And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 23, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
12 Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, 13 That You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked. 14 For the Lord will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance. 15 But judgment will return to righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it. (Psalm 94:12–15, NKJV)
God blesses us in many ways. His care of the earth and humanity testify of His power and presence (Acts 14:17). God gives spiritual blessings and assurances to His people. The above passage reinforces the faith of the righteous person when it seems the wicked triumph (Psa. 94:1-11). Briefly consider the blessings God gives the righteous in our text.
1) Who receives God’s blessing (v. 12)? It is the person who accepts God’s instruction from His law (Psa. 25:4-5). Spiritual blessings elude the person who fights against the rule of God’s truth.
2) When is this person blessed (v. 13)? Rest comes in the “days of adversity” to the one who patiently and faithfully endures the pressures of the wicked. Christians know the Lord will bring the wicked to justice (2 Thess. 1:3-10).
3) Why does God bless His people during trials (v. 14)? Because He is upright and keeps His word (Heb. 6:13-20). Our hope remains secure because God is always faithful. 4) How will it all end (v. 15)? God’s judgments are “true and righteous altogether” (Psa. 19:9). Therefore, God’s people keep following His righteous ways, trusting the Lord will correct every wrong and give rest to those who “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12-13).
Be comforted today in your spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:3).
After the terrible events of Calvary (including Peter’s triple denial of Jesus), we read of the resurrected Christ eating breakfast with His disciples (Jno. 21:15-22). There, Jesus helped Peter examine his love for Jesus before telling him of his martyr’s death (Jno. 21:15-19). Immediately after the Lord’s directive to follow Him (v. 19), Peter looked at John and asked, “But Lord, what about this man?” (Jno. 21:20-21) Jesus told Peter what John would do did not change Peter’s charge (v. 22). Regardless of what became of John, Peter was to follow Jesus.
All decent, law-abiding citizens repudiate the terrible events of January 6 (when the U.S. Capitol was overrun by a mob). No matter how aggrieved people are it does not justify violent retaliation. Christians know this and will remember to follow the Lord’s teachings at times of civil unrest (Matt. 5:38-42; Rom. 12:17-21).
One of the political responses we have heard for quite some time is what some pundits call “whataboutism.” It is an equivalence play designed to rationalize (if not justify) conduct. It may illuminate hypocrisy and other wrongdoings, but “whataboutism” also tends to obscure personal responsibility and accountability. Consider the following warning against the shortcomings of “whataboutism.” Perhaps we can learn some spiritual lessons along the way.
On January 11, Gerald Baker, Editor-at-Large of The Wall Street Journal, wrote,
“It’s a measure of the depravity to which our national political conversation has fallen that however bad one side’s latest transgression against norms, morality or the law, there’s always something it can point to that the other side did first. The earlier outrage may not exactly justify the latest offense. But by reminding an already highly partisan audience that there is prior sinfulness in the actions of your opponents, you can dilute the negative public impact of your own wrongdoing or, at a minimum, apply some balm to a troubled private conscience.” (“No Excuses for Trump and the Capitol Riot,” wsj.com)
The tag line caught my attention: “Yes, the left does bad things too. Conservatives are supposed to believe in objective moral truth.” (Ibid)
That is what we wish to ponder here, not the political hypocrisies of the left and the right (there’s plenty of that to go around).
Accountability falls upon those with responsibility. This principle is on display and applied in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-15, 19-27). We understand this principle quickly enough; “The soul that sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). The father is not held accountable for the son’s sins and vice versa (Ezek. 18:20). Unmarried people are not accountable for the duties of husbands and wives. And so on.
When it comes to moral conduct, we are tempted to be more concerned with others’ conduct instead of ourselves. While we must expose the works of darkness, we must not do so by assuming we are the standard of right and wrong (Eph. 5:11).
God’s word is truth (Jno. 17:17). We must compare ourselves to it to successfully “abhor what is evil” and “cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9). We must measure ourselves by it now, for we will be on Judgment Day (Jno. 12:48; Rev. 20:12-15).
Paul said, “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12).
1) Comparing ourselves to others uses a faulty standard of measurement. People who hold themselves out as the standard of truth are not; God’s word is. Whataboutism compares sinners with sinners and accomplishes nothing except showing that we all are sinners (Jas. 2:11; Rom. 3:23).
2) Commending ourselves above others is a display of self-serving arrogance. Whataboutism can quickly become self-righteousness (Rom. 2:17-24).
3) Partisanship has no place in the church (Jas. 2:1-8). Mutual regard for each member of the Lord’s body engenders unified work that profits every member (Rom. 12:3-8; Eph. 4:15-16).
May we accept our responsibility instead of letting whataboutism tear the fabric of our unity in Christ (Eph. 4:1-6). “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load” (Gal. 6:4-5).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Curses from the Mountain
Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 11:26-29
I. CURSES FROM THE MOUNTAIN, Matt. 5:3-12.
A. Cursed are the Arrogant and Self-Righteous: The Kingdom Does Not Belong to Them, 5:3; Lk. 18:9-14; 1 Pet. 5:5-6.
B. Cursed are those Who Do Not Mourn: They Will have No Comfort, 5:4; 2 Cor. 7:9-10; Jas. 4:9-10; Lk. 16:25.
C. Cursed are the Headstrong: They Forfeit Eternal Riches, 5:5 (Eph. 1:3); Lk. 12:20-21; Matt. 16:26; 1 Cor. 6:7-8.
D. Cursed are Those Who Crave the World: They Never Will Be Satisfied, 5:6; 1 Jno. 2:15-17.
E. Cursed are the Unmerciful: They Will Not Obtain Mercy, 5:7; Lk. 6:36; Jas. 2:13.
F. Cursed are the Impure in Heart: They Will Not See God, 5:8; 1 Pet. 1:13-16; Jas. 4:8.
G. Cursed are the Troublemakers: They
are Sons of the Devil, 5:9; 1 Kgs. 18:17-18;
H. Cursed are the Persecutors: Theirs is the Kingdom of Hell, 5:10; Acts 5:39; Matt. 8:11-12.
I. Cursed are those Who Compromise to Escape Persecution: These Cowards Will Weep Eternally, 5:11-12; Gal. 6:12; Matt. 24:10 (10:36); Rev. 21:8.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
A "Truth Reckoning"
Joe R. Price
Two items caught my attention this morning. First, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “we’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so that you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation” (foxnews.com). Second, Randall Lane, the chief content officer of Forbes Media and editor of Forbes Magazine, recently called for a “truth reckoning.” He warned businesses not to hire President Trump’s former press secretaries because – he says – they lied and must be held accountable (armwoodopinion.com). Lane said this is not cancel culture but “a realization that, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, in a thriving democracy, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Our national reset starts there.” (Ibid)
Who is the arbiter of truth: AOC? Lane? Big Tech? Government? Me? You? We can’t have a “truth-reckoning” without an agreed-upon standard of truth. The chickens of relativism are coming home to roost.
Truth exists; God’s word is truth (Jno. 17:17). We are not entitled to our own set of facts. Atheists reject the Bible as “disinformation,” so are Christians to be branded liars? (Many already do.) Will these folks apply their sudden passion for truth to gender identity? What about the uniqueness and sanctity of unborn human life? The problem is folks are usually comfortable with relative truth (like Pilate, “What is truth?”) until their ox is gored. Then suddenly, truth is relevant, and accountability is demanded.
How about we approach truth with humility and respect. God, not humans, is the Giver and Judge of truth. When we crucify ourselves, we can know and abide in the truth that frees us from sin’s bondage and death’s fear (Jno. 8:31-32; Gal. 2:20; Jer. 10:23).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 01/18/2021
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
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