Do Not Be Frightened!

Do Not Be Frightened!

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:7-9

If Dwight Eisenhower stood in Joshua’s shoes, he would have much reason to be afraid.

If Dwight Eisenhower stood in Joshua’s shoes, he would have much reason to be afraid.

If Dwight Eisenhower stood in Joshua’s shoes, he would have much reason to be afraid.  Cross a body of water that separates you from the enemy’s terrain by…asking men carrying a box of gold to start to walk into it so that it will turn into dry land?? (Josh. 3:1ff)  Attack a walled, fortified city and cause its walls to fall down by…marching around it while playing music and shouting?? (Josh. 6:1ff)  I wonder how long it would have taken FDR to show Eisenhower the door if he had proposed similar battle plans for D-Day.  No wonder the Bible says Joshua and Israel did these things “by faith” (Heb. 11:30).

Here’s the thing, friends.  God has not asked us to perform miracles today like he did back then…but he HAS told us to abide by his Word and not turn from it just as he did with Joshua (Matt. 7:21-27; John 8:31-32; 14:15, 21, 23-24; 15:10, 14; Rom. 6:17-18; Heb. 5:9; 1 John 3:24; 5:2-3).  Of themselves, his commandments are not hard (1 John 5:3).  It is not inherently hard to submit to immersion for forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), to treat others as you would want to be treated (Matt. 7:12), to continually add to your faith the Christian attributes God would have you to possess (2 Pet. 1:5-11; Eph. 4:20-5:21), to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24), and to bring the gospel to a lost world (Mark 16:15).  However, what often makes them hard for us to accomplish as we should is fear and discouragement, the very things God told Joshua to avoid.  Even though what he has told us to do is in itself much easier than marching around a walled city expecting it to fall with a shout, how often do we find it hard to share the gospel because of the fear of persecution?  How often do we find it difficult let our light shine in the way in which God wants because of dismay and discouragement (assuming prideful, stubborn, selfishness is not also a factor)?

What we must remember is that the same God who promised to be with Joshua and give him success in his endeavors to obey his will is also with us and has given us that same promise (Matt. 6:25-34; 28:18-20; Heb. 13:5b-6; 1 John 4:4).  Not only that, but he has promised us continual forgiveness if we become Christians through penitent baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16) and then humbly confess and repent of our sins afterwards (1 John 1:7-9; Acts 8:22; 2 Cor. 7:9-11).  That means that we have an inheritance in eternal Heaven no matter what happens to us in this life!  (1 Pet. 1:3-7)  If we make our top priority being faithful citizens of his kingdom and being righteous in his sight (Matt. 6:33), he will supply for us what we truly need both in this life and in the next!  So let’s be strong and courageous…for God is with us as we stand for him!

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Gifts? Knowledge? Prophecy?

Three Abiding Things

There is a striking contrast the apostle Paul makes in the thirteenth chapter of his first letter to Corinth. He speaks of three temporary things and three things which will abide. The church in Corinth was so enamored by the temporary gifts of tongues, knowledge and prophecy that they had lost sight of three things far more important.

Enamored by the past gifts of tongues, knowledge and prophecy? Move on.

Enamored by the past gifts of tongues, knowledge and prophecy? Move on.

It appears that many in the modern charismatic, Pentecostal movement have elevated their view of these same gifts, and they have failed to understand the message Paul wrote to Corinth. While the modern “tongues” are presented as being the same as those in the first century, such is not the case. Acts chapter two clearly shows that Bible tongues were languages which were spoken by people in various lands of that day. This is not what is being done in this movement.

The chapter opens with an affirmation that those early Christians who actually had the gift of tongues had not reached the highest level of spirituality. There was something far greater than tongues. It was love. Paul taught that if love was not present, the gift had the same impact as a clanging cymbal. The same was true of the gifts of prophecy (inspired preaching) and divine knowledge which was instantly imparted. Without love, these gifts from heaven were useless. The external display of “spirituality” is far different from true spirituality.

Read his words carefully which show the contrast between that which was temporarily part of God’s plan and that which is permanently part of God’s plan. “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease, as for knowledge it will pass away” (1 Cor. 13:8, ESV).

These gifts were part of the church when it was in its infancy. Paul showed this when he stated, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor. 13:11). God had something far greater than these gifts which were so necessary for the church as it began and part of His plan until the church reached maturity.

What was greater than these temporary things? Look at the last verse. “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” These three qualities of godliness are external and come from a deep spiritual relationship with the Lord.

Think how this principle impacts us all. We are not spiritual simply because we look like Christians on the outside. So study His word and build your faith, and your hope will deepen. “Above all these things put on love” (Col. 3:14).

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Accessory to Sin?

Are You an Accessory to Sin?

Within the legal code of the various states within the U.S.A., one may be found guilty of being an accessory to a particular crime. If one supplies a murderer with a weapon knowing what the intent of the murderer is, then one will be found guilty of being an accessory to murder. If a person drives the get away car for a bank robbery, then he will be found guilty of being an accessory to the crime of robbery. There is also the crime of aiding and abetting a known felon that in essence is a crime of accessory. The law clearly makes provision to punish those who may have not committed the actual crime itself, but are involved to such a degree that the crime could not happen without their influence. Such a person is called an accessory to the crime and is held accountable and often punished for helping another do something that is wrong.

Are you an accessory to behavior's against God? A partner in crime of sin.

Are you an accessory to behavior’s against God? A partner in crime of sin.

As Christians, the crimes that we are concerned about avoiding are not merely against men, but against God. Such crimes against God are referred to in the Bible as sin. Isaiah states that sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2). James writes that sin when it is full-grown brings death (James 1:15). And Paul states that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Holy Spirit makes it clear through these inspired men that sin leads to eternal separation from God and that sin is, therefore, serious and deadly business. Just as being an accessory to a crime is in itself a crime, so also being an accessory to sin is in itself a sin.

How does the Bible say that we can be an accessory to sin? One of the first passages that comes to mind is 2 John 10 and 11. In this passage, John writes to a Christian woman telling her not to receive false teachers into her house. There was nothing wrong with receiving strangers into one’s house to care for them as they were traveling through town. In fact, Hebrews 13:2 states that when Christian’s practice such they are acting in a way approved by the Holy Spirit. However, when receiving a false teacher into one’s home, the situation is different. John states in verse 11 that when one does this, one is partaking of that false teacher’s evil deeds. There is a difference between doing something that is right to support that which is right and doing something that would otherwise be right to support that which is wrong. The Holy Spirit says that the latter is sin. When we give aid and comfort to false teachers, that is being an accessory to sin.

A Christian can also be an accessory to sin by approving that which is wrong. We read in 1 Corinthians 5:1 that there was fornication among the church at Corinth. The response of the members of the church at Corinth was not to condemn that which was wrong, but to be proud about it (1 Corinthians 5:2). In other words, the church at Corinth was, through their attitude of pride concerning the fornicator, approving his action of fornication. Paul wrote in verse 6 that their “glorying” was not good. It was evil and they should not have been doing this. No doubt, many of the Corinthian Christians who were “glorying” in this man’s sin were not committing that sin themselves. Yet, because they were “glorying” in it, they were committing sin themselves: the sin of approving of something that is evil. Paul states in Romans 1:32 that not only are those who practice evil worthy of death due to their sin, but those who approve of such things are equally worthy of death due to their sin of approval.

Finally, a Christian can also be an accessory to sin by providing service to that which is sinful. John writes in 1 John 2:10 “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” The one who loves will not provide an occasion of stumbling in another. The opposite is also true, the one who sets forth an occasion of stumbling before another does not love him. And, when one does not love his neighbor, he violates what Jesus calls the second command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).

Providing service to that which is sinful is of itself a sin. It would be a sin to give an idol to the idolater though you yourself may not worship it. It would be a sin to provide a fornicator a prostitute, though you yourself may not commit fornication. It would be a sin to give drugs to an addict, though you yourself may not do drugs. It would be a sin to serve alcohol to a drunkard, though you yourself may not drink at all. It would be a sin to take a gambler to a slot machine, though you yourself may not gamble. At the least, a person who acted in such a way would be a hypocrite. Paul writes in Romans 12:9, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” When we act out of a non-hypocritical love toward our fellow man, we will not encourage him to engage in sinfulness by providing the means of his sin. Instead, we will abhor what is evil. Abhorring something means that we put it as far away from us as possible. If we serve evil, we fail to abhor evil.

At the most, the person who serves those who sin, while not actually performing the evil act himself, is participating in the evil act through his influence. In the first part of the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks directly to the seven churches of Asia through John. To the church at Pergamos Jesus said, “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication” (Revelation 2:14). Jesus had something “against” this church. They were guilty of the doctrine of Balaam. What was that doctrine? The verse says that he “taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel.” Balaam’s sin was not that he worshipped idols or committed fornication, but that encouraged others to do this through his influence. The incident to which this verse is referring is found in Numbers 25:1-7. An interesting fact in this regard is that Balaam had already left the proverbial “scene of the crime.” In Numbers 24:25 we read, “Then Balaam rose and departed and returned to his place:.” Yet, although Balaam was not present during the activities of Numbers 25, we see later that he was killed with the sword because of his transgression (Numbers 31:8) and that Moses held him personally responsible for the evil that had come upon the children of Israel (Numbers 31:16). Jesus stated to the church at Pergamos that Balaam was guilty of sin purely because he used his influence for evil and that the church at Pergamos was guilty as well because they taught his doctrine. How can we say that we are pure when we use our influence for evil? Jesus directly condemns such thinking.

Let us resolve not to be an accessory to sin whether we are supporting a false teacher, approving that which is wrong, or providing service to that which is sinful. Our end will be no different than those who practice the sin itself.

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