"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
That there is evil in this world cannot be successfully disputed. Some conclude that once sin entered the world through Adam’s sin, total depravity ensued; so much so that man cannot obey God and do good until God bestows His enabling grace upon sinful man. This is absolute Predestination. Yet, the Bible does not teach such a doctrine. The son does not inherit the sin of his father, and man’s free will is not inherently evil (Ezek. 18:20, 4; Eccl. 7:29).
While it is true that sin entered the world through Adam it is not true that all are born spiritually dead because Adam sinned (Rom. 5:12). “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). Spiritual death “spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).
Some are perplexed at the presence of sin in the world as it relates to a holy, all-powerful God. Is God to be blamed for the presence of evil in the world? No, “Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (Jas. 1:13). Yet, the reasoning goes something like this e-mail I received this week: “If God is omniscient (knows everything - past, present, and future) why did He create a being (Lucifer) that He “knew” would become full of pride and thus bring sin into existence?”
First, God’s understanding is unsearchable (Isa. 40:28). We must rely on His revelation of truth for our understanding (Deut. 29:29). He is indeed all-powerful, which includes omniscience: “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Psa. 147:5; cf. 1 Jno. 3:20).
The fact that God knows something before it happens is not the same as admitting that God arranged the action. God has set in place times and seasons and they operate according to the laws He has established (Eccl. 3:1, 17). One of the things God gave mankind is free will; the power to choose between good and evil. Like Job, God surely sees our ways and counts our steps, yet we (like Job) choose the path we will walk (Job 31:4; Heb. 4:13; Jno. 2:25). God does not coerce people to do good, nor does He force us to do evil (Deut. 30:15, 19; Josh. 24:15).
As for Satan, he too exercised free will “from the beginning” in sinning against God (1 Jno. 3:8; Jno. 8:44). He made sin his career and set himself as an adversary (“Satan” means adversary) against God and man. He uses deception to lure people into sin and spiritual death (Rev. 12:9). God did not make man sin because He had the power to know man would sin (cf. 2 Tim. 1:9-10). Nor does Satan’s career of evil call into question God’s integrity.
Why is there evil in the world? Responsibility lies at the feet of man, not God: “God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes” (Eccl. 7:29)
[Addendum: Satan is not called “Lucifer” in the Bible. That word (which means “bright one”) is used in Isaiah 14:12 and describes the king of Babylon (Isa. 14:4, 13-15; he is a “man”, 14:16). “Lucifer” was first used in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translation of the Scriptures (AD 384) and reflected a common interpretation of Luke 10:18. Scripture never uses “Lucifer” of Satan.]
Have you ever noticed the number of liquor stores, bars and honkytonks that have been built near county boundary lines or city limit lines? One of the reasons for this is that historically some places have allowed the sale of alcohol and some have not. Those wanting to sell alcohol in wet areas often build their establishments as close to the dry areas as possible. The aim is to attract business from people living in the dry city or county. As you drive through the state of Alabama, it’s amazing how many beer joints you see in the vicinity of boundary lines.
Over time however, some places that are dry will vote to go wet. Suddenly, the old boundary lines don’t matter as far as selling alcohol goes. Freed from the restrictions of the boundary lines, those wanting to sell alcohol build bigger and more numerous outlets. The little bars and package stores at the county line are often dwarfed by the nightclubs and liquor stores that spring up right in the middle of the once forbidden territory. Without the restraint of the boundary, the sale of alcohol flourishes, along with all of the social and moral ills that accompany it.
If you’ve read this far, you may be expecting the remainder of this article to deal with the evils of alcohol (and much could be written along that line). But I’d like to focus our attention on other evils -- the evils that result from erasing or ignoring longstanding moral boundaries.
Most of our grandmothers would never have thought of parading around in mixed company in a bikini or a miniskirt, or even with their belly buttons showing. A couple of generations ago, these boundaries were so clear to every Christian that little needed to be said about them. Even many people who were not Christians respected proper limits regarding such things as modest attire. But the attitudes of the next generation began to change. As our society began to question many of its social rules and taboos, so did Christians. By the time I was a child, entire sermons were having to be preached showing that “mixed bathing” was a sin because it provoked lust (Matthew 5:28). [For those who are younger, mixed bathing refers to men and women going swimming together at the pool, lake or beach in immodest attire]. Modern dancing was likewise condemned on the same grounds. I can vividly remember sermons preached when the miniskirt first became popular concerning the impropriety of short hemlines (cf. 1 Timothy 2:9-10). Those sermons were typically very Scriptural and sound, and attempted to reinforce the boundaries of dress and deportment that had been accepted by all just a generation or two before.
