And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)
Many people do not appreciate and respect the holiness and truth of the gospel of Christ. They despise its commands and spurn its promises. To them, the word of the cross is foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18). Like unclean, filthy dogs, they rip and tear at what is holy, right and good. In a mad dash to satisfy their lusts they do not estimate the real value of truth. According to this verse, those who value truth are in danger of being harmed by these who care not for truth but only for themselves. Christ’s warning teaches us to honor truth and to be protected by it from evil.
We must hold God’s truth in reverence; never take God’s word for granted nor lightly regard its directives. Christians are not immune from failing to perceive the holiness of truth. We too may be tempted to refuse what is holy for the profane (2 Pet. 2:20-22). By respecting God we are able to properly value truth (Eccl. 12:13; Prov. 23:23).
The dogs in our passage are not household pets! They are two-legged savages who prowl the streets and alleys to feed on the refuse of humanity. Many such dogs exist today. Reaching after personal advantage, these dogs are self-serving and self-indulgent (Jude 16; 2 Tim. 3:1-6). These dogs prey on the unsuspecting and weak with the enticements of immorality and the allurements of false teaching (Matt. 23:14; 2 Pet. 2:12-14. 18-19). We must “beware of dogs” (Phil. 3:2)!
And, we must not forget the hogs. They trample on the precious truth of the gospel as they stampede toward selfish gratification, unafraid to harm God’s saints in their mad dash toward destruction (Jude 12-15).
Christ warns us not to give holy things to the profane. While we are to be longsuffering with the sinner, trying to teach him the truth, there is a limit (Matt. 10:14-15, 23; 1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 3:9-10). Does the person scorn and scoff at God, or is he honestly trying to learn truth? Such judgments are not always easy, but ones that can and must be made for our own spiritual protection (cf. Prov. 26:4-5).
Christ calls on us to make such judgments for at least two reasons: (1) For the sake of truth. The gospel deserves better than to be shamelessly treated by unholy men, and (2) For the sake of our souls. We must be willing and able to discern the presence of spiritual danger. Doing so with the truth of the gospel will keep you from harm.
Joe R. Price
At the burning bush Moses hid his face from the powerful presence of God (Exo. 3:6). After God brought Israel out of Egyptian bondage with His mighty hand and gave her His law at Mount Sinai, Moses asked Jehovah to “show me your glory” and was told, “I will make my goodness pass before you...you cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live” (Ex0. 33:18-20). When Joshua was in the presence of the Lord he fell on his face and took off his sandals as Moses did before the burning bush, for like Moses, he was on holy ground (Josh. 5:14-15; Exo. 3:5-6). When Ezekiel saw the glory of God he fell on his face in faithful fear (Ezek. 3:23; 1:26-28). God’s glory evokes fear and humility.
The glory of God refers to His majesty, honor, power, goodness and excellence: “They shall see the glory of the Lord, The excellency of our God” (Isa. 35:2). In the dialogue between Moses and Jehovah, God’s glory is equated with His goodness (Exo. 33:18-19).
God’s great glory demands our honor, reverence and praise. Our duty to “fear God and keep his commandments” ought to be driven by knowing how infinitely greater God is than us (Eccl. 12:13). “O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!” (Psa. 8:1)
The glory of God compels us to live by faith. Just before He raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus said to Martha, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (Jno. 11:40) God blesses those who “have not seen and yet have believed” (Jno. 20:29). Acknowledging the great goodness and overwhelming power of God induces us to live by faith (Heb. 11:3; 2 Cor. 5:7). Conversely, when one chooses not to live by faith that person demonstrates an unwillingness to honor God’s glory.
The glory of God compels us to live holy lives. God is utterly holy; there is no darkness in Him (1 Jno. 1:5). Inasmuch 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). Living unholy lives shows we are not impressed by the holiness of God. How foolish indeed to disregard His glory by ungodly, unholy living (2 Tim. 3:2).
The glory of God compels that we give praise to God. “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the Lord made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary...Give to the Lord the glory due His name...Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth” (Psa. 96:3-9). The ascendant majesty of God reveals the vanity of false gods and drives us to announce His beauty in praiseful worship. God’s glory is among the reasons Christians worship Almighty God (Rev. 4:8).
Christians will share in the glory of Christ when He returns. This promise compels us to eagerly wait for His return (Phil. 3:20-21). “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). Such eager expectation is possible as we put sin to death to live in holiness and godliness (Col. 3:5; 2 Pet. 3:11-12).
Like Moses, Joshua and Ezekiel, as we grasp the greatness of God’s glory we too will fall on our faces before Him in reverent, faithful and holy living. Sustained by the hope of His glorious return and the eternal glory He will bring, we shall continue to declare His glory (2 Ths. 1:10; 2 Tim. 2:10).
Scripture Reading:James 4:1-6
Every person struggles with sin and its temptations, 1 Jno. 1:8, 10;
Rom. 3:9, 12, 23.
I. THE SEEDS OF SIN, Jas. 4:1-6 (Matt. 15:18-20).
A. Selfish Lust, Jas. 4:1-3
Scripture Reading: James 4:4-10
Review Part 1.
II. THE EFFECTS OF SIN, Jas. 4:1-4.
A. Conflict (Wars, fighting's),
III. HOW TO AVOID SIN (Remedy), Jas. 4:7-10.
A. Flee Temptation before it
Conceives, 1 Cor. 10:13 (2 Tim. 2:22).
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Suicide Rates Rise
Joe R. Price
The suicide rate in America over the past fourteen years has climbed 31%, from 29,181 in 1999 to 38,364 in 2010. The increase among working adults was “double that of the other demographics, with people in their 50s showing the highest numbers” (“Suicides Soar in Past Decade”, Timothy W. Martin, May 2, 2013, wsj.com).
The article goes on to cite middle-aged men who committed suicide outnumbered their female counterparts 4-to-1. The economic downturn provides a correlation to the upswing in the suicide rate. “As people lose their jobs or work part-time, many struggle to make ends meet and go without health insurance, adding to stress and turmoil in households” (Ibid). And, mental disorders also lead to numerous suicides.
Suicide generally says a person perceives himself to be in a hopeless, helpless and hapless condition with no way out. To many, the only escape is to end their lives. How very sad they could not see the better way.
Secularism has no real answer to the suicide problem. When one is told to measure success by material possessions and self-fulfillment, when these falter and fail (and they will), many are left with a void of skepticism, doubt and fear. They have not known God during their time of abundance. Now, in time of crisis, He is denied even further. The Giver of life watches as His gift is refused.
The gospel of Christ gives hope to the hopeless, help to the helpless and blessings to the hapless. The good news of Christ rescued a jailer from suicide and saved him and his family from eternal death (Acts 16:25-34). Have you noticed that Paul and Silas never considered suicide when being unjustly punished? Instead, they prayed and sang to God. Oh, what joy in believing; what solace in pain!
Suicide solves nothing, while bringing pain and leaving unanswered questions for the survivors. Belief and obedience to the gospel enables Christ to dwell in your heart through faith (Eph. 3:17). With Christ, hope is living, help is constant and blessings abound (1 Pet. 1:3; Heb. 13:5-6; Eph. 1:3). Life is worth living; Christians are guarded by the peace of God (Phil. 4:4-9).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 05/10/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA