And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 19, Number
In this issue:
Over the past week I have seen close to half a dozen news headlines of school teachers being charged with and/or convicted of illegal sexual conduct with minor students. (In addition to their illegality, their immorality is obvious.) These sinful violations remind us of the trust we put in those who hold positions of authority in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones. Whether it is a school teacher, an employer, a government official, a doctor, an elder, a gospel preacher, etc. – trust and honor must characterize those who hold positions of power and influence.
Paul told Timothy, “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Tim. 5:1–2). He was to treat the opposite sex with honor and all purity. Practically speaking, for the person in a position of authority, this includes protecting one’s personal integrity and influence, as well as guarding the integrity of others. For example, an elder or a gospel preacher (and for that matter, any married man) should never have a private meeting between himself and a woman who is not his wife. Such occasions are full of potential problems. Vice-President Pence has the right policy: He never has business dinners alone with a woman who is not his wife. Too many men and women have fallen into sin by trusting in themselves instead of recognizing the strength of temptation and the weakness of the flesh (1 Cor. 10:12; Matt. 26:41; 1 Pet. 5:8). The Lord’s way of escape from temptation includes avoiding temptations in the first place (1 Cor. 10:13).
People in positions of authority bear added responsibility in such matters, and they will be held accountable (Lk. 12:48). Therefore, provide honorable things that are above reproach (2 Cor. 8:21). Let it also be said that no one should take advantage of the good-intentioned person, whose name and influence can be greatly damaged by unfounded accusations of impropriety.
Guard your good reputation; it is very valuable, and the only one you have (Prov. 22:1). The devil is looking for opportunities to expose you to temptation and sin’s destruction. We dare not be ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11).
I would venture to say that most people, in response to the title, would respond, “Yes I do love God!” It seems that the majority of people do claim to love God, yet their actions and conduct appear to be so far from Him. How can this be? If one feels as though they love God, isn’t that enough? “After all, because I love God, He loves me too, and wants me to be happy,” is the false logic of some. Let us examine what the Scriptures have to say about loving God.
The world can easily take a verse like Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might,” and simply believe that as long as they claim love for God, they can justify anything that pleases them. We can understand through other Scriptures however that this is not true. We must then define what it means to “love the Lord”, because it is not just a claim that can be made where our actions are in disagreement with the words we utter, nor is it a gushy feeling one has within themselves.
In answering the question of what does it truly mean to love God, this is best answered in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” From these 7 words from Christ, we can establish many principles. First, loving God is demonstrated by our keeping of His commandments. We demonstrate our love toward God through our obedience to His word. The world does not hold this as truth. Rather, it claims as long as you love God (meaning as long as you love the idea of loving God), you are good in His eyes. This is not what John 14:15 teaches. It does teach that our love toward God is represented in our actions, our conduct, our speech, and our obedience to His commandments. John 14 continues to say, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me…” (Jn. 14:21) It cannot be said any simpler way; if we love God we will keep His commandments.
“But Tanner, I don’t follow all of God’s commandments, but I do love Him, I know it! God knows it too, and that’s all that matters.” To the one who says this or something like it, I reply with this: “Brother or sister, you may love the idea of loving God. You may love the feelings you have by claiming to love God, but unless you do the will of the Father by keeping His commandments, I can say confidently that you do not love God.” That is not the opinion of Tanner, who is fallible. That is the teaching of His Word which is infallible and never wrong (1 Jno 5:3; Jno 14:23).
Do not let the world deceive you. Loving God is not simply a feeling that one has. Loving the Lord is about following His commandments (Jno. 14:15). So this begs the question do you truly love God? Or, do you love the idea of loving God? These are two totally separate questions. Consider the Lord’s Word, and follow His Will, so that you may confidently say “I love God”. Then, your love will be in harmony with how He tells you to love Him.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 16:10-11
1. Despise means to treat with contempt,
to make of no account, to look down on, to reject as nothing, cf. Gal. 4:14.
I. LET NO ONE DESPISE GOD’S WORKER (TIMOTHY), 1 Cor. 16:10-11.
He does the Work of the Lord (like the apostle), 16:11.
II. LET NO ONE DESPISE YOUR YOUTH, 1 Tim. 4:12.
Conduct Will Either Produce or Prevent being Despised. 2 Chron. 13:7
III. LET NO ONE DESPISE YOU FOR SPEAKING GOD’S TRUTH, Titus 2:15
Exhort and Rebuke with All Authority, 2:1; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Tim. 6:3-4.
Do not despise God’s workers, faithful young people, and those who faithfully teach and preach the truth.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 6:11-12
1.We are all fighting in a war (spiritually). Are you a soldier for Christ? Or Satan?
2. Remember 3 A’s: Adversary, Armor, and Aim
I. LESSONS FROM EPHESIANS 6:10-13
A. We can
only stand strong in the Lord’s power, Eph. 6:10
II. GOD’S ARMOR, EPHESIANS 6:14-18
your waist with truth” vs. 14
on the breastplate of righteousness” vs.14
your feet…gospel of peace” vs. 15
“..taking the shield of faith” vs. 16
the helmet of salvation” vs. 17
sword of the spirit” vs. 17
“..praying always” vs. 18
III. WHY IS THIS ARMOR NECESSARY?
A. “..To stand
against the wiles of devil” vs. 11
When Persecution Comes
Russia’s Supreme Court upheld a nationwide ban against the Jehovah’s Witnesses this week, allowing “Russia to liquidate the 395 Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations and seize their property” (“Russian Supreme Court upholds ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses,” AP, RNS). Last July, “Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a stringent anti-terrorism law that severely limited outreach by any religions, save for the Russian Orthodox Church” (“Mormonism’s Russia dilemma: How to grow a fledgling faith with missionaries who can’t do missionary work,” Peggy Fletcher Hatch, The Salt Lake Tribune, July 16, 2017). “Built on a fear of foreigners, the Yarovaya Law, as it is known, forbids ‘preaching, praying, disseminating religious materials, and even answering questions about religion outside of officially designated sites,’ according to a 2017 report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The clampdown ‘effectively criminalized all private religious speech not sanctioned by the state,’ the report says.” (Ibid)
The Mormons started calling their missionaries “members and volunteers” in order to “carefully heed the government’s decree.” A spokesman said, “While we don’t always agree with the restrictions or regulations placed on our volunteers and missionaries, we always abide by those rules and teach our volunteers and missionaries to do so as well.” (Ibid)
What should Christians do in Russia (and elsewhere) when laws make it a crime to practice our faith? We must remain faithful to Jesus (Rev. 2:10). When we are “in the midst of wolves,” we should be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). Take safety precautions, for sure. When verbiage can be adapted that does not violate Scriptures, fine. But, the gospel does not allow Christians to modify the faith or personal faith in order to satisfy our persecutors, thereby securing our safety (Matt. 5:10-12). 1 Peter 3:13-17 says we must sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, to give an answer when asked about our hope, accepting suffering “for righteousness’ sake” and for “doing good.” To do this would violate the Yarovaya Law. But, we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Let us pray for Christians in these harsh situations of persecution around the world (2 Thess. 3:1-2). We must be ready to suffer, too.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/25/2017
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA