"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
One of the miraculous signs Jesus worked while on earth was the casting out of unclean spirits of those they tormented and enslaved. One such case is recorded in Matthew 12:22. When some saw His great power, they were amazed, wondering out loud whether Jesus was the Messiah (Matt. 12:23). But the Pharisees attributed His mighty power to Satan, thus assuring their condemnation with their blasphemous rejection of Christ and truth (Matt. 12:24-32).
Their audacity and faithlessness are on display when some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you” (Matt. 12:38). In this they showed their evil hearts and faithlessness, for Jesus had already shown them many signs, and would do so again in His resurrection from the dead (Matt. 12:39-42).
Jesus went on to observe: “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation” (Matt. 12:43-45). In their continual, faithless rejection of Christ they are like this man whose last state was worse than the first.
Had this man (who was blessed by the removal of an unclean spirit) filled his life with faith, there would have been no place for evil to return and reside. A heart that is not filled with faith and truth is an open invitation for Satan to enter and plunder the soul (cf. Jno. 13:2, 27; Acts 5:3). Such was (is) the heart of the one who rejects Jesus as the Christ.
What do you allow to live in your heart, now that Christ has cleansed you from an evil conscience “with the washing of water by the word” (Heb. 10:22; Eph. 5:26)? Christians are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit” (that is, “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” Eph. 5:18; Col. 3:16). Where the word of God is found, faith can thrive (Rom. 10:17). So, “the word of faith” must be in our heart and obeyed in our lives (Rom. 10:8; 6:17). This produces the “pure heart” from which sincere love is expressed (1 Pet. 1:22).
Please do not reject Christ Jesus like those who saw His miracles yet had no room in their hearts for Him (Matt. 12:38-42; Jno. 12:37). Allow Christ to live in your heart through faith (Eph. 3:17). Their hearts had no room for Christ. Does ours? (Jas. 4:7-10; 1 Ths. 3:12-13; 2 Ths. 3:5).
False accusation and slander are companions. False accusation is the lie, and slander is its effect. Both are of the devil: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (Jno. 8:44). Everything God’s word says about false accusation and slander is to be kept within this overriding context: God is truth and the devil is the father of lies (Jno. 1:14; 14:6; 1 Jno. 1:5-7). Those who reject truth by spreading false accusations and slander show themselves to be children of the devil; the children of God “speak truth with his neighbor” (Jno. 8:38, 44; 1 Jno. 3:4-15; Eph. 4:25-27).
The word “devil” is translated from the Greek word diabolos (false accuser, slanderer), from diabollo (“to throw over or across, to send over,” thus, to “traduce, calumniate, slander, accuse, defame,” Thayer, 135). Thus, to slander is to throw or cast doubt against a person by false accusations that harms or otherwise damages his credibility. The devil’s purposes are always served by false accusations and slander.
The aim of false accusation and slander is to defame, debilitate and destroy a faithful person’s name, credibility and effective influence for the gospel. Those who do not have nor value a “good name” easily and carelessly distort good reputations with malicious gossip, misrepresentations and lies (Prov. 22:1). The devil does not have a good name, and he delights in tempting us to use false accusation and slander to cripple the reputation of godly men and women. We must take note of how the devil uses these tools to destroy faith and the effective use of truth.
1) The devil has falsely accused and slandered the name of God from Eden to this very moment. In the devil’s lie to Eve that “you will not surely die” he impugned the integrity of God with a slanderous judgment against God’s character: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5).
2) The devil and his children repeatedly lied about Jesus Christ when He was on the earth. Lying in wait to “catch (Jesus) in something He might say,” the scribes and Pharisees were anxious to (falsely) accuse the Son of God (Lk. 11:53-54). Although they could not convict Jesus of sin, they finally found two liars to falsely accuse Him as part of their murderous plot (Matt. 26:59-62).
3) The devil and his cohorts continue to falsely accuse and slander the people of God (Rev. 12:10). Just as Job’s faith and integrity were maligned by Satan before the Lord, so also God’s faithful ones are defamed to this present hour. Slander is a cruel, hurtful thing, yet the righteous take comfort in the Lord’s assurance, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).
(Continued next week
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:124-128
I. WHAT IS AUTHORITY? Matt. 21:23; Acts 1:7; cf. Jno. 1:12
II. THE PRESENCE OF AUTHORITY IS UNIVERSAL.
Authority is Exercised & Submitted to Daily: Home, government, business,
school (Eph. 5:22-24; 6:1; Rom. 13:1-3; Eph. 6:5-9; Acts 22:3).
III. OUR NEED FOR DIVINE AUTHORITY (Judg. 21:25).
Authority in Life is Necessary Due to the Nature of God; Gen. 1:1; Jer.
23:24; Psa. 90:2; Jer. 32:17); Acts 17:24-28; Psa. 115:3.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:17-20
1. The Sermon on the Mount
sets forth the high standard of life demanded by the King of citizens of His
I. OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS MUST EXCEED THAT OF THE SCRIBES & PHARISEES, Matt. 5:20 (5:21-6:18).
External Action is not the Mark of Righteousness, 5:21-48.
II. WHY YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS MATTERS.
Blessings of the Kingdom, Matt. 5:3-12, 20.
This week, the state of Washington passed the most restrictive regulation on public smoking in the nation by approving Initiative 901, which prohibits smoking inside public places and workplaces, and within 25 feet of doors, windows and vents. The measure becomes effective in 30 days. (“Initiative 901: Smoking ban sails to victory,” Julie Davidow, The Seattle Intelligencer)
Incentive to quit?
Some smokers see the passage of this law as a reason to quit smoking. One smoker said, “I do think it should pass – as a smoker…I smoked for 10 years, I quit, and when I started again, it was in a bar” (Ibid.). Smokers certainly do need to stop smoking: it harms their body (1 Cor. 6:19-20); its addiction evinces the absence of self-control (Gal. 5:23); and as this person exemplifies, its influence is worldly (1 Cor. 15:33).
A reason to violate the law?
Some smokers will ignore the law and violate it. Underground smoking lounges will no doubt come into existence. The same woman smoker who agreed with the ban (above) also said she would go to one of these!
Matter of the heart
All of this illustrates a spiritual principle: People must first change their hearts for their conduct to be consistent and true. Jesus said, “First cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matt. 23:26). Until we implant God’s word into our hearts we are likely to know God’s will, and even see the need to change our lives, but soon forget it – or even deliberately violate it – in preference for our own selfish will (Jas. 1:21-25).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA