And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 19, Number
In this issue:
Vine’s: “labor, toil, denotes evil that causes labor, pain, sorrow, malignant evil.”
Thayer’s: “1. Full of labors, annoyances, hardships… 2. Bad, of a bad nature or condition… b. in an ethical sense, evil, wicked, bad.”
Wherever there is evil, there is pain and sorrow. Though the one perpetrating the wickedness may be rejoicing, others are not. And, truth be told, the sinner is often in the quiet and isolated times filled with pain. It makes sense then that we strive to avoid evil. Evil ultimately is the work of the devil. He is described in the Bible as the “wicked one,” poneros (Matt. 13:19). He is the one that tempted the first couple and continues to do so today. Satan’s goal is to bring hardship, pain, and sorrow on God’s creation, namely man.
The way the devil gets to us is through the heart (Heb. 3:12). It is out of the heart that wickedness comes, “murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:19). It is manifest in three basic ways; thoughts (Matt. 9:4), words (Matt. 5:11), deeds (Jn. 3:19). When any of these is in our life, we are condemned before God. What makes something evil? Take the example of Israel offering insufficient sacrifices to God. In Malachi 1:8, God told the people their sacrifices were “evil” because they did not offer what He commanded. They were the right people, doing the right thing, at the right place, and at the right time. The only thing that differed, as far as noted in the account, was they did not offer the right type of animals. The people departed from God’s word. That’s what made their actions evil.
When our thoughts, words, or deeds transgress the Gospel of Christ, they are evil. This can be so even though we think we are doing something acceptable. Jesus told the parable of the talents of money to give us an idea about the judgment (Matt. 25:14-30). The one-talent servant explained his action of burying the talent in terms of faithfully serving his master (Matt. 25:24, 25). His master had another view of it. He said, “You wicked (poneros) and lazy servant…” (Matt. 25:26). This servant was cast “into outer darkness.” Our thoughts, words, and deeds need to adhere to the law of Christ lest we be cast into outer darkness.
God commands us to “abhor evil” (Rom. 12:9). We should not find pleasure in it, laugh at it or with it, condone it, embrace it, or get comfortable with it. Wickedness ought to disgust us. God has given us the ability to combat evil; His armor (Eph. 6:10-18). When we put it on, we can withstand the “evil day” and “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Eph. 6:13, 16). As we utilize the armor given by God, including His word, we will gain strength to resist sin and develop an attitude of abhorrence toward it.
Many people can understand and appreciate the value and necessity of authority that is found in the world. For example, they can see the need for authority in our nation, in schools, or even businesses. Without such authority, we would have total chaos and disorder, this is easy to understand. But when it comes to understanding the need for Bible authority, things begin to waver and become unclear. Let us examine a few aspects of biblical authority, the need for it, where it comes from, and how to apply it.
First, in defining our word, authority, it means that one has jurisdiction, legal right or power over something or someone. In establishing authority in a biblical sense, we must first recognize where authority comes from. Because Jesus says workers of iniquity will be rejected, and iniquity is lawlessness, or acting without authority, we can conclude that everyone, including Christians, need authority (Matt. 7:21-23). This necessary authority can only come from two locations: From God, or from man. From careful study of the Scriptures, we can clearly identify where our Biblical authority must come from. That is God! Christ has been given all authority in heaven and earth, as Matthew 28:18 records. The authority that Christ possesses has been given by God, 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22. Jesus is the sole source of authority! He, and He alone is God’s spokesman, Matthew 17:1-5; Hebrews 1:1-2. Additionally, all things must be done in Christ’s name or by His authority, Colossians 3:17; Acts 4:7. Any deviation from this divine authority, by either adding to or taking away from it, is not according to the Scriptures, and is not pleasing to God.
We have established that biblical authority is necessary, and its source is from God. The truth about applying Bible authority is this: Most all issues today that the church faces today relates to an improper application of Bible authority or a lack of it totally. In many cases, these issues are due to going beyond what God has commanded. For example, the work of the local church is not hosting food banks, or providing church sponsored social, or recreational events as some believe to be true. “Tanner, these are good and beneficial programs. God cannot be disappointed!” Brother or sister, while your intent might be with a good heart, and while it may be a very helpful program, it is not Scriptural. Jesus has spoken through His word, which is the New Testament. Thus, Christians follow the New Testament, and it alone. Do not add to what the Scriptures say; the result of such foolishness will bring forth punishment (Rev. 22:18).
If we do not apply Bible authority into our worship and in our lives as we have been commanded, there is no end to the foolishness that will come. It is a truly slippery slope when we start to misuse Bible authority; because we have taken God’s authority, and made it into man’s. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that adding to what God has authorized will be acceptable to Him. He has been clear about His instruction, and it is up to you if you want to be obedient to Him.
Are you going to follow man’s authority, which will lead to ultimate destruction (Matt. 7:21-23)? Or will you follow God’s authority, which will lead to ultimate paradise (Rev. 14:12-13; 22:14).
“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:9–11, NASB95)
Fathers desire to fulfill the requests of their children. Indeed, fathers bear a particular responsibility to provide for their own house, and failure to do so is a grievous sin (1 Tim. 5:8). If earthly fathers give good things to their children when they ask, how much more does our heavenly Father do so. Jesus reasons from the lesser to the greater to impress upon us a fundamental truth: Our heavenly Father gives us the “good things” we need when we ask of Him. God hears and answers the prayers of His children, and He does so in ways that are best for us. God not only supplies our daily bread, He also supplies us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, which sustain our spiritual life. In the parallel passage of Luke 11:13, Jesus identifies the “good things” given by the Father as the “Holy Spirit” (whose presence confirmed the kingdom had come, Lk. 11:20; Matt. 12:28). God answers our prayers in harmony with His purposes and for our spiritual good. This is our faith as we pray to our heavenly Father.
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“An action is dependent on something (Profitable/ Pleasant). Think of
golfing in the sun vs. golfing in bad weather.
I. THE FAIR-WEATHER CHRISTIAN:
A. Waits for
opportune times; Not found in Heb. 10:25; 2 Peter 3:18; Mark 16:15-16
II. THE FOUL-WEATHER CHRISTIAN:
A. Are not at
God’s service, He is at theirs
III. THE ALL-WEATHER CHRISTIAN:
Will not be shaken in the storm, 2 Pet. 3:14-18
Calming the Chaos
Cries of “Chaos!” have echoed throughout Washington D.C. recently, as politicians and pundits give their commentary on the West Wing of the White House. A new Chief of Staff, some say, will calm the waters. Time will tell.
As the storm raged on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples of Jesus feared for their lives. Jesus, on the other hand, was asleep in the stern of the boat (Mk. 4:37-38). Fearfully awakening Him, they wondered aloud whether He even cared that they were about to perish. Jesus wondered why they had so little faith (Mk. 4:38-40; Matt. 8:25-26). With the words, “Peace, be still,” He who created the wind and the sea, quieted them both. Calm replaced chaos, and faith was strengthened (Mk. 4:41).
Although God grants us life every day, we are tempted during moments of crisis and chaos to think He does not care, that He does not see, that He has forgotten us. In our calmer, quieter moments, we know He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Yet, it is in the very moment of chaos that our faith is challenged to remain steadfastly assured that the Lord is our Helper who never abandons us (Heb. 13:6). The hour of trial is not the moment for our faith to waver, falter, and fail. It is the very moment our faith overcomes the world – by remaining faithful to Him (1 Jno. 5:4; 2 Tim. 2:13).
Solomon said, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Prov. 24:10). We dare not rely on our wisdom and power when facing life’s chaotic challenges. We will put our trust in the Lord, and remain faithful to Him. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth” (Psa. 121:1-2). Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39). When tribulation comes, be of good cheer; Christ has overcome the world (Jno. 16:33). Keep faith in the One who calms the chaos.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 08/06/2017
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA