And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XII, Number 04 December 28, 2008
In this issue:
If you have ever paid off a debt you know how liberating it is. To be out from under the pressure of making that monthly payment is a relief, no question about it.
Have you ever been freed from a financial obligation without having to pay off the debt? If so, I suspect you were very thankful for the kindness, generosity and mercy you were shown. At least, you should have been.
This is what happens in a spiritual sense when one is saved from his sins by Christ. By the mercy of God one is released from his debt of sin - a debt beyond his ability to repay. Divine compassion is extended to all through the death of Christ and obtained when the sinner will, in faith, obey the gospel instructions to repent of his sins and be baptized into Christ (Titus 2:11; Acts 2:37-41).
Jesus taught the motive and extent of forgiving those who sin against us in the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matt. 18:21-35). Is there any more tragic view of unmerciful selfishness than the one depicted by the Lord in this parable? The servant who was freed from an enormous debt to his master falls upon his fellow servant and demands payment of a paltry sum by compassion. Unwilling to show the same mercy and forgiveness he had been shown, the man reaped what he had sown. His master placed him under a torment which would last forever.
What is the point? “So my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matt. 18:35).
Why are we unwilling to forgive each other when we have been forgiven a much greater debt? Perhaps because we do not appreciate the value and depth of the forgiveness we have received. Perhaps because we do not love each other as much as we love ourselves. Clearly, one reason is because we fail to love each other the way the Lord loves us (1 Jno. 4:7-11).
Brethren, these things ought not to be so. Forgiveness may not always be easy. But it is always right (Col. 3:12-14). If we forgive we will be forgiven. If not, our sin remains. (Matt. 6:14-15)
(Reprint with edits: The Spirit’s Sword, IV:48, Feb. 4, 2001)
Who were the “sons of God,” taking as their wives the “daughters of men” in Genesis 6:1-8? What can we possibly learn from this Bible text?
The context of Genesis 6 leads us to the conclusion that the “sons of God” mentioned in Genesis 6:2 were the descendants of Seth, the son of Adam (Gen. 4:25).
In Genesis 4 we are introduced to two families: (1) Cain and his descendants, and (2) Seth and his descendants. Cain’s descendants followed the pattern set by their father Cain and continued to live farther and farther away from God (Gen. 4:16-24). In contrast, Seth and his family “began to call on the name of the Lord” (Gen. 4:26). Genesis 5 records this family tree all the way to Noah (Gen. 5:32).
Genesis 6:1-8 tells us how the world became so wicked and vile that God determined to destroy sinful man (which He did with the flood). This occurred because those whose ancestors had previously “called upon the name of the Lord” began to compromise and cohabit with the “daughters of men” (that is, the men and their families who did not call upon the name of the Lord). They abandoned their spiritual heritage and “took wives for themselves of all whom they chose” (Gen. 6:2). When men began to be driven by their own lustful desires rather than the word and will of God they were influenced by the evil they grew to love. The result was a world full of violent attackers, robbers and tyrants (Gen. 6:4 says “giants” which is translated from a word which means “to fall upon” or attack) rather than one filled with people who “called upon the name of the Lord.” These men made a name for themselves among other men, but not in eyes of the Lord (Gen. 6:4). It was Noah, a just man who walked with God who caught God’s attention and obtained God’s favor (Gen. 6:8-9).
The divine reaction to the wickedness of men was one of grief, sorry and ultimately judgment (Gen. 6:3, 5-7). He determined to destroy the earth and accomplished their punishment with the great flood (Gen. 6:13, 17; 7:1ff).
There is no compelling reason from the immediate context or the rest of the Bible to convince us that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2 were heavenly creatures instead of human beings. Such is the stuff of human fancy and fiction. There is no basis for this view in the inspired text. The “angels who sinned” in 2 Peter 2:4 cannot be the “sons of God” of Genesis 6:2 because those angels were “cast down to hell and delivered into chains (pits, ASV) of darkness.” They were not sent to the earth (see also, Jude 6).
So, the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2 were men who did not remain holy and separated from the sin that was around them. Instead, they married women who influenced them to forsake righteous living. The result was mankind’s ruin and destruction.
There are clear lessons for us to learn from this sad period in human history:
1) “Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33).
2) The person one chooses to marry will influence him or her for good or evil, so wisely choose a mate who will help you live in God’s favor (Prov. 18:22; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).
3) God expects us to live holy lives, separated from sin: “…as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
4) God will punish sin, so we must be careful to live in truth and holiness (Rom. 1:18; 2:1-11).
(Reprint: The Spirit’s Sword, IV:50, Feb. 18, 2001)
A reportedly true story is told about a school principal who, at the end of the year, encouraged all his teachers to write out their resolution for the new year. He promised to post these on the faculty bulletin board so that all could benefit from them. When the resolutions were posted, all the teachers crowded around to read the suggestions from their co-workers.
Suddenly one of the teachers erupted in a fit of anger. “Mine is not here! He’s purposefully left mine off the board. He doesn’t care about me. That just shows how little I’m appreciated around here!” The principal was shocked. He had not intentionally left anyone’s resolution off the board. He rushed to his desk and found the missing note under a pile of papers. He immediately proceeded to post it. The resolution read: “I resolve not to let little things upset me anymore.”
What we see here is a clear case of resolution without commitment. All of us are guilty of this -- and it happens too often. Failed diets, abandoned exercise plans, neglected projects, etc., are all the result of lack of commitment.
But, without doubt, the most serious area of concern is in our spiritual service to God. At one time or another we have all said, “I need to do better, and I intend to do so!” It may involve our attendance at the worship services and Bible studies, or it might be in personal study and prayer. Perhaps it involves personal work, or sharing hospitality with other Christians. Whatever it might be, the resolve is good, but we need commitment to see the task through.
As we enter into this new year, let’s do some serious personal evaluation; make some needed resolutions; and then, FOLLOW THEM THROUGH! (Reprint: III:43, 12/26/99)
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 03/17/2009
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA