Mental Illness and the church

Psalm 34:17-20 (ESV)When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

The Bible teaches that every human being is totally depraved. This doesn’t mean that every person is as absolutely wicked and evil as they could possibly be. That would be utter depravity. Total depravity simply means that sin has affected every facet of the being, including both the soul and the body. Total depravity means that nothing works as God originally intended. Our spiritual desires are affected and distorted by sin. Our intellect is distorted by and affected by sin. And, most importantly, our body has been affected and distorted by sin.

Why do we get colds, headaches, backaches, indigestion and infections? Why do you have migraines, heart problems,kidney stones and glaucoma? We experience these things because we inhabit bodies which have been marked and marred by sin. Paul spoke directly to this when he said: 2 Corinthians 4:16(ESV)16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Our outer self is wasting away. Our bodies don’t work correctly. They fall apart and fail us at the worst times. While we live in this fallen world, we live in bodies that are wasting away.

Paul wrote: Romans 8:22–23(ESV) 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Mental and spiritual matters seem more inseparable than physical and spiritual matters. The fine line between the soul and spirit is hard to navigate. Can our souls be saved, while our minds are “lost”? That doesn’t even make sense. We are whole beings. Yet, just as the Apostle Paul prayed for his tormenting illness to disappear, God offered grace instead of healing. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10(ESV)So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Along with the rest of creation, we eagerly await for the day when Christ will return and we will receive our new, redeemed, resurrection bodies.

Until the day Jesus returns, we will live in a body which does not function as God originally intended. Our brain, which is a key, central, integral part of our body, will not function correctly. Chemicals will become imbalanced. Serotonin will not be properly absorbed. Norepinephrine will be unevenly distributed. Synapses won’t fire correctly. The brain, just like every other part of the body, is prone to illness.

I would argue that if we truly believe in total depravity, then we must accept mental illness as a biblical category. If I believe that sin has affected every part of my body, including my brain, then it shouldn’t surprise me when my brain doesn’t work correctly. I’m not surprised when I get a cold; why should I be surprised if I experience mental illness? To say that depression, anxiety, bipolar, and every other disorder, are purely spiritual disorders is to ignore the fact that we are both body and soul.

Mental illness is not something invented by secular psychiatrists. Rather, it is part and parcel with living in fallen, sinful world.

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Treating mental illness as purely a spiritual disorder is very hurtful to those who struggle with mental illness because it points them to the wrong solution. People deal with chronic physical anxiety.They regularly experience a clutching sensation in their chest, shortness of breath, adrenaline surges, and a sick feeling in the pit of their stomach. On rare occasions, the anxiety is tied to something they are worried about, but 90% of the time the physical symptoms they experience aren’t at all connected to worry. Sometimes you may be working away on your computer, not thinking about anything, when a feeling of anxiety suddenly descends.

In those moments,people don’t need to be told not to worry. They don’t need to be told to exercise more faith in the promises of God. They don’t need to be told to snap out of it. What they need is encouragement to persevere. They need to be reminded that, even in the midst of suffering, Jesus is near. They need to be reminded that light and momentary afflictions are producing an eternal weight of glory. They need to be encouraged to press into Jesus.

And… They need to be connected to someone who can help them deal with the physical aspects of anxiety.
Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Here’s the unfortunate reality: even if their thinking is biblical, faith-filled, and God-honoring, the physical symptoms of anxiety probably won’t go away. Why? Because most of the time the problem is primarily physical. Something isn’t working correctly in the brain, which in turn causes people to experience the physical symptoms of anxiety.

When interacting with Christians who experience anxiety, depression, PTSD, or any other form of mental illness, we need to treat them as whole people. We need to treat people as both body and soul. Do they need to exercise faith in the wonderful promises of God? Sure. But they also need to deal with the physical aspects of mental illness as well. Doctors are a wonderful gift from God who can offer help to those who struggle with mental illness.

We need to place mental illness in the same category as every other form of illness. When a person experiences chronic migraines, they most certainly will be tempted to doubt the goodness of God. We can serve them by encouraging them that God is good, and that he cares for them. But we also can serve them by taking them to the best migraine specialists in the country.

If we’re going to effectively care for fellow Christians who struggle with mental illness, we need to recognize that mental illness is a real thing. We aren’t only souls. Rather, we are a complex composition of soul and body. Let’s make sure we address both the soul and the body.

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Finding Jesus is NOT the Cure for Depression.

God can heal physical and mental diseases. No doubt. Many physical illnesses are incurable. Mental illness is also incurable. While mental illness can be managed and treated, it never goes away.

For some reason, especially in the church, we often judge people who are mentally ill as making poor choices in their lives or somehow not fully trusting in God. It’s almost as if physical impairments can’t be helped, but mental impairments just require people to simply try harder. If trying hard cured mental illness, then mental illness would be cured, because I don’t ‘know of anyone who tries harder to fit in or just function than people who struggle with these diseases.

There are plenty of Christians who love Jesus with all of their hearts and have committed their entire lives to him, yet they are Schizophrenic, Bipolar, Clinically Depressed or smitten with another illness. There are also Christians who love Jesus, and they struggle with diabetes, heart disease, obesity and a number of other mostly preventable conditions which are actually within their control. Their deaths may not be imminent, but they certainly will come sooner than they should.

A 2008 Baylor University study found the following among church attendees with professionally diagnosed mental illness(es):

• 41% were told by someone at their church that they did not really have mental illness.

• 28% were told by someone at their church to stop taking psychiatric medication.

• 37% were told by someone at their church that their mental illness was the result of personal sin.

• 34% were told by someone at their church that their mental illness was the result of demonic involvement.

The Church is not yet willing to universally embrace what should already be common sense.

3 Myths the Church Perpetuates Mental Illness:

1 Myth: Depression is a choice. | Truth: Depression is not a choice. We need to stop talking about mental illness like it is a choice whether that language is explicit or implicit. In fact, Northwestern University has just developed the first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults. The test identifies depression by measuring the levels of nine RNA blood markers. Unfortunately, many Christians think that all depression is a consequence of sin and often they do not get the professional help they need.”

2 Myth: Faith means prayer is enough. | Truth: Faith and seeking medical help are not mutually exclusive. We seek medical help for physical ailments so why not mental ailments?

3 Myth: Taking medication is a sin. | Truth: Getting medical help is taking care of one’s self. Taking prescribed medication is not a sin. The Church does not shame cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy. Likewise, it should not shame people who get treatment for mental illness. Getting help is a wise decision for any sick person regardless of her belief system.

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Ephesians Pt23 Shield Of Faith

Ephesians 6:16(ESV)16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

Faith is not something we conjure up on our own, nor is it something we are born with, nor is faith a result of diligence in study or pursuit of the spiritual. Ephesians 2:8-9(ESV)8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. this makes it clear that faith is a gift from God, not because we deserve it, have earned it, or are worthy to have it. It is not from ourselves; it is from God. It is not obtained by our power or our free will. Faith is simply given to us by God, along with His grace and mercy, according to His holy plan and purpose, and because of that, He gets all the glory.

The Roman shield of the time was called a scutum. This type of shield was as large as a door and would cover the warrior entirely. Such a shield was not just defensive but could also be used to push opponents. When fighting as a group, soldiers could position their shields so as to form an enclosure around themselves, called a testudo (In Latin meaning “tortoise shell”). This was especially helpful to protect against arrows launched from the walls of cities they were attacking. Shields, often made of wood and then covered in hide, when wet, could extinguish flaming arrows.

Clearly, a shield is vitally important to a soldier. It provides a blanket of protection. It is meant to be taken up in all circumstances. It is the first barrier against the enemy’s attack. Often, shields were painted with identifying marks; a Christian who takes up the shield of faith identifies himself as a foot soldier who serves the Commander of the Lord’s army.

2 Timothy 2:3-4(HCSB)3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter.

As soon as we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are drawn into a spiritual battle. It is a battle where eternal death or eternal life is at stake. It is a battle with one who is 100% committed to drawing us away from God. It is a battle that calls us to make the spiritually lost a priority as we stand in unity with Jesus. Is this the battle that we are winning? Are we truly concerned that there are real people that will die and go to Hell? Are we concerned with it? Do we know that we are in a battle, even though it is invisible and spiritual it is real and it is eternal.

Hebrews 10:38(ESV)38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB)Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.

Hebrews 1:6(HCSB)6 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. This verse stresses the importance of faith: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Satan’s attacks can sometimes cause us to doubt God.You start asking yourself, “Did God really say? Can I really trust God? Isn’t that just your interpretation?” Faith prompts us to believe God.

Romans 1:16-17(ESV)16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

There is a saying and even a song that says “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” It may be a nice sentiment, but it’s bad theology. The truth is, “God said it, and that settles it — whether I believe it or not.” God’s truth isn’t based on whether you believe it or not. It’s still true even if you don’t believe it, because God can’t lie.

You need that kind of certainty in difficult days. With the Shield of Faith, you have certainty that God’s promises are true even when they don’t appear to be true in your life. God comes to the Garden of Eden, creates a perfect environment, creates a perfect man and perfect woman – perfect in the sense of sinlessness, not in the sense of an accomplished perfection.  And there they are, and here comes Satan, and what does he say?  “Has God really said?”  And then he says, “You know, God doesn’t want you to know good and evil because you’ll be like Him, and He doesn’t like competition.  You can’t trust God He has ulterior motives.  You can’t always believe exactly what He says.”  Satan was tempting them to doubt God and believe him.  Eve was a sucker, Eve was a fool, she believed the devil, and you know what happened.  Every temptation that ever came to you came on the tack of “believe me, not God.”

Watch this, Christ has been fasting forty days and forty nights, led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God as God prepared Him for His ministry.  At the end of that time, Satan comes to Him to tempt Him.  And how does he tempt Him? He tempts Him to not believe God – same old deal.  “Don’t believe God, believe me.”
Matthew 4:1-11(HCSB)Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. 2 After He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry. 3 Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”5 Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, and they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”7 Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”8 Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.”10 Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written:Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”11 Then the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him.

We give in to temptation when we believe what it has to offer is better than what God has promised. It’s seducing temptations, that’s all. Satan fires arrows of impurity, arrows of selfishness, doubt, fear, disappointment, lust, greed, vanity, covetousness – it all comes down to this: 1 John 2:16(ESV)16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Christians have always been, and will always be, lured by the same three temptations Eve and Jesus experienced. Satan doesn’t change his methods; he doesn’t have to because his methods continue to be successful. He tempts us with the lust of the flesh—sexual gratification, gluttony, excessive alcohol consumption, and drugs, both legal and illegal, as well as the ones which Paul warned the Galatians about, Galatians 5:19-21(ESV)“sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these”. He tempts us with the lust of the eyes—the endless accumulation of “stuff” with which we fill our homes and garages and the insatiable desire for more, better, and newer possessions, which ensnares us and hardens our hearts to the things of God.

But perhaps his most evil temptation is the pride of life, the very sin that resulted in Satan’s expulsion from heaven. He desired to be God, not to be a servant of God Isaiah 14:12-15(ESV)2 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. The arrogant boasting which constitutes the pride of life motivates the other two lusts as it seeks to elevate itself above all others and fulfill all personal desires. It is the root cause of strife in families, churches, and nations. It exalts the self in direct contradiction to Jesus’ statement that those who would follow Him must take up their cross (an instrument of death) and deny themselves. The pride of life stands in our way if we truly seek to be servants of God. It is the arrogance that separates us from others and limits our effectiveness in the kingdom. The pride of life “comes not from the Father, but from the world.” And, as such, it is passing away with the world, but those who resist and overcome the temptation of the pride of life do the will of God, and 1 John 2:17(ESV)17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

In other words the arrows are, “Don’t believe God, He doesn’t keep His word, He didn’t give You the whole picture, He didn’t tell You the truth.  Believe me, do it my way.”  And that’s the way every temptation comes to every believer every time.  Satan comes along and says, “Oh yeah, I know the Bible says you’re not supposed to have sexual relationships with somebody outside of marriage, but it’s fun.” Who do you believe when you sin?  You believe the devil.  It’s the bottom line, people; it’s so simple.  When you sin, you believe Satan; when you obey, you believe God.  That’s the bottom line.  And the shield is the double protection.  “I will believe God,” said Christ.  “Get away, Satan.  God will feed Me when He’s ready, and God will anoint Me as Messiah when He’s ready, and God will give Me the kingdoms of the world when He’s ready, on His terms.  I will not believe you.”
Titus 1:1-2(HCSB)Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to build up the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.

God isn’t lying.  And yet every time you sin, you believe Satan and his lies and so do I; we’ve been suckered again. Satan comes along and says, “Do it my way, and you’ll like it.” It’ll be fun. It’ll fulfill you. You’ll gain what you desire” – it’s a lie. He is a liar, John 8:44(HCSB)44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.

Whenever you sin, you’re saying, “I really don’t believe God knows best, Satan knows best.” We say, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches and glory” and we all say, “Amen, brother, preach it.  Yes, He’ll supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus, no question about it.”  And then when we lose a job, “Ohh, God what are You doing to me? Why did you do this – see?  There’s Satan “The Lord has forsaken you,” see?

Matthew 6:33(HCSB)33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.  And we run through life seeking all the things that should be added and missing the Kingdom of God.  You see, you can’t just go around saying, “I believe God, I have faith in God, the just shall live by faith,” and then grab everything you can grab that is worldly.

So the only way to extinguish the arrows of Satan is to believe God.  The Bible says, “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.”  Who do you believe?  Abraham believed God.  Who do you believe?  Do you believe God?
In other words, what God said is true.  If you believe it and obey it, it’ll be a shield; if you mess with it, you’ll suffer, see?  Satan comes along and says, “Oh well, I know God said that, but let me add this.”  No.  No, “He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.”

Psalm 12:6(HCSB)The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times.

He literally bombards the believer with the arrows, the fiery darts of seductive temptation, to elicit out of us ungodly, non-Christlike, evil responses.  And the only defense we have at this point, Paul says, is the shield of faith, because sometimes it just rains temptation. We live in a world where it really does rain temptation, all around us, and we must have the shield of faith. Faith reminds us that, though the fulfillment of God’s promises may not be readily visible to us, God is true to His Word. When Satan attempts to plague us with doubt or entice us with instant gratification, faith recognizes the deceptiveness of his tactics and quickly extinguishes the arrows. When Satan accuses us, faith chooses to believe that Jesus has redeemed us and that there is no more condemnation. Romans 8:1(HCSB) Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,

Romans 8:34(HCSB)Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.

The term “faith” means believing God, and that is the bottom line of the Christian faith. That is the bottom line of everything we believe, everything we hold to, everything we have our confidence in. The whole of Christianity is an act of believing that God is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.  Believing that He wrote the Bible, believing that Christ is God, believing that He died, believing that He rose, believing that He’s coming, believing that by believing we can enter into His Kingdom – the whole thing.  That’s why in Habakkuk 2:4 (HCSB)Look, his ego is inflated; he is without integrity. But the righteous one will live by his faith.

Romans 1:17(HCSB)“17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.

Galatians 3:11(HCSB)11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.

Hebrews 10:36-38(HCSB)36 For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.37  For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 But My righteous one will live by faith;and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.39 But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.

Faith is our life; it is a matter of believing God.  Now, everybody lives by something, everybody has faith in something.

Faith is one of the greatest gifts, and it is the means by which we receive grace and come into right relationship with God.

Ephesians 2:8–9(HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. It is because we have been justified through faith that we belong to God and have peace with Him. Romans 5:1(HCSB)Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith is the doorway to hope in God.

Romans 5:2(HCSB)2 We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Because we have faith in God, our suffering need not faze us; in fact, we can persevere under it.
Romans 5:3–5(HCSB)3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The things Satan attempts to use to discourage us can actually become tools in the hands of God.

All believers have this promise:1 John 5:4(HCSB)4 because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. Faith is a protective barrier between us and the schemes of Satan. When we believe God and take Him at His word, we remain grounded in truth, the lies of the enemy lose their power, and we become overcomers. In that way, faith is our shield.

1 Peter 5:8-9(HCSB)8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.

We win when we believe God, we win when we trust God.  You may go through doubts, and anxieties, and fears, and worries, and concerns, and problems, and struggles, and trials, and tribulations, and persecution.  As long as you believe God, as you believe His sustenance, you believe His Word, you believe His power, you believe His promise, that doesn’t have to be a point of loss; it can be a point of strengthening, a point of gain.

The shield of faith is the consistent application of what we believe about God to the issues of life.  Now, if you don’t trust Him then you don’t know Him well enough, right – because if you really knew Him, you’d trust Him.  Oh, the more you know God, the deeper you get into the heart of God, the more you know about His truth, and the Word of God, and the more you meditate upon His person in your prayers and meditating times, the more you know God, the greater you’ll trust God, and the greater you trust God, the less likely you will be to not believe Him.

And so it all goes back, as everything does in the Christian life, to your relationship to God.  It’s there; it’s down deep in the heart.  If you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, if you believe that God is who He claimed to be, if you believe all that God’s promises that He gave to you are really true, then you’re not going to sin, because you’re going to stand in the place of the greatest blessing.  Everybody wants to be blessed, everybody wants the best.  God says, “I’ll give it to you if you do it My way.”  If you do it Satan’s way, you just disbelieved God.  But the more you know Him, the more you’ll trust Him, the more you’ll believe Him.

Ephesians Pt 18 Masters and Slaves

Ephesians 6:5-9(ESV)5 Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ. 6 Don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. 7 Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord. 9 And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him.

The apostle Paul wrote this to show how Christian workers and bosses should treat each other. It is addressed to slaves and masters, not to employees and employers. The idea of masters and slaves is different from our western way of thinking. Although our text was written to slaves and masters, it applies directly to employees and employers. It shows practically how those filled with the Holy Spirit, who subject themselves to one another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:18-21), should relate to one another in the workplace. Paul is saying,Your relationship to Christ and the fact that you live primarily for the glory of the Father should transform your relationships at work to reflect His work in you.

Slavery had been a common practice in many ancient societies such as Egypt, China and the Middle East. Most slaves originated from the spoils of war, kidnap or voluntarily to pay for debts. The treatment of slaves varied in the ancient world, but in most cases slaves were the property of the master, with little or no rights or status. This meant that many were treated harshly, although most ancient societies had some laws to regulate slavery, such as the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1750 BC).

Slavery was allowed in the Old Testament, this may shock some that slavery was an accepted practice. It must be noted that the slavery mentioned in the bible is very different to the slavery that occurred in the Americas in the 17th and 18th Centuries which is the popular view of slavery today. Old Testament treatment of slaves was also generally more humane than the slavery practiced in other ancient civilizations.

Throughout biblical times slavery was a common practice. The bible does not condemn slavery but has clear teaching on how slaves should be treated, which was often counter-cultural to the practices of surrounding nations. Biblical slavery amongst Jews was often an act of mercy to provide for the poor rather than an act of exploitation. The bible condemns the abuse of slaves and the forced enslavement of people and slaves were to be treated well in both Old and New Testaments.

The Israelites were to treat their enslaved fellow Hebrews as if they were servants. (Leviticus 25:39-40). They were also to give them the option of their freedom in the 7th year of their service (Exodus 21:2), and give them the means to make a new start (Deuteronomy 15:12-18), although they could remain a slave if they chose.

Exodus 21:16 (ESV) “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.

It’s verses like this that John Newton, the slave trader in England thought of as he wrote the hymn Amazing Grace.  He knew full well that because of his sins, he deserved death and yet the Lord granted him repentance and faith.

Slavery was permitted in the Old Testament…
There were reasons for slavery. If an Israelite fell upon hard times they could offer to work for someone else who would in turn look after them (Leviticus 25:39). If a thief was caught and could not make restitution then they were to be sold for the theft (Exodus 22:3). Debtors who went bankrupt could be forced to sell their children into slavery (2 Kings 4:1). These reasons all apply to Hebrew slaves, however, it is difficult to say why the bible allowed them to take foreign slaves. Maybe it was a way of dealing with prisoners of war rather than killing them? Perhaps they needed slaves to prosper as a nation? Both these reasons could apply to David putting the conquered Ammonites to forced labour (2 Samuel 12:31(ESV)31 And he brought out the people who were in it and set them to labor with saws and iron picks and iron axes and made them toil at[a] the brick kilns. And thus he did to all the cities of the Ammonites. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

Slavery is not condemned in the New Testament either.

Paul doesn’t condemn the system of slavery because it isn’t exactly like what we think of when we think of slavery.  When it was practiced under God’s boundaries it was a lot like an employer and employee relationship.

Galatians 3:28-29 (ESV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Paul could say this because whether one was a servant or a master, the blood of Christ has made them equal in His kingdom. Rather than condemning slavery, Paul explains that the Kingdom of God is a leveling, equalizing kingdom. Often, in the church of the first century the slave/master relationship would be turned around when they entered the church.  In the outside world the slave was the follower. He did what his master told him to do.  Once they entered the church, the slave might be an elder and the master would submit to his leadership. Paul was not opposed to the freedom of slaves if the opportunity arose. Paul believed that God had called people to different stations in life and they were to live out the Christian life in the situation in which they were called.
1 Corinthians 7:17-24(ESV)17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
For slaves to disobey their masters would have caused God’s name to be reviled. Slaves were to please God by their service and the brotherly love with a believing master should be another reason for serving him well. Masters were to treat their slaves well because they both had the same master in heaven with whom there is no partiality.

1 Timothy 6:1-2(ESV)Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

In a list of the lawless and disobedient (1Timothy 1:10(ESV), the New Testament condemns those who take people captive to sell them into slavery, which is consistent with Old Testament Law.

In Paul’s letter to Philemon, he urges Philemon to receive back the runaway slave Onesimus as a brother, but Paul does not command him to be released from slavery.

There were abuses in slavery but we must not allow the abuses to cloud our thinking.

Jesus didn’t condemn slavery.

Luke 7:2-10 (ESV)Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

The centurion’s servant was under his authority and did whatever he told him to do.  The centurion understood authority.  He was under the emperor’s authority; his soldiers were under his authority.  He also knew that the disease that plagued his servant was under Jesus’ authority.  Just like when the centurion gave an order, it was carried out.  He knew that Jesus could just give the order and the disease would obey. Jesus didn’t say, you should not have a slave.  But rather He healed this man’s servant whom he loved and cared for.

Slavery has only been explicitly ‘outlawed’ for the last 150 years. The historical momentum of slavery and the slave trade still guides the minds of the elites today because it is everywhere as an economic system. Enslavement is a technique/technology wielded by institutions. Like any technique/technology, improvements and innovations outmode prior models and methods. When automobiles became abundant, horse-drawn carriages were banned from the roadway. This would not be called the “abolition of traffic”.

Slavery upgraded from an apparent system to a not so apparent system. Plantations were replaced by ‘plants’ and factories. Masters of industry are bosses of industry: slave owners were business leaders, moguls, empire-builders, who arranged systems of human employment designed to maintain and reinforce their positions as the elite. A free and endless supply of laborers helps to maximize and centralize revenue. They “put people to work”, they were “job creators”. The overt system of African slave labor built the infrastructure of a more subtle wage slavery system. When the 13th Amendment was ratified and slaveholders lost their ability under the law to “create jobs” and “put people to work” in the old way, they simply used the wealth they had amassed from exploiting slave labor to tweak the process and procedure of slave-taking into something more accommodating. A “soft slavery” was demanded and provided, economic enslavement not imposed by physical brutality and violence, not limited to one marginalized group of humans determined by the color of one’s skin, not upheld by the illusion of racial divisions, but an all-inclusive and sneaky slavery, a slavery that masquerades with the facade of free will. The modern day equivalent to biblical master and slave is …… Employer and employee

This following scripture is the emphasis of the entire Bible. The first and greatest commandment is (Matthew 22:37-39(ESV)37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ) The second greatest commandment is that we love one another. But the Lord does not put that command first. It is deliberately second, because the primary thing in life, the foundation for everything else, is that you love the Lord God, who sent His son Jesus Christ as our atonement on the cross so we can have a right relationship with Him. Everyone has a personal relationship with Jesus. Some are redeemed and some are condemned. A right relationship with Christ is primary!

In this very instructive passage, the apostle deals with three things:
1. There is activity which is required by this relationship.

2. There is an attitude in which that activity is to be performed.

3. There is an awareness of a fundamental principle at work that keeps this whole relationship from degenerating into tyranny.

First, there is an activity required on the part of employees, and it is put in one word — obedience: “obey your earthly masters.” This is the same Greek word that occurs in Chapter 6, Verse 1, with regard to children. “Children, obey your parents.” We looked at that last week. It means to follow orders. It is a military term, and it means that Christian employees are under obligation to those who hire them to do what they say. It is really very simple. Do what the boss says, obey him. Don’t talk bad about him or her behind their back, don’t just give them lip service. Do what they say. If you are a janitor be the best janitor the company ever had. Follow orders.

Second, and this is the important thing which he says four different ways, Obey with a sincere heart. Ephesians 6:5-7(ESV)”with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” This means without divided loyalty, freedom from the tension that is created by conflicting loyalties. In other words, settle it once and for all in your mind that you are not there merely to please the boss, you are there to please the Lord. You are to carry your relationship of concern for the Lord to your work as well as to your church. You are to work as unto Christ, and your supreme concern is your loyalty to him. If you are trying to please two different forces, those around you and the Lord, you will be torn apart with a conflicting tension that never lets up. To begin with, workers are called to obey their employers with fear and trembling. We must notice that the fear and trembling is not because your boss is mean but because you represent Jesus at your job.  You want to do a good job and work hard because whether your boss is a believer or not, will see the difference Christ makes in one’s life.  It goes on to say, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,

The bottom line is that whether you like your boss or not, whether your boss notices your efforts or not, you are to be diligent in your work.  Sooner or later someone will notice that you don’t stand around and do nothing even when there’s nothing really to do, you find something.  Even this is not for your benefit.  We don’t want noticed to get ahead. Ephesians 6:6-7(ESV)6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, At times when other employees are grumbling and complaining you are hard at work.  When we work hard and are faithful to our employers, we will get noticed and compensated.  Because we are really working for the Lord and not for our employer, He will justly reward our efforts. So he says, obey “doing the will of God from the heart”. Paul expresses the same idea negatively, “not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers…” Then positively, “…but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.”

Four times the idea is put forth: never work for men, you Christians, work only for God. You can work under a man’s direction, but remember that you are working unto the Lord, that your daily task is work that he has given you to do, and you do it unto him. What a glory this gives to every task. The first sign is eye-service. Do you know what that means? That means working only when the boss is watching. When he turns his back, you quit working. That is eye-service. It is that attitude that so widely invades our society today, the idea of working only when the boss is watching. If you are a Christian, this is absolutely forbidden if you want to be faithful to your Lord. Remember, the eye that watches you is not a human eye. Therefore, the first sign of a divided loyalty is eye-service.

The second sign of failure in this respect is men-pleasing. Notice how the apostle is putting his finger on the attitudes that are found so frequently in this relationship of labor and capital. Men-pleasing! What is it? It is playing office politics, buttering up the boss. It reveals a double heart, the lack of a single eye. It reveals that we are trying to get on by making men happy but disregarding what God thinks.

One other factor is added by way of motivation. There is to be an awareness, Paul says, of an unseen but powerful fact: Ephesians 6:8(ESV)8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. It does not make any difference what your status in life is. When work is done unto Christ, he undertakes to correct the conditions that make for unhappiness, or else to make compensate on another level. Notice that he does not promise always to correct the condition, because God’s will is that Christians must sometimes live as his Son lived, under very difficult and contrary conditions, and manifest his grace anyhow. They are poor homes, but homes where happiness dwells. It does not take wealth to be happy.

Third, There is an awareness of a fundamental principle at work that keeps this whole relationship from degenerating into tyranny. Employers must be certain that his or her lifestyle is not a contradiction. Any attempt to bring Christianity into the workplace will backfire if the employees or customers see hypocrisy in a boss’s personal life or ethics. When Christian employers consider themselves first and foremost servants of Christ, they will see their position as a divine assignment from God. (Romans 1:1(ESV)Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, They will make all decisions based on pleasing Jesus as the real Boss.

Treat them justly and fairly. Christian bosses have no right to treat employees as personal possessions. They are not existing for your enrichment. You have no right merely to extract money from them, to exploit them, to use the sweat of their brow only that you may become richer. No Christian master has the right to think this way. Treat them as people with problems, and listen to their problems, do something about them. This is his exhortation.

If you are an employee, the Lord shows us through Paul how He wants us to walk in the spirit and submit at our jobs. Like with all the rest of the relational texts and examples, we are to obey the Scriptures for the glory of Christ.  You are to work hard at your job, not to get ahead but to bring glory to your Lord.

Ephesians 6:8-9(ESV)8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

Whether employer or employee, children of God should live every day in the fear of the Lord. When our relationship with God holds top priority in our lives, all other relationships will benefit. One major relational shift that faith in Christ should produce is the servant attitude Jesus had. Mark 10:42–45(ESV)42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. We all come the same way: broken, humble, and repentant. We leave justified and forgiven, but with a new heart to love and serve others. Even if employees do not know Christ, a Christian employer can demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) with humility and patience. If the boss isn’t a Christian the employee can still show the fruits of the spirit as well and serve the boss knowing he is doing his or her work as unto the Lord. The thrust of this passage inescapable, we are to do our work as if Jesus was our employer.  We are to do it diligently but with a proper attitude.  Realizing that Jesus is our employer is the only way we can labor under certain less favorable conditions with a godly attitude.  1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV) So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

If you’re a worker, work for the greatest Boss in the world, work for Jesus.

The Lord takes us a step further here than to simply say as an employee…work hard!!  Jesus would tell us to work hard with a proper attitude.  The only way this can take place is if we are walking in the Spirit.  It’s not the deed done well only but the motivation is just as important.

Ephesians Pt 13 Walk in the Light

Ephesians 5:1-14(ESV)5 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, 

“Awake, O sleeper, 

and arise from the dead, 

and Christ will shine on you.” 

Last week I spoke on it is not what you say as much as it is why you are saying it, this also goes with anger, it is why you are angry that determines if it is sin or not. Motive means everything, but crude joking, filthiness, foolish talk there is never a place for that. Harsh language is sometimes necessary but as far vulgar, crude joking there is never a place for that. Paul is writing here to let us know that we should be imitators of God and therefore no sexual immorality, no crude joking, impure or covetous thinking or behaving is allowed. God is very serious about these things. So much so that Paul writes these serious words to the church in Corinth.

1 Corinthians 5:9–13(ESV)I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 

If you claim the name of Christ, you can and should be judged by those in the Church. If you insist on perpetuating a false teaching, or affirming sin and sinful lifestyles, it is the responsibility of Christians to correct your error graciously and Scripturally, and it is your responsibility to submit to the authority of Scripture, or to deny your faith.

Disagree? Then disagree with Paul.

Ephesians 5:6-7(ESV)Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them;

6. Let no man deceive you. There have always been ungodly dogs, by whom the threatenings of the prophets were made the subject of merriment and ridicule. We find such characters in our own day. In all ages, indeed, Satan raises up sorcerers of this description, who endeavour by unholy scoffs to escape the Divine judgment, and who actually exercise a kind of fascination over consciences not sufficiently established in the fear of God. “This is a trivial fault. Fornication is viewed by God as a light matter. Under the law of grace God is not so cruel. He has not formed us so as to be our own executioners. The frailty of nature excuses us.” These and similar expressions are often used by the scoffers. Paul, on the contrary, exclaims that we must guard against that sophistry by which consciences are ensnared to their ruin.

John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 307–308.

We are to always give defense for the gospel and what we believe. We are not to be in unison with those who deceivers. We need to be on guard and on the offense when it comes to false teaching and also to be careful who or what we give our attention too.

TO WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT, WE MUST BE CHILDREN OF LIGHT Ephesians 5:8(ESV)for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

Notice it doesn’t say we were in darkness but we were darkness. Being children of light implies that this profound change comes from God’s power in the new birth. It is an act of His creative power. Just as He at the first created light out of the darkness, so now He has changed us from being darkness itself into being light in the Lord.

Paul says that we formerly were darkness. We were spiritually blind. We not only didn’t see God’s glory and truth, we didn’t have the ability or desire to see such things.

Romans 3:10-12(ESV)10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands;no one seeks for God.12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 
Romans 8:5-9(ESV)For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. We didn’t sense our need for the Savior, because we thought we were good enough to go to heaven and we didn’t understand the absolute holiness and justice of God. So we lived entirely for ourselves and our own pleasure, avoiding the thought of death and eternity.

But, when God saved us, He opened the eyes of our understanding so that we saw “the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). We saw our true condition as guilty sinners, but we also saw the all sufficiency of Jesus and His death on the cross to cover all our sins. We had a new understanding of God’s Word and a new desire to know God and His truth more and more. We now hate the sin that we formerly lived in and we long to be like our Savior, holy in all our ways. We now walk in the light, rather than in darkness, because God has made us light in the Lord.

That we now are light in the Lord means that Christ has made us holy, that is, those who hate sin and love what pleases God. Through the cross of Christ we became righteous, that is, not guilty; but by His Spirit we become holy. We are therefore people who love God and who can, by the new life which God gives us, do what is pleasing in His sight.

Now to walk as children of light we must walk as Christ walked. He never committed one sin. Never had He had a sinful thought or desire; and never did He break the smallest part of any of God’s commandments. Since He is the Son of God, He is light; and surely He is a perfect example for us to follow.

It is true that Satan tried to get Him to sin; but Jesus told him to get behind Him and quit his tempting. Satan comes every day trying to get us to be unholy; and we need to pay attention to this call to walk as children of light. Those who walk as Christ did are Christians. They reveal it in what they do. Stand therefore before the mirror of God’s Word to see every step of your earthly life; and then you may know whether you are a Christian, one with the life of Christ in you.

Paul in makes it plain that living apart from the darkness does not mean withdrawing completely from the world and living in a christian bubble. Instead, walking as children of the light means not engaging in the sins of the unbelieving culture even as we love the sinners around us and engage them with the gospel. When it comes to interacting with the world, we are not prohibited from making friends with those who are still enslaved to sin; rather, we are prohibited from acting in ways that displease God like they do. Paul explains that we are not to take merely a defensive stance against dark deeds and stay away from them. Our approach must be offensive — we are to “expose” unfruitful works of darkness. A fighter cannot win a fight from a defensive stance. The exchange in the immediate context between light and darkness helps us understand how this exposure happens. That which is hidden in the darkness can be revealed only when light shines on it, and by walking in Christ we shine the light of holiness on the dark recesses of this world. If we are in a completely dark room and turn a light on all the cockroaches will scatter and the darkness will flee. Our efforts to live sanctified lives stand in obvious contrast to the evil of our fallen culture, thereby exposing sinners for who they truly are and unveiling what they truly deserve — the wrath of God. Our preaching of the gospel goes hand in hand with such living so that those whose deeds are exposed might know that they will escape the darkness if they come to Jesus. Which is why it is important to not sugar coat sin, but rather expose it for what it is.

Only two responses can follow such exposure. Many will hate the light and those whose lives provide the illumination, and they will try to stamp out the light and silence the church. John 3:19–20(ESV)19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
 Acts 14:8–23(ESV)8 Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well,[a] 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. Others will feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and see the darkness of their deeds. They will turn from their sin to Christ and thereby begin to glorify the Lord. To sum it up the non elect when exposed to the truth will try to suppress the truth, they will find fault with the bringer of the truth to try to discredit the truth. The ELECT will feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and repent. The non elect will suppress the truth the elect will embrace the truth.

People don’t like their evil exposed and people don’t like you exposing anyone else so you don’t expose them. These so-called believers today will go against God’s Word and stand up for the devil and fight against God by condoning and supporting wickedness. You are to hate everything that God hates. Every biblical leader stood up against evil and many even lost their lives for speaking against it. There is a reason Jesus says true believers will be hated and persecuted. If you desire to live a godly life you will be persecuted and there is no way around it.

That is why many believers stay quiet whenever they’re on the hot seat they hush up in fear of man. Jesus spoke up, Stephen spoke up, Paul spoke up so why are we quiet? We must not be afraid to rebuke others. If someone is going astray from Christ are you going to be silent so they won’t hate you or are you going to humbly and lovingly say something?

The Holy Spirit will convict the world of its sins. If we stop defending Christianity, exposing evil, rebuking false teachers, and confronting believers we will have more people lost and led astray. More people will believe false teachings I mean look how many people twist “thou shall not judge.”

Titus 1:10-13(ESV)10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,

The sin of being silent.

Ezekiel 3:18-19(ESV)18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

Matthew 5:14–16(ESV)14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The light of God that shines through us both illumines and transforms, exposes and cleanses. Those whom the light redeems become visible, and that which is visible is light. In other words, formerly dark individuals are cleansed and become lights through whom our Savior shines brightly. This is what happened at our conversion, and we continue to become ever brighter lights as we, through confession and repentance, expose our sin to God and flee from it.

Ephesians 5:13-14(ESV) 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, 

“Awake, O sleeper, 

and arise from the dead, 

and Christ will shine on you.”

RT Kendall was the minister at Westminster Chapel, London from 1977-2002. and wrote this about the sleeping church.

There are three characteristic of sleep:

1. You don’t know you were asleep until you wake up. We’ve all done this – to lie down for a moment to relax – only to find out we slept for a while!

2. You do things in your sleep you would not do if you were awake. Our dreams prove this. Whether such dreams are unexpressed fears or wishes, as Sigmund Freud might say, we do things when asleep we would not do if awake.

3. We hate the sound of an alarm. How would you like to be awakened at 2am? We resent being woken up. We want to sleep on.

A sleeping Church

Here are some signs we are asleep at the present time:

•The absence of conviction of sin

•A lack of the fear of God

•Little sense of outrage over the godlessness of society

•Watching pornography and feeling justified

•Avarice, greed and lack of financial integrity

•No sense of outrage over the Church’s lack of credibility in the world

•Little or no concern about people going to hell

•Little concern about the lack of knowledge of God’s word

•Indifference to the biblical view of marriage

•Indifference to holding grudges and unforgiveness

•Indifference to talking to people about Christ

•Tolerating heresies such as open theism and hyper-grace teaching

•Indifference to the teaching that the Bible is infallible

•Indifference to how much time is spent in prayer and quiet time

The greatest evidence that we are asleep is our lack of outrage over what is tolerated in the Church and what is going on in the world. Not only are we indifferent to what is happening before our eyes, we have become so used to it that we are virtually impervious to it. The biblical view of marriage is on the way out. Terrorism is at our doors. Church attendance is declining more than ever. We are losing our young people. If someone calls things like this to our attention we say, “Oh yes. It’s pretty awful.” Then we roll over. Zzzzzzzz. “Let me sleep on.”

I believe the next thing to happen on God’s calendar is not the second coming of Jesus but the awakening of the Church before the second coming. It is when the word and Spirit ultimately come together as on the Day of Pentecost. The simultaneous combination of the word and Spirit resulted in spontaneous combustion.

What should sadden us at the present moment, however, is that the world does not respect the Church. There is virtually no fear of God in the land.

When Jonathan Edwards preached his sermon ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ on 8th July 1741, the immediate fallout was that men held on to church pews and trees outside to keep from slipping into hell. God only did this once during the New England Great Awakening. But the power of it was so profound that word of that sermon and its immediate effect spread all over New England in days and all over England in weeks. For some reason God does this sort of thing rarely. But when he steps in like that the world is affected by it.

In 1802, in an area called Cane Ridge in Bourbon County, Kentucky a Methodist lay preacher stood on a fallen tree on a Sunday morning before 15,000 people, taking his text from 2 Corinthians 5:10 – “We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of things done in the body, whether good or bad”. As he spoke hundreds fell to the ground by the power of the Holy Spirit. It was the beginning of the camp meeting phenomena. The Great Awakening lasted for over 20 years. The Cane Ridge Revival lasted only four days.

Both of these phenomena brought about a fear of God that spread all over America for a good while. But who fears God today? Not many, I suspect. An awakened Church will help restore a fear of the Lord in the nations. No election will do it. No act of Parliament will do it. But God can do it. And I believe he will do it. Soon.

Ephesians Pt 12 Slander, Anger and Foul Language

Ephesians 4:25-32(ESV) Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

The Father chooses, the Son Redeems, the Holy Spirit Seals. V30 says do not grieve the Holy Spirit. We need to remember that the Holy Spirit is not a distant, abstract deity and certainly not an impersonal force. No, the Holy Spirit is a person, for only a genuine and personable being is capable of this kind of thinking, feeling, and emotion. In fact, when we understand that the Spirit is a person it should surprise us only if he would not or could not feel grief in the face of our sin. “There is some sadness in the consideration that the Holy Spirit, the One who is our Comforter (John 14:16), is himself grieved by our sin. Sins that bring disunity to the church also bring grief to the Holy Spirit. Again, Bryan Chapell says, “The same Spirit who convicts my heart of sin, generates in me love for God, gives me new birth, provides my apprehension of the beauty of grace in the world, and seals my redemption until the coming of my Lord—this same Spirit who loves me so intimately and perfectly, I can cause to grieve.”

It is also worth noting what Paul does not say, for there is comfort to be had here. Paul does not threaten abandonment. Clinton Arnold makes this point and concludes “Under the new covenant, the Spirit does not depart when sin is committed. Instead, the Spirit deeply grieves over it. Paul presents this as a truth that should motivate believers not to indulge their sinful desires—whether this might be filthy talk, stealing, uncontrolled anger, lying, or any other vice.” The true believer does not need to fear that God will respond to sin by giving up and moving out. We are sealed by the Spirit for all eternity.

We grieve the Spirit when we sin and we especially grieve the Spirit when we sin in ways that cause discord, perhaps because unity is a special work of the Spirit.

The old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is simply not true. Words can do a great deal of damage to those who have been slandered. Slander is making a false verbal statement that damages someone’s reputation. Slander differs slightly from libel in that libel is a written defamation of character; slander is only spoken. Remember that when you read something on Facebook that is not true or you are tempted to write something that is not true about another, you are involved in libel and can be sued.The Bible says a lot about slander, in both Old and New Testament.
Proverbs 10:18(ESV)The one who conceals hatred has lying lips,and whoever utters slander is a fool.

1 Peter 2:1-5(ESV)So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Slander is a sin that is very high on God’s list, so much so that He listed it as #9 in the Ten Commandments Exodus 20:16(ESV).“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Bearing false witness includes slander because of the untruths being spread. Slander is simply lying about someone with the intent of causing others to view that person in a negative light.

Slander is malicious lying, and God hates lying.
Proverbs 6:16–19(ESV)There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Proverbs 12:22(ESV)Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Proverbs 13:5(ESV) 5 The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace.

John 8:44(ESV)44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

God is the author of truth. John 14:6(ESV)6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me, Anything untrue is in opposition to His nature and therefore repulsive to Him. Both slander and gossip are wrong, and Scripture often condemns them together (Leviticus 19:16(ESV)16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord., but slander takes gossip to a whole new level. Gossip collects someone’s secrets and passes them to others; slander makes up its own secrets and broadcasts them wherever they will do the most harm.(ie:Facebook)

When we slander others, we are choosing to step out of the path God designed for us. He will not participate with us in our attempts to destroy someone else with our words. Slander comes from the heart, and when we are tempted to speak untruths about someone, we should first examine our own hearts to see what ugly root is producing those desires.

Matthew 15:16-18(ESV)18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

The life of Jesus has shown us that being angry, in itself, is not evil. Ephesians 4:25–32 takes this idea a step further. Paul tells us not only that we are permitted to be angry, he also says there are times when we must be angry. When Jesus cleared the temple of the moneychangers and animal-sellers, He showed great emotion and anger (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; John 2:13-22). Jesus’ emotion was described as “zeal” for God’s house (John 2:17). His anger was pure and completely justified because at its root was concern for God’s holiness and worship. Because these were at stake, Jesus took quick and decisive action. Another time Jesus showed anger was in the synagogue of Capernaum. When the Pharisees refused to answer Jesus’ questions, “He looked around at them in anger, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:5).

Many times, we think of anger as a selfish, destructive emotion that we should eradicate from our lives altogether. However, the fact that Jesus did sometimes become angry indicates that anger itself, as an emotion, is amoral. This is borne out elsewhere in the New Testament. Ephesians 4:26 instructs us “in your anger do not sin” and not to let the sun go down on our anger. The command is not to “avoid anger” (or suppress it or ignore it) but to deal with it properly, in a timely manner. While anger is often viewed as a completely negative emotion, there are times a person can be angry for appropriate reasons. In the case of Jesus, His anger was the result of ungodly attitudes and actions by those around Him.

Six things that made Jesus Angry
1. Hypocrisy – Pharisees – Matthew 15 & 23

2. Greed – Money Changers – John 2:15-17

3. Lukewarm Living – Revelation 3:15

4. Hard Heartedness Mark 3:5

5. Superiority – exalted doctrines of men Matthew 23

6. Spiritual Pride – pharisees vs tax collector Luke 18:9-14

The anger of Jesus did not result in a long-term grudge. Instead, His anger was an emotion that resulted in proper actions. Today’s believers must seek the same response. Anger left unchecked or wrongly motivated can result in long-term unforgiveness that causes problems in a believer’s own life.

If they made Jesus angry we could say that we could get angry at these as well.

That the Lord would command us to be angry at times is understandable when we consider biblical ethics. In the same letter Paul summarizes what we need to know about Christian virtues by telling us to be “imitators of God” (5:1). Our Father in heaven can only be perfectly holy if He gets angry when His righteous standards are violated. If we are to imitate Him, we too must get mad at those things that make God angry. We must grow incensed when we see the weak and helpless exploited, because the Lord’s wrath is kindled against the oppressor. Exodus 22:21–24(ESV)21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, 24 and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.. Hypocrisy in our lives and in the church must disturb us because of Jesus’ anger at those who honor Him with their lips only (Matthew 15:8(ESV)“‘This people honors me with their lips,but their heart is far from me;

Yet we are imperfect, and while we must sometimes get angry, we must also take care that we do not sin in our anger (Ephesians 4:26). Every time we are mad, we should check ourselves to see if we are upset at the things God hates. Otherwise we may be angry without just cause and give opportunity to the Devil (v. 27). Anger is the emotion most prone to sinful abuse, and this is why Paul also tells us to put anger away in this same passage (v. 31). This is not a contradiction of verse 26, Paul is only recognizing that our anger, even if it is godly at first, is too often perverted into feelings of malice instead of a longing to see offenders repent. When this happens, we are in danger of giving root to the bitterness that destroys. Hebrews 12:15(ESV)15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 

Finally, though evil should anger us, we are not always to pour wrath on others. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because of their hard hearts (Matthew 23), but He was kind and gentle to the adulterous woman because she was humble and contrite (John 7:53–8:11). We cannot condone sin, but we must also imitate our Savior and seek to restore the repentant in instead of showing the full brunt of our wrath.

Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid. Then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for that thought, so be careful with words.The same words that hurt can heal, it’s a matter of how you pick them. There are some people that aren’t into all the words.There are some that would have you not use certain words.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths…” I wonder what determines corrupting talk? Does the pop culture? Does the FCC? Do the religious people? Nope. The answer comes in the second part of the statement: “… but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” This statement both makes cussing relative and invites some study of its context. The test, does using this word tear someone down or build up? If it doesn’t tear them down (because it is part of a language they understand) then we ought not live in a legalism that the Scriptures don’t impose.

Isaiah 5:20(ESV)Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  We are supposed to use good words for good things and bad words for bad things, the problems start when we mix them up. When we start to assume certain words are bad and certain words are good. Or we allow culture to dictate what is good and what is bad instead of letting scripture tell us.

Bible Translations are filtered through a bit of political correctness. As a pastor one of my goals is to instill a passion to interpret and believe what the Bible actually says into you guys. Not what we want it to say, but what it really says in all its grit and occasional offensiveness. Cleaning up God’s word is like telling a chef he didn’t prepare the meal correctly for the patrons.

But religious people have been covering up  seemingly obscene language in the Bible for centuries. Jewish scribes in the middle ages, who copied the Hebrew Old Testament used as the base for all English translations, edited out some vulgar words and replaced them with nicer ones. For instance, God originally prophesied through Zechariah that women in Israel would be raped by wicked, invading armies. The word God inspired is shagel, and according to Hebrew linguists, shagel is an obscene word that describes a sexual act. But whenever God said shagel  as in Deuteronomy 28:30(ESV)30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit.;

Isaiah 13:16(HCSB)Their children will be smashed to death before their eyes; their houses will be looted, and their wives raped., 

The Masorites replaced it with the more tame shakev—“to lie with.” And all of our “literal” English translations agree that the word from the middle ages is better than the one spoken by our Creator.

Ezekiel 23:16-21(ESV)
Ezekiel 16 (ESV)

Modern translators edit out the vulgarity so that Ezekiel can be read in church. The apostle Paul was so enrapture by the scandalous grace of God that he did what we considered the greatest sin of all, he assumedly cussed! Philippians 3:8(NET)“I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as skubala, in order that I may gain Christ” . The Greek word skubala is more vulgar than crap and dung, and as harsh as s**t. Either way, most translations dim it down by using words like “rubbish,” which means trash, not excrement, or “dung” which is more accurate but far less offensive. And yes my friends, that word is a first century cuss word.

Galatians 5:12(HCSB)12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!

Matthew 23:33(ESV)33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?
Malachi 2:3(ESV) Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it.

So…God said “whore,” called religious leaders “snakes”, said he would rub peoples faces in dung, told religious people to basically go ahead and cut it off. WOW! So much for the safe, tame and predictable God that most churches portray.

There are times that a speaker is called to say things that will shock and offend people…and that is ok. I don’t personally think a speaker should ever try to be shocking just for the sake of doing so…but I do believe, according to Scripture, that there are times when controversial and bold statements need to be made!

In some ways, it’s understandable that we don’t want to be using this type of language in church. But, on the other hand, the Gospel is offensive. Grace is scandalous. And that’s the real point. The biblical prophets sometimes use offensive language, but not to produce shock for its own sake. Edginess was never the goal, and neither was some vague notion of Christian “freedom.” God’s messengers used vulgar images to shock their religious audience out of complacency. Because sometimes the goodness of God becomes lost in the fog of Christianese rhetoric and religious routine, and the only way to wake us up is to use provocative language.

So how do we reconcile Ezekiel, Paul and Jesus’ filthy tongue with Ephesians 4:29(ESV)? 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Does this outlaw all forms of vulgarity? Not exactly. The word for “corrupting” (sapros) literally means “rotten, decaying, unwholesome.” The whole point is not to forbid certain words that are labeled “cuss words” by its culture, but all speech that does not “build up.”

Paul’s warning here does include using obscene or vulgar language that tears someone down, reflects worldly motives, or in any other way that’s unfit for a redeemed way of life. But “corrupting” primarily refers to slander, gossip or any other speech that tears someone down. Paul refers to the dangerous power of words, all words, when used to dehumanize another human being. Gossiping about a fellow church member, dropping a belittling comment on a blog or Facebook post or holding up a hateful sign at a gay-pride parade are all good examples of “corrupting” talk.

The Bible makes this abundantly clear.

1Peter 3:10(ESV)“For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”
James 3:9-12(ESV) summarizes the issue: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

So what is the meaning of Ephesians 4:29(ESV) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

James makes it clear that the lives of Christians—the “brothers”—should not be characterized by evil speech. By making the analogy of both salt water and fresh water coming from the same spring (which is uncharacteristic of springs), he makes the point that it is uncharacteristic for a believer to have both praise and gossip, perverse, or corrupt speech come from his/her mouth. Nor is it characteristic for us to praise God on one hand and curse our brothers on the other. This, too, is uncharacteristic of a true believer. Gossip is like a secret craving. We say we don’t like it, but when it’s within reach, we almost can’t resist it. We get a sudden appetite to know what we don’t know… about somebody else.

Why is it so hard to stop? Proverbs 18:8(HCSB)A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being

No, you might think. Not me. I’m not into sharing the dirty details about a person’s life just for fun. But gossip comes in many flavors, and it involves listening as well. Proverbs 17:4(HCSB)  A wicked person listens to malicious talk;a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.

The Hebrew word translated “gossip” in the Old Testament is defined as “one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.” A gossiper is a person who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it. Gossip is distinguished from sharing information in two ways:

1. Intent. Gossipers often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves as some kind of repositories of knowledge.

2. The type of information shared. Gossipers speak of the faults and failings of others, or reveal potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval. Even if they mean no harm, it is still gossip.

Jesus explained that what comes out of our mouths is that which fills our hearts. Sooner or later, the evil in the heart comes out through the mouth in curses and swearing. But when our hearts are filled with the goodness of God, praise for Him and love for others will pour forth. Our speech will always indicate what is in our hearts. Luke 6:45(ESV) “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks”.

Sin is a condition of the heart, the mind, and “the inner man”, which is manifested in our thoughts, actions and words. When we gossip and use rotten speech, we are giving evidence of the polluting sin in our hearts that must be confessed and repented of. Thankfully, our great God is 1 John 1:9(ESV)“faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. When this happens, we receive a new nature from God (2 Corinthians 5:17), our hearts are transformed, and our speech reflects the new nature God has created within us.

In the end the battle for purity in the mouth is fought in the heart, because “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” If we see this, we won’t be as surprised with what Paul says in Ephesians. It is not what you might expect. We might expect Paul to rebuke us to clean up our language. We might expect him to talk about words that are not vulgar or rotten or corrupt, but are pure and wholesome and creative and clear. But Paul doesn’t do what we expect.

Instead of proposing clean language, he proposes a whole new way of thinking about language. Instead of saying, “You don’t need dirty language to communicate your intention,” he says, “The root issue is whether your intention is love.” In other words the issue for Paul is not really language at all; the issue is love. The issue is not whether our mouth can avoid gross language; the issue is whether our mouth is a means of grace. You see he shifts from the external fruit to the internal root. He shifts from what we say to why we say it. That’s the issue.

The question for your attitude should be “Is what I am angry with angers God as well? or am I angry because I am not getting my way? The question for your mouth will not merely be the moral question: Am I avoiding dirty words? But the Christian question: Am I building the faith of others by what I say? Is my mouth a means of grace? Am I frightened and anxious and angry about my life, or am I filled and overflowing with hope that the Spirit of God will keep me safe for the day of redemption?

Ephesians Pt 11

Ephesians 4:17-24(HCSB)17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. 20 But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, 21 assuming you heard about Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus. 22 You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

Ephesians 4:17-18, in which Paul describes how some in the church, who were supposed to be God’s friends, were in reality acting more like His enemies. They were doing so because of their “futile”(fruitless, pointless, useless) thinking, which led to a “darkened understanding” and a hardening of their hearts. Paul, then, in one sentence, summarizes for us how this futile thinking shows up in one’s behavior, and how to identify those to whom his cautionary reminder in verses 17-18 applies. It shows up in what Paul refers to, in verse 19, as “promiscuity”. To live in promiscuity is literally to live “without restraints”, to do whatever you feel like doing, regardless of what God or anybody else says about it. Those who are promiscuous decide for themselves what is right or wrong, they do whatever they “feel” is right, they live in total subjectivity and can not tolerate any kind of disagreement or correction (the hardened hearts of verse 18). These first century Ephesians would, in fact, be very comfortable in our post-modern, relativistic society, in which truth and morality (right and wrong) are determined by the sovereign individual rather than the sovereign God. Due to the hardening of their hearts, any attempt at criticism or correction may be seen as “hateful, bigoted, intolerant”, even referred to as “hate speech”. Say unto thine own heart, “I am mine own redeemer.” Life is the great indulgence – death, the great abstinence. Therefore, make the most of life – HERE AND NOW ! Satanism 101. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, there is no wrong there is no right, there is only pleasure and pain, if it feels good do it, if it makes you feel bad then don’t do it. Satanism is all about feelings and what make you feel good, self gratification at all costs. Christianity doesn’t always feel good. Doing what God says doesn’t always feel good but it is the right choice. We cannot go off of feelings. We have to go off of scripture. It should be noted here that Paul uses the definite article with the word sensuality here, referring to “promiscuity”, the form of sensuality which was prevalent in Ephesus at the time, and is still very prevalent in our present culture, the lack of restraint which comes from futile or useless thinking, thinking that the individual is lord, rather than God being lord. This futile thinking and hardening of the heart leads to them “giving themselves over” to promiscuity. Having decided that they will be lord, that they will define truth and morality for themselves, they become enslaved by sensuality, for we are enslaved by what we give ourselves over to. This giving themselves over to sensuality will result in their “the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more”, indulging in whatever kind of “uncleanness” that they feel like indulging in, unrestrained by the word of God or anything else, living with an unbridled flesh and an unchecked will, becoming the sole arbiter of what is right or wrong, or whether right and wrong even exist.

The connection between sexual immorality and idolatry is best understood in the context of 1 Corinthians 6:18(ESV) “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” The bodies of believers are the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20(HCSB)19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body. Pagan idol worship often involved perverse and immoral sexual acts performed in the temple of a false god. When we use our physical bodies for immoral purposes, we are imitating pagan worship by profaning God’s holy temple with acts He calls detestable (1 Corinthians 6:9–11(HCSB)9 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Therefore I do not believe in “accountability partners” for pornography or sexual immorality if the Holy Spirit is not enough of an accountability partner than no person will be. If you as a christian can masturbate to porn knowing you have the Holy Spirit residing in you, then a partner will be of no help.

The sin you tolerate today will become a stronghold tomorrow. No one ever wakes up and says they want to be a child molester, no one wakes up and says I want to be addicted to heroin, no one wakes up and says “I think I want to be an alcoholic.”. Its starts with one look at a porno, one toke off a joint, one sip of beer.

The enemy is crafty and knows how to deceive. It is his primary job. He will give you a taste of sin a little at a time until you are hooked and so far deep into it you look around one day and say “how did I get here”. It goes back to the sin you tolerate today becomes a stronghold tomorrow.

Genesis 4:7(NLT) You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Our sin problems are a result of a worship problem. When we cant let go of our sin it’s because we don’t fully believe we serve a big enough God or we love that sin more than we love God.

We all worship something, what you glory in you will sacrifice for. If you glory in video games you will sacrifice for it. If you glory in making out you will sacrifice for it.Sexual immorality is idolatry. Anything you put above God or worship instead of God is idolatry.

Romans 6:16 (NLT)Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 

2 Peter 2:19 (NLT)They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.

Those who are in sexual immorality have made self gratification their god. They have  enslaved themselves to it and worship it and allow it to control and destroy them. The idol always lies. It tells you you can have your pleasure without any consequences. You don’t just look at porn, engage in sex without being married, etc.  you worship self. And here’s the truth: we’re all worshipers. We are passionately giving ourselves away to someone, to something, to a cause, to a person, to an experience, to a pleasure, to a pursuit, to a passion. We give ourselves away. We give our money, our time, our energy. It’s what we talk about. It’s how our identity is formed. It’s what we commit ourselves to. We’re all worshipers, Christians, atheists, those who are members of other religions, all are worshipers. The only question is who or what are you worshiping?

What you glory in you sacrifice for, what you sacrifice for is what you worship. And make no mistake: Every time you see an image, lust in your heart, go surfing on the Internet, you’re worshiping. You’re not worshiping the Creator; you’re worshiping the created, and it’s idolatry. And the issue goes deeper than just sexual orientation or preference. It goes down to the root issue of idolatry. You can’t simultaneously worship Jesus Christ, the Creator God, and be into porn or sexual immorality, you can’t. You can’t worship the Creator, while worshiping the created. It’s one or the other. So, for some of you, your problem is not just behavioral. It’s not that you just need to change the way you act. You need to alter the God you worship. Sometimes, when we’re sinners, when we think of what we want, we find a way to rationalize, justify, and excuse our behavior.

If you claim to believe in Christ, but are living just as you did before you believed in Him, you need to examine whether you truly believe in Him. Becoming a Christian requires turning from your sin to God (repentance). But repentance is not a one-time event. It defines the lifestyle of a believer. God changes us radically at the moment of salvation by imparting new life to us, but this is followed by a lifetime of changing into the image of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18(NLT)18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

The changed life stems from the transformation that God works in us through the gospel as we put off the old life, are renewed in our minds, and put on the new life in Christ.

In Romans 6 and in Colossians 3:9(NLT)Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds, Paul refers to the putting off of the old man as an accomplished fact. When Christ died on the cross, we died with Him positionally. When He was raised from the dead, we were raised up with Him. We are to figure these facts to be true in our daily practice, so that we will not give in to sin (Romans 6:11(NLT)11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. But, although we died with Christ, in other places Paul commands us to put to death our members that are on the earth.

Romans 8:13(NLT)13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

Colossians 3:5(NLT)So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
Why do we need to put to death our members if we already died?

We must daily apply experientially the facts that are true of us positionally. So, yes, at the moment we got saved, we put off the dirty clothes of the old life. But, every day we must figure that this is so by putting off everything associated with the old life and putting on the new life in Christ.

God is the creator of this new man. As we saw in Ephesians 2:10(HCSB)10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. This shows that the changed life of the believer is not something that we can conjure up by our own will power. God created us anew in Him. But, at the same time, we must walk in the good works that He has prepared for us.

The first step is cognition. God’s pattern for spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says and what it means. The meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture—if you don’t know what it means, you don’t have the truth. So the process of spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says. This is the importance of being under spiritual leadership that is steeped in biblical knowledge and truth.

True sanctification begins with renewing your mind. (Greek – Metanoia) You must know the truth, plain and simple. There’s no premium on ignorance in sanctification. You’re not going to get there through some emotional or mystical experience. Spiritual growth won’t happen by osmosis—it requires the discipline of constantly putting God’s truth in your mind.

Hebrews 13:8-9(HCSB)8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.

There are no shortcuts in sanctification—a lack of biblical knowledge will always stun your spiritual growth. Apart from the truth of Scripture, there simply is no mechanism to restrain your sinful flesh. Legalism can’t do it. Good Intentions can’t either. The only certain method for true spiritual growth starts with absorbing God’s eternal truth.

Charles Spurgeon stated the following…

Imagine that there is a pig and I am standing about 100 ft away from a pig. To one side of me is a beautiful 7 course dinner and to the other side of me is a large bucket of slop.

The pig is released, which side is he going to run to? To the slop side of course!

Why? Because he is a pig and that is all that pigs know.

Now imagine if you will that we were able to change that pig into a man, all the while he is eating the slop. What will happen?

The odds are that he will lift up his head and look around at his environment and then spit out the slop he was feeding upon when he was a pig.

Why? Because he is no longer a pig that is able to feed upon slop, but a man needing a form of food to give him nutrition so that he might live.

This man is now a new creature and is no longer a pig.

Now from time to time he may even have pig thoughts about the wonderful slop he once ate when he was a pig. He may even go to the slop bucket from time to time, smell it, look at it. But the moment he feeds upon it what will happen? He will spit it out because he is no longer a pig but a man. Even if he as a man he forces himself to eat the slop, which men are able to do, it will eventually cause him to vomit it all up and make him sick possibly unto death because his body no longer accepts slop because he is a new creature.Now if one thinks he is a man and can still stomach the slop day in and day out, what makes him think he was changed into a new creature in the first place? If he is feeding upon the slop of the world and does not get sick to his stomach, maybe he was never changed into new creature in the first place and to this day remains a pig.

2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

When we are truly converted, we can no longer stomach the slop of the world, the fleshly sin that we once indulged in.

When we entertain the sin, and all of us do from time to time, it makes us sick with guilt and shame because it is the Holy Spirit working in our lives chastening us from the inside out because God loves us as His children. Scripture says that God chastens His own.

Luke 15:11-21(HCSB) He also said: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. 14 After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. 15 Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one would give him any. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger!18 I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’

The son was in the pig slop eating pig pods, stuff that would fill up his belly but give him no nourishment, how much do we take in throughout the week that fills us up but gives us no spiritual nourishment?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11(HCSB) 9 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

There is a difference between continuing to sin and continuing to live in sin. No one reaches sinless perfection in this life, but the redeemed Christian is being sanctified (made holy) day by day, sinning less and hating it more each time he fails. Yes, we still sin, but unwillingly and less and less frequently as we mature. Our new self hates the sin that still has a hold on us. The difference is that the new creation is no longer a slave to sin, as we formerly were. We are now freed from sin and it no longer has power over us. Now we are empowered by and for righteousness. We now have the choice to “let sin reign” or to count ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”

Romans 6:11-12(HCSB)11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. Best of all, now we have the power to choose the latter.

God is getting you ready to live with Him forever. He is getting you ready to accept His inheritance. Proverbs 17:3(NLT)Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

How HOT does the fire have to get?? As HOT as we let it.
God doesn’t care about your reputation; He cares about your Character.

For Godly character to be in us HE has to work our fleshly character out of us. God doesn’t change our personality, He changes our character.

Character is what you are behind closed doors, when no one is watching, when your all alone, when you don’t have to wear the “mask” in front of people.

Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in his life. It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character:
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Being saved is a nature change not sin management. The highest a lot of us take it is we teach you to act like us, dress like us, talk like us. Never really dealing with the underlying sin problem. Jesus is the answer to the sin problem.

James 4:7-10 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Ephesians Pt9 Unity

Ephesians 4:1-6(HCSB)Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, 3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

While many in today’s world are engaged in celebrating “diversity,” the Bible places an extraordinary emphasis on the value of “unity.” While there is diversity in unity, the glue than binds us in unity is our beliefs on the Lord, faith, baptism, the church and the Spirit. The Persons of the Godhead are a ultimate tri-unity of absolute perfection.

It is difficult to find a church within the framework of New Testament history that did not experience some level of discord. The church in Jerusalem was troubled with Judaizers (Acts 11:1-3(ESV)Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
Acts 15:1(ESV)But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 

Galatians 5:7-12 (ESV)7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

The Corinthian church goers had their own conflicting features that gave excessive flattery to leaders (1 Corinthians 1:10-17(ESV)10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Even the beloved Timothy in Ephesus had to deal with people who refused to repent and have their name for all eternity in scripture. 1 Timothy 1:18-20(HCSB) 18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that by them you may strongly engage in battle, 19 having faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and have suffered the shipwreck of their faith. 20 Hymenaeus and Alexander are among them, and I have delivered them to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme.

Acts 15:36-39(HCSB)36 After some time had passed, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit the brothers in every town where we have preached the message of the Lord and see how they’re doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark.38 But Paul did not think it appropriate to take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 There was such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. These examples by no means exhaust the list, but you get the idea there have been disagreements throughout the church and some ended in “being handed over to Satan” and some just ended and Paul actually says Mark is very useful to him in ministry in 2 Timothy. This is the same Mark that wrote the Gospel of Mark.

Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus is a document that addresses unity. The first three chapters provide a theological basis for unity; the final three are principally concerned with the practical implementation of “unity of the body” in Christ. In 4:1-6, God’s inspired apostle lays down a micro-platform for unity that concerns the two main sources of discord among those who profess to follow Christ. One has to do with temperament, the other with teaching. The recognition of these two problematic areas could go a long way towards healing division.

Paul frequently refers to himself as a “prisoner” (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; Philippians 1:13; Philemon 9,13; 2 Timothy 1:8). He is both a prisoner “of Christ” (3:1) and a prisoner “in the Lord” (4:1). The apostle was a prisoner literally on many occasions during his ministry (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:23), and specifically when he penned this letter to the church in Ephesus. But in a richer sense he had become the prisoner “of” Jesus in that he had surrendered his self-interests to the bondage of his Lord for whom he gladly suffered. Too, his relationship “in” the Lord placed his sufferings in an altogether different dimension. There is no nobility in hardship when one is distanced from the Savior.

In the pursuit of Christian unity, it is absolutely crucial that a person understands and appreciates the importance of the belief system he has embraced. Christianity is the sole avenue to God. It is not merely “a religion,” or a great way to live. In view of this foundational truth, the plea that Paul wrote is appropriate.

Christians must (Ephesians 4:1(HCSB)“walk worthy of the calling you have received”. The “calling” is God’s invitation (Acts 2:39(HCSB)39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”)Romans 8:30(HCSB)30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. How did He call us? by means of gospel preaching (2 Thessalonians 2:14(HCSB)14 He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ., to people who are accountable, to partake of the blessings of the kingdom of heaven by means of the “in Christ” relationship (Philippians 3:14). Those who respond to the message, and submit in obedience, are designated as the “called”.

The term “walk” (peripateo—“to walk around”) refers to the entire “sphere” of one’s existence. Christianity is not a mere sideline, nor is it a spiritual “hobby.” It is a consuming passion. Christian conduct must measure up to the pattern imposed by God.

Sin is a disruptive force, it always divides, separates, and splinters. It divides a man within and against himself. It has produced the constant fight and struggle which we are all aware of in our own lives and in the life of the church. Consequently, the central object of salvation, in a sense, is to re-unite, to bring together again, to reconcile, to restore the unity that God created before sin and the fall produced this terrible havoc between God and man, between men, and within man himself.

So the unity that we have in Christ is part of the grand design. Thus, one of the peculiar marks of the Christian calling is to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Unity is not a general spirit of friendliness or fellowship. Nor is unity some common aim or series of aims. UNITY IS A PRODUCT. It is the result of all that Paul has been saying in chapters 1-3. It is the product of the cross and God’s work in Christ. There can be no Christian unity unless it is based on the teaching of correct biblical doctrine. Since Christian unity is a result of God’s work in Christ, it is not something that we are to aim at for the sake of unity.  In order for a church like ours to be in unity we must rally around a few fundamental beliefs. While we desire to be inclusive and accepting of others and their scriptural beliefs – at some point there has to be a line in the sand that we will not cross.

The Inerrancy of Scripture

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection

Jesus sinlessness

There is ONLY one true God

The Virgin Birth

The Trinity: The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit

The existence of an eternal Hell

The necessity of belief in Jesus Christ ONLY as savior for salvation,Jesus + Nothing= Salvation

For us to be in unity with others we have to agree upon these close handed issues.

UNITY IS “OF THE SPIRIT” It refers to the unity provided by the Holy Spirit. It is a unity which we can never produce.

UNITY IS ORGANIC Unity is living and vital. It is not mechanical. Christian unity, the unity of the Spirit, is a unity which starts within and works outward through organic life like we see in a flower or in the human body. The unity of the church is organic in character. She is not a collection of parts. She is a new creation, a spiritual body created by God in Christ. The old has been done away in the this body. There are no longer the distinctions of man. There is no longer Jew and Gentile . . .

The analogy of the human body explains the nature of this unity.

(1) The human body is first, an organic unity. It consists of many parts: toes, fingers, hands, feet, legs, eyes, ears, etc. But it is not a collection of parts put together as in an automobile or as in a house. It begins from one cell which begins to develop and to grow and shoots off little buds that eventually make up the varied parts. This is an organic and a living unity by creation. So is the church, spiritually speaking.

True, when a person believes in Christ, he is joined into union with Christ by Spirit baptism and becomes a member of the body, but by the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit, he is not merely and add on. He miraculously and spiritually becomes an organic part of the body of Christ.

Some of the parts are covered, others are within the body and are unseen, but nevertheless, very important. Some gifts are more in the fore front, they are more obvious and others less so, but all are essential to the effective work of the body.

There is far more to unity than a mere atmosphere of friendliness. There also is the unity of truth. Truth is consistent, hence there is the sacred reminder that Christians “all speak the same thing,” and that there be “no divisions” among us. Rather, we are to be “united with the same understanding and the same conviction” (1 Corinthians 1:10(HCSB)10 Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. While this goal never will be achieved absolutely in a society of flawed people, it must be sought vigorously.

There is one baptism,when Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers about “one baptism,” he was reminding them that, regardless of their background or nationality, they all served the same Lord, shared the same faith, and had experienced the same baptism. By reminding the church that they all had a similar testimony and that they were all partakers in the same Holy Spirit, Paul encouraged them to work together for the cause of Christ so that the message of redemption would continue to spread throughout the world (Matthew 28:19).

The “one body” is identified as the “church” in its universal capacity. That “body” consists of many “members,” yet is “one” in its essential composition (1 Corinthians 12:12). The expression “one body” is thus the equivalent of “one church” (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18,24). While there are many local congregations of “like kind” that make up that one body (Revelation 1:4), the modern practice of many denominations proclaiming varying doctrines, is a manifested apostasy from the gospel truth. Paul affirmed that Christ is the “Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23); none outside the “one body” is promised salvation.

The imagery of the “body” further suggests that all direction to the “members” is received from the “head,” Christ (Ephesians 5:23(HCSB)23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.; Colossians 1:18), and such excludes popes and councils.What sort of sideshow monstrosity is a creature with one “head” and yet “many bodies”? Moreover, if the body is to function as God intended, unity among its members must prevail. 1 Corinthians 12:12(HCSB)2 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ.. If there were no cooperation between the nervous, circulatory, respiratory systems, etc., could any body function?

In his comments upon this “one body” phrase, Baptist scholar Justin Smith laments the sad reality that the modern system of “Christendom,” with its divisions into many “sects,” is not consistent with the New Testament pattern. He purposefully declined to identify “causes” or to assign “responsibility”; he simply noted the error of the current status of the numerous conflicting “bodies” (1890, 60-61).

But the cause is quite transparent; it lies in a denial of the New Testament as the sole pattern for church organization, and the responsibility rests with all who applaud the diversity of coexisting with different religions, denominations and cults. They choose to remain entangled in that maze of a self-willed religion instead of standing for biblical sound doctrine.
What is doctrine? In its basic sense, doctrine is any sort of teaching. The Bible, for example, talks about the teachings of men (Mark 7:7–8(HCSB)They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.8 Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.”, the teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1(HCSB)Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons,), and the teachings of God (John 6:45(HCSB)45 It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me—). Here, at Revival Life Church we are concerned with divine teaching, the teaching of God. According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. The primary object of doctrine is God; the secondary object is all things in relation to God. Doctrine teaches us to see God as the one from whom and through whom and to whom all things exist, and doctrine directs our lives to this God’s glory. Sound doctrine delivers us from the snare of false teaching (
Titus 1:9-11(HCSB)9 holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it. 10 For there are also many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from Judaism.11 It is necessary to silence them; they overthrow whole households by teaching what they shouldn’t in order to get money dishonestly., which otherwise threatens to arrest spiritual development (Ephesians 4:14(HCSB)14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. and to foster  discord in the church (Romans 16:17(HCSB)17 Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them.

Unity does not imply uniformity. It does not mean that all Christians will think alike or perform identical ministries. We unify when our doctrines are alike, we are not to be in unity when our doctrines are not the same. Sound doctrine is important because our faith is based on a specific message. Our eternal destiny depends upon hearing “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation”. Sound doctrine is important because the gospel is a sacred trust, and we dare not tamper with God’s communication to the world. Our duty is to deliver the message, not to change it. Rather than alter the apostles’ doctrine, we receive what has been passed down to us and keep it “as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). Sound doctrine is important because what we believe affects what we do. Behavior is an extension of theology, and there is a direct correlation between what we think and how we act. For example, two people stand on top of a bridge; one believes he can fly, and the other believes he cannot fly. Their next actions will be quite dissimilar. In the same way, a man who believes that there is no such thing as right and wrong will naturally behave differently from a man who believes in well-defined moral standards. In one of the Bible’s lists of sins, things like rebellion, murder, lying, slander and gossip are mentioned. The list concludes with “whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:9-10). In other words, true teaching promotes righteousness; sin flourishes where “the sound doctrine” is opposed.

Sound doctrine is important because we must ascertain truth in a world of falsehood. “Many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). There are tares among the wheat and wolves among the flock (Matthew 13:25; Acts 20:29). The best way to distinguish truth from falsehood is to know what the truth is. Pastors will deal with people in different ways and most people will not understand this. They will expect us to love everyone the same. Calling out false teaching is love for the flock. Showing the congregation what heretics and false teachers sound like is one of the most loving things you can do. It keeps them from falling into damnable heresies. Preaching sound doctrine is sort of a vaccine to bad doctrine. John MacArthur says “One of the greatest problems with the modern day church is  lack of biblical discernment. The church basically suffers from spiritual AIDS. It could die of a thousand heresies because its immune system is so totally deficient”John MacArthur(2015 Ligonier Fall Conference)
Preaching and Teaching sound doctrine builds up the immune system of the church. It shows the congregation the truth so when the false comes they know the difference. Waiting for the false to come then showing the truth is not correct nor effective. It is like trying to get a flu shot after you have the flu.

Titus 1:9 (ESV)He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus 2:1 (ESV) But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

2 Timothy 4:2-4 (ESV) Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

2 Timothy 4:3 (ESV)For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

1 Timothy 6:3-5 (ESV) If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

2 Peter 1:20-21 (ESV)Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

This unity of which Paul wrote is not one which the Christian needs to create, but one which already exists and must be diligently preserved. It is based upon our sharing life in one body, the universal church, the body of Christ. All Christians are sealed, possessed, and indwelt by the same Spirit and look forward to the same hope. We possess one Lord, that is, one Supreme Commander, one common faith (one system of fundamental truth) held by all Christians, and one baptism.

Most importantly, as Christians, we are to see one another in the light of the cross. Fellow Christians are those for whom Christ died a horrible and painful death so that He might exchange His righteous perfection for their sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). How can we not extend to them the love, compassion, and grace of our heavenly Father? How can we demean, criticize, and defame those covered with the precious blood of Christ? Were we not slaves to sin when He called us, hopelessly lost, dead in our own transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1)? But we are now slaves of Christ, slaves to righteousness, and as slaves of the Master, the task before us is not to quarrel and demand our needs be met but to reflect His grace and love to those who are also His by His mercy. A church full of such people enjoying their “common salvation” will be a true, biblical church unified in, and earnestly contending for, the “faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).