And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 20 March 04, 2007
In this issue:
Mt.Baker Church of Christ
March 25-30, 2007
(Canyon Lake, TX)
Bible lessons Nightly Mon-Fri at 7:00 PM
Sunday: 9:30 & 10:30 AM; 6:00 PM
(From I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
Most of us, at one time or another, have been confronted by a bully. Maybe it was the school playground, maybe it was at the work place, or maybe it was even in the church. Some brethren are spiritual bullies, prodding and baiting fellow Christians to join them in their foolishness – or suffer the consequences.
Our Master was familiar with spiritual bullies. Jesus was often challenged by the scribes and the Pharisees who “began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him” (Lk. 11:53-54). The truth he spoke was lost on them because they did not listen to learn; they listened in order to quarrel and accuse (Jno. 7:15-17; 8:43). Those spiritual leaders were neither spiritual nor leaders in what was good. They were bullies leading a band of religious thugs, twisting what Jesus said into what they wanted to make him say so they could destroy him. They found false witnesses to come forward and say, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days” (Matt. 26:61). That was enough for the bullies; they wouldn’t be bothered with accuracy, context and fairness (but then, bullies never are).
Yes, there are bullies in the church. With intimidation, misrepresentation and political maneuvering, these agents of evil hinder the advance of the gospel and harm unsuspecting souls. By “smooth words and flattering speech” they “deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:18). Paul had seen spiritual bullies, cautioning, “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!” (Phil. 3:2; Gal. 5:12-15) Are we perceptive enough to discern their existence today? (Phil. 1:9-11)
When brethren disagree over truth we must all “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Yes, we must contend for the faith (Jude 3). When we abandon the honorable treatment of each other in the process, we become spiritual bullies.
A balance must be struck when dealing with bullies. That balance is noted in Proverbs 26:4-5 where we are advised both to “answer a fool according to his folly” and not to do so. We must contend for the faith, yet not “strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers” (Jude 3; 2 Tim. 2:14-15). We must “shun profane and idle babblings” while also “holding fast the pattern of sound words” (2 Tim. 2:16; 1:13). What should we do when spiritual bullies pick a fight?
1) Return good for evil. “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:17-18). Otherwise, the resulting spiritual cannibalism will be severe (read Gal. 5:14-15).
2) Turn away wrath. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (Prov. 15:1-2). Measure your words and be wise.
3) Do not cast your pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6). A time comes when we must refuse to engage the bully’s derision. Being ready to give answer “to everyone who asks you” does not compel us to engage every question and false accusation made against the truth (1 Pet. 3:15). Remember, Jesus was silent before Herod when being vigorously questioned and vehemently accused (Lk. 23:9-10). Sometimes it is best to be silent.
4) Do not let malice grow in your heart. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:31-32).
5) Patiently endure. “For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.” (1 Pet. 2:19-20)
These masters at spreading “evil suspicions” do not consent to “wholesome words, even the words of Jesus Christ; “From such withdraw yourself” (1 Tim. 6:3-5). “Scoffers set a city aflame, but wise men turn away wrath. If a wise man contends with a foolish man, whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace” (Prov. 29:8-9). Modern Goliaths may scoff at these principles of faith (1 Sam. 17:40-46). If you do not engage them on their terms, then you have no conviction – no courage. Alas, more bullying.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 19:3-9
1. Judah was
marrying foreign women & putting away wives, Mal. 2:10-17 (Prov. 2:17).
I. HONOR OF MARRIAGE, Matt. 19:4-6 (Ge. 2:24)
Established Marriage, Prov. 5:18.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Mark 10:2-12
1. Divorce is the
device of Satan, the boon of lawyers & the bane of society. It is not from
God, Mal. 2:16; Mark 10:2-9 (Gen. 2:24).
I. WHY GOD HATES DIVORCE (SUNDERING WHAT HE HAS JOINED TOGETHER).
Violates the Marriage Vow, Mal. 2:14-16; Eccl. 5:4-5; Ezek. 16:8, 15, 32, 59
(Mal. 2:14; Prov. 2:17).
Miles Hilton-Barber is a 55-year old adventurer. He is also blind. He has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and completed a marathon in Siberia. He is planning to fly from Britain to Australia to raise money for the Seeing is Believing charity to fight preventable blindness. He will have a sighted friend seated next to him, and hopes to complete the journey within 55 days (“Blind pilot bids to fly from Britain to Australia,” breitbart.com, March 2, 2007).
Several lessons from God’s word occur to us:
1) The blessing of sight. The ability to see is such a tremendous blessing. It should be among those we count as we give thanks to God. Yet, an even greater blessing is the ability to see the truth of the gospel. Jesus reminded his apostles of this: “But, blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear” (Matt. 13:16). We must carefully look into the perfect law of liberty, the word of God, and obey it (Jas. 1:21-25). What a blessing to do so!
2) Spiritual blindness is preventable. Some blindness is from birth, and no one is to blame (Jno. 9:1-3). But, spiritual blindness is preventable (Matt. 6:22-23). Often it is self-inflicted, the result of hardened, unbelieving hearts (2 Cor. 3:14-16; 4:3-4). “The light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” can shine in our hearts and bring the warmth of salvation in the presence of God, but we must open the eyes of our hearts to the truth (2 Cor. 4:5-6). Jesus is the light of the world; are you walking in the light of his word? (Jno. 8:12)
3) The blind need help to see where they are going. “If the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matt. 15:14). Mr. Hilton-Barber will have a sighted friend helping him fly to Australia. Who is helping you see the way to heaven? Jesus is the only way to heaven (Jno. 14:6). All others are blind guides. His word is light. Walk in the light of his truth to be saved (Jno. 1:4-5, 14-18; 12:35-36).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 03/05/2007
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA