And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
Paul willingly served others to advance the prospect of their salvation (1 Cor. 9:22). He did this by relinquishing personal rights and privileges to improve his access to those who needed the gospel he preached (1 Cor. 9:15; 2 Cor. 11:7-9). He did this by giving up personal liberties to protect the weak in conscience from sin (1 Cor. 8:7-13). Foregoing personal liberties, and using personal liberties to advance the gospel and salvation, is what it means to “become all things to all men.” Doing so demands discernment (Phil. 1:9-11).
Becoming all things to all men does not mean compromising truth and righteousness to accomplish a godly goal. Doing evil that good may come is not the Lord’s will; The end does not justify the means (Rom. 3:8). It is worldly thinking that says the way to win souls for Christ is to remain silent about the sinner’s sin, instead of exposing it (Eph. 5:11; 2 Jno. 9-11).
How can we tell the difference (1 Thess. 5:21-22)? How do we become “all things to all men?” The answer is found in the nature of the activity in question, and in the association it produces. Is the activity sin? If so, we cannot participate in it (Rom. 12:9; 1 Jno. 3:4). Is the activity morally acceptable, yet, does engaging in it show allegiance to, and encouragement of, sinners in their sin? If so, we cannot participate (1 Cor. 5:11-13; 15:33-34). Remember, we do not advance righteousness by violating God’s word.
Becoming all things to all men requires sacrificing self, and serving others (1 Cor. 9:19). It requires a humble heart, that considers others before itself (1 Cor. 9:20-22; Phil. 2:3-4). And, it requires the primacy of devotion to the gospel, and to its power to save (1 Cor. 9:23).
The giant’s incredible size loomed over the valley as he hurled his insults toward the armies of Israel. He was a champion among the Philistine warriors, and everyone knew why: he was huge! Several feet taller than the average man, no one could hope to survive hand to hand combat with Goliath of Gath. No one, that is, except a youngster named David. Armed with faith in God, David displayed remarkable courage as he challenged, then defeated, this giant of a man. His confrontation with Goliath is a truly remarkable display of faith, courage, conviction, and the victory God gives those who rely upon Him (read 1 Samuel 17).
David’s brothers scolded him when they heard of his proposal to fight Goliath. David’s response was clear and decisive: “Is there not a cause?” (1 Sam. 17:29). His declaration reminds us that even now, there are many giants that defy the armies of the living God. Causes still exist that move the faithful to action. We are in the Lord’s army, and we must, in faith, be ready to fight His foes (Eph. 6:10-18). When the enemy seems much too large for us to battle, our faith must be strongly anchored in the power and truth of Almighty God. God assures us victory in Christ (Rev. 11:15; 17:14).
The enemy of false doctrine must be fought. Contending for the faith is not fashionable to many these days (Jude 3-4). When a soldier of the cross engages in a battle of faith with a false teacher over his false doctrine, the advocate of error often gets more sympathy, respect and encouragement than the one standing for the truth (shades of Eliab toward his brother, David, 1 Sam. 17:28). Despite this, whenever error tries to infiltrate the church and hold men captive, a cause exists which compels the faithful to action (Gal. 2:4-5). Do you join the brothers of David in faithless rebuke of faithful and needful conflict against error? Or, in the day of battle, do you hold up the hands of those fighting the good fight of faith?
The enemy of worldliness is a formidable giant that we must engage in battle. Every day, worldly people defy the armies of the living God. Living amidst the enticements of the world induces some Christians to retreat from the high and holy ground they have gained with Christ as their Captain (Heb. 12:1-2). Soldiers of Christ can be intimidated into inaction by this giant enemy of faith, while others succumb to its power (1 Pet. 2:11-12; Rom. 13:12-14; Gal. 5:19-21). Seduced by worldly enticements of pleasure, prosperity and comfort, they are entertained by the very instruments of their destruction (Mk. 4:18-19; 2 Pet. 2:18-22). Like David, we must stand our ground and live holy lives, trusting God to deliver us from the enemy’s assaults (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Jno. 2:15-17).
The enemy of complacency is an insidious giant. Infecting Christians with a lethargic approach to godliness, complacency is an imposing opponent. Complaency leads to neglect, procrastination, toleration and compromise with sin (Eph. 5:8-14; Rom. 13:11). Complacency prevents the lost from becoming Christians. It causes the strong to grow weak, and the weak to grow weaker. Yet, through an active faith, this giant can be slain (Rom. 12:11; 1 Thess. 5:6-11).
David knew the urgency of stopping the mouth of Goliath. Like David, we must assess the causes for which we fight to be sure we are on the Lord’s side (Matt. 12:30). God’s word identifies the righteous causes before us. As soldiers of Christ, lust us engage the enemy with faith in God’s power to deliver us from every foe, and “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12; see 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:10-13).
Spirit’s Sword (VI:08)
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Scripture Reading: John 17:1-5
of Christ ruling is fulfilled, Psa. 110:1-2 (Acts 2:33-36).
Authority of His Word, Lk. 4:31-32, 42-44. (Acts 2:40-41; Jno. 5:28-29;
They Willfully Forget
New York governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Thursday for portions of his state, due to a blizzard that blanketed the eastern seaboard. “We are seeing storms of a severity that we have never seen before,” said Cuomo (foxnews.com video). He lost me at “never seen before.” During the “Great White Hurricane” of March 11-14, 1888, “temperatures plunged and vicious winds kicked up, blanketing the East Coast in snow and creating drifts up to 50 feet high. The storm immobilized New York, Boston and other major cities, blocking roads and wiping out telephone, telegraph and rail service for several days. When the skies finally cleared, fires and flooding inflicted millions of dollars of damage. The disaster resulted in more than 400 deaths, including 200 in New York City alone. In the decade that followed, partly in response to the 1888 storm and the massive gridlock it wrought, New York and Boston broke ground on the country’s first underground subway systems” (“Major Blizzards in U.S. History,” history.com). Politicians have agendas; one of Cuomo’s is advancing “climate change.” (Truly, devotees justify baseless rhetoric, while ignoring facts, to promote their program.)
False teachers have agendas, too. They advance their error by ignoring and denying the word of God. 2 Peter 3:1-7 explains how those who mock the Lord’s promised coming “willfully forget” the divine record of the past, as they promote their faithless message and lusting living.
Mark it down. When people deny the Scriptures, they are pushing a doctrine and lifestyle that promotes sin and self, not truth and holiness. When God’s word is set before a person, yet he continues to argue and resist it, he exposes the bias of a hardened heart (Acts 7:51-53).
May we keep our hearts “pure,” ever “mindful of the words” spoken from God (2 Pet. 3:1-2). May our hearts be ready to repent, whenever God’s truth exposes our sins against Him and His word (2 Pet. 3:8-9).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 01/08/2018
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA