And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XII, Number 47 November 29, 2009
In this issue:
I do not believe in being an alarmist, but I do believe we need watchmen in Zion (Isa 62:6; Acts 20:29-31). We must always be deliberative in our assessments and the warnings we give. The choices we make and the judgments we render have lasting effects, so we must approach both with wisdom. The following observations are not made lightly, but with the utmost concern for our spiritual strength, purity and faithfulness to the Lord.
There are disturbing trends among the people of God. Trends do not start overnight; they develop gradually. Beginning with shifts in thinking and attitudes, a trend gains momentum as the new mindset crystallizes into action and the action into an accepted practice. It requires discernment and a willing heart to closely examine ourselves to see whether we are contributing to thinking and conduct that violates the will of God (2 Cor 13:5; Phil 1:9-11).
The expansion of sin and error begins in the mind and eventually reveals itself in conduct and teaching (Mk 7:20-23). In turn, the sinful influences of the sinful conduct reach out and infect the souls of many others; leaven spreads (1 Cor 5:6).
To resist every trend of sinful error we must stand fast, refuse to compromise the truth of the gospel and live in the purity of truth (1 Cor 16:13; 1 Tim 6:12; Jude 3-4; 2 Jno 9-11; Eph 5:8-11).
Consider with me some sinful trends among God’s people that ought to call us to self-examination, repentance and steadfastness in the faith.
1) The trend of worldliness among Christians. This is not a new phenomenon. The church in Corinth was faced with the reality of worldliness in their midst when one of them was openly committing sexual immorality (1 Cor 5:1). The beat goes on.
Yes, worldly people practice sexually immorality; it is depicted everywhere around us (1 Cor 5:10). But an accommodating attitude and even an accepting practice exists among too many Christians. This was also one of the problems at Corinth. The Christians did not “mourn” the brother’s sin. Instead, they arrogantly refused to discipline him over it (1 Cor 5:2). The danger of not disciplining sin becomes obvious: it corrupts others (1 Cor 5:6-8).
To be warned and to guard ourselves against sin, please note the trend of worldliness that is currently infiltrating the people of God.
One trend of worldliness is that sexual immorality is being advanced by false doctrines on divorce and remarriage. I know that is not the intent of those who teach MDR error, but that is the result of their error. The teaching that encourages those who have violated Matthew 19:9 and are now in unscriptural remarriages to remain in their sinful remarriage is an error that advances sexual immorality. What once was a view held by only a few brethren in isolated areas is now a full-fledged apostasy. Many Christians have not been taught the truth about repentance and about the adultery of an unscriptural remarriage (Matt 19:9; Rom 2:2-3; 1 Cor 7:10-11; Acts 26:20). The trend is to be accepting of people and to let those involved make up their own mind about the matter (as if unity of understanding of the truth is beyond our ability and beyond the Lord’s expectation). An additional tragedy is that many brethren are willing to have fellowship with those who teach and practice such error. This allows the influence of error to spread its death to many more souls (2 Jno 10-11).
Another trend of worldliness that ought to trouble us is the wearing of immodest clothing. The plunging V-neck tops that expose the bosom, the short skirts and other attire that expose the thigh and the skin-tight clothes that show the body’s form are increasingly being worn by Christian woman, both young and not so young. And, men are not excluded from this problem. Males who expose their chests and thighs reveal a heart that is not ashamed and that is unfamiliar with modesty and the exposure of their nakedness (Jer 8:12; 1 Tim 2:9-10). The Bible defines uncovering one’s nakedness as exposing the thigh (Exo 28:42). God replaced coverings with tunics of skin when He “clothed” Adam and Eve (Gen 3:7, 21). Simply covering the loins and breasts does not make one clothed; indeed, Genesis 3 shows that such a one “covered” but not “clothed”. Swim suits, mini-skirts, short shorts, skin-tight attire – all of these expose nakedness and provoke lust; they do not engender godliness and good works (Prov 7:10; 1 Tim 2:10; 1 Pet 3:3-4).
Another trend of worldliness is dancing at social events. The Bible only reveals two kinds of dances. One is the leap of joy in happy jubilation before God (Exo 15:20-21). The other is the unrestrained, sensual movement and impure handling of the opposite sex which conforms to lasciviousness (Exo 32:19, 25; Matt 14:6; 1 Pet 4:3). The lewdness of the modern dance is not diminished by the nature of the event at which it is performed. Dancing is not a sin at the high school prom but holy at a wedding. If so, what Bible passage and principle teaches this? Some defend dancing at events like weddings because they only dance with their spouse. There is any number of activities one may engage in with his or her spouse that should not be made public (Heb 13:4). Furthermore, would a married couple conduct themselves like they do on the dance floor if the music was not present? A Christian should remember the influence of his example as well as his personal defilement before participating in the modern dance.
Another trend of worldliness is the occasional drinking of alcohol. Whether done socially or privately, drinking is a mark of foolishness (Prov 20:1; 23:29-35). The direct prohibition of 1 Peter 4:3 is violated as self-control is gradually lost with each drink (Gal 5:22-23). Yet, some Christians are having wine with their meals at home (as well as in public) and thinking nothing of it. Why? Because first there was a change in thinking that led to a change in their conduct and a willingness to engage in the practice and/or accept those who do.
2) The trend of minimizing the danger of sin. Some will undoubtedly say that we are overreacting and that these dangers do not exist. Sin is always minimized by our Adversary. Even as he told Eve she would not die if she disobeyed God, he continues to deceive the people of God today. And so we here the following: “One drink is not bad”, “I don’t lust when I dance” and “I can’t help it if someone lusts because they see what I’m wearing – that’s their problem”. How utterly foolish and self-deceived are such statements! The danger of sin is real and whenever we refuse to flee the lusts of the flesh we invite sin and death (2 Tim 2:22; 1 Tim 6:10-11; Jas 4:4-10).
3) The trend of vilifying the messenger. Ancient watchmen alerted the citizens of a city when danger approached. No doubt the city was thankful for the early warning and prepared itself against attack. Yet today when elders, preachers and other Christians give warnings against worldliness they may be “run out of town on a rail”. The cheerleader is immodestly dressed – but she is the daughter or granddaughter of a prominent member – so you’d better be quiet! Others agree to disagree on MDR – you won’t make friends if you preach on it!. If you teach against error and worldliness you are “out to make a name for yourself”! The rejection of the messenger is nothing new. But, it is really a rejection of God (1 Ths 4:7-8; cf. Gal 4:16).
Sinful trends can and must be reversed through repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22-24; 1 Jno 1:7-9; 2 Cor 12:19-21).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
The Church: The Pillar and Ground of the Truth
Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 3:14-16
PILLAR: “A prop or support”
I. THE CHURCH: THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH.
A. Teach It, 2 Tim 2:2; Matt 28:19
II. TRUTH OF HUMAN REDEMPTION.
A. Problem of Sin, Rom 3:23; 5:12; 6:23
III. TRUTH OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
A. Promised, 2 Sam 7:12-13; Ps 132:11
IV. THE INERRANCY OF SCRIPTURE.
A. Inspired of God, 2 Tim 3:16-17
V. TRUTH OF HOW WE MUST BEHAVE.
A. In Holiness, 1 Pet 2:5, 9-10
Conclusion. Our behavior strengthens the church as the pillar and ground of truth.
A Denomination is Born
Earlier this year the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) approved allowing gay clergy to become pastors. Since then there has been a steady drum beat by opponents to break away from the ELCA and form a new denomination. The ELCA has 4.6 million members, with 10,391 member churches. (“Disgruntled Lutherans vow to have a new denomination ready by August”, Jeff Strickler, The Bellingham Herald, 18Nov09).
The Lutheran Church was originally formed in the 16th century as a protest against the Medieval Catholic Church. Since then there have been numerous Lutheran denominations with unity efforts between them. The ELCA was formed in 1988 as a merger of the American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church in America and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. Now, just over twenty years later, another Lutheran denomination appears ready to be born.
1) New denominations will continue to be formed by men who believe it is their right to define, organize and operate the church according to their will and wisdom. This is not the New Testament pattern; there is one church to which the Lord continues to add the saved (Matt 16:18; Acts 2:47; 1 Pet 2:5). There are no denominations of the church of Christ (Matt 16:18; Acts 2:47, Eph 1:22-23; 4:4).
2) Denominations are composed of member churches – a concept completely foreign to the apostolic age. The church of Christ is composed of individuals, not churches (Acts 2:47). Jesus does not add local churches to denominations – men do that without Christ’s authority (Col 3:17).
3) Division begets division. Denominationalism feeds on division. The Lord’s church thrives on unity (Jno 17:20-21; Eph 4:1-6).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 11/29/2009
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA