And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
The Doubled-Minded Man
Joe R. Price
James, “a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”, teaches us the double-minded man is “unstable in all his ways” (Jas. 1:8). Literally, “two-spirited” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary), it is a trait of doubt rather than faith: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting...” (Jas. 1:6). In addition to spiritual instability, it produces unrealistic expectations: “For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (Jas. 1:7). Christians trust the power of prayer and the providence of God; the double-minded have no such confidence.
The effect of double-mindedness is spiritual confusion and despair. There is truth to the proverb, “He who hesitates is lost”! The double-minded person hesitates like ancient Israel, “limp(ing) between two sides” (1 Kgs. 18:21). Spiritual indecisiveness invariably exposes one to doubt that hinders endurance when faith is tried and tested (Jas. 1:2-3). The double-minded Christian cannot accept the trials of faith joyfully; hesitation to stand up for Jesus has left him ill-prepared to face the day of challenge. Therefore, the double-minded person is “led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). He yields to the influences of the world while attempting to be true to Christ (read Jas. 3:10-14). His is a most unenviable position.
All is not lost; there is a remedy for double-mindedness. You must hasten, not hesitate, to seize it. The solution is to purify your heart: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jas. 4:8). Sin must be fully abandoned in the heart in order to be steadfast in faith and unmoved by the world’s onslaught. Repentance is the key, for without a change of mind to always be true to Jesus Christ you will continue to be tossed to and fro -- haltering, hesitating, doubting. Sin must be put to death in order to eliminate double-mindedness (Col. 3:5). By the “renewing of your mind” you begin putting things into proper priority (Rom. 12:2; Matt. 6:33). No longer will you “be conformed to this world” but you determine to “be transformed” in mind and spirit (cf. Eph. 4:23-24).
Jesus put it simply: “No one can serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24). When you decide who you will serve - no matter what - then the faithless sin of double-mindedness can be replaced with faith’s bold confidence (Phil. 4:13; Heb. 3:6, 14). Without doubt we say, “And this is the victory that overcomes the world--our faith” (1 Jno. 5:4).
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12).
Christ placed teachers among His people so that by instruction we will be fortified in faith and furnished to serve Him. The value of faithful teachers to the body of Christ cannot be overstated.
The word of God must be taught. Early Christians went “everyone preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Timothy was exhorted, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (1 Tim. 4:6). What a teacher teaches is crucial. Teach a child error and he will grow up living that error. Teach him the truth and he is equipped to live for God for a lifetime.
Teaching the word of God is essential to saving the lost. Jesus commissioned His apostles to “go therefore and teach all nations” (Matt. 28:19, ASV). He further explained that “He who believes and is baptized will be saved...” (Mk. 16:16). Faith begins with being taught the word of God (Rom. 10:17; 1:15-16).
Teaching is fundamental to the spiritual growth of every Christian. Making disciples is only the beginning. Jesus went on to say, “teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). Teachers bear the great responsibility of imparting a knowledge of the word of God to others so they can learn the will of Christ and follow Him. One cannot be a faithful disciple without being taught. Teachers stand in the gap to replace ignorance with understanding. Good Bible teachers help us be good disciples.
To be a good teacher one must be willing to learn. Opportunities to teach others the gospel will be placed before every Christian at some point. We need to be ready. Being equipped to teach comes by first being taught. Before Apollos rose to teach he had “been instructed in the way of the Lord” (Acts 18:24-25). He needed more instruction, so Aquila and Priscilla “explained to him the way of God more accurately”. He accepted their teaching, and thus equipped, he “vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:26-28). Simply put, a teacher who refuses to be taught and to improve himself is a poor teacher.
Teachers must be developed. “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). The babe in Christ first needs to become a student of the word in order to grow in faith and be “apt to teach” (Heb. 5:12-13; cf. 2 Tim. 2:24). An ill-equipped teacher harms those he would instruct as well as himself.
Teachers will answer for what they teach. “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (Jas. 3:1). James’ cautionary tone impresses on us the seriousness of being a teacher. By your words you will either “save both yourself and those who hear you”, or consign to eternal darkness yourself and those who accept your error (1 Tim. 4:16).
Teachers help protect us from being “destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). Thank God for faithful teachers of His word.
Scripture Reading: Luke 19:1-10
1. We sing the familiar song: “Why did my Savior come to earth?”
I. CHRIST CAME TO FIND US: “The Son of Man has come to seek...” Lk. 15:4
Came to Earth to Find the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel, Matt. 15:24;
cf. Zacchaeus; Ezek. 34:11-16, 23-31.
II. CHRIST CAME TO FORGIVE US: “...and to save...” cf. Ezek. 34:27
who Believe, Jno. 8:23-24.
III. CHRIST CAME TO FREE US: “...that which was lost.”
Sin’s Bondage and Death, Rom. 6:17-18, 12-14.
(Basic Outline by Mark Posey)
Scripture Reading: John 17:14-19
1. Jno. 17:14-19: As we live by the word of God we are 1) "not of this
world", 17:14; 2) Kept "from the evil one", 17:15; 3) In
fellowship with Christ, 17:16); and 4) Sanctified, 17:17, 19.
I. GOD'S DEFINITION OF WORLDLINESS.
II. THINGS OF THE WORLD, 1 Jno. 2:15-17.
III. THE CARES OF THE WORLD, Luke 8:14.
IV. VICTORY OVER WORLD, 1 Jno. 5:4-5.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
"So Sue Me!"
A king of Israel (Saul) once acted impatiently to offer burnt offerings without God’s authority (1 Sam. 13:8-9). When Samuel the prophet challenged his decision the king replied that the circumstances of the moment drove him to it - “I felt compelled” (1 Sam. 13:11-12). In essence, Saul said “I had to do something”! Samuel rebuked him, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you” (1 Sam. 13:13).
Our country now has a chief executive officer who is acting just as recklessly. Instead of honoring the rule of law, President Obama rationalizes he “has to do something” since he says the Congress “won’t act”:
“President Obama taunted Republicans on Tuesday. ‘Middle-class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff,’ he said. ‘So sue me.’ He was referring to House Speaker John Boehner’s proposed lawsuit charging that Obama has overstepped his executive authority. ‘As long as they’re doing nothing, I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something,’ Obama added” (slate.com).
We also hear this rationale from brethren who are not content with Scriptural parameters. They too had rather “do something wrong than do nothing at all” (as if these two extremes are the only alternatives). They had rather practice church-support of benevolence organizations than “do nothing”. They had rather arrange sponsoring churches in evangelism than “do nothing”. They had rather use instruments in worship than “do nothing”. Saul was condemned for doing something even though it was wrong. Why do we think we are different? Let us do God’s will in God’s way as He has revealed in His Scriptures (Col. 3:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Then, we will be “doing something” and it will please God.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/06/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA