Speaking where the bible speaks, and silent where the bible is silent.

Seek and Save The Lost

Did Jesus receive and eat with sinners? The charge was made when he attended a feast at the house of the publican Matthew (Matt. 9:9-12 f; Mark 2:16-17). Some charged that he was a “friend of publicans and sinners” at the same time they said he was a winebibber and glutton (Matt. 11:19). When he went into the home of Zacchaeus, his enemies charged, “That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner” (Luke 19:7).

The occasion for the three parables in Luke 15 was this: “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receives sinners, and eats with them” (Luke 15:1-2). In response to this charge, Jesus gave the three parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (the prodigal son) to show how the loving God searches for and seeks the ones who are lost.

The Conduct of the Pharisees

Why were the Pharisees upset by Jesus’ association with sinners? What were they charging him with when they criticized him? To answer this, one must know how the Pharisees treated sinners. The Pharisees were the “separated ones” because they refused to associate with sinners.

We get a glimpse of how they treated sinners from several examples in the Gospels. When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, she was astounded and said, “How is it that you, being a Jew, asks drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (Jn 4:9).

When Jesus went into the house of Simon the Pharisee, an immoral woman washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and put ointment on them. Simon thought, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that touches him: for she is a sinner” (Lk 7:39). Again, we see how the Jews treated sinners.

A Sinful Separation From Sinners

There is a sinful kind of separation from sinners of which the Pharisees were guilty and which saints must avoid. There is a separation from sinners born of self-righteousness, contempt for others, and condescension. This is what the Pharisees had. We must guard our hearts from feeling a similar superiority to the lost. Sometimes a person feels morally superior to others, as if he is what he is through human achievement through works. The temptation to be self-righteous and show contempt for others may occur when one sees a homosexual suffering from AIDS, an alcoholic, a homeless person, or other socially contemptible sinners. We should have the same mind as Paul when he said, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

A Sinful Association With Sinners

There is a sinful kind of association with sinners. The Scriptures command a certain kind of separation in such passages as the following:

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33).

“My son, if sinners entice thee, consent you not. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path” (Prov. 1:10-15).

“Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Prov. 4:14-15).

“Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:14-17).

Whenever a man associates with sinners in such a way as to (a) participate with them in that which is sinful or (b) condone their sinful activity, he has been guilty of sin! Jesus never was guilty of doing either of these.

The Charge Against Jesus

When the Pharisees charged Jesus with associating with publicans and sinners, they were charging him with having fellowship with sin and sinners. We have an adage that says, “Birds of a feather flock together.” This is basically the Pharisees’ charge against Jesus. The Pharisees charged that Jesus associated with publicans and sinners because he was a sinner.

Why Jesus Associated With Sinners

Jesus associated with sinners for the express purpose of saving their souls. He compared his association with sinners to that of a physician associating with the sick saying, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mk 2:17). Again he said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk 19:10).

What Jesus Did

Jesus ate with sinners. When he was invited into their homes as a guest, he went for the express purpose of trying to save their souls. I wonder how we would view Jesus’ actions today.

If one of our faithful members went to a restaurant with one who had a vile reputation, would we think of him like the Pharisees thought of Jesus? If one invited one with a vile reputation into his home or went to their home would someone criticize him or worry that he may be “slipping” because some of his best friends were non-Christians?

Conclusion: We must have enough association with sinners to reach them with the gospel. If we withdraw ourselves from all contact with sinners, we can never save their souls. The monks and nuns have withdrawn their association from sinners to such an extent that they dwell in a convent. We may have acted in a similar way by our lack of association with the lost. How can we ever convert someone with whom we do not associate? Just as Jesus and his apostles did, so must we: “Seek and save that which was lost”!

Good and Pleasant Unity

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” (Ps 133:1). How pleasant to witness children playing together in concord. How enjoyable an harmonious family reunion.

Unity in the kingdom of God is not only good and pleasant, it is commanded. Jesus prayed (Jn 17:20-21) that all disciples be “one”. Paul commanded by the authority of Jesus Christ that “. . . you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you . . .” (1 Cor. 1:10).

Brethren should not fight among themselves. “But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another” (Gal 5:15). Strife and divisions are manifestations of carnality. (1 Cor. 3:3).

When one opposes another, imaginary charges will be raised. The emotion of hatred ignites. Unkind words are spoken. Friendships that have developed over decades are broken.

Our thoughts ought not to be set against one another, but set with one another in the fight against evil. Let us be gathered to gather in the Lord’s one and only church. Let us all be guided by the same Spirit of truth. One hope calls them. One Lord is their Savior. One faith and one baptism saves them. One God is their Father (Eph 4:3-6). This is how unity of the Spirit is achieved.

Let the church be united together as one to attack Satan. People today are hungering for the absolute truth. We can only obtain that truth by reading, studying, learning, teaching and preaching of the oracles of God (1 Tim 4:13 ff; 2 Tim 2:15; Heb 5:12-14; 2 Tim 4:2-5). Let us not be torn apart by the commandments and doctrines of men which turn us against the truth (Tit 1:14). Let us not be turned to denominationalism by using their commentaries, their lexicons, and their rationale. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col 2:8). We can only speak the same things when we gather our knowledge from the same source. Let that source be God’s Holy Word only (1 Pet 4:11). Let us not go beyond what the Word of God says (1 Cor 4:6). Let us not add to it or subtract from it (Gal 1:6-9 f; Rev 22:18,19). Let us prove all things by the Word of God (1 Thess 5:21). Let us be set for the defense of the gospel (Philip 1:15-18).  Let us contend for the faith (Jude 3). Let us put on the whole armor of God that we be not consumed by the evil of this present world (Eph 6:11-18) Let us unite together as the army of God for the conversion of the world to Christ (2 Tim 2:3,4).

Then, and only then can we truly say what the psalmist David said so many years ago: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

Must A Man Sin?

Does man have to sin? The discussion comes about when one looks at the temptation of Jesus. It is reasoned that Jesus was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). A reading of the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11 will show that he was tempted through the same three avenues as we arc today: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 Jn. 2:16). Jesus did not give in to the temptations of the devil. He called the Scripture to His defense as he said, “It is written.” He resisted the devil and the devil fled from him (Jam. 4:7-8). There was nothing miraculous about Jesus not sinning on this occasion. He just did not give into the Devil’s temptations.

What about us? Do we have to sin? The answer is no. We don’t have to sin. We can resist the Devil (Jam. 4:7-8), just as Jesus did. There is a way of escape. “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Often we are not willing to take the way of escape!

It is not a question of “Must we sin?” but “Do we sin?” How do we answer this question?

All Have Sinned

Every person who reaches the age of accountability before God is said to be a sinner. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Sin comes about when one commits sin and transgresses the law of God (1 Jn. 3:4).

Sin Has Pleasure

Moses chose rather “to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25). Man likes sins and the evil things a person wants becomes the problem. James said, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away from his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death” (Jam. 1:14-15).

Sinners By Choice

The Devil doesn’t make us sin. We are free moral agents and can obey God or disobey God. It’s our choice. We are not born a sinner but become sinners by disobeying the commandments of God  (1 Jn. 3:4; 5:17).  Who is there among us that would say, “I have never sinned” or “I cannot sin”? John said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us . . . If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8-10).

The people of God have a tendency to become dissatisfied with God’s ways and to desire the ways of men. The Old Testament supplies us with example after example where this is true. At the time of Samuel, when Jehovah was still considered king of Israel, the people clamored to the prophet, “Make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5). This displeased Samuel, but God consoled him, “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected me” (v. 7).

This desire to be “like all the nations” indicated (1) a lack of faith in God, (2) a greater faith in man’s ways, and (3) a certain feeling of shame and inferiority compared to their neighbors. There are times when I see God’s people manifest this same attitude. When we desire to be “just like all the denominations” around us, and to compromise or change what is revealed in God’s word, we are making the same mistake Israel did in clamoring for a king! Let us look carefully at some of these things.

An Expensive Church Building

Many think that this is the answer to converting masses of people to Christ. They see their religious neighbors building huge and expensive edifices and attracting large crowds, so they want to do the same. These same masses of people are converted to the beautiful pile, and not to Christ! When around them, all I hear them talking about is “the beautiful church we have.” Not a word about Christ! We need to be reminded that God “dwells not in temples made with hands; neither is he served by men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself gives to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:24). We need to be content with the modest buildings we meet in, and continue to persuade men to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.

Watered-Down Preaching In some churches of Christ today the preaching is so diluted that you can not tell it apart from the preaching of the denominations. In other places, brethren are afraid to bring their friends and relatives to the assembly for fear the preacher will mention a denomination by name and embarrass them. Others are of the persuasion that if the preacher would just preach on “love” and “going to heaven,” we would increase our members like “other churches.” Paul failed not to declare the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), and shrank not from declaring . . . anything that was profitable” (v. 20). He encouraged Timothy and Titus to preach and teach the “sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:10 f; Tit. 2:1). He warned, “The time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away from the truth, and turn aside unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

The Social Gospel

Included in this desire to “be like all the nations” is the heavy emphasis on socializing. The thought here is that if the church will provide more activities for its people, then those people will be converted and be more faithful. The preaching that takes place is ladened with “social reform” and “self development through a Positive Mental Attitude.” There is nothing wrong with these ideas in their place. What I object to is the deemphasizing of the blood-bought redemption of Christ, and the one church through which salvation comes, (because this kind of preaching “offends folks and you can’t build a church that way”), replacing them with sermonettes full of cute little stories that “everyone loves to hear.” Friends, the only thing that will save people’s souls from hell is the plain, unadulterated teaching of Jesus Christ! Jesus said, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man also shall be ashamed of him, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mk. 8:38). Paul professed, “I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes” (Rom. 1:16). Pray that the preacher will preach the word of God boldly!

Larger Is Better Attitude

Some denominational churches are determined to be the “largest church in town.” You can see this attitude displayed in everything they do. Churches are resorting to gymnasiums, banquet halls, swimming pools, bowling alleys, and fellowship halls to attract enough people so they can qualify as “number one.” Why, they even “bribe” the kids with candy, gum and other prizes to get them to come and be part of the great number. This is something we may expect from the denominational world; after all, if men establish their own churches, they ought to be able to run them any way they want to. But, when brethren get caught up in these sinful measures, it is truly a shame! It is nothing but pride in the worst meaning that motivates them. The Bible teaches, “By pride comes only contention, but with the well-advised is wisdom” (Prov. 13:10). Contention has come among God’s people because there are many who are steeped with pride, and who desire to be “like all the nations.” They insist, above the cries of conscientious brethren, on having their evil ways. Being “number one” is more important than “being one” with the brethren.

God has chosen the true believers in Christ to be “a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Pet. 2:9). This means that God has separated us from the rest of the “nations” (churches), and He expects us to follow His prescribed way in everything we do (2 Jn. 9-11). His ways are not man’s ways, and we are not free to deviate from God’s Word (Gal. 1:8-9). Would any faithful Christian dare to suggest that we should “be just like the denominational churches”? God forbid!

Spiritual Suicide

Every Christian should recognize the “undeniable truth” that he or she can commit spiritual suicide even after being “born again of water and of the Spirit” (Jn 3:3-7). In 2 Pet. 2:1-3 Jesus declared that “many Christians would deny the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” And through their false teaching and damnable heresies they would lead many down their own pernicious pathway. The Truth would be blasphemed because of their despicable conduct. Jesus declared also in (v.3) that “their damnation slumbers not.” Below are listed from God’s word many ways by which Christians can bring damnation upon themselves.

Self-Willed

This is the seed from which all apostasy blossoms and has its beginning. According to 2 Pet. 2:10-13 the Christian who is “his own ruler” is utterly going to perish in his own corruption (v.12). And he will receive the “wages of unrighteousness” (v.13). In 1 John 3:8 inspiration says that “Christ was manifested that he might destroy the works of the Devil”! Jesus knew that in order to accomplish this great feat he could not be self-willed! But Jesus himself said in John 6:38, “I am come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who hath sent me”! And in Matt. 26:39-42 when his death on the cross was imminent, he prayed “not my will, but your will be done.” If Jesus had been “self-willed” not only would he have perished in his own corruption, but the hope of all man-kind would have been annihilated. Jesus knew that “he should always be about his Father’s business” (Lk 2:49). In like manner of Christ (Phil. 2:5) every Christian should decide that he is going to have a “one track mind” (Phil. 3:13-16). “Let us press on toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. The Christian who does not do this is pushing the self-destruct button of his own soul.

Self-Defiled

In 2 Cor. 7:1 Christ admonishes every Christian to “perfect holiness in the fear of God”. By doing so he will be cleansing himself from all defilement of the “flesh and spirit”. Every Christian should realize that the very deeds and actions of his life is determined by the mental nourishment of his mind (Matt. 15:17-19). The Christian can have the ability to “quench all of the fiery darts of the Evil one” only if he is “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might” (Eph. 6:10-16). The way to cease “defilement of the flesh” is to prevent “defilement of the mind”. To this intent by inspiration the apostle Paul stated (Phil. 4:8), “Whatsoever is honest, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” The Christian who refrains from doing this is “sealing his own doom.! Again Christ exhorts every Christian to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). In order that a Christian not “defile himself” Jesus has given us many passages which warn us of specific sins which will defile us (Gal. 5:19-21 ff; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Rom. 1:28-32, Col. 3:5-10; 2 Tim. 3:1-4). We do not have to “guess or wonder” whether it is all right with God to do these things. If every Christian will “busy himself” in the work of God doing these things he will present the Devil an awful hard target to hit with his temptations. The idle Christian “buries himself” under the will of the Devil by his lack of interest and work for Christ. Every child of God should study God’s word so that he is able to determine and discern between good and evil (Heb. 5:12-14), so that he will not “defile himself”!

Self-Deceived

Untold numbers of Christians are deceiving themselves into believing that “they are going to heaven” when in reality they are “living in malice and envy” Some Christians literally are hateful unto others who in the past have done them some injustice. In Tit. 3:3-5 Jesus declared that the one who through malice and envy is living his life being hateful toward his fellow man is “foolish, disobedient, and deceived”. The Christian who just cannot “forgive or forget” the shabby way some one treated him, is committing spiritual “suicide” with his soul being the victim of the crash. He is adding his own name to the “Devil’s fatality list”. Notice these heart-pricking words of Jesus in (Eph. 4:31-32). If, by carrying this grudge and chip on his shoulder he allows it to “defile the temple of God” (1 Cor. 3:16-18) he can rest assured that God will destroy him (v.17). How many Christians are squeezing the “life” out of their own soul through this kind of self-deception? Rather than continuing being our own spiritual assassin, let us recall the words of our Lord and repent and put away all malice and “deceit” (Matt. 6:14-15).

Self-Exalted

In Matt. 23:12 Jesus warns against this deadly sin. His message was directed toward to the scribes and Pharisees who barked orders and yelled corrections, but would not lift their finger to “work themselves” for the glory of God (Matt. 23:4). Many Christians have decided that they were too good to be a “common laborer” in the vineyard of the Lord. They have self-exalted their status from a “humble working servant” (Matt. 21:28-30) to sitting in the “chief’s seat” (Matt. 23:5-6). Jesus himself declares in (1 Cor. 3:9) that “every member of God’s family is expected to work” and there are no “chiefs” in the Kingdom of God but Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18). All Christians are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath ordained before the foundations of the world that we should walk in them.” God only exalts “workers not shirkers!

Self-Justified

A Christian who attempts to “justify his actions of laziness, or indifference” and is not honest enough to “own up to his errors” is surely “killing his own soul” (1 Jn 1:7-9). The lawyer in Luke 10:29, being guilty of neglecting compassion to his fellow men, was “willing to justify himself”. He knew what the term “neighbor” meant but he was not willing to love his neighbor as himself (Lk 10:25-27). No man is able to boast of his accomplishments in the service of God, neither can any Christian rightfully justify not serving God with a fervent spirit (Lk 17:10). In Luke 14:18-21 Jesus manifests the anger which God has for the many excuses which men give him trying to justify their lack of love towards God and his great cause. Jesus did not “buy them on this occasion” and the judgment day holds the same verdict. Man may be able to “justify himself before men” (Luke 16:15) and men may buy the alibi of a Christian who misses the assembly of fellow Christians, but God does not. Every word that Christians utter in this life to “justify themselves” they shall eat to their own self-dissatisfaction throughout all eternity. The only way to destroy this evil from devouring your soul, is to be “obedient unto every good work” (Tit. 1:15-16 f; Gal. 5:6) because you love God. Remember, neither your “business associations, your family ties, your community relations or your past time recreations” deserve God’s rightful place in “your life” (Matt. 6:33 cf; 10:37). These make poor-justifiers and you rob God of his deserved glory.

Self-Pierced

In 1 Tim. 6:9-10 Jesus informs Christians, especially preachers and teachers of the Word, that they should be cautious regarding their earthly treasures! He said that many Christians would “pierce themselves through with many sorrows” as they erred from the faith through covetousness. The Christian who “consumes his worldly goods upon himself and his family” (Jam. 4:13) and selfishly ignores “giving unto God” as God has prospered him (1 Cor. 16:1-2) is guilty of self-condemnation religion!

Self-Indulgence

Many Christians have not learned that they should “buffet their bodies daily” bringing them under subjection to God’s will (1 Cor. 9:27). They live like the “Nicolaitans” (Rev. 2:6) believing that the “more they indulge the lusts of their own flesh” the closer they come unto salvation. Jesus points to the “spiritual consequences” of this ungodly life in Col. 2:18-23: In 1 Pet. 2:11 God commands all Christians to “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul”. In spite of these very plain warnings and admonitions some Christians “invite their own soul into hell” by allowing the flesh to triumph over their spirit (Rev. 3:20-21). 1 Cor. 6:9-11 is “proof positive” that every child of God can break the bonds of “self-indulgence” if he wants to. Not alone of course but with the help of God he can resist the Devil (Jam. 4:6-10). The sinful-pleasures of self-indulgence (Heb. 11:24-26) are only for a fleeting moment but afterwards the horrible realities of an eternity in hell shock our imaginations (Mark 9:43-48). Give up the “lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life”. These things are not of the Father but of the world (1 Jn 2:15-17), and God has said that the world in “condemned” (1 Cor. 11:32)! Do not indulge yourself all the way to your own eternal death and receive the wages of sin (Rom. 6:23). “Be not deceived”! “Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor any unclean person who is an idolater, shall have any part (inheritance) in the Kingdom of God and Christ our Lord” (Eph. 5:5). This kind of self-damnation is widespread but curable by God.

Self-Sufficient

All Christians must realize, as did Paul in 2 Cor. 3:5, that they are not able to guide themselves without God’s word. The results of trying to do so are disastrous to man’s soul (Rom. 10:1-3) Self-righteousness results when we attempt to serve God without “God’s authority” in all matters! No man is able to deliver himself from temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). No Christian is good enough to “be the judge of others” (Matt. 7:1-2 f; Jam. 4:12). Jesus told his disciples in John 15:5 that “without him” They were nothing. This is true of us all!

Conclusion: Let every Christian realize that in order to follow Jesus, he must “deny himself” daily. Let us never murmur or complain while sacrificing unto God or let “self” obstruct our way to heaven (Phil. 2:12-13). Let “self” be comforted only as I like “beloved Epaphroditus” regard not my life as anything but an instrument by which I glorify God and influence others to also (Phil. 2:25-30). And I said unto “myself” as I wrote this, “You that teach another, teach not yourself” (Rom 2:21)? Forsake your own opinion and the opinions of men and let God’s Word be true (Rom 3:4). After all, only God’s Word counts in the end (Jn 12:48 f; Rom 2:16).

Our Lord was an exceptionally practical man. He encountered diverse and complex situations. He faced complicated questions. He met both with practical actions and answers.

When the disciples quarreled over who should be the greatest in the kingdom, Jesus “took a child, and set him in the midst of them” (Mk. 9:36). There was no confusing philosophy, no theoretical discourse. He did not demean the disciples and describe his greatness and power, which he surely could have done. He did not say, “I will be King of kings, and you will be lowly servants, if you are lucky.” No, he rather taught them the true character of citizenship in the heavenly kingdom (Lk. 22:27 f; Matt. 18:1-5; 20:20-28). Plain, practical and to the point; that was the method of the Master.

When the scribes and Pharisees questioned his association “with publicans and sinners” (Lk. 5:30), Jesus compared his work to that of a physician. A doctor goes among the sick, not because he is sick, but in order to heal. Likewise, he went among sinners, not because he was a sinner, as they implied, but in order to save them. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Clear, concise, practical-, that was Jesus the Christ.

When the disciples of Jesus were challenged about their failure to fast, the silent charge was that they were not as devout as the disciples of John and of the Pharisees who did fast. This neglect of human tradition made Jesus’ disciples appear apathetic toward Divine truth and piety. Jesus did not cite another attribute of his disciples to make them seem more spiritual. Rather, he made a specific comparison. Bridal parties do not fast while the groom is present; no, they rejoice! However, when the groom leaves, then they fast (Mk. 2:18-20). Fasting as a formality has no inherent value. It may even diminish one’s ability to appreciate the fellowship of Deity. Precise and practical judgment; that was our Lord’s manner.

The gospel accounts of the Savior’s life are filled with evidence and examples of the most practical man who ever lived. Thus, Jesus gave us a practical gospel and a practical doctrine to save mankind. Obey it and live or disobey it and die. One practical choice for all to make (Josh 24:15).

God’s laws have always been of “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not.” As God laid down His first set of rules for man to abide by, He said what to do and what not to do. Notice as instructions were given to the first man: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good, and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:15-17).

The teachings found in the Law of Moses were both positive and negative in nature (Ex. 20). God told Israel that “if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command you this day, that the Lord your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth” (Deut. 28:1). But look at the negative side. “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee” (Deut. 28:15). God simply said, if you do what I say, I will bless you, but if you fail to do what I say, I will curse you.

The Truth

There is nothing as important as truth. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32). The truth has been identified as “your Word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). If men are to be made free from their sins, they must know the truth so they can believe and obey it. Truth must be preached in such a way that those who hear will not have any difficulty in understanding what is required of them in order to please God. There is a great demand for the Lord’s people to take a stand for the truth on every subject. It must be as the apostle Paul wrote the Ephesians, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that he may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph. 6:13-14). There are just entirely too many in the church of Christ who don’t have the courage to take a stand for what they really believe to be right and this is a shame.

What It Means To Stand For The Truth

There is more involved in standing for the truth than many realize. Standing for the truth not only involves preaching the truth on every subject but standing for the truth also demands that there be preaching against things which are sinful in the sight of God! It is one thing not to partake of things which are evil and another thing to reprove them. Paul told the Ephesians, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). So standing for the truth means to stand for what the Bible teaches and stand against sinful things. One reason a lot of churches are weak today is that they never hear anything condemned.

The Charge To Reprove And Rebuke

The need for negative preaching can be seen in Paul’s charge to gospel preachers as he wrote Timothy. “I charge you therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:1-2). Preaching the word involves some reproving and rebuking. The tendency today is to preach only the things that people like to hear. If we are not careful, we will be preaching like some people in the Old Testament wanted. They said, “speak unto us smooth things” (Isa. 30:10). One purpose for which God gave us the Scriptures is to reprove us. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

For And Against

Standing for the truth not only involves preaching what we must stand for but likewise what we must stand against. There are things which are sinful and must be preached against.

(1) We must stand against the wiles of the devil. It is written, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). It must be preached that giving in to the temptations of sin will cause one to be lost eternally. John wrote: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of the God abides for ever” (1 Jn. 2:15-17).

Worldliness is a threat to the purity of the church and must be preached against so that every generation fully understands what worldliness is all about. Every Christian must realize that if he is worldly, he will not be allowed to go to heaven!

(2) The works of the flesh will keep one out of heaven. How long has it been since you heard a sermon on the works of the flesh and what will happen to one who does such things? Paul gave a long list of sins which will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God. Please take your Bible and read and study these in detail.

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).

Since these sins will cause one not to inherit the kingdom of God, don’t you see that they must be condemned!

(3) The church must be kept pure. The New Testament presents the church as the body of Christ and is perfect in work, worship, and organization. However, man not being content with God’s scheme of things, has added to the work, worship, and organization of the church. Fun and frolic have been added to the work of the church; instrumental music to the worship, and sponsoring church arrangements to the organization. It is not enough to just preach what the work, worship, and organization must be, but people need to know that additions or subtractions to God’s will are sinful! To go beyond the word of God is sin (1 Cor 4:6). Paul also said, “For the wages of sin is death. . .” (Rom. 6:23).

(4) The unbeliever is condemned. It must be preached that “he that believes and is baptized shall be saved,” but please take note of the negative side of this passage. “But he that believes not shall be condemned” (Mk. 16:16).

Surely, one can easily see that positive preaching is good and we must do that, while at the same time, a failure to point out what’s wrong will keep a lot of people out of heaven.

Tag Cloud