And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 14, Number 07
In this issue:
Christians are being seduced by the world to engage in sinful practices. While this is not a new phenomenon, it acutely reminds us of the powerful enticement of sin and of the necessity to constantly protect ourselves against sin’s temptations (read 1 Cor 10:1-13; 1 Pet 5:8-9; Eph 6:10-18).
A case in point is social drinking. Both the practice of and the toleration of social drinking is gaining momentum among Christians. By “social” we mean both in the privacy of the home as well as in public. Christians can now be heard defending the occasional drink, not only in private conversation and practice, but even in Bible classes and from the pulpit.
God’s word has not changed. What Solomon wrote is still true: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov 20:1). When one compares the alcoholic content of “wine” (yayin) in Old Testament times to modern levels it becomes clear that today’s wines compare to “strong drink” (shekar) – that which is always condemned in the Scriptures. For instance, Levitical priests were commanded, “do not drink wine or strong drink (intoxicating drink, NKJV)” (Lev 10:9). Upon what possible Bible basis can a Christian (who is a priest under the new covenant of Christ) imbibe of intoxicating drink with Christ’s approved? (1 Pet 2:5, 9)
The gospel of Christ forbids drinking alcoholic beverage, whether a little or a lot, whether privately or publicly, whether occasionally or habitually, whether drunkenness or the consumption that leads to it. “Drunkenness, revelries and drinking parties” in 1 Peter 4:3 covers the entire spectrum of consumption levels as well as the indulgent revelry often associated with drinking alcoholic beverage (cf. Prov 23:29-35; Isa 5:11; 28:7-8; Gal 5:21).
Then there is the sinful example and worldly influence one exerts upon their children, friends, associates and fellow Christians when they drink (1 Pet 2:11-12; 1 Tim 4:12). What good work results from drinking alcohol (Eph 2:10)? How will drinking Christians convince their children not to drink?
It is past time for Christians to wake up to the truth that consuming alcoholic beverages is sin (Eph 5:14-18). It is past time for gospel preachers to reprove, rebuke and exhort the practice (2 Tim 4:2). It is past time for Christians to stop accommodating social drinking and start recognizing it for what it is: worldliness (1 Pet 4:2-4; 1 Jno 2:15-17).
Since love “thinks no evil” (keeps no accounts of evil, NKJV footnote), “rejoices in the truth” and “believes all things”, we rightly conclude the converse is true of hatred (1 Cor 13:5-7). Hate thinks evil of others (keeping an account of wrongs suffered), rejoices in the error of others and refuses to believe good things about others. It is no wonder that “he who does not love his brother abides in death” and, “whoever hates his brother is a murderer” (1 Jno 3:14-15). Love refuses to hold and express evil suspicions toward others.
Evil suspicions (evil surmisings, KJV) are counted among the sins of the proud, possessed by those obsessed with disputes and arguments (1 Tim 6:3-4). It is thinking the worst of others (often, deflecting attention away from one’s own sins). God will not tolerate such arrogant treatment of others, and neither should we. Therefore, the Holy Spirit instructs Christians to “withdraw yourself” from such people (1 Tim 6:5).
We can get caught up in speculating about others. This typically leads to gossip and a variety of additional sins. Such speculation and ruinous reasoning is forbidden by the word of God. Let us carefully and correctly identify, put away and avoid the sin of evil suspicion.
1) Evil suspicions draw conclusions on the basis of conjecture and speculation. Whereas love rejoices in the truth and thinks the best of others, the sin of evil suspicions relies on assumptions and the reckless handling of facts. Because it relies on supposition and imagination to draw its conclusions, evil suspicion produces distrust and disputes. Once a person whose heart is full of evil surmising has made up his mind, it becomes very hard for him to reform and renounce his deeply held suspicion. Why? The reason is because pride (a companion of evil surmising) will not allow it (Prov 16:18). What a dreadfully ugly sin!
2) Evil suspicions spread contention and division where unity and peace should prevail. Christians are to “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Pet 3:11). The gospel teaches us to “pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another”, a principle that is not being practiced by one given to evil suspicions (Rom 14:19). Having and acting upon an evil suspicion toward a fellow Christian spreads an atmosphere of mistrust, doubt and reservation, obscuring the unity we share in Christ (Eph 4:1-3).
3) Evil suspicions stifle encouragement. Christians should “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works”, but evil suspicion prevents this work of encouragement (Heb 10:24). It prevents productive communication instead of enhancing it. Barnabas showed himself to be the son of encouragement by not being suspicious toward Saul and his genuine conversion. He stepped forward and stood with his faithful brother in the Lord (Acts 4:36; 9:26-27). His example is one we all should follow.
4) Evil suspicions wound and ruin rather than soothe and heal. The person consumed with evil suspicions against another is not a peacemaker (Matt 5:9). Strife and turmoil is the fruit he bears.
5) Put away evil suspicions. Cultivate love by always acting in the best interests of others – regardless of their words and deeds. (This is the true meaning and expression of love, Rom 5:8; 1 Jno 4:10-11.) Judge righteously, not by appearance (Jno 7:24). Finally, reject baseless suspicions and charges against brethren (cf. 1 Tim 5:19-20).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 1:26-33
Discouraging others is sin; setting stumbling blocks before others, Matt
I. WITH COMPLAINING? Deut 1:26-33
A. The Nature of Complaining.
1. Lack of faith, Deut 1:32; 9:23; Psa 106:24
2. Fueled by fear, 1:29.
3. Begins privately…, Deut 1:27.
4. Hinders obedience, 1:26 (Gal 5:15).
5. Rebellion, Deut 1:26.
B. Why Complaining is Rebellion against God, Jer 18:11-12; Num 14:1-4; 21:4-6; 11:1-6.
II. BY NOT FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH? Num 32:5-7; cf. 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 2:4
A. There is a War to be fought against the World, 1 Pet 2:11; 4:3; Jas 4:1-6, 7-10; Col 3:5; Gal 5:19; 1 Ths 5:22; 1 Jno 1:5-7.
B. There is a War to be fought against False Doctrine, Gal 1:6-9; Eph 3:3-4; 5:17; 4:3; 2 Tim 1:7-8; 1 Kgs 22:13-14; 2 Tim 4:2-4; Tit 1:9
C. There is a War to be fought against Spiritual Complacency; Heb 10:24-25; 12:3.
III. ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER, Ro 1:11-12
A. By Faithful Words and Deeds, Acts 4:36.
B. By Hearing and Learning God’s Word, Acts 15:30-31; 1 Cor 14:31.
C. By Knowing of and being with Faithful Brethren, Acts 11:23; 1 Ths 3:1-5; Phil 2:19.
D. By Working Together, Eph 4:16.
Profiting from Fear
Fear swept over the face of the earth this week as the prospect of nuclear meltdown looms in Japan. From Japan to America to Europe and beyond, the fear of a nuclear reactor meltdown of catastrophic proportions caused Americans to buy potassium iodide pills (anticipating radiation fallout) and Germans to shut down their pre-1980 nuclear reactors. And so it goes.
Fear turns to profit for some as they see the disasters in Japan as an opportunity to make money or advance a cause or agenda. “Never let a disaster go to waste” has been echoed by some.
End of the world enthusiasts are confident the end is near. Rapture preachers and judgment day calculators are working hard to convince folks with their false predictions (See “Armageddon Entrepreneurs: Who’s Profiting From Fear?”, Jeffrey Weiss, cnbc.com).
Will the end of the world occur? Yes. Do we know when? No (Matt 24:42). Should that make us complacent toward spiritual responsibilities? No, it should prompt just the opposite. We must “watch and be ready” by living faithfully, because we do not know when the Lord will return (Matt 24:42-51; 1 Ths 5:1-11; 2 Pet 3:10-13).
There will not be a “rapture” as depicted in Premillennial doctrine and speculation. When Jesus comes it will be to judge all humanity at the same time, “catching up” the saints to ever be with Him in glory (Jno 5:28-29; 1 Ths 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:24; Col 3:4). These false prophets who deal on the fear of men hinder the truth. When their errors are shown by the passing of time, skeptics are emboldened in their rejection of God. The truth of Christ’s unexpected return urges people of faith to prepare, even as the faithless are driven by unfounded fear. Which will you be? (Rom 13:11-14)
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 03/24/2011
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA