Blog

Blog

Sermons

Displaying 41 - 45 of 78

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16


The Work of the Devil Today

Thursday, August 15, 2019

These past several weeks, we’ve looked at a number of very encouraging Scriptures that set out the ways that God is not merely active, but powerfully active, in our lives today.  How comforting it is to know that God is personally involved with each one of us!

Sadly, God is not the only spiritual being who is involved in our lives.  The devil is too, and in every way, His work is the opposite of God’s.  God wants to bless us, but the devil wants to ruin and destroy us.  God wants us to know about His good works so that we will seek Him, but the devil wants us to forget that he even exists.

Sadly, his diabolical campaign is all too effective.  People forget about the devil, even if they don’t outright deny his existence, so they stumble right into his traps and are destroyed.  This doesn’t happen merely to people in the world.  It happens to Christians too, and if we don’t pay attention, it will happen to us.  Let’s spend this morning, then, considering the unpleasant subject of the work of the devil today.

First, we must recognize that the devil SCHEMES.  Look at Ephesians 5:11.  Sometimes, we get so caught up in thinking of the devil as mean and evil that we forget that he’s smart.  The devil’s not like the Joker.  He doesn’t run around chaotically smashing things for fun.  He’s much more calculating than that.  Indeed, he has a plan right now for how he is going to do his level best to get each one of us into hell. 

Just like the devil’s not dumb, he’s not lazy either.  He will work on us for years, decades, if he has to, luring us away from the path of righteousness step by step, bit by bit, until finally we end up where he wants us.  He is industrious and patient.

Obviously, all of us would be dead meat if we were left to face such a cunning, malevolent being on our own.  Our only hope for victory is through Jesus.  However, even though we must rely on the Lord, neither should we go skipping merrily off into spiritual danger without a clue.  We ourselves must be watchful for the ways that the devil is working in our lives.

Seriously.  Stop right now.  Ask yourself, “What is the devil’s plan for leading me away from the Lord?”  I guarantee you that there is a plan, and if you pay careful attention to the temptations and spiritual dangers in your life, you can figure out what it is.  The more we see the devil’s designs, the less vulnerable we are to them.  Let’s all be watchful and wise!

Second, the devil LIES.  Consider the words of our Lord in John 8:44.  You know, there are few times in the gospels when we hear as much anger and contempt in Jesus’ voice as we do right here.  He and the devil are ancient adversaries.  Even when Jesus said this, they had been fighting against each other for millennia, and Jesus recognizes in the devil the very opposite of His holy nature.  Jesus said of Himself that He is the way, the truth, and the life.  The devil, by contrast, is the father of lies.

When we are tempted, we must remember this.  Somewhere, in every temptation, there is a lie.  Every single one of them.  Sometimes the lie is that we won’t be happy without this sin.  Sometimes it’s that people won’t like us unless we sin.  Sometimes, it’s that the consequences of righteousness are too hard to bear.  Sometimes, it’s that sin won’t have any consequences.  Sometimes, it’s several or even all of the above.  Regardless, there is always a lie.

Just like a smart fish learns to see the hook behind the worm, we need to learn to see the lie behind the temptation.  Where is it that Satan is twisting the truth in order to lead us into evil?  Once we spot the lie, the temptation will become less powerful.  Once we see that it is possible to be righteous and happy, or possible to be righteous and still have people love us, the pull of the flesh will become much weaker.  Sometimes, people walk into sin without being deceived, but usually not, and if we defeat self-deception, Satan will have a much harder time with us.

Third, the devil HINDERS.  Paul speaks of this in his life in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18.  This is subtle, but it’s important.  Sometimes, the devil isn’t trying directly to get us to quit running the race.  Sometimes, he’s only trying to make running the race harder.  He’s trying to tangle our feet up to get us to stumble a little bit.  He’s trying to weigh us down so that each stride takes more effort.  He figures that if he can get us tired out, we’re not likely to try as hard in the cause of righteousness.

Let’s take a poll.  I’m not going to ask for a show of hands.  I just want you to answer in your own head.  Right now, is it true that you have all the time and energy you want to devote to serving God?  Or instead, is it true that there are things you’d love to be doing for the Lord, but you’re so busy that you don’t ever get around to doing them?  If the latter is where you find yourself, guess what?  The hindering work of the devil is evident in your life.

The only way to keep the devil from hindering us is to be absolutely ruthless in managing our time.  Distractions in our lives are like weeds in a flowerbed.  We don’t have to work to seek them out.  Instead, they show up on their own, and before we know it, we have a schedule filled with 1257 different things, none of which are related to godliness.  When our schedules look like that, the devil is happy.  As far as he is concerned, a distracted and neutralized Christian is the next best thing to an out-of-duty Christian.  If we want to maximize our usefulness to the Lord, we have to clear those schedules, and we have to spend the rest of our lives saying “No” to everything but Him.

Finally, the devil DEVOURS.  Here, let’s read from the famous text of 1 Peter 5:8.  He’ll hinder us if he must, but what he’d really like to do is consume us.  As Jesus said in John 8, the devil has been a murderer from the beginning.

One of the most heartbreaking things about being a preacher is having to watch as the devil devours people, especially young people.  It gives me no joy to tell this story, but right now, one of the kids I taught in Bible class in Joliet, a kid I had in my home, is on trial for first-degree murder.  He was a smart kid, his mom took him to church three times a week, he had all the potential in the world, but he started running with the wrong crowd, and look how he ended up.  This is to say nothing of all the Christians I’ve seen end up as drug addicts and single moms and atheists.

It’s tough to say, but from the outside looking in, none of those people seem very happy.  That’s the handiwork of Satan too.  He wants to ruin our lives and then wreck our eternities along with that.  Whatever the path that the devil wants us to walk, that is the path we don’t want to go down!

The Virtuous Man, Part 2

Thursday, August 08, 2019

We live in a society that is increasingly defined by an absence of male leadership.  This is evident first of all in the family.  Today, only 58 percent of American children live with both birth parents, and the vast majority of the time, if a parent is gone, it’s Dad.  As our nation continues to decline, this number will only rise.

Leadership problems are prominent within the church too.  Based on an informal, decades-long survey, Steve Wolfgang estimates that only a quarter to a third of churches of Christ have elders.  The most common reason for a man to be unqualified to serve is his unfaithful children.

I’m not here to assign blame for any of these things, but I am here to say that men of God need to do better.  If we allow our corrosive culture to corrode those who should be leading the church, the Restoration movement surely will end in failure.  With this in mind, let’s take another look this evening at Job 31 and God’s model of the virtuous man.

The first attribute that Job examines in this part of the context is JUSTICE.  Look at Job 31:13-15.  This passage, is about the way that a man handles being in authority.  You’re the master.  You’re the boss.  You’re the man.  However, one of your servants comes to you with a complaint.  They have no power.  They can’t make you do anything.  All they can do is appeal to your sense of fairness.  A good man will listen to them and deal justly with them.  A bad man will dismiss them because he has the power to do so.

The applications of this passage are legion.  First, it applies to those who are business owners or even managers.  How do you treat those who are under you?  Are you fair with them?  Are you understanding?  Or, instead, do you use your power to bully them and be a jerk because you can and nobody’s going to call you out on it?  If the latter, Job wants us to remember that no matter who we are, God still is over us, and if we are unfair to others, we will have to give an account.

The same can be said for husbands and fathers.  Men, God made us the head of the family, but our model for headship isn’t Louis XIV.  It’s Jesus.  We’re not called to stomp all over our wives and children.  We’re called to serve them and consistently seek their good.  If we refuse to hear their concerns and be persuaded when it’s appropriate, we aren’t the leaders God has called us to be.

Similarly, Job makes the point that God has called us to GENEROSITY.  Consider his words in Job 31:16-20.  Notice that in this text, all the sins that Job cites are sins of omission.  They are all times when a man of God has the opportunity to help and chooses not to.  There is a widow he could feed, and he allows her to go hungry.  There is an orphan he could clothe, and he allows him to be cold instead.  Men, if all we do is stand by and allow the poor to suffer without any help from us, we are not being godly!

Of course, we also should use wisdom as we offer help.  If you toss twenty bucks to the guy who is sitting on the sidewalk outside the liquor store begging for money, you’re not helping anybody!  At the same time, though, we must not allow wisdom to lead us into hardheartedness.  If all we ever do is make excuses about why we are not being generous, at some point, we have to admit that we don’t actually want to be generous. 

Now, I must say that in the time I’ve been here, I’ve seen that this is a generous, caring congregation, and all of you who are involved in that, I applaud you!  Keep doing that, and even if you get burned, don’t let that discourage you from doing good in future.

Third, Job lauds the merits of FORBEARANCE.  Let’s keep going in Job 31:21-23.  This is another image that takes some unpacking.  Back in the day, some of the poorest, most vulnerable people were the fatherless—orphans.  They didn’t have anybody to protect them or stand up for them.  By contrast, the gate is where the elders of the city sat to pass judgment on local business.  What Job is saying, then, is that wicked men are emboldened by their powerful friends to oppress the poor.  If you take the lands of the fatherless away from him and split them with your buddy, who’s going to object?

Job’s answer is that God will.  If you raise your hand against the fatherless, God’s going to rip your arm off.  The same principle applies today.  God loves the poor.  He loves the widows.  He loves the fatherless.  Indeed, everyone who is weak and vulnerable and despised by society, He loves, and He will surely punish those who harm and exploit them. 

We must take care that we are not involved in the oppression of people like this ourselves.  I don’t think that God is pleased with those who operate title-loan and check-cashing businesses, nor with those who take advantage of political connections to profit at the poor’s expense.  If we are merciless, God will be merciless toward us.

Finally, we see Job endorsing GODLINESS.  Let’s wrap up our reading for the hour in Job 31:24-28.  This is another text where we see Job making connections that we don’t expect to see until the New Testament.  We see idolatry all the way through the Old Testament, but it’s not until Colossians 3 that Paul says straight-out that covetousness and greed are another form of idolatry. 

However, notice the structure of the passage here.  Here, Job talks both about trusting in gold and worshiping false gods, but he does so in the same context.  Clearly, he regards those things as related, and he thinks that both are a betrayal of God.

Today, we don’t have too much to do with idols.  The only idol I know of in town is that one in the donut shop in Sunnyside.  I think it’s a statue of Lakshmi, but I haven’t seen anyone worshiping it. 

Covetousness is another matter.  There are an awful, awful lot of people around here who worship money, even if they go to church on Sunday morning.  Sometimes, their love of money is how they determine where they’re going to go to church!  The point is that it’s easy to think that money isn’t the most important thing in our lives and yet be totally deceived.  A quick rule of thumb is that if we find ourselves thinking more about money than we do about God, we’re on the wrong side of this one.  We need to trust in Him to protect us, not money.

The Work of the Spirit Today

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Having considered the work of the Father and the Son on previous Sunday mornings, it’s now time for us to turn our attention to the work that the Holy Spirit continues to do today.  Of these three subjects, this is the one that is by far the most controversial.

Many of us know people with charismatic or Pentecostal convictions.  They believe that not only is the Spirit still at work today, but that part of His work is still the bestowing of miraculous spiritual gifts.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are many brethren who believe that today, the Spirit works only through the word.

These are two extreme, indeed irreconcilable, positions.  However, our concern is not with the doctrine promoted by anyone, but with what the Scriptures truly teach.  With this in mind, let’s see what the Bible says about how the Spirit works today.

First, we learn that the Spirit GUIDES us.  Look here at John 16:13.  Sometimes, you’ll hear people talk about being guided by the Spirit to make various life decisions.  The Spirit guided them to take a particular job, or marry a particular person, or so on. 

However, if we look closely at this passage, we will see that that’s not what it is teaching.  This text isn’t about the Spirit guiding us to good life decisions.  Instead, He is guiding us into all truth.  Similarly, He isn’t giving us feelings or nudges.  He is speaking and declaring.  When we put these things together, we see that this is a passage about prophetic revelation.  In the first century, Christians received the Spirit’s guidance through the spoken word of prophets.  Today, we receive it through the word they wrote down.

From this, we must conclude that the word, as produced by the Holy Spirit, is the only reliable guide to divine truth.  Sure, people might have these promptings or feelings, but when we experience those things, we always have to evaluate them according to the Scriptures.  Only the Scriptures have been confirmed as genuine revelation.

If, on the other hand, we start valuing those experiences as much or more than we value the Scriptures, we are going to get into all sorts of trouble.  I know a brother in the Chicago area whose wife left him because she said she felt guided by the Spirit to have an affair with the pastor of her church.  When we easily accept the validity of unconfirmed revelations, we give an opportunity to the devil.

Second, the Spirit GUARANTEES our heavenly dwelling.  Consider 2 Corinthians 5:4-5.  Once again, in order to understand the passage here, we have to focus on the words that Paul is using.  He says that the Spirit is given as a guarantee.  Other translations will describe the Spirit here as a deposit or a down payment.  Incidentally, the Greek word arrabon, which is translated in so many ways here, is used in modern Greek to describe an engagement ring.

What all of these things have in common is the idea of certainty, particularly when it comes to deposits, down payments, and engagement rings.  You put down a deposit on an apartment when you rent it so that the landlord knows that you won’t trash the place and leave him stuck with the bill.  You spend thousands of dollars on an engagement ring so that your fiancée knows that yes, you’re serious about marrying her.

Once again, then, the operation of the Spirit here can’t be about a conviction or a feeling.  It has to be something that is tangible and certain, something that is proof.  In the first century, that proof came through the miraculous gifts of the Spirit.  When Peter raised the dead, that proved that the promises he made came from God.  Today, the guarantee of our hope is found in the written word.  In the inspired record of God’s revelation, we have the evidence we need to conclude that it truly came from God.

Third, the Spirit CONVICTS.  Let’s examine both this statement and its implications in John 16:7-11.  This is another place where working our way carefully through the text will help bring its true meaning to light.  First, notice that the convicting work of the Spirit is directed at the world.  The Greek word used here isn’t about filling somebody with conviction.  It’s about exposing and rebuking wrongdoing.

There are three areas in which the Spirit convicts:  sin, righteousness, and judgment.  Jesus says that the Spirit convicts the world of sin because they don’t believe in Him.  In other words, they have all the evidence they need to accept Him as the Christ, but because they willfully choose to reject that evidence, they do wrong.  He convicts the world of righteousness because in the absence of Jesus, the word of the Spirit is the new standard of righteousness, which the world doesn’t meet.  Finally, He convicts the world of judgment because Satan has been judged, and if even the devil can’t protect himself from judgment, how will all the servants of the devil fare?

All of this should remind us that the gospel doesn’t only affect those who are willing to hear it and be saved.  For those who turn to the Lord, the Scriptures are a message of life, but for those who reject Him, they hold a message of death.  We must be willing to sow the word even on hearts we think are hard because that’s part of the purpose of God too.

Finally, the Spirit INTERCEDES.  Let’s turn to Romans 8:26-27.  I have to admit that this is a passage that brings a smile to my face.  I can’t read it without thinking of my father because he and I argued about it for 20 years.  He believed that this passage wasn’t about the Holy Spirit at all, rather being about our own spirits.  I still have great respect for my father as a Bible student, and I agree that every time the translators use a capital S isn’t necessarily talking about the Holy Spirit, but I think he was wrong on this one.

Let me explain why.    Romans 8:26 is the conclusion of a series:  three things that are groaning for God to answer them.  The first is the creation, which in 8:22 is groaning to be set free from corruption.  The second is we ourselves, who are groaning in 8:23 for our adoption.  The third is the Spirit, which is groaning in 8:26. 

The problem with saying that the “spirit” in 8:26 is our spirits is that we already have appeared in Paul’s list.  He’s already talked about our groaning four verses earlier.  In 8:26, then, Paul isn’t repeating himself.  He’s moving to a new topic:  the groaning of the Holy Spirit.

This is significant because this is the only passage I’m aware of in which the Spirit is clearly working outside the word right now.  He is helping us in the times when we don’t know what to say in our prayers, so that our meaning gets through to God.  The Spirit certainly communicates God’s will to us, but there are times when He communicates our will to God too.

The Work of the Son Today

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

I may be mistaken here, but it seems to me that when it comes to the work that God does today, we pay even less attention to the work of the Son than we do to the work of the Father or the work of the Spirit.  We tend to credit the Father with all of those generic God functions, and the continuing controversies about the Spirit at least make us consider what He is doing now. 

Jesus, however, doesn’t get any of that attention.  From somewhere, we seem to have gotten the idea that now that He has ascended, He’s just kind of hanging out at the right hand of the Father, waiting until His reappearance on the day of judgment. 

If that’s what we think, we could not be more mistaken.  As with the Father, the Son is continually active, and we depend on His activities in any number of areas.  Let’s consider some of these as we study the work of the Son today.

First, the Scriptures tell us that Jesus UPHOLDS.  Here, let’s look at Hebrews 1:3.  This text is a fascinating glimpse into the nature of reality, and it tells us just how mistaken Christian deism is.  God did not make the universe like a watch and then sit back and let it run.  The universe does not have an independent existence.  Instead, it depends on a constant infusion of power from Jesus.  If He were to cease upholding it even for a moment, all the visible creation would be obliterated.

Believe it or not, even science gives us reason to believe that Jesus is working in this way.  The best model that we have for understanding reality is the general theory of relativity.  However, according to the general theory of relativity, the universe should not be holding together.  Stars should disintegrate.  Galaxies should fly apart.  Scientists generally agree, then, that there is some force that we cannot define or measure that is sustaining the universe.  Typically, they say that dark matter, which, again, no one ever has seen or measured, is responsible for this.  Personally, I tend to suspect that this incredible force is nothing other than the word of the power of Jesus.

This should awe us.  It’s impressive that God created the heavens and the earth, but that happened a long time ago.  By contrast, at this very moment, Jesus is wielding power on a scale that is cosmic, incomprehensible.  I can’t even wrap my mind around the vastness of the universe to begin with, much less the incredible might required to hold it all together, atom by atom.  Next to a being like Jesus, all of us are nothing.

Second, in a related idea, Jesus REIGNS.  Let’s flip the page in our Bibles to Hebrews 2:7-8.  Here, the Hebrews writer is quoting Psalm 8, which originally applied generically to mankind.  However, as He explains, it especially applies to Jesus and to His rulership of creation until everything will be brought into subjection under His feet.  For the past 2000 years, it fundamentally hasn’t mattered who rules on earth, because Jesus reigns in heaven.

Among other things, this exposes some of the problems with the false doctrine of premillennialism.  Premillennialists claim that God always intended for Jesus to reign as an earthly king in Jerusalem, but His plan was defeated by Jesus’ crucifixion.  The church, then, is basically a Plan B until Jesus returns to earth to take up the kingship that He was denied 2000 years ago, at which point He will rule for 1000 years.

Brethren, this doesn’t make sense.  When Jesus is the King of the universe right now, why would it even be important for Him to be king in Jerusalem?  That would be like the President of the United States finishing out His term and going to work as a convenience store clerk!  Who would do that? 

Instead, Jesus has authority over everything, Jerusalem included, right now, and His reign will continue until the defeat of His final enemy, death.  At that point, He will return the kingdom to the Father.  For now, though, no absolute monarchy the world has ever seen can compare to the reign of King Jesus.  Let’s make sure we honor Him accordingly.    

Third, Jesus MEDIATES.  Consider 1 Timothy 2:5.  Here, we learn not only that Jesus is a mediator between man and God.  He is the only possible mediator. 

There’s some confusion about this point.  I’ve heard it said that Jesus is the only intercessor between man and God.  The problem is, though, that intercession and mediation aren’t the same thing.  Intercession is approaching someone else on a third party’s behalf.  Mediation is helping two other parties to resolve their differences.

Jesus certainly is both intercessor and mediator.  However, when it comes to intercession, Jesus is not unique.  Every Christian has the right to intercede with God in prayer on behalf of another.  In fact, every time we pray in the assembly for someone’s health or well-being, that is an intercessory prayer. 

Mediation, on the other hand, is a role that belongs uniquely to the Son.  For all of us who are of age, our sin has set us at odds with God, and we need someone to reconcile us to Him.  Literally the only one who can do that is Jesus.  Either we come to the Father through the Son, or we do not come to Him at all.

This means that we have to come to God on Jesus’ terms.  We don’t get to decide that the sinner’s prayer, for instance, is adequate to cleanse us of our sins.  Instead, we have to call upon the name of the Lord.  We have to appeal to His authority in the way that He prescribed.  If we want Jesus to mediate for us, there’s only one way to get Him to fulfill that role, and that is through baptism.

Finally, Jesus PREPARES.  Here, let’s read from John 14:1-3.  To me, this is one of the most beautiful passages in the entire Bible.  However, I think it becomes even more beautiful when we take a moment to consider the Greek grammar.  Unlike formal English, koiné Greek has a second-person plural pronoun, and that’s what Jesus is using here.  To put things in Tennessean, all the way through this passage, rather than saying “you”, Jesus is saying “y’all”.  In context, that means all of the people who still were present at the Last Supper, but by extension, it means all of us.

The implications for every single Christian in this room are profound.  No matter how unworthy or insignificant you feel, Jesus loves you, right now.  He is working to prepare a place for you in heaven, right now.  Right now, He is planning to come again and receive you to Himself, so that forever, wherever He is, there you will be.

That, brethren, is what makes Christianity worthwhile.  For that matter, it is what makes life on earth worthwhile.  Discipleship isn’t always fun.  Often, we are called upon to do difficult things that we don’t enjoy.  We’re called to carry a cross, not a pillow.  However, at the end of all of that, Jesus will be ready and waiting for us.  Our amazing and wonderful Savior, who was willing even to die for us, is eager to fill our eternity with joy, and nothing could be better than that!

The Virtuous Man, Part 1

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Among churches of Christ today, the most studied chapter in Proverbs, and possibly the most studied chapter in the Old Testament, is Proverbs 31.  Countless women’s classes have explored the topic of the virtuous woman, as determined sisters strive to emulate her fictitious excellence.  One might almost say that she has achieved celebrity status among Christians.  After all, she does have her own line of handbags!

There’s certainly nothing wrong with studying Proverbs 31, but for the next few Sunday evenings, I want to examine a lesser-known paragon we’ll reach in this week’s Bible reading.  In Job 31, Job launches into a point-by-point defense of his character, explaining why it is that he hasn’t earned God’s wrath.  Even though Job lived under a different dispensation than we do, everything that he lists is something that men of God ought to strive for today.  Indeed, as we’ll see, some of the topics that he explores have a very modern ring to them.  Without further ado, then, let’s see what we can learn this evening from the first part of our study of the virtuous man.

According to Job, the first attribute that the virtuous man possesses is PURITY OF HEART.  Let’s read about it in Job 31:1-4.  To me, this is fascinating.  Normally, we think of lust as a New-Testament kind of sin.  After all, didn’t Jesus warn us that lust was as bad as adultery in the Sermon on the Mount?  It’s obvious from this text, though, that thousands of years before the Sermon on the Mount, Job recognized the spiritual dangers of looking lustfully on a young woman.  Indeed, he foresaw such problems that he made a covenant with his eyes to keep them looking where they should.

There are two important lessons here for us.  The first is that if we want to keep our hearts free from lust, we are going to have to be determined about it.  Back in the day, a covenant was a solemn legal obligation.  Abraham’s covenant with God and the Sinai covenant were sealed with the blood of sacrifices.  You did not make a covenant lightly, and you did not break it once you made it.

If we don’t have this solemn resolution, we inevitably will find our eyes looking on someone else with lust.  Our society makes lust incredibly easy.  When I go to Wal-Mart in the summer, half the women in the store are wearing things that reveal more than I ever wanted to know.  Online, things are no better and often worse.  It is more work to not find someone to gaze on than it is to find them.  If we don’t live with determination and resolve, our eyes will lead us into sin.

Second, when we are considering whether we should watch someone we don’t have a right to watch, we should remember who is watching us.   As Job points out in v. 5, God sees all our ways.  He knows when our eyes are looking where they shouldn’t, and when our hearts are thinking things they shouldn’t.  Lust is subtle enough that we can hide it from others if we are careful, but we never should think that we can hide it from Him.

Next, Job examines the value of HONESTY.  Consider Job 31:5-8.  This is a text that is about Job’s business dealings.  It considers the question of whether he has been deceitful and used his position to exploit others.

I think we see clearly what Job is talking about when we consider the penalty of v. 6.  There, he invites God to weigh him in a just balance, implying that wrongdoing would be using an unjust balance.  We don’t do things that way today, so let me explain.  Thousands of years ago, when goods were sold by weight, merchants used a balance, like we see in those pictures of the scales of justice.  If you wanted to sell, say, a pound of olives, you would put your one-pound weight in one pan and olives in the other until the scales balanced.

Unscrupulous merchants, though, would keep two sets of weights:  a heavy set for when they were buying, and a light set for when they were selling.  That way, they could buy 1.5 pounds of olives for the price of one pound and sell .5 pounds of olives for the price of one pound.  That might be a good way to enrich yourself, but it sure is slimy!

Today, we see unscrupulous merchants pull the same trick when they take advantage of their superior knowledge to put one over on an unsuspecting customer.  This is like the auto mechanic who tells you you need half your engine replaced when you actually don’t.  He knows he’s lying, but you don’t, so he skins you. 

Christians have to be above that.  We have to love fair dealing more than we love money.  If we’re selling a used car, and we know the car has problems, we have to tell potential sellers about those problems.  If we’re selling a house, and we know it’s got mold in the attic, we can’t ignore the situation and hope the home inspector doesn’t notice.  We have to be forthright.  Being straightforward will cost us some money, but being deceitful will cost us our souls.

Finally, Job informs us that the virtuous man is SELF-CONTROLLED.  Look at the text of Job 31:9-12.  Here, Job expresses the wish that if he has sneaked around and committed adultery with his neighbor’s wife, that his own wife will betray him with his neighbor.  That’s pretty strong stuff!

Today, of course, adultery is no less a temptation.  If you talk to the elders here, they can give you decade after decade of stories about Christian men who have been unfaithful to their wives, and all the disasters that followed from that.  First, as Job observes, it’s the sort of thing that can get you brought before a judge.  Sneaking around is a great way to end up in divorce court, and as anybody who has had anything to do with a divorce can tell you, that’s not where you want to be!

Second, Job points out the destructiveness of adultery.  He says that it would produce a fire that would destroy his whole life.  Brethren, we need to think seriously about this.  There’s no better way to ruin everything we hold dear than to cheat on our wives.  That will place tremendous stress on our marriage if not destroy it altogether.  Financially speaking, the single worst financial mistake people can make is to get divorced.  It will have horrific effects on our kids.  I’ve seen more than one girl whose father was unfaithful to her mother grow up and marry a man who betrayed her in just the same way.  That was the kind of man her father’s example taught her to look for.  Finally, of course, it will ruin our relationship with God and cause us to lose our souls unless we repent.  If there is any sin that we should fear to the depths of our being, it is adultery.

Displaying 41 - 45 of 78

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16