joshua continued, even abounded in the conquering of kings.
Joshua was a man that had the courage and the fight to remove any kings in his life that didn’t belong.
He was willing to attack and conquer any king that was sitting on the thrones of HIS INHERITANCE.
God had given that land to HIM and to his people, and he wanted only God to sit on the throne!
E. Joshua – the Concerned Man
In this passage, Joshua is preaching his last message. He is not making a choice; he is trying to get everybody else to make the choice he made years ago.
No doubt, as a leader he had see so much indecision that his last message was a review of God’s work and their need to make a choice.
When he got old, he still had a long way to go to fully inhabit the land.
- Joshua 13:1 Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.
Joshua’s last message was a simple one – IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO MAKE A CHOICE!
I. The Choice is Urgent – it needs to be made today! – choose you this day whom ye will serve
A. It is urgent because Death is certain.
- James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
B. It is urgent because the Rapture is certain.
- Matthew 24:44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ will return one day for His church.
That day could be today. It could be tomorrow.
- 1 Corinthians 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
C. It is urgent because Judgment Day is certain.
- Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Illustration: Lincoln used to tell the story of a man who heated a piece of iron in the forge, not knowing just what he was going to make out of it. At first he thought he would make a horseshoe; then he changed his mind and thought he would make something else out of it. After he had hammered on this plan for a little while, he changed his mind and started on something else. By this time, he had so hammered the iron that it was not good for much of anything; and, holding it up with his tongs and looking at it in disgust, the blacksmith thrust it hissing into a tub of water. “Well, at least I can make a fizzle out of it!” he exclaimed.
There’s a lot of Christians that spend their life messing around, undecided about what to do with the life that God has given them and will one day stand before God at the Judgment Seat and watch their whole existence summarized as a “fizzle”.
II. The Choice might be Unpopular
- And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD …whether the gods which your fathers served or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell
Joshua realized that seeking an intimate relationship with God might seen evil to some people.
- Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
There is no doubt that a choice to go with God will put you at odds with everybody around you.
You may face rejection from your co-workers, your friends, your neighbors, your closest relatives.
TURN TO Matthew 10:32-38
- 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
- 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
- 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
- 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
- 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
- 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
- 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Illustration: Former president Ronald Reagan once had an aunt who took him to a cobbler for a pair of new shoes. The cobbler asked young Reagan, “Do you want square toes or round toes?” Unable to decide, Reagan didn’t answer, so the cobbler gave him a few days. Several days later the cobbler saw Reagan on the street and asked him again what kind of toes he wanted on his shoes. Reagan still couldn’t decide, so the shoemaker replied, “Well, come by in a couple of days. Your shoes will be ready.” When the future president did so, he found one square-toed and one round-toed shoe! “This will teach you to never let people make decisions for you,” the cobbler said to his indecisive customer. “I learned right then and there,” Reagan said later, “if you don’t make your own decisions, someone else will.”
There are a lot of Christians that will let their family, their co-workers, their employers, their government, their spouse, their children, their grand-children, their friends make the decision for them.
They will cave in under the pressure and think it evil to serve the Lord.
Joshua realized that some might think it evil because of the beliefs of their fathers.
Some might think it evil because of the beliefs of those in whose land ye dwell.
Your choice to serve God might put you at odds with everybody you know.
QUESTION: Do you want to serve their ‘gods’, or the one true God?
Joshua had chosen to serve a God that could speak face to face with him, like a friend. (Ex. 33:10, 11)
Those false gods had never done anything for him.
His life had been changed by the One True God – and pleasing everybody else wasn’t an option.
He and Caleb had been willing to stand against the other 10 spies because of their faith in God.
III. The Choice should be Unwavering – but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
The choice is to serve self or to serve the Lord.
Joshua didn’t say:
- I will try to serve the Lord.
- I want to serve the Lord.
- I will think about serving the Lord.
- I will wait and see about serving the Lord.
- I used to serve the Lord but some things happened.
- I really would like to serve the Lord, but my family doesn’t think we should.
Joshua, at 110 said, AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD!
God give us a group of men that will have the walk with God that Joshua had.