In the minds of many people in the world, and perhaps some Christians too, those old boundaries have been completely erased. It would be almost laughable to try to convince someone in the world today that short hemlines, bikinis or modern dances are wrong because they promote lust. People in the world are used to seeing far worse. Things have progressed far beyond those old boundary lines now. Satan’s promotion of lust, like the sale of alcohol in a county that’s just gone wet, shows no regard at all for the old boundaries. The activities and dress of people we see everyday at the mall or in school, or read about in magazines and newspapers, or watch on TV and in movies, promote lust in ways our grandparents could never have imagined.
This problem isn’t limited to sexual lust, but many other things as well. The boundaries that prohibited such things as gambling, impure speech, abortion, homosexuality and adultery have also been erased in our society.
As Christians, we must be cautious. Just because the devil has succeeded in getting the world to “vote wet” and remove moral restrictions in our society, doesn’t mean that the restrictions have actually changed at all. The Lord commands, “Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28). If the moral boundaries accepted by previous generations were Scriptural and right, they still are -- no matter what the world says. When the leaders of God’s people allowed the people of Judah to adopt the morals of the pagan world, the Lord condemned them with these words, “The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark; I will pour out My wrath on them like water” (Hosea 5:10). Let us be cautious indeed.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
The Word of God is Not Bound
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 55:6-13
1. 2 Timothy
has repeated admonitions to endure hardships for the gospel, & thus receive
the reward (1:8-12; 3:10-12; 4:5-8, 16-18).
I. THE WORD OF GOD IS NOT BOUND IN ITS RELEVANCE.
A. Because of
its Source: God – 2 Tim. 3:16; Isa. 55:8-11. Three alternatives:
II. THE WORD OF GOD IS NOT BOUND IN ITS POWER.
A. It is
Still God’s Power to Save Sinners – Rom. 1:16-17 (Acts 2:37-41); Heb. 4:12;
III. THE WORD OF GOD IS NOT BOUND IN ITS SUFFICIENCY.
A. It is
Sufficient to Make us all God Would Have Us to Be – 2 Tim. 3:17; 2 Pet. 1:3.
IV. THE WORD OF GOD IS NOT BOUND IN ITS JUDGMENT.
A. It is the Standard by which all Will be Measured – Jno. 12:48; Rom. 2:16.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Christ: The Head of His Church
Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:13-19
“metaph. anything supreme, chief, prominent.”
I. HEADSHIP OF CHRIST PREDICTED – Psa. 118:21-24.
A. Would be
Rejected by Men – 118:21 (Acts 4:11); Matt. 21:33-45 (Acts 4:12); 1 Pet.
II. APPOINTED BY GOD TO BE HEAD – Heb. 1:2; Eph. 1:20-22.
With Glory & Honor – Heb. 2:5-9.
III. HE HAS AUTHORITY IN ALL THINGS – Col. 1:18 (1 Cor. 11:3).
Over All – Matt.28:18 (Psa. 110:2).
IV. AS THE HEAD OF HIS CHURCH, CHRIST:
Commissioned Apostles – Jno. 20:21 (12:49).
Concl: We honor Christ as Head of His church by:
a. Being a
member of it (Acts 2:37-38, 41, 47).
Radar Trap Insurance
Now you can purchase radar trap insurance in Germany that will pay the speeder’s fine(s) up to 1,000 euros a year. But, there is a limit on how much speeding is insured: they will not cover speeding that exceeds the limit by 40 kph (25 mph). (“Police Criticize Radar Trap Insurance,” Reuters, Jan. 16, 2004)
Some have tried to invent “sin insurance” so that even when we sin we escape its penalty (Rom. 6:23). The “once saved, always saved” doctrine fits the bill: if you’re saved your sin no longer causes you to lose your soul! But, Christians can fall away from grace (Gal. 5:4; 2 Pet. 2:20-22). Then there is the “continual cleansing” doctrine, which effectively says Christians are cleansed even as they sin. But, Christians must repent of and confess their sins to God in order to be forgiven (Acts 8:22; 1 Jno. 1:7-9). Jesus “gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6). His blood redeems sinners when they repent, confess faith and are baptized into Him (Rom. 3:23-25; Acts 8:36-38; 17:30; 22:16). Christians are not to let sin reign over them (Rom. 6:1, 6, 11-14; 1 Jno. 2:1-2). When we do sin, we must repent and pray to be forgiven (Acts 8:22).
Some try to limit the amount of sin that is allowable. They object to going too far over the line – but see nothing wrong with transgressing God’s will up to a point. This person knows lying is wrong, but a little white lie is harmless; lust is wrong, but ogling scantily clad models in magazines, on TV or in movies is “normal;” and of course, some folks just have a lead foot and that’s the way they are and it’s no big deal. Problem is, the Lord said all liars have their part in hell (Rev. 21:8); that looking at a woman to lust for her is adultery (Matt. 5:28); and that we are to “be subject to the governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1).
The German authorities are investigating whether radar trap insurance is legal. We would do well to investigate ourselves to see whether our “sin insurance” or “sin limit” has God’s approval (2 Cor. 13:5).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 01/17/2004
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA