And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
No disrespect is intended when we use the word “ignorance.” We use it as the apostle Peter did when he wrote, “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance” (1 Pet. 1:14). It means “not to know” (TDNT, I:115), “lit., want of knowledge or perception” (Vine, II:317). Ignorance in biblical usage is a lack of knowledge, not a description of a person’s competence (1 Pet. 4:11).
God does not want us to be ignorant, He wants us to understand His will (Eph. 5:17). To understand God’s will our hearts must be open to hearing, reading, receiving, believing and following God’s word. Paul wrote, “how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” (Eph. 3:3-4). Like the Ethiopian, understanding God’s word results from reading and being taught the Scriptures (Acts 8:30-34).
Ignorance (a lack of knowledge and understanding) is the breeding ground of sin and destruction. Israel was “destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). Many people continue to sin in ignorance, just like the Jews did concerning Christ (whom they murdered in ignorance, Acts 3:17), and like the Gentiles who were ignorant of the true God (Acts 17:30; Eph. 4:18). Ignorance of the law is not a defense in our judicial system, nor will it successfully defend us on the day of judgment before Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:44-46).
Some people prefer to be ignorant of God by refusing to recognize God and live with a knowledge of Him within their hearts (Rom. 1:28). By rejecting the divine truth of apostolic writings, they remain ignorant – and lost (1 Cor. 14:37-38).
Lust has fertile soil in which to thrive when the heart lacks a knowledge of God and His will (1 Pet. 1:14). The light of the gospel calls us out of the dark ignorance of sinful lusts into the light of God’s mercy (1 Pet. 2:9-12). We must not return to the ignorance of lust 1 Pet. 4:1-2).
Being ignorant (without knowledge) of God’s word generates disputes and strife, while knowledge without love produces displays of arrogant conceit (2 Tim. 2:23; 1 Cor. 8:1-3). In banishing ignorance by growing in knowledge of the Lord, we must also grow in grace to use our knowledge righteously, so as to further harmony with God and with fellow Christians (2 Pet. 3:18).
Last weekend at a pride parade in Marikina, Philippines (near Manila), members of the Church of Freedom in Christ Ministries gathered to apologize for how Christians (i.e., Roman Catholics) have treated the LGBT community (cnn.com). Their banner read, “We’re here to apologize for the ways that we as Christians have harmed the LGBT community” . The banner said things like, “I’m sorry…for hiding behind religion when really I was just scared… I’ve looked down on you instead of honoring your humanity… for not listening… for judging you.” This group’s hubris to apologize for someone else is especially rich. (You can apologize for yourself, but you cannot apologize for others.)
The Bible says God loves every sinner and hates every sin (Jno. 3:16; Psa. 45:7). Therefore, those who love and fear God “hate evil” and “love good” (Psa. 97:10; Prov. 8:13; Amos 5:15). We must abhor every sin, yet in doing so we must be careful not to convey disgust for the person committing the sin. (How do we expect to save the sinner holding disgust in our heart for the person?) Jesus truly hated sin, yet His love and compassion for sinners was undeniable (Matt. 9:36-38). He came to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10). So must we.
Since this group apologized to LGBT people, let me illustrate the point there. Leviticus 18:22 says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” Notice the verse does not say the sinner is an abomination, but that “it” – the action, the sin – is an abomination. 1 Timothy 1:9-10 says God’s law judges and condemns sodomites equally with other fornicators, murderers, kidnappers, liars and perjurers. Their actions are abominable before God. That is the battleground of faith.
When we use God’s word to show the sinfulness of conduct we do not do so out of fear or arrogance, but humbly as sinners who have been saved from our own sins, and who now want other sinners to know their spiritual danger and be saved in Christ through repentance and obedience to Him (Titus 3:1-3).
When we listen to LGBT (and other) sinners we hear people desperately trying to fit in and be accepted – by themselves and by others. Contentment with yourself is found in God’s love that forgives your sins in Christ. Christ’s invitation to come to Him does not sanction sin. It calls every sinner to repent and replace sin’s despair with God’s forgiving fellowship (Matt. 11:28-30). We do not apologize for offering God’s salvation to all sinners – including LGBT.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Joe R. Price
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:22-24
discipleship not a viable option for following Jesus, Lk. 14:33.
I. WE MUST LOVE GOD WITH OUR WHOLE HEART, Mk. 12:29.
Loyalty is Impossible, Matt. 6:24; Jas. 1:8; Lk. 9:61-62.
II. WE MUST PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD, Eph. 6:11, 13-14.
A. Always be Spiritually Alert (Equipped), 1 Thess. 5:6-8; 2 Cor. 6:7.
III. WE MUST DECLARE THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD, Acts 20:27.
A. The Great Commission (teach all of Christ’s will), Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 20:19-20.
IV. THE WHOLE WORLD…
Guilty before God, Rom. 3:19 (23); 11:32; Gal. 3:22; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Joe R. Price
Scripture Reading: Matthew 19:23-30
19:23-30: Nature of kingdom of God vividly portrayed and contrasted
against the backdrop of false concepts of the kingdom based on human
wisdom and experiences.
I. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NOT OF THIS WORLD (Jno. 18:36).
Not Defined by Riches, 19:23-24.
II. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, Matt. 16:18-19.
Synonyms for the Spiritual Realm of Fellowship with God in Christ During the
Gospel Age, Eph. 1:3, 22-23; 2:1, 4-7; Acts 2:39-42, 47; Col. 1:13-14; 1
Thess. 2:12; Col. 3:15.
[Adapted from, “The Kingdom of God, the Church of Christ: A Spiritual Realm, not a Human Hierarchy,” Ron Halbrook, Truth Magazine XLV, 8 (Apr. 19, 2001):233-235 (9-11)]
When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted
Fox News reported this week that “at least three suspected rhino poachers have been killed by a pride of lions after they broke into a game reserve in South Africa” (Chris Irvine, foxnews.com). The mauling occurred at the Sibuya Game Reserve in Kenton-on-Sea in the Eastern Cape. Investigators recovered “human remains, a high-powered rifle with a silencer, wire cutters, an axe and three pairs of shoes” (Ibid). Park owner Nick Fox told Newsweek, “The only body part we found was one skull and one bit of pelvis, everything else was completely gone” (Christina Zhao, 7/5/18, Newsweek). Identities of the victims have yet to be determined.
We are familiar with 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” This tale of the hunters becoming the hunted reminds us to ask ourselves a spiritually probing question: “What am I hunting while the devil is hunting me?” Does he find me busy in the Lord’s work, living righteously before God and man like he found Job (Job 1:6-10)? Or, does he find me hunting illicit prey – the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life (1 Jno. 2:16; 2 Tim. 2:22)?
When one is focused on fulfilling sinful desires he or she becomes blinded to the imminent spiritual dangers of the moment. Perhaps due to overconfidence or the adrenaline of satisfying our own desires, blind spots form and the threat of the devouring lion is minimized.
Spiritual watchfulness includes busying ourselves with the good works God has prepared for us (Eph. 2:10). By filling our minds and lives with the will of God helps us think soberly and react swiftly whenever there are signs that our adversary is nearby (Phil. 4:8-9).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/09/2018
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA