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THE SPIRIT’S SWORD

published by

Mt. Baker church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker Hwy Bellingham, WA 98226

Volume V, Number 38 - December 16, 2001

Editor..................Joe R. Price


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 In this issue:


Bitter Words

Jim McDonald

"Hide me from the secret counsel of evil doers. From the tumult of the workers of iniquities; who have whet their tongue like a sword and have aimed their arrows, even bitter words." (Psalms 64:2f)

The word "bitter" is defined as "sharp" and that is the Psalmist's thought when he states that workers of iniquities have aimed their arrows, even bitter words. Arrows are designed to pierce and bitter words are also designed to pierce the heart. Bitter words can be "sharp words", words that take no thought for the feelings of another. Paul urged "Husbands love your wives, and be not bitter against them" (Col. 3:19). When a husband (or wife) speaks roughly and critical to his mate, that mate may say nothing but always carry that injury in her heart. The same can be true with our children. "Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). We may provoke our children to wrath by expecting of them more than they can ever manage. We can also provoke them to wrath by our sharp and critical words.

Bitter words may also be the result of long harbored dwelling on either real or imagined injuries one has experienced for "bitter words" arise from "bitter hearts". Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks! It is a sort of "verbal revenge"; a desire to hurt with words as one feels he has himself been injured. Paul quotes Psalms 10:7 in Romans 3:14 which reads: "whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness". Paul's use of this passage from the Psalms was to show that such a man was a sinner. The man who "curses" is a sinner. The man whose mouth is filled with bitterness is a sinner as well!

Bitter words are destructive both to the person who speaks them and to those he aims those bitter words toward. "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed lest ye be consumed one of another" (Gal. 5:15). One only has to observe two snarling dogs as they bite and claw each other to appreciate the apostle's statement. It is nearly always true that in a dog fight both dogs suffer injury although one may suffer more severely than the other. Bitterness is a cancer that eats away at him who harbors it. It is imperative that God's children remember "as ye would that men should do unto you, do ye also unto them" (Mt. 7:12). Let us heed the apostolic admonition: "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railings, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you." (Eph. 4:31f).


Past, Present and Future

Joe R. Price

After being on the job for only five days the newly hired football coach of Notre Dame, George O'Leary, resigned after admitting he lied about his college football career. O'Leary said

"Due to a selfish and thoughtless act many years ago, I have personally embarrassed Notre Dame, its alumni and fans. The integrity and credibility of Notre Dame is impeccable and with that in mind, I will resign my position as head football coach." (O'Leary Resigns as Notre Dame Coach, Tom Coyne, AP Sports Writer, http://news.excite.com/news/ap/011214/11/fbc-notre-dame-oleary)

Mr. O'Leary has experienced a hard lesson. Our past sins can have enduring consequences which impact our present and future relationships and opportunities.

The Old Testament records an incident in Ezra 9-10 which impresses this point upon our hearts. The Israelites had not "separated themselves from the people of the lands" but had married women forbidden to them by the law of God (Ezra 9:1-2, 14). Bitterly weeping, they confessed their past and present sin (Ezra 10:1-2). But admitting their sin was not all they had to do to be right in God's sight. Ezra spoke God's word to Israel "Now therefore, make confession to the LORD God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives." (Ezra 10:11) Israel agreed: Then all the assembly answered and said with a loud voice, "Yes! As you have said, so we must do. (Ezra 10:12) Some of them had children, yet to be right with God they ended their unlawful marriages (Ezra 10:44).

Jesus taught marriage is for all men, for life, and is not to be sundered by every urge and impulse of man (Matt. 19:4-6, 9). However, some brethren teach the lost person who is in adultery he can continue in his sinful relationship after he is baptized. What verse so teaches? There is none! "Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called" some say, quoting (yet misapplying) 1 Corinthians 7:20. Do you mean to tell us, good brother, that an adulterer can remain in an adulterous remarriage and be right with God?! "But you are destroying a marriage!", the objector cries. Is that what God was doing in Ezra's day? Or was He not rather destroying sin through repentance and reformation? "But there are children involved!", comes the response. So were there in Ezra's time. No one says to neglect the children, but we cannot say children are a reason to remain in sin (Matt. 10:37). "But the alien isn't under Christ's law anyway!", we are told. Christ's authority is over every human being (Matt. 28:18). Who can escape the rod of His strength, the alien sinner? (Psa. 110:1-2) If so, then why does Peter convict alien sinners of sinning against His authority in Acts 2:33-36?

Why all these objections when God's word is clear that repentance necessitates the cessation of sin? (Lk. 3:8, 10-14; Acts 26:20) Why are we routinely told by some that adultery before baptism is not adultery after baptism?

Some are trying to escape the present and future impact of sin - an impact that may continue beyond repentance. Is the adulterer willing to "put away" his unlawful marriage to be right with God? (cf. Matt. 19:9-12)

We do not repent of past sins by continuing to commit the very same sin after being baptized (Acts 19:18-19)! Scripture does not teach such a corrupted view of repentance and holiness.

Our sin has devastating effects upon our soul and upon those we love. Will we love God more and cease every sin? Whatever the cost, we must deny ourselves, daily take up our cross and follow Jesus (Lk. 9:23). Willing to accept the consequences our past sins bring upon us, may we fully repent by ceasing sin (Rom. 6:1-2).


For the complete outline of this sermon, please visit BIBLE ANSWERS

WHO IS WORTHY?

Scripture Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12

Intro.
1. Lk. 5:5-8 - Peter sensed his own unworthiness.
2. How should we view our worthiness before God?

I. "I AM NOT WORTHY."
-[HIKANOS - "sufficient in ability, i.e., meet, fit (enough)"]
A. An Expression & Recognition Of One's Insufficiency Before God - Matt. 3:11; Matt. 8:8; Lk. 10:6-7; Rom. 3:9; Jas. 4:10.

II. CHRIST IS WORTHY - Rev. 5:9.
A. Of All Praise, Honor & Power - Rev. 5:11-14 (12).
B. To Save Us - Rev. 5:1-10.
C. To Rule Us - Heb. 1:1-4, 8-9; Therefore, Col. 3:17.

III. ARE YOU WORTHY?
-[AXIOS - "of one who has merited anything, worthy;" "congruous, corresponding to a thing"]
A. We Are Worthy Of God's Acceptance & Approval Only Because Of Our Redemption In Christ - our own sinlessness - 2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 2:8; Tit. 3:5; Rom. 4:2-4.
-Because of God's grace in Christ & our faith in Him - Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8; 2 Tim. 1:9 (cf. 1 Tim. 1:12-16); Col. 1:12
B. In Christ We Are Worthy Of Reward - Rev. 3:4 (cf. Matt. 10:11, 13).
1. If we live faithfully to Christ - 1 Tim. 1:12.
2. If we must walk worthy of the gospel - Eph. 4:1; 1 Ths. 2:12; Col. 1:10; Rev. 3:4.
3. If we labor in His service - cf. Matt. 10:10; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 6:10-12.
4. If we sacrifice/suffer for Christ - Acts 5:41; 2 Ths. 1:5.
C. Outside Of Christ (In Sin) We Are Worthy Of Punishment - Rev. 16:6; Matt. 22:8; 2 Ths. 1:8 (5); Heb. 10:26-29.


For the complete outline of this sermon, please visit BIBLE ANSWERS

OVERCOMING WORLDLINESS

Scripture Reading: John 17:14-19

Intro.
1. Worldliness is rampant among God's people!
2. Are we guilty of worldliness?
3. What does "worldliness" mean?

I. GOD DEFINES WORLDLINESS.
A. World: System Of Evil In Opposition To God - 1 Jno. 2:15; Jas. 4:4; Rom. 12:2.

II. THE THINGS OF THE WORLD - 1 Jno. 2:15-17.
A. All Sinful Things Of The World Fall Under These Three Categories.
1. The lust (desire) of the flesh: Carnality.
2. The lust of the eye: Covetousness.
3. The pride of life: Conceit.
-Jas. 1:14-15-

III. THE CARES OF THE WORLD - Luke 8:14 (Mk. 4:18-19).
A. As Thorns Choke A Good Plant, There Are Things Which Choke Our Spiritual Lives.
1. Anxiety ("cares") over physical needs - Matt. 6:25-33; Phil. 4:6-8.
2. Riches (deceitfulness of riches, Mk. 4:19) - Materialism - Matt. 6:24; 1 Tim. 6:10, 6.
3. Pleasures of life - 1 Tim. 5:6 (Heb. 11:25).

IV. VICTORY OVER THE WORLD.
A. We Have Control Over Our Minds - Rom. 8:5; Col. 3:1-3 (Phil.4:8; Col.3:16; 2 Cor.10:4-5).
B. We Have Control Over Our Bodies - Rom. 6:13-14 (1 Jno. 2:17; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).
C. We Take Inventory Of Ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5).

Conclusion
The spiritual mind is key to overcoming worldliness (Rom. 12:2). Gal. 1:4, 2 Pet. 2:20; Gal. 6:7-9.


NOTEWORTHY NEWS

(Current events in the light of Scripture)

 

THE CHOICES WE MAKE
Joe R. Price

According to a recent issue of The Journal of Trauma, choosing to keep exotic pets can be a dangerous hobby, as well as choosing to pet them! One man, while drunk, wandered into his neighbor's house and mistook one of the 'unfriendly' lions kept by the man for one of the 'friendly' ones. When he reached into the cage to pet the animal the lion "grabbed his hand, pulled his arm into the cage, and tore it off at the shoulder." (Lions, Tigers and Bears as Pets?...Oh My!, Keith Mulvihill, Dec. 14, 2001, Reuters)  Do you suppose it would have made any difference if a sign had been posted warning "Danger! Don't pet the wild animals!"

God's word repeatedly warns of sin's danger, yet many continue to try to "pet" it. They choose friends who will lead them into harm's way (read Prov. 1:10-15; 1 Cor. 15:33). They believe the lie that God will not punish sinners (Eph. 5:6). They convince themselves they are strong enough to resist and remain pure though tempted to deny God (Lk. 22:31-34, 54-62). Do any of these descriptions fit us? "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things" (Rom. 2:1).

Make your choices wisely. Choose to serve God rather than sin (Josh. 24:15). One choice brings life eternal, the other, death everlasting (Rom. 6:23). Choose the right kind of friends, for they will influence your values, your conduct, your character. Choose the right kind of spouse, for that person will have more influence over your ability to faithfully serve God than anyone else (1 Pet. 3:1-7). Choose the right kind of profession, one that is honorable and consistent with a life of quiet godliness (1 Ths. 4:11-12).

Remember, what may appear harmless can tear you apart, leave you spiritually maimed, permanently scarred or worse, forever lost. Be wise about the choices you make (Eph. 5:15-17). Your soul depends upon it.


The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA

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