And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
Sin often occurs by turning what is good and right into what is evil and a transgression of God’s law (1 Jno. 3:4). Fundamentally, sin’s temptation to commit sin involves an allurement to fulfill legitimate desires in unlawful ways (as well as by enticements to omit God’s law, Jas. 1:14; Jas. 4:17). That which once held a place of purity and honor is tarnished, denigrated and defiled by conduct that transgresses God’s intended purpose and will. Consider some Bible examples of men turning good things into evil.
Fruit of the Vine and Alcoholic Beverages
Man turned the blessing of grape juice into the curse of intoxicating wine. The Bible uses the word “wine” with a range of applications. “Wine” is “the blood of grapes” in Genesis 49:11, and it is the shameful, foolish beverage of Proverbs 20:1. New (fresh, sweet) wine comes from the vine and is a blessing from God (Gen. 27:28, 37; Deut. 7:13; 11:14; 18:4; Exo. 22:29; Psa. 104:14-15). That’s grape juice. Men’s hearts are made merry by the juice that comes directly from the fields (Judges 9:27).
These few verses teach us to be careful not to conclude that whenever “wine” is mentioned in the Bible it is always fermented, alcoholic beverage, and therefore, conclude that alcoholic beverage is acceptable to God. After all, the winepress squeezes grape juice into a wine vat, not alcohol (Matt. 21:33; Mk. 12:1). The fact that Jesus turned water into wine does not demand it was fermented (Jno. 2:1-11). While we use the word “juice,” it is proper to recognize that in the Scriptures “wine” is often applied to the juice that comes directly from the fruit. Given the totality of God’s word concerning fermented drink, we rightly conclude Jesus turned water into sweet juice, not alcoholic beverage.
While it is God who gives new wine (juice of the grape, fruit of the vine), it is man who learned to ferment and preserve wine with alcoholic content. Man turned the blessing into a curse by turning what is good into what is evil. Alcoholic wine dulls the senses, loosens self-control, inhibits sober thinking, turns people away from God and offends the holiness of God (Prov. 23:29-35). “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; Who continue until night, till wine inflames them!” (Isa. 5:11) It staggers the mind to think how many lives and families have been hurt and even destroyed by its insidious effects. Wine produces shame, and to consume fermented wine is to be “lead astray” into foolishness (Prov. 20:1).
A Christian cannot successfully defend drinking that which God says is mockery and foolishness. Yet, that has not kept some Christians from trying to defend drinking alcohol, even though God’s word names it as “the will of the Gentiles” (those who do not know God) and is not reflective of the mind of Christ and the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-3). Not content with God’s blessing of new wine (grape juice), they dabble in drinking alcohol and call it “social,” a “happy hour” that helps them relax and “take the edge off,” or to celebrate a special occasion. Yet, God’s word teaches us to refuse alcoholic beverage at all its stages, from when it sparkles in the cup, to when its continued consumption inevitably results in drunkenness (Prov. 23:29-33). Therefore, God says do not look on it from the beginning (Prov. 23:31).
Turning grape juice into alcohol takes what is good and transforms it into what is hurtful, harmful, shameful, destructive and foolish.
Marriage and Marital Corruption
Man turned the blessing of marriage between one man and one woman for life into the curse of marital corruption (polygamy, divorce and remarriage for any cause, and same-sex marriage). God arranged marriage to be an exclusive relationship with permanency, commitment, and unity at its core (Gen. 2:23-25). Human beings introduced various distortions of this righteous relationship by injecting worldliness, selfishness, pride and prejudice into the harmony of the home. For example, man introduced multiple wives (Gen. 4:19). Man introduced concubinage (Gen. 16:1-6). Out of the hardness of their hearts, men introduced putting away their wives and marrying others (Matt. 19:8). God hates divorce, and the law of Moses regulated Israel’s appetite for it, yet they continued to proliferate divorce (Deut. 24:1-4; Mal. 2:14-16). In our time, people have redefined marriage to include two women and two men (same-sex marriage). Millions discount marriage as old-fashioned and out of step with today’s progressive lifestyle. Many view marriage as oppressive.
Yes, man has distorted what is good (marriage) into evil things.
It has always been God’s will that marriage consist of one man and one woman for life (Matt. 19:3-6, 7-8). Jesus gave one exception for putting away your spouse with the right to marry another; the cause of fornication (Matt. 19:9). God-arranged marriage is good. It solves the problem of loneliness and provides family and societal stability and morality (Gen. 2:18-24; Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Cor. 7:2). Man’s caricatures of marriage are wicked and devised to devour souls.
The Church of Christ and Denominations
Man turned the blessing of the church of Christ into the curse of denominations. Jesus Christ built one church, the body of redeemed souls who are washed by the blood of the Lamb of God (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:41, 47; Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4; 5:23). Men have turned the house of God (the church) into a den of thieves who rob people of true faith and salvation, godliness, and righteousness through false doctrines and commandments (Gal. 1:6-12; Col. 2:1-10, 20-23; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; Jude 3-4; 2 Pet. 2:18-19). Creed-based division (denominations) is not from God (Jno. 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; Eph. 4:4).
We must see with clear eyes how the good things of God are turned into the evil things of men. That’s what sin does. Therefore, we must abhor evil and cling to what is good (Rom. 12:9).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Revelation 19:1-6
1. The early
church praised God, Acts 2:47.
I. THE ASSEMBLY OF THE RIGHTEOUS PRAISE THE LORD WITH THEIR WHOLE HEART, Psa. 111:1-6.
because of All His Marvelous Works, Psa. 40:4-5; 9:1-2; Deut. 4:32-40.
II. HIS WORKS ARE TRUE AND JUST, Psa. 111:7-9.
A. God’s Works are Steadfast because His Integrity is Impeccable, 111:7-8 (Num. 23:19; Tit. 1:2); Psa. 119:89-90; Heb. 9:15-17; Lk. 1:68-69.
III. HIS WORKS CAUSE US TO FEAR HIM, 111:10 (reverence).
A. God is Worthy of Our Enduring, Eternal Praise.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: 2 Peter 3:14-18
1. 2 Pet.
3:18: This exhortation to grow may leave you wondering how to achieve
I. GROW IN THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
A. By Keeping
Proper Attitudes toward Fellow-Christians (beloved), 3:1, 8, 14, 17; 2 Cor.
6:11; Gal. 6:1; Phil. 2:3-4; Col. 4:5-6.
II. GROW IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
A. Grow in
Knowledge Judgment Day, 2 Pet. 3:7. (Acts 17:31; 2 Cor. 5:10)
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Numerologist Claims Rapture Near
Another false prophet is about to be exposed (Deut. 18:21-22). David Meade, a so-called Christian numerologist, predicts April 23, 2018 as the beginning of the Rapture and the second coming of Christ. His twisted interpretation of Revelation 12:1-2 is laced with the fiction of astrology and the alignment of planets and stars (“Biblical prophecy claims the Rapture is coming April 23, numerologist says,” foxnews.com). Will they ever learn?!
The Rapture doctrine is not in the Bible. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is used by those who believe the righteous will be invisibly snatched up (raptured) before seven years of earthly tribulation, followed by Armageddon and the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth. However, this verse describes how Christians will meet the Lord “in the air” and “thus” (in this manner) “always be with the Lord.” The Rapture doctrine says those raptured will come back to earth with Christ. (That will be difficult, since the world will be burned up when Christ returns, 2 Peter 3:10-13.) Christians are not going to be raptured, only to return to the earth seven years later. The kingdom will be delivered up to God on that great day of His return (1 Cor. 15:23-24).
No one on earth knows when Jesus will return. That includes David Meade. That information is reserved for the Father in heaven. “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:42).
We must always be prepared for Christ’s return, because it could happen at any moment. The parable of the wise and foolish virgins teaches this (Matt. 25:1-13). We are not in the darkness of ignorance about His return. Instead, we are prepared by being watchful and sober (1 Thess. 5:1-6).
Astrology and numerology are instruments of idolatry and faithlessness (Deut. 4:19). Star-gazers and prognosticators are powerless to instruct and to save (Isa. 47:13). God does not communicate to us through the stars, but by His Son, through the inspired Scriptures (Heb. 1:2; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Hear Christ; not David Meade.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 04/16/2018
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA