Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church https://covenantpensacola.org Exalting Christ Changing hearts Tue, 30 Mar 2021 17:54:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7 https://covenantpensacola.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/cropped-LOGO-Covenant-OPC-New-Style-Outline-Special-32x32.png Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church https://covenantpensacola.org 32 32 GALATIANS 6:11-18. Sermon 27. Parting Words – Remember the Cross of Christ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/29/galatians-611-18-sermon-27-parting-words-remember-the-cross-of-christ/ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/29/galatians-611-18-sermon-27-parting-words-remember-the-cross-of-christ/#respond Mon, 29 Mar 2021 23:12:36 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3201

The greeting.

Greetings Beloved what a wonderful day to be alive. Another day to love and to serve Jesus Christ. Another day to experience the love of Christ in our soul. (Rom.5:5) This day, the Lord’s Day, is a picture of heaven, a life of worshiping God. I wonder when we arrive in heaven what the experience of Christ’s love will be then and there. I almost want to say, but I won’t because I am a Presbyterian and know better, I wonder what it will “feel” like? I bet it will feel nice. I bet we will be happy there. Won’t it be wonderful there. 😊

The Scripture.

Now this morning we have a passage designed by God the Holy Spirit to enflame our love to God and our love to our fellow man. Paul writes to us about the Cross of Christ, which is the expression of God’s love for sinners. (I Jn.4:7-13) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and that whosoever shall believe in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life. (Jn.3:16,36, Rom.8:1) 

Galatians 6:11. See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.

The prayer.

Christ Himself taught us as His disciples to pray and to come to God as our heavenly and holy and loving Father for everything that we need and desire. So let’s go to the Father now through the Son in reliance upon the Spirit, pray.

The meaning of the cross of Christ.

Before we begin to unpack our passage, I want us to see the governing truth that governs the apostle Paul. And that is the cross of Jesus Christ.

V.12, 14. When Paul says “the cross of Christ” he is referring to the message of the cross of Jesus Christ. He is referring to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the fundamental truth about the Good News of Jesus Christ is that He atones for the sins of sinners by His substitutionary death upon the Cross.

The good news of the cross is that Christ receives from God the wages of our sin – death. And we then receive from Christ what He merited – eternal life.

This is the Gospel that Paul has been so vigorously defending in this entire epistle against the legalist corrupters of the true gospel. You remember, the false teachers told the Galatians Christians that in order to be saved that they must believe in Jesus, plus they must be circumcised, and they must also keep the law of Moses. (Acts 15:1-5) Jesus plus, plus, plus, plus.

Oh Beloved, once you add anything to the merits of Christ you lose Christ. Once you start adding anything to the cross of Christ, the additions are never ending.

You see these false teachers, who were also false Christians told people to partly trust in the work of Jesus and then to partly trust in their own religious works.

Beloved, I hope if you have been with us in these past 27 sermons that if nothing else you have got that a false gospel of salvation is partly faith in the obedience of Jesus and partly your own obedience. Law plus gospel is law, which means damnation for the sinner.

Christ alone saves. He saves by paying for all of our sins and all of our righteousness alone. True Christianity is essentially what God does for us – Christ dies for us.

Beloved, there are many diverse truths in the Bible. But there is one main truth of holy Scripture and that is the good news of the cross of Christ. Christ pays for our sins by His blood. Believe upon the name of Christ and you will be saved.

Every other truth in the Bible is secondary and tertiary to the Gospel. Every other truth in the Bible is subordinate and somehow subservient to the Gospel, meaning they serve to promote the Gospel of salvation from sins.

Make sure in your Christian faith that you know the gospel of the Cross and that is the animating truth of your life.

Let’s see how this gospel of the cross or this gospel of our justification by faith alone in Christ alone governs this passage. Indeed, how it governs Paul. And how it affects others.

The importance of the cross of Christ.

We come now to the final section of the Galatian letter. And remember it is a letter, it is not a book per se. This is a personal letter from the apostle Paul to the churches in the region of Galatia. And when I say personal, I do not mean casual or informal and certainly not secular.

The apostle Paul writes in his official capacity as an apostle of Jesus Christ to churches in Christ.  I would say this, Paul as an apostle, which is an extraordinary church officer, is a public person. That is to say, as a minister of Christ and a minister of the word he always represents Christ, every where and every time. He must live upon the Cross and live to serve the Cross. Oh, who is sufficient for such things. No one. Oh, may Christ be our sufficiency.

This is a religious letter of religious instruction from a religious teacher to religious people.

Beloved, I realize not every Christian is called by God to be an official preacher or teacher of God’s word, such that they would have to be ready in season and out of season to represent the truth of Christ when asked. (Eph.4:11, James 3:1I Cor.12:1-31)

But as professing Believers we always represent Jesus Christ, in all places and in all times. And all Believers should be ready to give an account to everyone about our hope in Christ, in a truthful and winsome and loving way. (I Pt.3:15) You are Beloved Believer a solider of the Cross.

There is really no such thing as secular versus sacred for the true Believer. All of our life is religious for us that love the Lord. We are called by Christ to devote ourselves body and soul to Him as a living sacrifice. Whether we eat or drink, buy or sell, everything is to reflect to the honor of God in Christ, what we believe about God and the kind of life we live. (Col.3:23-24)

As a Believer in Jesus, I do not want you to think of any part of your life as insignificant. In fact, I want just the opposite. I want you to truly believe that every part of your life is a platform to serve Jesus Christ, every breath you take is an opportunity to glorify God. Even when you are down, even when you are so low you cannot see a way out, even then – we can shine for Christ. Even a groan to Christ brings Him glory.

As a Believer in Jesus the Bible says that you are a royal son our daughter of God, a holy people and priesthood unto God. (Rev.1:6, 5:10, Isa.61:6, I Pt.2:9, Exod.19:6) We have the life of Christ in us. (Gal.2:20) Our whole life is to be our sacrifice of thanksgiving. The hotter the furnace, the harder the trial, the blacker the days only makes the power of the Cross stronger in your life.

The enemies and the pain and the opposition only draw you closer to Christ. They make you renounce all your hope in self and in man – you fix your eyes on Calvary. Oh, the Blood. God did not spare His only Son. He gave Him for you. Surely weary Believer He will come to your aid in your hour of need. (2 Cor.12:7-11)

Don’t worry about getting any acknowledgement or glory from man whether believing or unbelieving man for your service, just love to serve because you love Christ. Christ knows. And that is our glory. (I Cor.15:58)

Now the last thing I want to say about Paul writing this letter is something that he says himself. Paul says he personally wrote this letter with his own hands. We know from other letters that Paul used a scribe, a common practice in the ancient world. He dictated the word of God to another fellow and that man then actually did the writing.

In the epistle to the Romans Paul’s scribe actually identifies himself.

Romans 16:22. I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.

Tertius means “third” in Latin. (Acts 20:4 – Secundus, Rom.16:23 – Quartus)

Paul says that he personally wrote this letter as evidenced by his large writing style. People often remark that Paul (probably) wrote with such large letters because he had an eye problem as he seems to allude to in Galatians 4:13-15.

But the idea is that the subject of the cross of Jesus is so intensely personal and so vitally important that he wants the Galatians to know this by his personally writing this letter.

What changed Pharisee Saul into the apostle Paul? Was it Paul’s own good works? Was it Paul’s own law-keeping? No. V.13. He says, the Pharisees, of which he was one, do not keep the law of God. They break the law of God. You cannot pay for you law breaking with law breaking for your righteousness. No mere man can keep the law of God the way God requires.

Paul in Philippians 3:1-14, says that he considers all works-righteousness or law-righteousness to be rubbish or dung next to the righteousness of Christ crucified. (I Cor.2:1, Rom.1:16-17, 10:1-17)

You see this is why natural man hates the Cross of Christ so much, because the Cross indicts all of man’s so called good works as nothing but shiny sins.

Listen to what he tells the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 1:17. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

And you remember as well, Paul opened by reminding these sinning Galatians that what changed them from being pagans worshiping false gods to children of the true God was the Gospel of the Cross. (Jn.1:10-13) And they have forgotten that. And they have been tricked by a false self-righteous gospel, which is not the gospel and not saving. (Gal.1:3-9)

The offense of the cross of Christ.

Thus far we have focused on what I would call the wonders or the mercies of Christ’s saving and atoning and reconciling sacrifice. The very first instant we truly believed in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins then we are forever joined to the Triune God of heaven and earth. (Col.1:13, Jn.3:17, Jn.10-13, Rom.5:1-10, Eph.2:1-10)

And now in Christ, God is our Father, Christ is our brother, and the Spirit is our comforter and counselor. And every blessing of God is yes and amen to us in Jesus! (WSC 32-38)

But Paul is quick to remind the Galatians and us that both the preaching of the Cross and the believing in the complete atoning sacrifice of Jesus comes with a very real and often times a very painful cost. We do not pay for our salvation. But we do in fact, bear a cost to follow Jesus in an anti-Christ world being deceived by Satan.

Even Jesus Christ tells those that hear Him preach His own Good News that they should count the cost before they come to Him. Christ says all that desire to follow Me must pick up their cross daily, deny themselves daily, and follow Him daily. Going where He leads.  (Lk.14:25-35)

The next thing I want us to see is the offense of the cross of Christ. Look at the language that God the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to use.

Galatians 6:12. Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Galatians 6:17. From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.  

Christ was persecuted.

The Bible states clearly that Christ was hated and He was opposed. Jesus was rejected by both Jews and Gentiles. Christ was condemned to die by both Jews and Gentiles. Think of all the abuse Christ received, verbal, physical, and spiritual.

Now we have to ask, why? Why, what evil did Jesus Christ do that people would hate him so much to crucify Him?

Well, the answer is that Christ did no evil. Christ only did good. Christ is the second Person of the Holy Trinity. As such Christ cannot sin. He is spotless and without blemish. Jesus is altogether perfect and holy. Let me say that last word – and holy. That is our answer. That is why Christ was persecuted.

Lovers of Christ will be persecuted.

That is why all who preach Christ will be persecuted. This is why all who believe in the true Christ and labor to live holy for Christ will suffer. (Phil.1:21, Acts 14:22, 2 Tim.3:2, Jn.16:33) Natural man is unholy and hates holiness and loves sin. 

Jesus says, if they hated Me then they will hate you, those that truly love Me. (Jn.15:12-27)

Fallen man is evil.

The persecution of Christ and those who proclaim Christ reveals the true spiritual nature of fallen man. Unconverted people are evil and they hate the Light of Christ. And unconverted people are in the church and out of the church.

God is telling us that apart from God giving man grace to believe, Man hates God. Unconverted men left to themselves hates Christ Jesus. And I mean the real Christ of the Bible. Not the myriads of false Christ’s conjured up by false Christians.

Beloved there are many false Christs in the world. There are many false gospels of Christ in the world. Test every spirit against the word of God. Test every Christ against the Christ of the Word.

Any so-called Christ that appeals to the fallen flesh and is contrary to the Bible is a false Christ. A Christ that winks at sin is a false Christ.

A Christ that admits all into heaven regardless of saving faith is a false Christ. A Christ that takes a place among a multitude of other paths and saviors is a false Christ. And men dead in their sins love their false Christs and hate the true Christ.

A Christ that says He pays for part of your sins and you pay for the other part by your good works is a false Christ. The flesh loves to play lord of their life.

Listen to this. Here is what God says about Man. And this is why they persecute the preachers of Holy Christ.

Romans 3:9. What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” 13 “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; 14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”; 15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, 16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, 17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” 18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”

Christ is holy.

You see it is the divinity of Christ and the holiness of Christ that prompted unholy men to hate Him.

Christ is Sin-Bearer.

Christ went around and told people that they must repent of their sins and believe in Him as their Sin-Atoner, as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.

Christ is God.

Christ said before Abraham was I AM. Christ said that He is Immanuel God with us.

John 14:6. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Haters of Christ refuse to suffer for Christ.

Notice what Paul says about these false teachers of their false gospel. They preached a false gospel because they did not want to be persecuted for preaching the Cross and the Blood of Christ alone.

False teachers of false gospels are false Christians. They are “Christians” in name only. They are not born again. They are spiritual dead. And not spiritually alive. As such they are not joined to the true Christ. They do not know the true Christ. They have no power. They have no love to Jesus. They are in the flesh and of the flesh. (2 Tim.3:1-13)

Their false Jesus is only for their carnal honor – call me Reverend, call me holy such and so. They preach a false Christ for the material gain, power, prestige, wealth.

They can see that preachers of the true Gospel are hated, even put to death. They want no part of pain and shame. They want no part of cross-bearing for Jesus. They serve mammon. Self is their god. God is not their God.

And so they sell their false form of Christianity that appeals to the flesh. So they can have their heaven on earth. And give people a religion after their own imagination.

The carnal man wants religious rites, religious ceremonies, holy toys and trinkets. Carnal man wants a religion of eternals. Get circumcised. Get baptized. Wear this. Eat that. Oh Beloved, true Christianity is not found in the externals. True Christianity is found in the heart. As Paul says in V.18 grace be with your spirit.

V.15. Natural man hates spiritual Christianity. Natural man brags about the externals of their false religion. God seeks worshipers to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

It is a mark of an insincere preacher or under-shepherd that he is unwilling to undergo hardship in his ministry of Christ’s gospel. They are man-pleasers. And not God fearers.

There is a reason beloved, most men that go to seminary never make it into a pulpit. There is a reason beloved that most men that make it into a pulpit are gone within seven years. A tiny fraction of men that start out preaching Christ crucified will retire at the end of their life still proclaiming the Good News of Jesus.

And this is not just for the preacher. All who trust only in the cross of Christ will suffer persecution. All.

Bible preaching and Bible believing is not safe, nor is it popular. Law preaching is hated. Gospel preaching is hated.

These Christians are afraid of the cross. So they preach and teach and believe easy things. Things that the people want to hear. Nice moral stories. Social and cultural lessons. Hints to be happier and healthier in this life. They make up the form of religion that pleases the people. Everyone stays nice and comfortable. Yet, Christ is dishonored. And people are unsaved.

In one way beloved, they are correct. If you tell people religious things that appeals to their flesh, they will like you and say good things about you. What a nice person. So smart. But this is not what they said of Christ. Of Christ they said He was a tool of the devil!

Luke 6:22. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. 23 “Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.

What different treatment Jesus received by people outside of the visible household of faith and inside the visible household of faith. How were the apostles of Christ treated by Jews and Gentiles? Paul says, they were treated as the off scouring of the earth! (I Cor.4)

We are not saying that faithful preachers and faithful Christians ought to court persecution. No. That is not even normal or sane. No one hated his own body.

Paul tells pastor Timothy this.

2 Timothy 1:7. or God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

The blessings of the cross of Christ.

Unbelievers do not want to pay the cost to follow Christ. But what they do not understand is that there is an eternal cost of not following Christ. And the pain and the shame of not believing and living for Jesus in the eternal estate far outweighs the little suffering we share with Jesus in this life. They will lose their eternal souls for a few days of friendship with the world.

The glory that awaits us makes the opposition we bear for Jesus pale in comparison with what awaits us when we see the Crucified and Risen One. But we do not have to wait until we get to heaven to start enjoying heaven.

We can live on God in Christ here and now. We can enjoy the privileges Christ purchased by His blood here and now. Look at what Paul says lovers of Christ and those cleansed from our sins by His blood enjoy here and now.  This is what I am calling the blessings of the Cross. (WCF 21.1)

Death to the world.

By His Cross we are crucified to this world. New creatures in Christ have been rescued from the fallen god of the fallen world. The Cross breaks the bondage of Satan over us. Christ has set us free from the dominion of the devil. We are no longer under his unholy power. (Isa.61:1-2, Jn.8:36, Col.1:13, Eph.2:1-3, 2 Cor.4:4)

Being born again to Jesus the power of the world has been broken over us. We have been translated from darkness into the light. We are no longer enslaved by the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. (1 John 2:16)

Grace, peace, and mercy with God.

V.16-18. Because of the cross we have newness of life with God. The cross of Jesus is our greatest treasure. We are new creatures by His blood. The old has been taken away. The new has come. Amazing GRACE.

Amen

 

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JOSHUA 9:1-27. Sermon 11. Shades of Gentile Inclusion – Saved to Serve https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/27/joshua-91-27-sermon-11-shades-of-gentile-inclusion-saved-to-serve/ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/27/joshua-91-27-sermon-11-shades-of-gentile-inclusion-saved-to-serve/#respond Sat, 27 Mar 2021 15:30:28 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3193

The greeting.

Greetings fellow Believers in Jesus Christ. In Christ we have salvation and eternal life and the love of God to us and every other spiritual blessing He has for us. Here in this life, we enjoy these things mingled together with the bitterness of the world and the flesh and the devil. (Jn.16:33, Acts 14:22, I Cor.4:9-13) But a day is coming very soon when we will only enjoy pleasures at the right hand of God forever more, the days of bitterness and tribulation will be gone. (Ps.16:11, Rev.21:4, Isa.25:8) I for one look forward to that day. (Phil.1:23, I Kg.19:4)

Well before then Christ calls us to be busy in His vineyard, busy about our heavenly Father’s business, busy sowing the gospel of the kingdom. (Lk.12:37, Mt.24:46)

Part of the work that God puts into our hands is the work of worshiping Him in His word. And I would say this Beloved, the more we work with God’s word, the more we live in this book, the more we will experience the sin-conquering love of Jesus Christ – for us. Jesus is Immanuel. He is God with us. Jesus is God for us. (Rom.8:31-32) Beloved, listen to the voice of your God in His word more than you listen to the words of men. Man is a natural born liar. (Rom.3:4,13) God is truth personified.

The Scripture.

Tonight, we are looking at Joshua chapter nine. Let me read the entire chapter for us. Please read along. Hear the holy and good word of our holy and good God, read.

Joshua 9:1. Now it came about when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country and in the lowland and on all the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, heard of it, 2 that they gathered themselves together with one accord to fight with Joshua and with Israel. 3 When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4 they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended, 5 and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled. 6 They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.” 7 The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you are living within our land; how then shall we make a covenant with you?”  8 But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” Then Joshua said to them, “Who are you and where do you come from?” 9 They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt, 10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth. 11 “So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us.”‘ 12 “This our bread was warm when we took it for our provisions out of our houses on the day that we left to come to you; but now behold, it is dry and has become crumbled. 13 “These wineskins which we filled were new, and behold, they are torn; and these our clothes and our sandals are worn out because of the very long journey.” 14 So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. 15 Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them. 16 It came about at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were neighbors and that they were living within their land. 17 Then the sons of Israel set out and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon and Chephirah and Beeroth and Kiriath-jearim. 18 The sons of Israel did not strike them because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD the God of Israel. And the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders. 19 But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. 20 “This we will do to them, even let them live, so that wrath will not be upon us for the oath which we swore to them.” 21 The leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became hewers of wood and drawers of water for the whole congregation, just as the leaders had spoken to them. 22 Then Joshua called for them and spoke to them, saying, “Why have you deceived us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you are living within our land? 23 “Now therefore, you are cursed, and you shall never cease being slaves, both hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” 24 So they answered Joshua and said, “Because it was certainly told your servants that the LORD your God had commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you; therefore we feared greatly for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. 25 “Now behold, we are in your hands; do as it seems good and right in your sight to do to us.” 26 Thus he did to them, and delivered them from the hands of the sons of Israel, and they did not kill them. 27 But Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, to this day, in the place which He would choose.

The prayer.

Brothers and sisters in Christ let’s go to Him now and ask Him to bless our time together. Remember Christ is our holy and heavenly and sympathetic High Priest. (Heb.4:14-16, WLC 44, WSC 25) Pray.

I have entitled this sermon on the Gibeonite deception as “Shades of Gentile Inclusion – Saved to Serve”.

God is removing sinners from His presence.

Many of us are familiar with this chapter, or at least we are somewhat acquainted with the deception by the Gibeonites. And they certainly are one of the main participants in this chapter.

Before we address them, I do want us to see this chapter within the larger picture of what is happening during this time. God is busy casting out the unbelievers from His land. I stress the word “His” land. Everything is His.

God is separating professing unbelievers from His professing Believers. (2 Cor.6:14-18) Again, the key idea is, this is done “in the Promised Land”.  This physical land is a foretaste of the ultimate Promised Land in the new heavens and the new earth. (Heb.11:1-40)

We are being taught, in that Eternal and Holy Place, all unbelievers will be barred from entering in. By their unbelief in Christ, they have rejected the only Sin-Bearer, Sin-Atoner, and Sin-Cleanser. And thus, Holy God sees them as unclean and in their sin. And so, they must be expelled from His holy presence which abides with His holy people in His holy land. (Haba.1:13, Exod.3:5, Acts 7:33, Josh.5:15)

Someday, the true and the ultimate Joshua will Himself make an eternal separation between the righteous and the wicked. (Ps.1:1-6, Mt.25:31-46)

Jesus will separate those that truly love Him in spirit and in truth from all those that do not. Heaven will be occupied only by Holy God and holy angels and holy men and women. And the only way that sinful people might be made holy is to be found in Christ by Spirit-wrought faith. Oh beloved, may we all beware of the evil heart of unbelief. On the day of our death may Christ find us as true Believers. (Heb.3:8-12)

Sinners resist God’s removal of them.

Now related to God’s removal of sinners from Himself and from His people, God records for us in His word, the response of those people.

By force.

You see sinners in their sin do not want to give up their sin. They want to be the lords of their own lives. They want to worship the creature and not the Creator. (Rom.8:7, Judges 21:25, Rom.1:18-32)

Unbelievers are not neutral towards God. They are inwardly and outwardly hostile towards God. And they are inwardly hateful to the true children of God. (Jn.15:18-19) And as they have opportunity, they often express their hated towards the beloved children of God with hateful words and hateful actions.

This is part of the cross-carrying that our Christ requires of us. This is part of our sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Humiliation and suffering come before glory and exaltation. (Mt.16:24-26)

I want you to think of this. How did the unbelieving Canaanites in Jericho respond to the Lord and to the Lord’s people? They took defensive positions behind their stone walls. (Josh.6:1-27) They said in essence about the Lord, we will not have this Lord reign over us! (Lk.19:14)

Unbelievers resist the Lord. That is one key characteristic of being an unbeliever.

Unbelievers show their unbelief by their disobedience to the word of God. (Lk.6:46-49)

Likewise, the people of Ai show us that they will fight against the Lord, the word of the Lord, the command of the Lord and the army of the Lord. (Josh.7, 8)

Now please look at how our passage opens.

Joshua 9:1. Now it came about when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country and in the lowland and on all the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, heard of it, 2 that they gathered themselves together with one accord to fight with Joshua and with Israel.

Look at the nature of the unbeliever. (Rom.3:9-18) The unbeliever in Jericho says to God, You Jehovah will not remove me. The unbeliever in Ai says, You Jehovah will not remove me. And now we have the unbelieving Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites say, You Jehovah will not remove me.

This is Psalm two Beloved.

Psalm 2:2. The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!”

Think of all the ways that human beings distinguish themselves, and I mean, often to distinguish themselves from other human beings. Such as, language, origin of birth, parentage, social standing, money, politics, color of skin, amount of formal education, type of vocation, and on and on.

Well, what the word of God teaches us is that fallen unbelieving sinners are morally and spiritually the same notwithstanding all those other distinctions.

Rebellious creatures fight against the divine Creator.

And one of the things God shows us here is that sinners are quite willing to put their distinctions aside in order to fight against their common enemy, which is God.

What do I mean? Look at these various peoples. Most of the time they were busy fighting one another.

“Birds” may look different on the outside, but their common cause “by flocking together” against the Lord shows us their true spiritual nature.

Now I am going to commend these unbelievers in a limited way. In one way these children of darkness, these children of the world, they are being worldly wise in their joining forces with one another to keep from being expelled from the land. This is shrewd.

Jesus actually speaks about this.

Luke 16:8. And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.

Of course, Christ is not commending sin, but He is merely acknowledging the idea of being purposeful or thinking as regards to one’s actions and one’s desired goals.

These unbelievers desire to not be defeated by Israel. Remember these unbelievers are fighting a defensive war. And mostly defensive wars are considered just wars as opposed to offensive wars. Except in this case, Israel is really acting as God’s instrument of justice on people that have been busy waging a spiritually offensive war against the Lord from their mother’s womb.

These people have just watched two individual cities and tribe-groups fall before Israel. So, they reason they would have a better chance of defeating Israel if they joined forces. Remember America did a species of this in WW2, we joined forces with Russia to defeat the Axis Powers knowing that Russia was really no true friend of ours.

Imagine if Christians could be as wise as unbelievers and (really) join forces with other Christians even those that may differ with us on secondary and tertiary issues so we could advance the kingdom of Christ.

Let’s ask the question, what should these various kings and their people have done in light of the Lord’s command that He was going to take this land away from the unbelievers and give it to His children? They should have repented of their sin and their unbelief. And come in faith to the Lord of Lords and the king of kings seeking forgiveness and mercy.

All of these sinners should have done what believing Rahab the Canaanitess did in Jericho, she sought her refuge in the Lord. (Josh.2:9-14, Heb.11:31, James 2:25)

All of these sinners should have done what Ruth the Moabitess did, she threw herself under the protection of the Lord and sought her peace in Boaz the kinsman redeemer, to redeem her and to graft her into the people of God. Remember, this woman is included in the lineage of Jesus! (Ruth 1:16-17, 4:13-22, Matt.1:5)

That is the only safe recourse for sinners. Sinners of every tribe, tongue, and nation – come to Christ for refuge. (Rev.5:9, Gal.3:23-29, Mt.28:18-20) He will receive You. God will graft you into His family. You will live in the Promised Land with Him. (Jn.10:14-16)

Sinners resist God’s removal of them.

Now let’s address the Gibeonites. These men are still sinners and so they are trying to resist God from removing them from the land.

By deception.

They have taken a different tactic than their fellow unbelieving neighbors. They have taken counsel within themselves and decided to resist the plans of Israel to destroy them by deception.

V.9. These people were Hivites, but Hivites from the town of Gibeon. Ham was the second son of Noah. Ham was the father of Cush, Mizraim, Phut and Canaan. Ham mocked his father Noah when Noah got drunk and disrobed. God cursed Ham’s son Canaan for this. (Gen.9:19-27) Canaan is the father of the Hivites.

Genesis 10:15. Canaan became the father of Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth 16 and the Jebusite and the Amorite and the Girgashite 17 and the Hivite and the Arkite and the Sinite 18 and the Arvadite and the Zemarite and the Hamathite; and afterward the families of the Canaanite were spread abroad.

Let me say a few things in their favor. And “no” I never commend unbelief. I just said they should have repented and come in faith to the Lord.

But we do see this with the Gibeonites, they actually believe that the Lord and the Lord’s people will be victorious in the land. Therefore, they are worldly-wise by believing that they would lose, and God would win.

They are trying to remain alive in the face of a more powerful opponent. So, they resort to a trick. Now I will remind you. Israel just defeated Ai – with a trick, with deception. So, let’s not be too quick to judge these unbelieving folks too harshly.

Seeking salvation.

Short of believing and repenting this was the best option their unbelief afforded them. After all what are they trying to do? They are trying to save their lives. They are moved to seek their salvation, albeit physical salvation.

Some of the Reformers saw this as a glimpse of their infant faith that if they joined themselves with the Lord’s people that they might live and not die. The Bible does promise that God will save Jews and Gentiles and make them into one new spiritual family from the very first book of the Bible.

Genesis 28:14. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Gen.12:1-3)

For me, I do not quite see saving faith yet because they refer to the Lord as “your” God and not “their” God or “my” God. But I cannot be certain. Because even in this it could be like a former Hindu speaking to a Christian about God as the God of the Christians simply like saying, not my former false gods.

However, I do see that by their joining themselves to Israel or even being near to Israel that this will in fact be a means for them to know the Lord and receive saving mercy in Him. Let me read v.8-11 on this.

Joshua 9:8. But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” Then Joshua said to them, “Who are you and where do you come from?” 9 They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt, 10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth. 11 “So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us.”‘

Calvin said that the Gibeonites judged rightly but they acted dishonestly. Again, I say, remember how Israel defeated Ai, through deception. Divinely approved deception, but still deception.

The thinking of these Gibeonites is evident. They are thinking if they enter into a covenant even by fraud, that the Israelites would still honor the covenant. Now this is an interesting thought.

Personally, I would think that you would not have to honor a covenant in which you were deceived and so you sworn an oath based on the lie of another. Calvin says as much. He says a covenant secured by fraud is null and void according to strict justice.

So perhaps there are hints of God’s mercy towards these people?

I put the marriage “covenant” of Leah in this category. Her father Laban deceived Jacob (the deceiver of his father Isaac) by switching daughter Leah instead of daughter Rachel. I have always wondered why Jacob did not object and give Leah back to her father. (Gen.29:20-26)

But this is very interesting to me. These Gentile pagans believe that these Believers in the Lord will honor their (earthly) covenant with men – no matter what. Wow. I wonder, do unbelievers think Christians will honor our word – no matter what? (probably not) Maybe the Reformers were right and the Gibeonites did have seminal faith?

V.4-5. Now, let’s look a little bit at the actual deception by these people.

They take worn-out sacks or worn-out packs, worn-out wineskins, worn-out clothes, worn-out everything and dry bread. Everything is designed to make them look like foreigners from a distant land. They knew God told Israel to kill all the Canaanites. So they pretend, oh we live way over near Egypt, or something like that. OK so everything thus far is a lie.

V.6. They tell Israel what they want, a covenant of peace with Israel.

V.7. We see that Israel is a little distrustful. They even say to themselves, what if this is a trick?

This is somewhat like old Isaac. Jacob comes and starts to deceive him by pretending to be brother Esau. And father Isaac says, your voice says Jacob, but your hairy arms and neck tell me you are Esau. Then he says, are you really Esau? (Gen.27:1-24)

V.9-10. But now when they come to actually speak with Joshua and Israel, they do in fact mix in a little truth.  They say, we have heard of the victories of the Lord your God. This is true.

Joshua 9:14. So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. 15 Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.

Joshua and Israel erred, even sinned, in not seeking the Lord’s counsel. However, since all things are governed by the Lord, even this is under His guidance. (Eph.1:11)

This will be the way by which these Canaanites might come near to know and to love the Lord of Glory. One man said, figuratively speaking we are all Canaanites, and we deserve to be destroyed by God. But how thankful we are that the True Joshua has made a covenant of peace with us. What a blessing it is to be Joshua-Jesus’ slaves – that is true freedom.

Servitude to the Lord.

V.16-27. Now let’s learn of the Gibeonites being unmasked.

Within three days they hear from other people within the land about their real identity. Joshua confronts them with the truth. He asks them, why did you lie to us? They tell the truth; we knew God told you to kill us and we did not want to die. Fairly reasonable. 😊

Joshua keeps his word to keep them alive, but he imposes on them the loss of their liberty. They purchased their lives at the cost of their liberty. And they said, this is agreeable to us.

Joshua 9:9. They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt,

Joshua 9:11. So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us.”‘

In fact, I would argue in a way, the Gibeonites themselves suggested their own servitude. They refer to themselves “we are your servants”.

Now to us modern Americans and I stress the words “modern Americans” and modern pampered entitled Americans at that, we would recoil at referring to ourselves as servants and offering ourselves as servants.

But these ancient Hivities lived in a far different time. In war you had three options. Win by killing. Die in battle. Or be taken as a slave in battle (after many already died). (Exod.21:1-36, Lev.25:44-46, Dt.24:7) Beloved, be on guard against imposing our modern thought on these ancient peoples.

Deuteronomy 20:10. When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace. 11 “If it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. 12 “However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 “When the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike all the men in it with the edge of the sword. 14 “Only the women and the children and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the LORD your God has given you. 15 “Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations nearby. 16 “Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 “But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you,

In one way I very much feel for these people. When faced with certain death would we not be willing to part with even our liberties? And before you start quoting Patrick Henry’s “give me liberty of give me death” I want you to think of a few things.

Remember the starving Egyptians? They told Joseph, we will sell you our produce, our animals, our lands, and lastly, we will sell you our bodies, we will become Pharaoh’s slaves. Just keep us alive. (Gen.47:13-25)

This is not so strange. We ourselves in this country willingly gave up some of our liberties in 2020 and just a tiny faction compared with the Egyptians and the Gibeonites, in order to preserve our lives. Did we not? Yes we did.

Also think of this. Joshua did not impose upon them a universal kind of slavery. He did not say that every Gibeonite was a personal slave for every Israelite. He did not. Matthew Henry says that Joshua mitigated (lessened) V.21. what the elders suggested. Joshua made them servants in the tabernacle and temple. (Matthew Henry Commentaries, vol.2, p.44)

As an aside, I was not going to mention this, but I think I should. There are some people that have racists views that use this text as their prooftext why people with more melanin in their skin have to be slaves for people with less melanin in their skin. This is obnoxious to God. And it ought to be obnoxious to every true child of God.

Little children can have better theology than some adults. (Mt.18:3, Mt.19:14) Listen to this children’s song.

Jesus loves the little children.

All the children of the world.

Red and yellow, black and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world.

No, I have not become an Arminian. 😊

All I will say to this is that the devil also quotes Scripture (wrongly) to tempt people into sin.

Remember Satan quoted or I should say misquoted the Bible by only quoting half a text and leaving off the other half to tempt Jesus to sin. (Mt.4:5-7) Let me read you the Psalm and see if you can see which part the devil “conveniently” left off. 😊

Psalm 91:11. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. 12 They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down. 14 “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

Run from those that twist Scriptures to validate their hatred of their fellow man. (2 Pt.3:16) If you say that you love God whom you cannot see but you hate your brother that you can see, God says you are a liar. And liars do not inherit the kingdom of God. (I Jn.4:20, Rev.21:8-10)

V.23. They had a particular kind of slavery. They were slaves for the house of God, for the tabernacle and then later for the temple.

The water.

They drew the water for the house of God for all the ritual purifications, which the NT calls various “baptism” in Hebrews 9:10.

Hebrews 9:9. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. 

The wood.

And then they also cut the wood to provide fuel for all of the required fire upon the various altars and their related sacrifices.

The slavery was servitude to the Aaronical priests and to the Levitical priests as they performed their servitude unto the Lord! They were saved to save. Oh beloved what truth. We are saved to serve.

The blessing.

One man said this, this curse through God’s infinite mercy becomes the greatest blessing to these Gibeonites.

God took them that were far off and He drew them near, even through these very unique circumstances.

In a way, he said, they were given to God, to serve God. Their office was to serve the servants of the Lord in their service in the sanctuary. These Gibeonites were plucked from the fire. They were tokens of God’s sovereign saving amazing grace.

Oh Beloved, God truly does work in mysterious ways. Who can account for His providential hand guiding all His creatures and all their actions?

I have no doubt that their status as slaves was quite painful to bear. Most of us recoil if we are belittled and disdained and abused even in the least points.

They lived and died as servants of the Lord. Slaves slaving at hard labor. But all the while taken away from false gods and all the while being brought near to the true God.

What is a lifetime of hard servitude to the Lord and to the Lord’s people in light of the Lord’s goodness and mercy on us? He gave us life and not death. He gave His only begotten Son our death-bearer and death-remover. Jesus made a covenant of peace with us.

Jesus made Himself a servant of all. Jesus did far more that draw water and fetch wood. Christ took the wrath of almighty God for the enemies of God that in Him we might become the children of God.

And because of Christ we will all dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

And we will serve in His holy tabernacle forever.

Amen

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JAMES 4:4-6. Study 16. Worldliness Condemned https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/24/james-44-6-study-16-worldliness-condemned/ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/24/james-44-6-study-16-worldliness-condemned/#respond Wed, 24 Mar 2021 18:12:38 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3180

The greeting to God’s people.

Greetings in the name above every other name, the name of Christ Jesus. He is the king of kings and the Lord of Lords. (I Tim.6:15, Rev.17:14, Rev.19:16) We praise and adore Him for rescuing us from Satan and from sin. What a mighty and a merciful Savior He is. (Gal.1:4, Col.1:13)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have come together today to study the word of God. May I say, as professing Bible believing Christians, it is one thing to “say” that we live upon the Word, but it is a markedly different thing to actually (try to) “live” upon the word of God in practice. Let’s prove ourselves effectual hearers and doers of God’s word. Let’s be those that truly tremble in holy reverence and awe at God’s word. (James 1:22-27, Isa.66:5, Heb.12:28)

The word of God to God’s people.

We are continuing in our James study. Today is our sixteenth study. If you were with us for our last study, you remember that we read James 4:1-6 and then we examined James 4:1-3. Today we will consider James 4:4-6. Please open your Bibles and read along as I read. Hear the holy word of God, read.

James 4:1. What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

James 4:4. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 

James 4:5. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 

The prayer of God’s people.

God tells us to humble ourselves before Him then in due time He Himself will exalt us. Well, let’s humble ourselves before Him in prayer, coming as loving children to our loving heavenly Father asking Him to bless our time in His word today, pray. (James 4:10, I Pt.5:6, Mt.23:12, 2 Chron.7:14, Lk.14:11, Phil.2:1-11)

The correction of worldliness.

James is dealing with a problem, a sin problem among the professing Christians that he is writing to. I will say, the problem they wrestle with is a problem that we also wrestle with even though we are two thousand years removed from these people. (I Cor.10:1-14) There is nothing new under the sun beloved. Their failure and God’s correction is written for our instruction. (Rom.15:4) May we have ears to hear.

The problem of worldliness.

The sin problem is clearly identified in verse four under the term “the world”. Worldliness is the sin problem being addressed here.

The definition of worldliness.

This was the general definition for worldliness that we gave in the last study, worldliness or of being worldly or being friends with the world is to think and to act in devotion to this world and to neglect spiritual or religious truths, to be more concerned with temporal things than with eternal things, to be more concerned with self-pleasure in this life than meeting God in the next life.

This world is a world of unbelief being duped by Satan and it tempts our flesh nature to unbelief. (2 Cor.4:4, Isa.44:18, Eph.2:1-3, I Pt.5:9)

The unbelief of worldliness.

Last week we looked at worldliness as wrong thoughts and wrong desires. I suppose we would say worldliness is thinking (and acting) like an unbeliever. Worldliness is reasoning without faith in the God of the Bible or thinking contrary to the Bible.

May I say that Christians become worldly and unbelieving by giving their thoughts and affections to the world for three main reasons.

If you do not hear another thing I say in this study, please-please get this. Number one, we grow worldly because we do not read the Bible daily. Number two, we become worldly because we do not pray daily. Number three, we become worldly we do not worship weekly. Remember what God tells us in Galatians chapter six, what we sow is what we reap. Sow to the world, reap worldliness.

Beloved, Satan and sin are crouching right at our door every day, trying to make us defect to the unbelieving world, to think like the unbeliever and to act like the unbeliever. (Gen.4:7, I Pt.5:8)

Oh beloved, draw near to God in those three means of grace, Bible, prayer, and worship. Please feed your faith in Christ. We are in a spiritual battle. Please live like it. (Eph.6:10-18)

The condemnation of worldliness.

Today we will look at the condemnation of worldliness. By thinking like an unbelieving worldling we are making ourselves like them, so God calls us by their names – adulteress and an enemy of God.

James 4:4. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Again, as we have seen James do elsewhere (and the apostle Paul does this regularly) he puts his correction in the form of a question, do you not know?  

The idea is that these professing Christians have grown unthinking. God wants them to think, to consider, to live for Him with purpose and understanding. You see as Believers we cannot “just go with the flow” as the saying goes. To just go along with the crowd is to be swelt away in worldliness. To live godly requires faith and faithfulness, purpose, activity. Beloved before we look at something, say something, hear something we should think, and ask ourselves is this pleasing to God or is this worldly or fleshly?

The charge of God against His Bride.

What a stunning thing the Holy Spirit inspires James to call these professing Christians.  You adulteresses!  God inspired James to call the Bride of Christ an adulteress!

Of course, this would not mean every member. This refers to the worldly Christian, Christians sowing to their flesh nature. But how shocking! And how very, very sad.

And sadly, this is not a new charge against the professing people of God. God in the Old Testament also charged His professing people that they were acting like a faithless wife, that they were acting like a spiritual prostitute! Listen to this.

Hosea 2:2. Contend with your mother (Israel), contend, For she is not my wife, and I am not her husband; And let her put away her harlotry from her face And her adultery from between her breasts, 3 Or I will strip her naked And expose her as on the day when she was born. I will also make her like a wilderness, Make her like desert land And slay her with thirst. 4 “Also, I will have no compassion on her children, Because they are children of harlotry. 5 “For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’

The true prophet of God and friend of sinners.

James clearly is no man-pleaser.

God inspires James to tell these sinning Christians the hard truth about themselves. They are acting like a spiritual adulteress! You see James fears God more than he fears man. And by these hard words James is also showing that he really loves God and he really loves these sinning Christians. He loves them so much he tells them the truth, a truth designed to make them repent and reform.

This is like Christ. Christ is the Truth. Christ speaks the truth. His true ministers are also to speak the truth – in love. (Eph.4:15) I want you to think about some of the hard words that Jesus tells the seven churches in Revelation two and three. Hard but true. Hard but helpful – if received in faith.

Revelation 2:4. But I have this against you (Church of Ephesus), that you have left your first love. 5 ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place– unless you repent.

The false prophet of God and enemy of sinners.

How different from a false prophet or a false minister. These men just give the people what they want to hear. So sinning people gather sinning ministers to tell them that God says “peace-peace” to you, enjoy your sin, all is well! (Ezek.16:10, Jer.8:11, Jer.6:14, Ezek.34:1-5, Mt.7:15, 2 Pt.2:1, 2 Cor.11:13-15)

False teachers are man-fearers and not God-fearers. (Prov.29:25) They give the people what they want to hear. (2 Tim.4:3-4) And the people give the false teacher what he wants, honor and money (and a platform to get women). (2 Pt.2:14-15, Jude 1:10-16) God hates this. It dishonors Him. And leaves sinners under the threat of damnation.

But as painful as these words are, they are gracious and good for those that will receive them in faith.

Listen to God’s word.

Proverbs 27:5. Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed.  6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

Let’s see how James started his epistle.

James 1:1. James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.  2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

So, on one hand James can speak to the visible church according to their profession, they are Christians.

But he can also speak to them according to their practice, they have stumbled in sin, and they are acting like unbelievers. As I say, he cannot mean each and every professing Christian. There are goats among the sheep, unbelievers among the Believers. And even true Christians still struggle with sin. (Gal.6:1-5)

Listen to the Risen Christ.

Revelation 2:14. But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.  15 ‘So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.  16 ‘Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.

The disloyalty of the worldly Christian – adulteress Bride.

Let’s look at little bit at the disloyalty that God is charging against His people. 

Adultery can only occur within a marriage.  God is the Husband to His people, His Bride. (Ezek.16:8) Christ also refers to Himself as the Bridegroom and the church, the Bride. (Mt.19: 9, 18)

Paul says the Christian is married to Christ. John in the book of Revelation says Believers are also married to Christ. Christ is the Bridegroom. The church of true Believers is His Bride.  (2 Cor.11:2, Eph.5:22-25, Rev.19:7, 21:9)

We already looked at a passage from Hosea chapter two. Let’s look at Hosea again.

Hosea 1:2   When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.” (Isa.1:21, 50:1, 57:3, Jer.2:2)

Sometimes in the Old Testament God would accuse His professing people of acting like unbelievers or like Gentile heathens by the phrase “a-whoring after other gods”. (Ps.73:27) 

(KJV) Exodus 34:14. For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: 15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; 16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. (Lev.17:7, 20:5, Num.15:39, Dt.31:16, Jg.2:17, I Chron.5:25, Ps.73:27, 106:39, Ezek.23:20, Hos.4:12, 9:1)

Jesus called the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the scribes – the teachers of the Law, a wicked and adulterous generation. Remember spiritual adultery (which is spiritual apostasy) can only be committed by people within the visible household of faith, within the visible church. (Mt.16:4, Mk.8:38)

Matthew 12:39  But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; Christ is the Bridegroom, the Husband, and the Church is His Bride.

God is saying that thinking, feeling, speaking and behaving like an unbelieving worldling is spiritual adultery. And remember people that live in “habitual” sin prove that they are not converted to Christ. Spiritual adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God. (I Cor.6:9-11)

The jealously of God – holy Husband.

Let’s consider the holy jealousy of God our holy Husband. 

James 4:4. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

He is appealing to the common sanctified sense of these professing believers.  What husband allows a wife to have a paramour?!  And what do you think of such a wife that does these things?  And what do you think the husband’s reaction would be?

The Bible says, for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Exod.34;14, Josh.24:19)

God is jealous for Himself, for His honor, for His holy Name. (Ezek.39:25)  He will not allow Himself to be mocked.  God is jealous for the love of His Bride.  God cannot tolerate an interloper.  And God also says in connection with his jealousy that He is a consuming fire. (Dt.4:24)

This means that God would bring the adulteress and adulterer to judgment. He will treat them as His enemy!

Exodus 20:5. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Gen.5:9, Zech.1:14, 8:2)

2 Corinthians 11:2  For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

The enmity of the worldly Christian – apostate friend.

Now God tells the worldly Christian that in embracing the world (against God) he or she makes themselves an enemy of God! Stunning. Frightening.

James 4:4. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Romans 8:6. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 

As we have said, the world represents the entire human system or society apart from God, the world of unbelief, the world in rebellion, the world that is not governed by the Bible.  Bible-less institutions, Bible-less thinking, Bible-less families, societies, values, etc.

The apostle Paul wrote about a man named Demas that forsook Christ and departed from Christ’s church because he loved this present world. (2 Tim.4:10)

How this looks in a professing Christian is they agree with the world’s thinking as opposed to God’s thinking.  Pick a subject marriage, divorce, homosexuality, worship, lying, holiness, heaven, hell, etc.

Look at what kind of lifestyle worldliness produces. People speaks of our worldliness prior to conversion. Why would we return like a dog to the vomit to these kinds of things? (2 Pt.2:22)

Titus 3:3. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. (Eph.2:1-3)

There is a great war going on with two radically different and opposing sides. Each side means to destroy the other side. If you are a friend of the world you will study ways to please the world. If you are a friend of God, you will study ways to please God.

Listen to the apostle Paul.

Galatians 1:10. For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Listen to what God tells us about living as a holy spiritually separated people.

2 Corinthians 6:14. Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17 “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.

We can use the world, but we cannot be friends with the world. (I Cor.7:29-31)

We are in the world, but we are not of the world. (Jn.17:16-18)

And then James is frighteningly clear to these world-loving Christians, that if you love the one, you will hate the other. (Mt.6:24) There is no gray area.  No middle position. Think of this, does the unbelieving world like it when you are friends of God, of Christ, of Scripture, and of holiness? You know the answer. A resounding – No! The world wants you to choose unbelief and sin.

God wants us to choose. Choose this day, right now. Serve God. Or serve the world. Be hot or be cold. God hates a luke-warm half-Christian. (Rev.3:16-18, Josh.24:15, I Cor.7:31-33, I Pt.4:2)

This means that the true Christian has to be radically different than the world, than the culture.  We are to be a holy and distinct person in how we think, speak, and act. (2 Cor.11:2, Jn.17:16-18, I Jn.2:15-17)

We are to reject the so-called secular outlook of the world. Because we know that it is not neutral to God, it is anti-God.

The scripture proof that God opposes the pride of worldliness.

V.5, 6.  Let’s conclude by James uses OT Scripture to show us that worldliness is an expression of sinful pride. 

Proverbs 3:33. The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous. 34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted. 35 The wise will inherit honor, But fools display dishonor. (Gen.6:3, Gen.8:21)

1 Peter 5:5. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.  6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.

Worldliness is the pride of man against God. Worldliness is like the builders of Babel. Worldliness says to God, I am my own god, and lord, and savior, and govern. I am the source of my own happiness.

God hates people with haughty eyes. God hates the person with a proud heart. (Prov.6:17, 16:5) Pride causes quarrels. (Prov.13:10) Pride leads to destruction. (Prov.16:18) This is because pride elevates self over God.  Pride clings to self and rejects grace.

Since God hates pride, the Believer must hate pride and seek by God’s grace to humble himself under the mighty hand of God.

Isaiah 66:2   For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

Beloved I want you to think of these things.

For the professing Christian that leaves his or her first love for the world (Judas, Demas) for a time they will be in the majority. And the world will love them and not persecute them for Christ’s sake. The world will love their own, the world will agree with their Bible-less thinking and unholy living, but only for a time. (Jn.15:18-20)

A time is coming when all their worldly friends will abandon them and they will stand alone before God, their enemy.  How dreadful to fall into the hands of the Living God. (Heb.10:31)

A time is coming when God will destroy the world and all its things with fiery heat. A time is coming when the Babylon of this fallen world will be thrown down. (2 Pt.3:10-12, Rev.14:8, 16:19, 18:2-21, Jer.51:11, 55) 

Beloved, guard yourselves from idols. (I Jn.5:21, Eph.5:1-5)

Keep yourself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)

Remember your sins. Remember Satan. Stay close to your Savior Christ.

Amen

Study Guide.

  1. James 4:1-6 is a correction passage. Why do professing Christians need correction? Correction from what? Correction for what? What do correction passages teach us about God? (Rom.7:12-25, I Cor.10:1-14, Rom.15:4, 2 Tim.3:14-17, Heb.12:1-11, Lev.11:44-47, Ps.139:4, 2 Cor.6:14-18, WCF 2.1-2)
  1. Define the sin of worldliness. How is worldliness sowing to the flesh? How is worldliness friendship with the world? How is worldliness unbelief? (James 4:1-6, Rom.12:1-2, 2 Cor.6:14-18, I Thess.4:3-5, Titus 2:12, I Jn.2:15-17, 2 Tim.4:10, Isa.13:19, Jn.8:23, Lk.4:5-8, Jn.17:14, 18:36, 15:19, Rom.8:5-13)
  1. Is it wrong or unloving of James to call professing Christians adulteresses? Why? Why not? Is it part of the minister’s calling to say such things to the professing people of God? What do we learn about the work of a minister of the word by this? What is a man-pleaser versus a God-fearer? Does James fear God more than professing Christians? Is it possible for a minister to fear professing Christians more than God? Why? How would this look? What should we think of ministers that give sinning Christians what they want? (James 4:1-6, Hosea 2:2-5, Eph.4:15, Rev.2:4-5, Ezek.16:10, Jer.8:11, Jer.6:14, Ezek.34:1-5, Mt.7:15, 2 Pt.2:1, 2 Cor.11:13-15, Prov.29:25, 2 Tim.4:3-4, 2 Pt.2:14-15, Jude 1:10-16, Prov.27:5)
  1. How does adultery differ from fornication? Why is adultery so sinful? Hint: what is marriage? How is worldliness an expression of spiritual adultery? (Ezek.16:1-36, Mt.19: 9, 18, 2 Cor.11:2, Eph.5:22-25, Rev.19:7, 21:9, Hosea 1:2, Isa.1:21, 50:1, 57:3, Jer.2:2, Ps.73:27, Mt.16:4, Mk.8:38)
  1. What is jealousy? What does it mean that God is our holily “jealous” God and Husband? Is God jealous? Ought a husband to be jealous for his wife? What does God’s jealousy mean towards the worldly professing Christian? (James 4:1-6, Exod.34;14, Josh.24:19, Ezek.39:25, Dt.4:24, Exod.20:5-6, Gen.5:9, Zech.1:14, 8:2, 2 Cor.11:2)
  1. How is worldliness by the professing Christian an expression of hatred of God and love of the world (over God)? Gives some examples from the Bible of professing Believers that chose the world over God. Give some examples of how worldliness has affected professing Christians. How has worldliness affected you. 😊 (James 4:1-6, Rom.8:6-7, 2 Tim.4:10, 2 Pt.2:22, Titus 3:3, Eph.2:1-3)
  1. Gives some ways in which being friends of God and being friends of the world are incompatible? Or, in what ways are these two sides opposing enemies? What is our duty as regards to these things? (Gal.1:10, 2 Cor.6:14-18, I Cor.7:29-31, Jn.17:16-18, Josh.24:15, I Cor.7:31-33, I Pt.4:2, I Jn.2:15-17, Jn.15:18-20)
  1. What is (sinful) pride? In what ways does worldliness manifest the sin of pride in the life of the professing Believer? What does God think about the sin of pride? Why does He estimate pride as He does? (James 4:5, I Jn.2:15-17, Gen.6:3, Gen.8:21, Prov.6:17, 16:5, 18, Rom.12:16)
  1. What is humility of spirit? What does it mean to humble oneself before God? How is this kind of humility an expression of divine grace or gift? Why does humility please God? How is humility unlike the worldly? (James 4:5-6, I Pt.5:5-6, Isa.66:2, Mt.5:5, Mt.11:28-30, Isa.53)
  1. How can you keep yourself unstained from the world? (James 1:27, Jn.3:16, I Jn.1:7)

 

 

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JOSHUA 8:1-35. Sermon 10. The Lord is Victorious over His Enemies https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/22/joshua-81-35-sermon-10-the-lord-is-victorious-over-his-enemies/ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/22/joshua-81-35-sermon-10-the-lord-is-victorious-over-his-enemies/#respond Mon, 22 Mar 2021 23:12:33 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3173

The greeting.

Greetings. Beloved in the name of Christ Jesus. We live from Sabbath to Sabbath, Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day. Each week we work six days anticipating coming into God’s house to worship God with God’s people. There is something triumphant about that. There is spiritual victory in Christ. Yes, we have hard times. Yes, we fall down and have temporary defeats. But we are kept by the power of the king of kings and Lord of Lords.

The Scripture.

Tonight, we have a victory passage to consider. Here the Lord will promise victory over His enemies and over the enemies of His people.  Open your Bible to Joshua chapter eight, we will read the entire chapter, hear the holy word of God, read. 

The Lord promises the victory. Joshua 8:1. Now the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.

The Lord states the means for the victory. 2 “You shall do to Ai and its king just as you did to Jericho and its king; you shall take only its spoil and its cattle as plunder for yourselves. Set an ambush for the city behind it.”

The plan. 3 So Joshua rose with all the people of war to go up to Ai; and Joshua chose 30,000 men, valiant warriors, and sent them out at night. 4 He commanded them, saying, “See, you are going to ambush the city from behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready. 5 “Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out to meet us as at the first, we will flee before them. 6 “They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing before us as at the first.’ So we will flee before them. 7 “And you shall rise from your ambush and take possession of the city, for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand. 8 “Then it will be when you have seized the city, that you shall set the city on fire. You shall do it according to the word of the LORD. See, I have commanded you.” 9 So Joshua sent them away, and they went to the place of ambush and remained between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Joshua spent that night among the people.

The accomplishment.10 Now Joshua rose early in the morning and mustered the people, and he went up with the elders of Israel before the people to Ai. 11 Then all the people of war who were with him went up and drew near and arrived in front of the city, and camped on the north side of Ai. Now there was a valley between him and Ai. 12 And he took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. 13 So they stationed the people, all the army that was on the north side of the city, and its rear guard on the west side of the city, and Joshua spent that night in the midst of the valley. 14 It came about when the king of Ai saw it, that the men of the city hurried and rose up early and went out to meet Israel in battle, he and all his people at the appointed place before the desert plain. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. 15 Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. 16 And all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were drawn away from the city. 17 So not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who had not gone out after Israel, and they left the city unguarded and pursued Israel. 18 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” So Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. 19 The men in ambush rose quickly from their place, and when he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it, and they quickly set the city on fire. 20 When the men of Ai turned back and looked, behold, the smoke of the city ascended to the sky, and they had no place to flee this way or that, for the people who had been fleeing to the wilderness turned against the pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the men in ambush had captured the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and slew the men of Ai.

The execution. 22 The others came out from the city to encounter them, so that they were trapped in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side; and they slew them until no one was left of those who survived or escaped. 23 But they took alive the king of Ai and brought him to Joshua. 24 Now when Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the field in the wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them were fallen by the edge of the sword until they were destroyed, then all Israel returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. 25 All who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000– all the people of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not withdraw his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.

The spoils. 27 Israel took only the cattle and the spoil of that city as plunder for themselves, according to the word of the LORD which He had commanded Joshua.

The destruction – the city. 28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation until this day.

The destruction – the king. 29 He hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening; and at sunset Joshua gave command and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the city gate, and raised over it a great heap of stones that stands to this day.

The worship. 30 Then Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, in Mount Ebal, 31 just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones on which no man had wielded an iron tool; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 He wrote there on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written, in the presence of the sons of Israel. 33 All Israel with their elders and officers and their judges were standing on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the stranger as well as the native. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had given command at first to bless the people of Israel. 34 Then afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them. 

The prayer.

Please join with me as we ask God to help us with this difficult portion of His word, pray.   

The promise of God comes true.

Let me just remind us again of a bit of an overview of this book to help us with this chapter. The book of Joshua is about God making good on His promise to give His people a land of their own. (Gen.13:14-18) A land to be free from their enemies, a land flowing with milk and honey, so a land of physical prosperity and peace. This land is a type of the future and true Promised Land of Heaven or what we would call the Eternal Estate. Eternal life with God. For some.

Chapter eight teaches us that God gives life and preserves life for some that they might worship Him. The promise of life for those reconciled to God in Christ is what the Mount of Blessing Mount Gerizim teaches.

The threat of God comes true.

Also, within this divine promise of a Promised Land is a promise to defeat the enemies of God and of His people. The Promised Land is inhabited by the enemies of the Lord. And so, He gives it to Israel by granting military success to Israel. 

In Joshua chapters one through five the people of God are entering into Canaan, the Promised Land. Then in chapters six through twelve we have Israel fighting and defeating the Gentile inhabitants of the land, generally called the Canaanites. These are real battles. People are really physically dying, approximately 12,000 people recorded in our passage.

The promise of death for those unreconciled to God apart from Christ is what Mount Ebal teaches. (Dt.27-30, Lev.26, Dt.11:29, 27:4-13, Joshua 8:3-33)

The divine penalty.

God is using His people as His instruments to apply the divine penalty for sin against the Lord.

So, in every battle that we look at, we are looking at the repeated lesson of the wages of sin is death. (Rom.6:23, Gen.2:16-17, 2 Chron.25.4)

If you know John Bunyan’s famous book, Pilgrim’s Progress, then you know that before Pilgrim was converted, he carried his back pack of sin around and he would hear that saying from Romans 6:23 ringing over and over again in his head, the wages of sin is death, the wages of sin is death. The pack came off, and the curse fell away when he believed in Christ the Sin-Atoner.

Oh, beloved how sobering. And how very true. I believe that the church desperately needs to recapture this truth. Oh, how many professing Christians live like the Canaanites? And they do not bat an eye at sin. And they do not blush at breaking God’s law. (Jer.6:15, Jer.8:12)

There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Rom.3:18, Dt.25:18, Ps.36:1) Oh Beloved, God is holy. (Lev.11:44-47) He will be treated as holy by all those that approach Him. (Lev.10:1-10, Heb.12:29, Heb.10:31) Beloved, I am afraid that many Canaanite-like “Christians” will hear from Judge Christ on the Last Day, depart from Me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you. (Mt.7:23) Oh, what terrifying words. They will become Jericho, Ai, Sodom, Egypt.

The day of vengeance.

Each battle is a lesson on God’s Day of Judgment also called the Day of the Lord or the Day of His vengeance. (Isa.61:2, Zeph.1:1-7, Mt.24:9, I Thess.5:1-6)

Chapter six was “judgment day” for the inhabitants of Jericho. Chapter eight is “judgment day’ for Ai.

Beloved, there really is a day that God will call for us to lay our body down. (Heb.9:27)

Judgment day for the unbeliever, as it were, is like the rich foolish worldling in Luke 12:13-23, God said to him, this night your soul is demanded of you. What will you do if you are not rich in faith towards God?

But for the Believer our final day on earth will turn into our first day in our true home.

But that day is coming for all of us. May we all be ready. May we all be in Christ. (Mt.25:1-30)

As we go from city to city, and we find that all of the people in the cities receive divine judgment we learn that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Rom.3:9-23)

Both Jews and Gentiles are sinners.

The Believing Jews teach us that the divine penalty for their sin has been paid for by Christ.

The Gentiles show us that without a Savior Sin-Bearer then we ourselves will receive the divine judgment, which is physical death but ultimately eternal death – separation from the friendly presence of God. Eternal death. For others. (Rom.6:23)

God announces the victory.

Now all of these things that we have just said are within our passage. But there is something else that God is teaching us here, and that is what I am calling “the victory of the Lord”.  (Jn.1:29-36, Rev.17:14, 19:16, Dt.20:4, Eph.6:10, Ps.3:9)

God does and God will have complete victory over all those that hate Him. God will pay them what their unbelief and hatred are due. The technical word is “requite”, it means to make an appropriate return. God will pay sinners what their sins deserve. It is a form of lex talionis, strict justice. That is what we are looking at here in chapter eight. (Dt.7:10, 2 Cor.5:10, Isa.65:6, 59:18)

Let’s see some of the lessons that God has for us. 

God commands the attack.

Right away we see something different with this attack on Ai in distinction with the one previously attempted in chapter seven.

In chapter seven we do not find Joshua or any of the elders or the priests seeking the Lord’s direction and or approval of attacking Ai. It appears from what we said last week that Israel and Joshua grew a bit presumptuous and overconfident in themselves. They defeated Jericho so they thought Ai, which was much small would be much easier.

But things with God’s approval are effectual. Things wrought by our own flesh are not. Walking by sight and not by faith in the Lord is never good for God’s people. Beloved, let’s be on guard against the sin of unbelief even for Believers. (Mk.9:23-25, Mt.11:3, Lk.7:19, Mt.26:69-74)

They sent a small army, and they were soundly defeated because of the sin of Achan. (Josh.7:3-4)

We see that they have learned from their chastisement. What does David say? Lord, it was good for me when I was afflicted. (Ps.119:71) Because by it he learned obedience. (Heb.5:8)

No discipline is ever pleasant but after we have been trained by it, it produces the peaceable fruit of righteousness, and I would say, it produces more faithful obedience. (Heb.12:1-11) This time they wait on the Lord and He does in fact direct them to take Ai.

I would say this as well. Sometimes there are very important spiritual lessons that we can learn from our failures, even from our sins. If we view them in faith via God’s word.

Joshua 8:1. Now the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.

Notice that God is assuring His man Joshua, and all of us by extension – fear not! I think this particular phrase, fear not, is used over 80 times in holy Scripture. (Isa.43:1, 54:4, Josh.1:9)

Previously Achan sinned, Israel sinned, and Joshua sinned. For true Believers we cannot sin away the forgiveness of God in Christ. Our failures do not nullify the promised of God to those in the Christ of God.

Life can be a scary business. Fighting the enemies of God can frighten even the strongest of saints. What a loving heavenly Father we have. What a mighty God we have. Our failures do not mean that God has abandoned us. God never leaves us. God will do what He has promised to do. Our weaknesses and sins do not nullify the goodness of the Lord for us.

Extraordinary means.

We see a number of things here. With Jericho God wrought a miracle. God knocked the defensive walls down. God is free to not use ordinary means or to go against the ordinary properties of things. Ordinarily stone walls just do not fall down. Just like ordinarily men cannot walk on water or iron axe heads float on water. (2 Kg.6:1-7, Mt.14:22-33)

Ordinary means.

This time here God is going to use ordinary means, but He is going to bless or make those means successful.

The army.

He says, take the whole army. They will win by overwhelming force. (WCF 3.1, 5.1-3)

The ambush.

Also, God plans the way the attack is to be carried out. V.2 God tells Joshua to set an ambush against Ai. An ambush is a surprise attack by people hiding in a concealed position.

In other words, use skillful tactics to defeat the enemy. Divide up the army. Put some in front. Put others behind the city in hiding. Then those out in front lure the enemy away from the city. And flee like the previous battle so Ai thinks they have the victory. And then, spring the trap!

Now some people have come here and questioned whether it is lawful to defeat an enemy by strategy? Calvin says yes. He says if war is lawful. Then strategy is lawful. Next point. 😊 

All joking aside, I think the Bible answer is something like this, in a lawful war we are under no obligation to tell our enemy what we are doing. In one way, he already knows what we are doing. We are trying to defeat him as he is trying to defeat us. The enemy then has no right to expect anything from us but opposition. So, the wise enemy would suspect everything.

But I admit when we look at the war passages in the Bible they really are quite awful. One military man said that next to the awfulness of suffering a defeat was the awfulness in gaining a victory. (Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, 1769-1852) Death and carnage.

The spoils.

V.2 Notice in this city God allows His people to take the spoils whereas in Jericho He did not. One man noted that God took the spoils of Jericho for Himself as a type of first fruits belonging to the Lord, like a tithe portion. And He graciously allowed Israel the remaining.

As an aside, think of wicked covetous Achan. If he just waited a little bit longer, in God’s time God would have added to his outward estate lawfully. Sin is an impatient creature. Sin resists waiting on the Lord. By faith we wait on God. In His due time He will exult us.

In this way God is taking away the land, His land, and giving it to His people. Like that, God is taking away the possessions of the wicked, which ultimately belong to the Lord, and He gives them to His people as well. (Dt.2:34-35)

We saw this in principle when Israel came out of Egyptian captivity.

Exodus 12:35. Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; 36 and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. (Exod.3:22)

God is making good on a divine promise. The wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. (Pro 13:22)

Some day Beloved, all that the unbeliever has bowed and scraped for will be taken away from him and given to those that love Christ. John on the Isle of Patmos says the wealth of the nations will belong to God’s people in the eternal estate when we are in the True Promised Land. (Rev.21:24-27)

Matthew 13:12. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

Matthew 25:24. And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. 25 ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. 27 ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 28 ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ 29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 

The sign.

Some of the early reformers saw Joshua’s use of his javelin to be Moses-like. The interesting thing is that for Moses the staff is the instrument of a shepherd, but for Joshua the instrument of the javelin of that of a solider. Both are just signs that the victory is by the Lord.

Joshua 8:18. Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” So Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. 19 The men in ambush rose quickly from their place, and when he had stretched out his hand

Exodus 14:14. The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” 15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. 16 “As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.

 The Sovereign.

We see that Israel did not kill the king of Ai in battle. Instead, they captured him in the battle. And then they held a more solemn public execution of him.

Joshua hung the king of Ai on a tree until evening. This stood as a divine warning against all those that rebel against the Lord God. This is a solemn sign of the judgment of the Lord. (Josh.10:26-27, Dt.21:22-23, Lev.18:24-25, Dt.9:4-5) The wages of sin is death. The soul that sins must die.

What we have is one Sovereign, the heavenly King, the Lord God, capturing another “sovereign” the earthly king of Ai. God is showing who the real sovereign is.

Many people lust for positions of power, for positions of rulership. This king of Ai stands as a warning that to whom much is given much will be required. (Lk.12:48, sins of superiors – WLC 129-130)

You see, many times, the evil kings led their subjects to even greater depths of depravity and sin against the Lord. And God will hold them accountable. All will receive justice. But God makes a special example of the wicked leader.

Joshua leads the people in victory.

We see this earthly Joshua having the victory for His people, carrying out divine justice in the name of the Lord. This man points forward to the true Joshua, in Whom we have eternal victory. Joshua-Jesus will judge the world in righteousness.

In fact, it is Jesus that hangs on a tree in our place. The sinless One receives justice that we might receive mercy.

Joshua leads the people in worship.

V.30-35. And then we have this fitting conclusion. Joshua leads the people of God in worship.

We are saved from our enemies to worship God.

And we see part of that worshiping God is obeying God.

You see this is what it means that one day men will beat their swords into plowshares. (Isa.2:4, Joel 3:12, Micah 4:1-4) On that day men will study war no more. Because on that day we will enjoy an eternity of holy worship.

Amen

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GALATIANS 6:6-10. Sermon 26. Instructions for Discipleship – Doing Good https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/22/galatians-66-10-sermon-26-instructions-for-discipleship-doing-good/ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/22/galatians-66-10-sermon-26-instructions-for-discipleship-doing-good/#respond Mon, 22 Mar 2021 13:29:49 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3167

The greeting.

Beloved Believer in Jesus Christ may the grace and the love and the mercy of God fill you this day. May you truly be in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, even filled by the Holy Spirit as we desire to draw near to God in our worship of Him today.

As you can see, we are getting close to finishing this book. After today just one or two more sermons. I mentioned previously my hope is to begin a new series preaching through First and Second Timothy. So, if you have some spare time in the upcoming weeks it might be helpful to read through those books.

The rule.

Well, this morning we are going to look at Galatians 6:6-10. You remember in this last chapter the Holy Spirit inspires the apostle Paul to give the Galatian Believers a series of moral or religious exhortations. This passage, like verses one through five, is another “do this” or duty passage. In general, God is showing us that truly converted people are to live as converted people. In other words, if we are really born again to Christ then we are going to live for Christ, His life in us will come out of us as Paul says in Galatians 2:20. Open you Bible to Galatians 6, I will begin to read at verse 6, hear the blessed word of our holy God, read. 

Galatians 6:6. The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

The request.

Beloved we are engaged in a spiritual act of worship. As Spirit-renewed new creatures in Christ we are hearing from our God in His word. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us in our worship today, pray.

The discipleship.

I have entitled this sermon “Instructions for Discipleship”. And I have added the subtitle, “Doing Good”. Let me define what a disciple is. And then what discipleship means.

A disciple is a “learner of”. A disciple of Jesus is first a (true) believer in Jesus. A disciple of Jesus has repented of their sins and has turned in faith to Christ as their sin-atoning sacrifice Savior. (I Cor.2:2) A disciple of Jesus is a student of Jesus.

We study Him as He reveals Himself to us in His Word. He is our Lord, our Savior, our Master, and our whole life.

We study Him in the Book of Providence as the Puritans would refer to it. That is to say, we study Christ’s government over our lives and over all things as He is the Second Person of the Divine Trinity. We study to know what Christ is teaching us by the events and circumstances of our life.

To live is Christ and to die is to gain Christ’s immediate presence.

Obey Christ.

Discipleship is the life that Christ has called us to. Discipleship is the life of the sheep following our Good Shepherd. Wherever He leads us, we go. That is what it means to be a learner of Jesus. We learn of Him in His word, the Bible. And then we learn of Him as we follow Him in our everyday lives. But the entire time we are living for Christ and following Christ. (Mt.28:18-20, Lk.14:27, Mt.5:14-16, Eph.4:11-17, Lk.9:23, Jn.8:31-32, Jn.13:34-35)

So, a disciple is a disciple of Jesus Christ. (Mt.11:25-30) I know that sounds a bit obvious. But I am stressing being a disciple of Jesus for a purpose. In moral exhortations, if we forget “why” and to “whom” we serve then the moral exhortation becomes Christ-less moralism. In other words, if we do not keep Christ in mind then the duty passages could be done by a non-Christian, which is not what God inspires Paul to say.

For example, think of this. Christ says, love your neighbor. (Mt.22:35-40) Well, if let’s say the Hindu or the Muslim or the Atheist says, well I do love my neighbor, therefore I am an obedient person or a good person or what have you.

Actually, apart from Christ no one is good. And apart from Christ no one can do good. Apart from Christ no one loves their neighbor – the way that the true and living God of the Bible requires. Because apart from Christ no one loves the true and living God of the Bible. (Rom.3:9-18, Heb.11:6, Rom.8:7, I Cor.2:14, Eph.2:1-3, WCF 16.7) Apart from Christ all men are spiritually dead in their sins.

Positively then, only those truly “in” Christ will want to do any of these moral exhortations. But by faith in Jesus, we can do them. (Phil.4:13) Beloved we have not been saved by our obeying. We have been saved by Christ’s obeying. But we have been saved “unto” obeying (God).

We have been saved by Christ to serve Christ. And one way we serve Christ is by serving others. Which, I will say, is “like” Christ. Christ came to serve and not to be served. (Mt.20:28, Jn.13:1-17) Christ, the Lord and Master came in the form of a servant. (Phil.2:1-11) We, beloved, are to follow in His footsteps. (I Pt.2:15-21) Remember Christ taught us to imitate His life of service by washing the feet of others. What a picture. What a lesson. May God give us grace to serve others like our Lord. (Jn.13:1-17)

Listen to Jesus before we unpack these duties for disciples.

Matthew 28:18. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 5:14. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 22:37. 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 foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’

To the Believer – love others.

The most basic duty behind all the duties we see in our passage is the duty to love God and to love others for God’s sake or for Christ’s sake. Love is the royal law of God. Love fulfills the law of God. Love imitates God who is love. Love is the greatest and best motivator to do our duty to our fellow man and to our fellow Believer. In fact, if we do not have love to God and to Man then we will not do any of these duties, not the way that pleases God and imitates God. Oh Beloved, may we be a people that love others. 

To the taught – support your pastor-teacher.

These things are duties that Christ wants from us. This is what it looks like to be a faithful follower of Jesus. 

The first exhortation God through Paul tells the Galatian Christians is to share their good things with their pastor-teacher who teaches them the Word of God. (Lk.1:4)

Galatians 6:6. The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.

Prayer.

Of course, we can apply “share all good things” in a broad way. We can say that God calls Believers to support their minister by praying for him and by praying for his family. Charles Spurgeon attributed much of his success to the prayers of Christ’s people for him.

The NT records for us eight distinct times that the apostle Paul asked fellow Believers to pray for him.

Here is one of them.

Ephesians 6:17. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Rom.15:30-32, 2 Cor.1:10-11, Phil.1:19, Col.4:2-4, I Thess.5:25, Phil.1:22)

The most specific prayer that we should pray for those that God has sent to teach us His word is that they we be faithful and accurate in their teaching of the word. And then pray for all the things associated with that, time to study, success in study.

Included in this, is that the teacher has to learn the word of God experimentally in order to teach faithful. So, pray for their progressive sanctification. Robert Murray McCheyne said that the greatest thing that his congregation needed from him was his own sanctification.

Encourage.

The other general “good things” we can share with the teacher of God’s word is our encouragement on their ministry or service by our attendance and by our reception of their teaching. And I would say, also by sharing that affects of their ministry in our lives.

Pay.

But most specifically this passage refers to the divine duty of sharing material support for the pastor-teacher.

Now left to myself, I do not like to talk about such a subject because it can make me as your minister look self-serving and even a little grasping. But God does put it here in His word as our duty to support the ministry of word (and sacrament) and so I speak to it.

In the OT God called His people to give a portion of their offerings to the Aaronical and Levitical priests as God called those men to be devoted to their priestly service. The priests were called to serve God by serving God’s people with their priestly duties. Therefore, God provided for their livelihood by the gifts of the people served. (Num.18:8-32)

Well, the principle is the same in the NT with the pastor-teacher. 

I Corinthians 9:9. For it is written in the Law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? 14 So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. (I Tim.1:17-18, Lk.10:7, I Thess.5:12-13, Rom.4:4)

The Bible does say that elder-ministers are not to be lovers of money, greedy. (I Tim.3:3) And it is Pharisee-like to use church office as a way to be greedy. (Mt.23:14) But everyone needs a measure of wealth to eat and to live, even the minister.

Think for example, if the pastor-teacher were not paid such that he could provide for himself and his family. He would have to put the ministry of the word aside and find work to provide for his family. The ministry of the word would suffer.

In fact, in the OT the people did stop supporting the Levites so they left their priestly duties and went out to work the fields in order the eat. God justly condemned their unloving faithlessness. (Num.13:10)

To the teacher – teach the word.

This passage is also a duty passage to the teacher. You see what God says, teach the word. That is to say, the pastor-teacher is to confine his ministry to God’s people to teaching the Bible (and nothing but the Bible).

There are two truths here, one negative and implied and the other positive and stated.

Negatively, the minister is not to get entangled in the everyday affairs of life. I think how entangling politics have been to so many ministers. The minister is not to be a part time preacher and a part time politician. (2 Tim.2:4)

I think of Nehemiah when Tobiah and Sanballat tried to discourage him from the work of God by asking him to come meet with them. In essence Nehemiah said, I am too busy with God’s work to turn aside to lesser things. Oh how many ministers need to learn that lesson, to tell people “no” as they try to dissuade the man of God from the word of God often under the guise of some other good work. (Neh.6:3)

Also see that God sent out preachers of the word not painters or sculptures or YMCA directors or CEOs or any other such thing.

Positively, Christ sent out His apostles as preacher teachers of the word of God, both of the Law of God and of the Gospel of God. The apostle Paul tells pastor Timothy, be absorbed in your study of the Bible, work hard at your Bible studies and sermons. Do the work of an evangelist, of a gospeler, preach the Gospel of salvation in season and out of season. (I Cor.2:2, 2 Tim.4:1-5, I Tim.6:11-21, 2 Tim.2:15, 2 Tim.3:14-17)

I think it was Charles Spurgeon that said if you pricked John Bunyan, he would bleed Bible! This is the preacher’s calling.

Listen to God’s word.

Titus 1:4. To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. 5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. 10 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers,  (I Tim.3:16, I Pt.5:1-14, Acts 20:28, Ezek.34:1-10, Heb.13:17, Acts 6:1-15, Rom.16:17, Eph.4:11)

Beloved think of this. God brings us to Himself by His word. He justifies us by His word. And God continuously builds us up in the image of Christ by His word. (Rom.10:1-17, Jn.17:17, Jas.1:18)

Sow in faith.

V.7-8. Since Paul is being inspired by God the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit then knows the thoughts and the hearts of all men.

Applied to the giver.

Some might be tempted to think, well if I give a portion of my money to support my church then I will have less, I will be the poorer loser by it.

Support the ministry.

But God says, no. Give away in support of My ministry and I will add to you.  Oh, I do not mean like the silly and the sinful so-called “seed offering” that the TV charlatan preachers ask for. Along the lines of, send in $1,000 dollars to the ministry and God will give you 30, 60, 100-fold in return. Beloved, that is unbiblical and crass.

But is it true that as we are faithful with the gifts and talents God gives us then He often is pleased to bless us as we are using His blessings to serve others in His name.

Applied to the preacher.

The same can be said for the minister of the Word.

Preach the word.

Preach the word. Be faithful. Do not worry about the results. Pray that God would bless the work. Give yourself away. Pour yourself out like a drink offering in the ministry of the word of God. Do not worry that most will think you are a fool for doing so. In due time God will see to it that His word will bring forth the intended harvest.

Applied generally.

We see once again Paul returns to God forbidding us to sow to our flesh nature and feed our sins and requiring that we sow to our new spiritual nature, that we walk by faith in the Son of God. (Gal.5:19-25)

Sow in faith – be zealous for holy living or good works.

You see how God shows us by a very usual truth. Whatever kind of seed you sow will dictate the kind of fruits you reap. This is true in natural things and in spiritual things. (Titus 2:14, Jn.2:17, Mt.7:21-23, Rev.2 and 3)

What we are sowing is actually fairly evident. So, in this way, what we will reap as a harvest is also fairly obvious – if we actually really stopped and thought about it, which I would say most do not.

What do I mean? Let’s say a person is serious about their physical health. They eat healthy foods, they avoid unhealthy foods, they exercise, they get fresh air and sunshine and these kinds of a things. Well, it is not a surprise when they have a healthy weight and so on. They reap what they have sowed. The opposite is also true. Sow to ice cream, reap to portliness. 😊

Then notice he says, God is not mocked, or God will not be mocked. This means that you may think that you can sow to the flesh and you have somehow “tricked” God and you will then reap eternal life. But he tells us categorically that this cannot be.

Galatians 6:7. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

You see a great many people “play” at their Christian faith. They are “Christians” while at church on Sunday for an hour and a half. But then the rest of the time they live for themselves without a thought of God, Christ, sin, salvation, heaven, and holiness. All is a sowing to self, and a sowing to this world, all absorbed with the world and its things. No room for God.

Does the company we keep say, sowing to the flesh? Or sowing to the Spirit? What about what we watch or listen to?

We are told, God cannot be fooled. Someday all those that threw God’s word behind their back will be called to an account before holy Judge Christ. Sow to sin, reap a whirlwind.

Job 4:8. According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity And those who sow trouble harvest it. 9 “By the breath of God they perish, And by the blast of His anger they come to an end.

Conversely, for those true Believers that by the grace of God in the Christ of God – you are like Paul in Philippians 3:1-14, you are forgetting the sin that lies behind you and you are running towards Christ and the heavenly calling – you will reap eternal life.

You see the idea here is that God is calling us to be rich towards God, to store up riches for ourselves in heaven. God wants us to think more of our eternal life with Him in the eternal estate than we think of our temporal life here below. Or perhaps I could put it this way, God wants us to live our life here in this life in this fallen world while looking at the next life. Oh, what Christlike Christians we would be if we could do this! (Mt.6:19-21, Lk.12:15-33, Col.3:1-3)

Beloved, this life is preparation for the next life. I know most people do not really think so. But the Bible says that it is. Would a man give ten thousand worlds in exchange for his eternal soul? (Mk.8:36)

Living for Christ is preparation to living with Christ. Believers are called to think on spiritual things. We start to live on heaven before we get there. By God’s grace we are a heavenly minded people. This world is not our god. It is not our home. We have an infinitely better home with God.

Look to heaven as your heaven. Look to Christ as your reward. It makes you a better disciple in this life. You will be happier because you will be holier.

Persevere in faith.

By this Paul is telling us that we are actively involved in our own Christian life. I know this sounds so self-evident that it is silly. It is self-evident, but it is not silly.

Many Christians are far too passive in their Christian life. Following Jesus is super active, running, wrestling, boxing, farming, building, and the life.

Many people fallen prey to “victim mentality”. Oh I am just the unhappy victim of this or that circumstances, there is nothing I can do. I just have to sit here in my self-pity.

No. Beloved, we are not victims. We are new creatures in Christ. We are enabled by God to come to Christ. We are enabled by God to follow Christ. Let’s work out our salvation with fear and trembling. He who is in us is stronger than those engaged against us. (I Jn.4:4, Rom.8:10-32) 

When God promises we will have eternal life this is another way of saying all of our labors for Christ in this world are not in vain. Oh Beloved, I know how under appreciated we all can feel as Believers striving to follow Jesus in a world and often in a church of people striving against Jesus.

Life is a wearying business. Life as a lover of Christ in an anti-Christ world is a wearying business. We get tired fighting the world, the flesh, and the devil. It is hard to pick up our cross and deny ourselves. Sometimes we do not want to go where Jesus leads us. (2 Thess.3:13)

Beloved, God wants us to see ourselves as Christians as farmers! Think and work like a farmer!

Oh, how we need to the Holy Spirit to tell us, cheer us, look to Christ, look to the day of Christ, press on the race is almost over, the finish line is in sight. Work time now. Rest time soon enough. Why does the faithful farmer sweat and toil and sow? He has an eye to the harvest, to the reaping.

Galatians 6:9. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

God does not forget our faith in His Son. God does not forget our service of love to Him and love to others for Christ’s sake.

Labor to love and serve all people. But especially labor to love and serve those loved by Christ and that love Christ.

Matthew 24:44. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. 45 “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 “Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

 2 Corinthians 4:16. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

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GALATIANS 6:1-5. Sermon 25. Instructions for Christian Fellowship – Rules to Serve Well https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/13/galatians-61-5-sermon-25-admonitions-for-christian-fellowship-rules-to-serve-well/ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/13/galatians-61-5-sermon-25-admonitions-for-christian-fellowship-rules-to-serve-well/#respond Sat, 13 Mar 2021 22:47:42 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3149

The greeting.

Peace and mercy to you Beloved in the name of Christ. Well, God has given us another day to worship Him together in His word. What a glorious privilege and gift. May we enjoy it to the fullest. My prayer for all of us today is that we would grow in the grace and the knowledge of God.

The rule for faith and practice.

To that end, please open up the Word of God, which is our only rule for faith and practice to Galatians chapter six. This is the final chapter. Our passage for today is Galatians 6:1-5. I will begin to read from verse one, hear the blessed word of our blessed God, read. 

Galatians 6:1. Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load.

The throne of grace.

Please join me in prayer to God as we seek His assistance to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, pray. 

The content of instruction.

Here the apostle Paul leaves off his main subject of defending the gospel of justification by faith alone against the legalists that corrupt the gospel with their merit-works. (Rom.9:30-33, 10:1-6, 11:6)

Now in this final chapter of this brief letter he concludes with a series of moral admonitions.

Christians are called to be in communion.

This first set of exhortations in our passage has to do with Christians getting along with one another, or rules to serve well. Meaning to serve Christ and others well, which how we get along.

If we were all actual hermits, this passage would not really be needed. But God has not made man to be a hermit, to live in isolation.  God has made human beings as social creatures. We are divinely created to be in fellowship with other people. This is an aspect of man’s being that is reflective of the image of God in the life of man.

What I mean is this, there is a communion of divine Person’s within the Holy Trinity. It is a great mystery, but it is the truth of Scripture. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit commune with themselves and love one another. Jesus alludes to this in His high priestly prayer of John 17.

So too God has created us to commune with and love Him and other human beings, other creatures that are also image bearers of God.

I say this because sometimes people are tempted to say, well I get my fellowship with my dog. He loves me. And I love him. Well, that may be. But God has designed us to commune with people that are designed to also worship God. No criticism of loving your dog intended! 😊

There are three main societies or communities in which we all live. They are the family, the church, and the state-society. Of course, we can subdivide and refine all sorts of various human relationships. But the main truth is that God has governed things so that we are dependent on other people for all sorts of things.

Christian people have what I would call natural relationships. The first being our family. We are born into union and communion with our mother and our father. And then of course with our siblings and more extended family. We have relationships with our own spouse and children.

The Bible is teaching that we need God’s counsel how to get along in our homes, with our family members.

How the Fall of Adam has so sadly affected even the closest of human relations. Husbands and wives no longer perfectly mutually love one another as unto the Lord. Instead, even in the best marriages there is rancor and strife and sin. Of course, we could say the same thing for parents to children and children to parents. Such a sweet relationship but it too suffers from the bitterness of sin. God’s word is meant to help us in these relationships.

The other natural relationship that we are born into is that we live in some country, some place, some society. Here too, how we need the word of God to teach us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And to keep ourselves unspotted by the world. (James 1:26-27)

And we also have gracious relationships or graced relationships, meaning the union and communion we have with others of the same faith in Christ, with others in the church of Christ, which is what Paul is speaking about here in our passage.

Christ showed us by His own example and by His own express teaching that He has saved us to live together with other Believers. Think of Jesus. He gathered a little band of Believers, twelve apostles. And from this little band the gospel call went out – to come out of the world and to come to Christ and to join with Christ’s church. (2 Cor.6:14-18, Mt.28:18-20)

The moment we are born again in Christ we are then spiritually joined to the Triune God, but also at that time we are likewise spiritually joined to the Body of Christ or to His church. God has made us a particular member of Christ Body and He has sovereignly placed us in that Body. By His wisdom, some are hands, some are fingers, some are backs and some are feet and so on. (I Cor.12:1-31, WCF 26.1)

God has given each one of us a position in Christ’s body to fulfill. And may I say that we are serving Christ as we serve each other. I commend to your reading First Corinthians chapter twelve.

No member exists for himself or herself in the church. We all exist for each other as we serve Christ together. This is why God distributes various gifts to each of the various members of Christ’s church. No one member has all the gifts. We need one another to function as God intends.

Listen to how Paul puts this in Romans.

Romans 12:4. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 

In addition, God requires that we all gather corporately at least once a week on the Christian Sabbath in order to worship Him together. (WSC 57-59)

God says through the writer to the Hebrews that we are not to forsake the gathering together (for worship) as some are in the habit of doing. Instead, we are to gather together in order to mutually build each other up and encourage each other in the Faith of Christ. And He says, especially as you see the Day of Christ’s dawning approaching. (Heb.10:25)

We need to be told by God why, and when and how to live with other Christians in the church in a Christ pleasing way. Again, as we have been saying all along, we need the counsel of God on this because even as true Christians we still suffer the very sad affects of the Fall.

There are disturbances in the church for two reasons.

One there are goats among the lambs. There are unbelievers among the Believers. Mostly, only God truly knows who these people are. Jesus chose Judas to teach us that even the minister may be a tare among the wheat. But Jesus says, you will know the true from the false by their fruits. Do they love the brothers? Do they produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Or does their life bring forth the deeds of the flesh? (Gal.5:14-26)

The second reason is that all true Christians, as I just said, we all still wrestle with the flesh. The fallen flesh needs the correction of God’s word.

Christians are called to be helpful.

So, the reason for many of these exhortations is that there is some problem among these Galatian Christians. Paul summarizes it here in V.1 as caught in some trespass. The idea is that these Christians are struggling with sin.

I will speak in just a moment on a stronger brother or sister in the faith helping the struggling Believer. But before I do I want to spend a little time speaking to the idea that all Christians are in some area or another weak and struggling with sin. Now I am talking about the true Believer here. Let’s leave the false Christian, the hypocrite play-actor for another sermon.

But every true lover of Jesus still has the flesh nature. And we have that flesh nature until the day we die. (Rom.7:14-25, I Pt.2:11-12, James 4:1, Gal.5:17)

And the desires of the flesh nature, as Paul said earlier, are opposed to the Holy Spirit and the new spiritual nature. I think he said, so that we now can no longer do the things that we please. (Gal.5:17)

Meaning, having the new nature, makes it impossible for us to live in sin and be happy with sin. The new spiritual nature fights against the fleshly fallen nature from sowing to the flesh. This is where part of our inward spiritual war comes from. (Eph.6:10-18)

There is a tug of war match between wanting sin and wanting God in Christ and holiness.

Paul uses a different Greek word for sin, here it is literally a “false step”, a misstep. This is not the person living in habitual sin day in and day out and year in and year out. No. That kind of sin is not a misstep, but it is their ordinary habit coming from an unconverted nature.

Every Christian walks to heaven along the narrow road of Christ crucified. God the Holy Spirit has placed us on the highway of heavenly holy Zion. (Ps.84:5) But we struggle daily by turning here and there to sin along the way.

And each Christian has those areas that we are especially prone to whatever they might be. Mostly each of us knows our struggles all too well.

Now the weakness that we have been talking about is a spiritual or religious or moral weakness of struggle.

But want to also say, our physical and mental and emotion circumstances also are vitally connected with the kinds of sins we wrestle with. If you are broken down in mind or in body, you will be subject to various kinds of sins. If you are healthy and wealthy, you will be subject to a different set of sins.

As an example of this, remember what Agur wrote.

Proverbs 30:7. Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, 9 That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.

Every season of our life, every circumstance of our life brings with it unique sin challenges. Oh, how we need Jesus. Oh, how thankful for the word of God as a lamp and light unto our path.

Beloved, the longer I live the more convinced I am that everyone, in one way or another, is a hurting, suffering, and struggling human being. We are all still so weak, so frail. We all still have so much sin and we are all so prone to fall into sin. Oh, if we could only truly empathize with others, how we would adorn the gospel of our Savior who entered into our suffering. 

Christians are called to be spiritual.

That brings us to God’s exhortation to His children through His servant Paul. God says, those that are spiritual seek to restore in a spirit of gentleness the fellow Believer caught a trespass-sin.

Who – mature.

Let’s address who is this “spiritual” Christian. First every true Christian is a spiritual person. God the Holy Spirit has given us this new spiritually renewed nature. True Believers in Jesus are believers because we are spiritually born again. (Jn.3:1-9)

I Corinthians 2:12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

So, even the still-sinning and still-struggling Christian (which is all of us) is a new spiritual creature in Christ. (2 Cor.5:17-21)

The context shows us what Paul means. He means that the Christian that is spiritually stronger or more mature in the faith. The Believer that is walking closer with Christ. Or walking more obediently to the Spirit-wrought Word of God.

Remember we have already said that there are different members, and we have different gifts and graces. We even have different measures of faith. (Rom.12:3, Eph.4:7) Some Believers are infants, some are toddlers, some are young persons, and some are fathers and mothers in Christ. (I Jn.2:13-14)

I Corinthians 3:1. And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

The idea is that the stronger Believer is (to try) to help the weaker Believer with their sin struggle.

I have added the “try” to help, because sometimes the sinning Christian will not take our help. And that may be for many reasons. Perhaps we are not the best person to help them. Perhaps there is something about us wherein they have a hard time receiving counsel or help from us. Perhaps another Believer will be more readily received?

Or perhaps the person just does not want to let go of their sin at that moment.

Or perhaps we are not as spiritually mature as we thought. And so, we may be doing more harm than good to them. Have you ever had a fellow Christian come to “help” you and afterwards you were more hurting than before?

What – restore.

Now God tells the stronger one to help restore the weaker sinning one. Restore here is like setting a broken bone.

The idea is obviously to help them see their sin, the error of their ways. And then in turn to guide them back to paths of righteousness. To help them walk more faithfully or closely with Christ. So, this could be restoring them to more correct doctrine from say some doctrinal error they may have stumbled into. Or also restoring in religious or moral practice.

Remember this thing is for good, to really help. Beware of the evil counterfeit twin of this, that is to say, to spy out the faults of others. This often says more about the eagle eye fault finder than the supposed person in the wrong.

How – gently.

God also tells us how to do this. He gets at the “how” right away with the word “brothers”. Once you really think of your fellow Christian as your real family you are on your way to really helping the sufferers in the Body of Christ.

Perhaps an additional word is needed here. Even our natural families suffer so much from the affects of sin. Not all natural families are loving, helpful, and holy. And merely calling a fellow Christian “brother” or “sister” is not the same thing as have a family-love for them, a serving, self-sacrificial love for them. 

Now a word about the stronger Believer helping the weaker Believer on some sin issue.

Paul does speak about the weaker and the stronger brother in First Corinthians. (I Cor.8-10) The issue that he speaks about there is that one Christian is converted out of paganism and his conscience is hurt by eating the meats that he knows were offered to the false gods he once worshiped. Well, Paul says if eating meats will hurt my fellow Believer then I will refrain from eating meat in his presence.

As an aside this does not mean that the weaker brother can sneak into our home at supper time and demand that we throw our hamburgers away! 😊 Deferential love for the weaker brother does not give him or her a license to be a spiritual tyrant or bully over our religious liberties. (WCF 20.1-2)

The weaker Christian in this instance is wrong to be offended. His conscience is not being properly informed by the Bible. He or she is letting their old wrong beliefs dictate what they can and cannot do as a Christian. But Paul forgoes his liberty in a specific venue in order to help this infant Christian.

Like this we are called to help those struggling with sin. We are called to do it spiritually or with a spirit of gentleness. I would say like a tender loving mother or father or brother or sister. But the idea is tenderness, with a gentle spirit, a contrite heart.

Severity may be needed in rare instances. But in my view, it should be rare. Hard correction is often not corrective. In fact, sometimes hard correction has nothing to do with restoring or correcting the offender.

Many times, it is really for the sinful punitive pleasure of the one doing the confronting. It is like the father after getting yelled at by the boss, gives his offending son an extra hard spanking. The correction was sin against the son. The correction is just the sinful angry frustration of the father. Beloved let’s beware of this snare in all of us, when we are seeking to “correct” others. Do we really want to hurt them because we are hurt in some way? Or do we really want to help?

Remember, a gentle answer turns away wrath. Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. The anger of man never produces the righteousness of God. (Prov.15:1, Prov.16:21, James 1:19-20)

How would this work in practice? Do you see some fellow Believer in the church fall into sin? Go and speak to him or her. Before you go, pray. As you go pray. While you speak, pray. And share your loving concern for their spiritual welfare. Love is the best motive for religious correction. (I Tim.1:5-7) Has some Christian helped you in the past with some similar sin? Well share that. Loving sympathy is what struggling Christians need most.

It will help if you already have a relationship of love or friendship with them before this sin. I say this, because if this is the first instance that we have ever spoken to them, they might suspect our profession of “concern” for the welfare of their soul.

Christians are called to be introspective.

Part of being a mature “spiritual” Believer in Jesus is to also follow the next admonition that God gives to His children. He says to us, to keep watch on yourself lest you too be tempted – in the same sin as the fellow you are tying to help.

We have to exercise great care in trying to help other Christians with their sin struggles. Remember Beloved even strong Believers still have a flesh nature that desires sin. We ourselves should fear the sin of those we are trying to help, believing that we ourselves could also fall into this very same sin. (I Cor.10:12-13) Oh beloved, there is great wisdom here.

The wise Believer knows that he or she has “not arrived” at perfection or anything near perfection. (Phil.3:1-14) The wise Believer is painfully aware of their own sin struggles. Let’s first take out the log-sin in our own life and then we will be fit to help another brother or sister with their splinter-sin. (Mt.7:1-5, Lk.6:31)

This in turn makes us a better helper. Better in what we say. Better in what we do not say. Better in how and in when we say it. (Mt.18:15-17)

Being aware of our own sins helps us towards humility before Christ and before others.

Paul was a mighty man of God. Perhaps the greatest servant of Jesus Christ ever. But what did he say about himself? I am the least of the apostles. I am the chief of sinners. I hated Christ. I hated Christians. I tried to destroy the church. (I Cor.15:9, I Tim.1:15) But God in Christ has such mercy on me, this wretched sinner, I now exist to testify of His saving mercy and goodness.

This is some of the benefit of our own weaknesses and even our own sins or sin-struggles. They teach us that we are weak, and that Jesus (and not ourselves) is strong. (2 Cor.12:1-11) We point the erring to the Christ they need. The same Christ we need.

You see the opposite of this is the proud “Christian” and I put the word Christian in quotes.

Galatians 6:3. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Proud and Christian are two words that do not belong with one another. But I do know that pride is also one of the sins that even true Believers struggle with. The proud Christian thinks they are the spiritual mature Christian, but they are anything but. In fact, the proud “Christian” may be far from the kingdom of God.

Pride of self makes us harsh with others. Remember one very learned man said, the Pharisee is hard on others and easy on self, but the Christian is hard on himself but easy on others. (Tozer)

Paul by telling us to consider ourselves in relationship to (our) sin before and as we help others, this is meant to humble our pride. Pride is that hydra-headed monster that I am sure is the last sin to die in us.

Once we truly acknowledge, I have done this or that, perhaps even worse than this sinning brother here, well that changes how we interact with them and with others in the church. (I Cor.6:9-11)

Christians are called to be Christlike.

Beloved, bear one another’s burdens. Bear the weakness and the faults of your brothers and sisters. Cover over them with a cloak of love. Pray for others. Be kind to them. They need it. This imitates our Christ. It pleases Him. It glorifies Him.

Remember part of bearing one another’s burden is just to be a (real) friend to them. Listen to them. Sit with them. (Don’t always seek to correct or to teach them). Be quick to listen. Slow to speak. Mourn with those that mourn. Rejoice with those that rejoice. Serve them. (Jn.13:34-35)

V.4-5. Beloved, let’s look to our own walk with Jesus Christ. Remember what the fly attendant says? Make sure you have your air mask on first, before you try to help others. 😊

Resist the temptation to compare yourself with others. We only end up sinfully judging them as falling short as a way of sinfully making ourselves look better. Oh, may we be content with our own place in the Body of Christ. May we be so content with Christ’s love and forgiveness that we would not feel the desire to judge others harshly.

Let’s chase holiness in Christ for ourselves first and then perhaps we may be really helpful to others. (2 Cor.13:5)

Let’s resolve to be the most loving and kind and Christlike servants of Jesus we can be. Let’s resolve for ourselves daily with faith and vigor to resist the world, the flesh, and the devil. And then perhaps we may be really helpful to others. (Rev.22:12, I Pt.1:15-17, I Cor.3:13) Let’s imitate Christ. Live to serve. And not to be served.

May God be glorified.

Amen

 

 

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JOSHUA 7:1-26. Sermon 9. Sin in the Church – The Wages of Sin https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/10/joshua-71-26-sermon-9-israel-sins-in-the-promised-land-the-wages-of-sin/ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/10/joshua-71-26-sermon-9-israel-sins-in-the-promised-land-the-wages-of-sin/#respond Wed, 10 Mar 2021 15:57:31 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3136

The greeting of God.

Greetings in the name of Christ. He is our Shepherd. We are His Lambs. (Jn.10:1-16, Ezek.34:8-14, Rev.7:17) It is well with our souls. We are to follow in the footsteps of our Lord. (I Pt.2:21) This fallen world opposed Him at every turn even as He came to seek and to save the lost. Beloved, we are called to imitate our Christ. (Jn.15:12-27) Do not grow weary doing good to those that do evil to you in return. (Gal.6:9) Perhaps God will save some in Christ. But most certainly He will conform us into Christ’s image and bring us to Christ’s side. What the world means for evil, God means for our good. (Gen.50:20, Jas.1:12)

The word of God.

Now tonight, much like last week in the previous chapter, God has some needful lessons for us. But I warn you they are hard lessons because they are on the subject of sin. A subject that the fallen flesh of even the best of Believers is averse to hearing. But may God open our hearts and our ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev.2:29, 3:22, Mt.11:15, Rev.2:7) Joshua chapter seven, I will begin to read from verse one, hear the holy word of God, read. 

Joshua 7: 1. But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the LORD burned against the sons of Israel. 2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 They returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up; only about two or three thousand men need go up to Ai; do not make all the people toil up there, for they are few.” 4 So about three thousand men from the people went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai. 5 The men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of their men, and pursued them from the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them down on the descent, so the hearts of the people melted and became as water. 6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. 7 Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord GOD, why did You ever bring this people over the Jordan, only to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been willing to dwell beyond the Jordan! 8 “O Lord, what can I say since Israel has turned their back before their enemies? 9 “For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and they will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will You do for Your great name?” 10 So the LORD said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? 11Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things. 12 “Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst. 13 “Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus the LORD, the God of Israel, has said, “There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.” 14 ‘In the morning then you shall come near by your tribes. And it shall be that the tribe which the LORD takes by lot shall come near by families, and the family which the LORD takes shall come near by households, and the household which the LORD takes shall come near man by man. 15 ‘It shall be that the one who is taken with the things under the ban shall be burned with fire, he and all that belongs to him, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has committed a disgraceful thing in Israel.'”

Joshua 7:16. So Joshua arose early in the morning and brought Israel near by tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17 He brought the family of Judah near, and he took the family of the Zerahites; and he brought the family of the Zerahites near man by man, and Zabdi was taken. 18 He brought his household near man by man; and Achan, son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.” 20 So Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.” 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was concealed in his tent with the silver underneath it. 23 They took them from inside the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the sons of Israel, and they poured them out before the LORD. 24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.” And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. 26 They raised over him a great heap of stones that stands to this day, and the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the valley of Achor to this day.

The help of God.

Let’s pray to God and ask Him to give us special help with this difficult passage, pray.

The judgment of God against sinners.

Last time together we looked at Joshua chapter six. In that chapter we saw the defeat of Jericho. We said that this represents a foretaste of Judgment Day when Judge Christ will execute divine justice on all sinners found apart from Himself, which is to say those people found in their sins. (2 Thess.1:8, Dt.32:41-43, Nah.1:2) Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Without the blood of the Lamb of God sinners are in the world without hope.

The wages of sin upon the unbelieving Gentile (those out of the church).

Here are some of the particulars we considered. God miraculously knocked their defensive walls down. There are no defenses when God rises up in justice. Beloved, no matter what the unbelieving man may think, man is no match for God. All of the evil scoffing at God will soon turn to weeping and wailing before God. Every knee will bow.

And then the armed Israelites rushed into the city and put all of the people to death by the sword. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Rom.3:9-18)

God also required His earthly army to put all the animals to death. In addition, God put everything that belonged to these sinners under the ban, that is to say, He forbade His people to enrich themselves by anything belonging to the Canaanites. God wants His separated people to separate ourselves from even what the unbeliever has touched; hating even the garment polluted by the flesh as God says in Jude (Jude 1:23) God is holy. And we are to be holy.

However, God told His people that all of the gold, silver, bronze and iron, (all metals) were to be put into the treasury for use in the Lord’s house, God said that they were “holy to the Lord”. Even judgment on the sinner will redound to the worship of God, to the worship of God’s justice. (Rom.9:11-29)

God taught the Canaanites by terrible example that the wages of sin is death. God also taught the Israelites the very same truth, even as they were the human instruments that God chose to use to execute His divine penalty. You remember we walked through various spiritual lessons that this typological Judgment Day taught.

There is a Judgment Day. God will show who His approved people are. It will be based on strict justice and truth without any mercy. We also said God teaches by the blowing of the horns and so on that He is announcing that His judgment will come for sinners before He sends His judgment. No one will be without excuse. God gives time to repent, believe, and reform. And the better part of mankind squander the time God has given to them. They die unprepared to meet God. They die apart from Christ. (Lk.17:26-30, Lk.18:7-8, Lk.14:15-27) They die in their sins.

The wages of sin upon the unbelieving Jew (those in the church).

In some ways Joshua chapter seven might be even sadder for us. You might say, what could possibly be sadder than an entire city of sinners receiving the death penalty? (Gen.2:7)

Well, what we are looking at is unbelief among the professing people of God. We are looking at the very people that God called to teach the lessons of judgment day themselves not heeding their own instruction. (Jer.23:10, 27:6, 43:10, Isa.44:28, 45:1, Ezek.21:1-32) The sins of  those inside of the church are worse than those outside the Christian church. (WLC 151)

This is the judgment of God upon the household of God. (I Pt.4:12-19, Hab.3:1-2, Heb.12:7-10, Rev.2:10-11) Oh what lessons are here for us Beloved.

Last week we saw the execution of justice on Gentiles for their sin. Today we are looking at the execution of justice on Jews for their sin. And we see that the divine wage for Jew and Gentile alike is the same – death. (Rom.2:9-12)

The subject of sin.

Today from this passage I want to look at sin. And of course, you cannot have sin without the moral agent that commits the sin. So, I want to look at various sinners. Then, we will look at the discovery of sin and then the penalty upon it.

The definition of sin.

The biblical definition of sin is lawlessness.

I John 3:4. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

Romans 3:19. Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

The standard for sin.

The standard for sin is the breach of the standard for righteousness.

The law in view is the moral law of God. God created man with the moral law upon his conscience. Even fallen man still has a conscience, a fallen conscience, but still an inward moral judge informed by the moral law of God. (Rom.2:11-15, Hos.6:7, Rom.1:18-32, WCF 6.1-2)

After the inward moral law God is pleased to announce His law in precept. At creation, God gave man a moral precept, a command, a moral law. God said to Adam, actually the Bible says He “commanded” Adam (the moral law is a divine command to a moral creature)…

Genesis 2:16. From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

The wages of every sin has always been death. (Rom.6:23, Rom.3:23) The soul that sins must die. And the soul that sins must die because the holy justice of God requires it. There can be no relaxing of the divine penalty. The penalty must be satisfied – sooner or later, by us or by Another. (Ezek.18:19-30)

The moral law is summarized in the Ten Commandments. (Exod.20:1-17) And Christ further summarizes the moral law under two heads, love God perfectly and love man perfectly. (Mt.22:35-40)

And there are two ways to consider a breach of the moral law. The sins of commission are doing what God forbids. The sins of omission are doing what God requires. Remember this as we consider the sins in the chapter before us tonight.

Also let me read one more time from First John to see why sin is so evil.

I John 3:8. the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

Sin is obeying the devil’s word over God’s word! (Gen.3:1-8)

Remember who gives the moral law, God of course. But want us to think about the nature of God. (WCF 2.1-2) The Law Giver is all holy and all good and we owe Him all adoration and all obedience. Sinning against an awful master would still be sin. But sinning against an infinitely loving and good master would be infinitely worse. How great is sin to sin against an infinitely good God?

The sin of Achan.

Now we come to the sin of one man, or at least his sin is the major focus of this chapter. Chapter seven deals with the sin of Achan.

His original sin.

We have a short genealogy of this fellow given to us. Let’s look at the kind of people this sinner Achan comes from.

Father Carmi. Grandfather Zabdi. Great Grandfather Zerah. Now there are a few Zerah’s in the Bible. This particular fellow was a son of Judah.

Genesis 46:12. The sons of Judah: Er and Onan and Shelah and Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan). And the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.

Genesis 38:27. It came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb. 28 Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But it came about as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out. Then she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” So he was named Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah.

Great great grandfather Judah an Israelite married a Gentile Canaanitess Shua. This was a sin against God. God forbade this.

Deuteronomy 7:1. When the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, 2 and when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. 3 “Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. 4 “For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. 5 “But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. 6 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. (I Cor.6:14-18, I Cor.7:   Joshua 23:12, I Kg.11:2, Ezek.34:16, Ezra 9:12-14, Gen.24:37, Gen.28:6-9, Jg.14:3, Neh.10:30)

God commands that His people only marry from those that are His people. Believers are required by God to marry “in the Lord”. (I Cor.7:39) Remember what people just received divine justice in Jericho? Canaanites. People that worshiped false gods and hated the true God and hated His people. Judah married such a person!

Remember what the penalty is for sin. (Gen.38:2-7) He had three sons with this woman, Er and Onan and Shelah. Er and Onan were wicked. They were unrepentant sinners and God exacted divine justice on them for their sin. Judah did not want to give his third son Shelah to Er’s widow Tamar. Tamar herself was likely a Canaanitess. (Gen.38:6-30, Ruth 4:12, I Chron.2:4, Mt.1:3) Well fast forward. Judah’s wife dies. Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute. Judah falls. He conceives Perez and Zerah with her. He commits incest. The penalty? Death. (Lev.18:15, 29)

That is great great grandfather Judah; in the visible household of faith.

It seems as if this Achan comes from a long line of sinners, people that heard God’s command and disregarded it in favor of their own selfish lusts. In fact, each one of these people was conceived in sin and came forth in sin, sinners from birth. We are all in this fallen line of sinners. All are under the threat of God’s impending justice for our sin. The guilty sentence for Adam’s sin has been imputed to all people and his corrupt nature has been conveyed to all people by ordinary generation. (WCF 6.3)

His actual sin.

Now let’s consider Achan’s actual sin in view. (WCF 6.4)

Joshua 7:1. But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the LORD burned against the sons of Israel.

Joshua 7:20. So Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.”

Some may be tempted to think, what is the big deal? A suit of clothes that was going to be burned anyways and a little bit of silver and gold. I will remind you beloved that the world has been groaning and weeping under the curse of almighty God because of taking a few bites of a piece of fruit forbidden by God. God wants us to have His view of sin. God wants us to live on His word.

Let’s consider Achan’s sin. Achan took something that God forbade him to have, the clothes of the Canaanites. Achan did not give to God what God required him to give, the silver and the gold into God’s house. We are looking at the sin of commission and omission. Achan is a thief. Achan is an idolater. He values these things more than he does the honor of the God he says he professes.

This is what God tells us in the fullness of time in the NT epoch.

Ephesians 5:5. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light

I am going to argue that Achan has committed another atrocious sin. Achan has committed murder or at least he is an accessory to murder. When he took these things in his covetous greed he signed the death warrants of untold numbers of his fellow Israelites. And he knew. And he did not care enough about their lives. His selfish greed was his god. Remember he does not “confess” until he is caught. Extorted confession is not gracious confession.

Previously God has told all of Israel this…

Joshua 6:18. But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it.

The punishment of the household of faith for the sin of a member.

V.1-9. What we are looking at is how the sin of one member can affect the whole community. You see each individual member of the household of faith is vitally connected with the other members of the same body.

We do not live in isolation from others. We are our brother’s keeper. Our sins are never private sins. And this is because God has created us to live in communion or society with other people. Our sins always affect those people that we are in communion with.

Joshua 22:20. Did not Achan the son of Zerah act unfaithfully in the things under the ban, and wrath fall on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.'”

Now some may object and say, how just is it of God to impute the sin of this one man to the entire congregation? Be careful Beloved, about accusing God of wrongdoing. It is always a bad idea. It is always sin. God is God. He has complete rights over all things including all people. (Dan.4:9-37)

In addition, God had forewarned them. He told them in advance.

You see Beloved this is one of the Biblical reasons for church disciple. When we do not correct unrepentant known-to-be sinning professing Believers in our churches we provoke God to chastise the entire congregation.

You see sin is like a contagious cancer, it infects, it corrupts, it spreads, and it leads to death.

Now Calvin speculates that Achan’s sin may not have been unknown to others within Israel. He points out that it is common for sinners to connive (secretly allow something sinful, to conspire to do sin) with other sinners, even by looking the other way.

He uses as a NT example the sinning man in First Corinthians chapter five. He was committing gross uncleanness and the church knew about it and they did nothing about it until the apostle Paul told them to excommunicate the man, remove the wicked man from among yourselves. (I Cor.5:1-13)

The church conspired that is to say “helped” that man commit gross sin by not confronting him. They are implicit conspirators or partners in crime as it were.

Calvin, I think, has rightly explained why the whole congregation is said to be committing the offense that Achan himself did privately. When this sin becomes known that the wage for this sin is death – then every member will be justly condemned in their own hearts of doing the same and more countless times.

Let’s use the example of the unclean First Corinthians five man. When his sin is brought into the open and he is cast out, a figure of being cast away from God, of having no right to come near God or His people – well everyone in the church should conclude, I deserve the same sentence. I am guilty, perhaps even more guilty. The only difference is that my sin has not been heretofore brought into the open and called into an account. (I Cor.6:9-11)

The sin of pride.

V.2-5. I want to point out something in passing. Joshua and his army did not seek the Lord in their battle against Ai. They now were a bit overly confident after their defeat of Jericho. Or, else they presumed upon God’s favor without first seeking it.

The word for overly confident is “proud”. They trusted in their arm of flesh. And God had their enemies defeat them. But even in their loss, He was merciful to them.

The sin of discontent.

Also, see that Joshua complains to God that they should have stayed across the wilderness, they should have never come into the Promised Land. This great saint is stumbling in sin. He has faith. But he is still a sinner. A saved sinner. 

Joshua 7:7. Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord GOD, why did You ever bring this people over the Jordan, only to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been willing to dwell beyond the Jordan!

Oh beloved, if God should publish our sins to our face and to the world, we deserve exactly what Achan received. (Ps.130:3-4)

You remember when Jesus said at the last Passover Supper the night before He went to the cross that one of His disciples eating with Him would betray Him to death. And what did every disciple say? Lord is it I? Oh beloved, that is exactly right. Everyone of us has the seed of every sin inside of us. (Mt.26:22, I Cor.10:1-14)

And so did the 36 men that died in battle. (Josh.7:5) God used the punishment of one sinner to punish other sinners, giving them what their sins deserved.

We see this in other portions of Scripture. Because of ten faithless spies God had over a million of His people march in the wilderness for forty years.  For the sins of some in Judah God had Nebuchadnezzar take everyone in Judah away into captivity except the poorest of the poor. This was judgment upon the unbelieving Jews. And correction on the Believing. But all suffered. (Jer.20-22, 24-29, 34-35, Ezra 2:1, Ezra 5:12, 2 Chron.36:21, Ezra 1:1, Lev.25:1-7, 26:35)

This is here to make all of us tremble at sin, at our sin, at the sins of others. Oh God is holy. And God has a burning intense hatred of all sin. His eyes are too pure to look with approval on any that sin. (Hab.1:13)

The punishment of the sinner.

In V.10-26 we have the discovery of Achan by this unusual method, which is obviously being governed by God. Joshua requires Achan to tell the truth and he does.

Let’s just conclude with some final lessons from this section.

The people of God had a great victory over their enemies in Jericho. But they did not stay at the heights of this victory very long. In the blink of an eye their worst enemy knocked them down. It was their indwelling sin that caused their downfall.

I do wonder as we look around in America and as Believers we ask the Lord why our country is in such a wretched mess, I wonder if any of us as professing Christians has thought perhaps it is because of “our” unrepentant sin. Often times the real reason for our distress is not even considered. But we should.

We are also taught that by faith great enemies fall before us. But when we walk by sight and not by faith small enemies defeat us.

God is teaching His professing people that He knows our sins and that if we do not bring them to Christ then He will bring them into the open. Be sure that your sins will find you out.

I take Achan to be an unbeliever in Israel. I do not take him as sinning Believer. The reason being is that He receives the curse and the wrath of God, which only unbelievers receive.

So, we are taught that there are unbelievers who profess to believe but they do not. And God knows who they are. And someday God will separate them from His believing people.

God wants His people to see that our sin will often times adversely affect our immediate family.

Achan was a covetous greedy man. He did not steal to eat. He stole because wealth was his god. And his whole family suffered along with him.

I will say this, I cannot be dogmatic, whereas I believe Achan to be an unbeliever, I cannot say this about his family. The believers in his family would have gone to Christ after their death. But the penalty is meant to persuade the sinner against sin lest evil befall his family. Achan stole a few things, but he lost everything. Judas sold Christ for 30 pieces of silver, but he lost everything.

Finally, the great lesson taught over and over is the wages of sin is death. God is holy. All those that draw near to Him must treat Him as holy – He is a consuming fire. This is here to make all of us tremble at sin, at our sin, at the sins of others. Oh God is holy. And God has a burning intense hatred of all sin. His eyes are too pure to look with approval on any that sin. (Hab.1:13) God desires that we live holy. (Heb.12:14, I Pt.1:14-16)

You see this is sinners in the hands of an angry God. But all day long God holds out His hand of mercy to assuage His own anger. His justice must be satisfied. His mercy has made a way.

Only in Christ are we cleansed from our sin and made safe before such a holy God.

Oh, how we need Christ. Oh, how thankful we our for Christ. Our forgiveness. Our holiness.

Amen

 

 

 

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GALATIANS 5:18-26. Sermon 24. The Fruits of the Spirit – You will know them by their Fruits https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/06/galatians-518-26-sermon-24-the-fruits-of-the-spirit/ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/06/galatians-518-26-sermon-24-the-fruits-of-the-spirit/#respond Sat, 06 Mar 2021 23:04:19 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3121

The greeting.

Grace and peace and mercy to you Beloved in the name of Christ Jesus. I pray that as Believers gathered together on the Lord’s Day to worship our Triune God in Spirit and in truth that we truly would be “in the Spirit” and that would dwell together as spiritual brothers and sisters in unity in Christ. (Ps.133:1-3) And that our worship today would truly be a love offering to God. Oh, may today find us growing in our love for God and our love for others. (Mt.22:35-40) 

The Scripture.

Well today we are going to finish off Galatians chapter five. After this – one more chapter to go in the book. Maybe three to five more sermons. We shall see. Today I will read for us Galatians 5:18-26. In the sermon we will touch on V.18, then we will skip over the deeds of the flesh. We looked at those last week. And we will focus most of our time on V.22-23. Now, please read along with me in faith. Hear the holy word of God, read.

Galatians 5:18. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

The prayer.

Christ taught us as His disciples to imitate His practice and preeminently to obey His precepts. Well, our Christ was and is a praying Christ. (Heb.5:7, Lk.3:21, 6:12, Jn.17:1-17, Mt.6:1-15) And He taught us to watch and to pray always and to bring all our desires to the throne of grace. Well, let’s be good learners of Christ. Let’s pray for God’s blessing on our worship today, pray. (Ps.95:6) 

The doctrine.

Last week we looked at the deeds of the flesh. By this God is telling His children, flee from these things, mortify these things in your life. The deeds of the flesh are God’s negative instruction to us. (I Cor.10:1-14)

Today, we have God’s positive instruction for us. Here we are looking at the fruits of the Spirit. God is telling His children, sow to these things, seek these things. We are required as Christ’s lambs to not only die to sin, but we are to grow as to righteousness as well. Both lessons are needful for us.

And my intention is that this passage will prove very comforting to us, but maybe also at the same time a bit convicting as regards to the quantity and the quality of the fruit we are bearing.

But I do not want to get ahead of ourselves.

The Root of our spiritual life.

Before a person can bear fruits of the Spirit one must be “in” the Spirit or led by the Spirit as our passage says.  (Rom.8:9) Remember negatively our miseries are the sad fruit of the evil root of sin. Like that, holy fruits must come from a holy Source. There is only One that is essentially or naturally holy and good and that One is God. (I Pt.1:15-16, Isa.6:3)

So, who are these people led by the Spirit? You see that our translators have put the word Spirit with a capital “S” meaning God the Holy Spirit. So, who are the people that are being led internally by the Holy Spirit? The Biblical answer is those people that have been born again by the Holy Spirit.

There are Christian churches that teach the waters of baptism make a person spiritually new, that the waters of baptism inwardly regenerate a person, that is to say they implant the principal of spiritual life.

The Bible teaches otherwise. (Rom.4:10-12) The water depicts the reality. But the sign is not the thing signified. Jesus said the Spirit goes where and when the Spirit desires. (Jn.3:1-9) Judas was circumcised according to the flesh but he did not receive the circumcision made without human hands on his heart. (Col.2:11, Rom.2:25-29, Dt.30:6, Mt.23:25-27)

Simon the sorcerer was baptized in Acts 8 and Peter told him that he was still in the gall of his bitter sin. He was baptized but he was not a spiritually reborn new creature in Christ.

The spiritual gift of new life that believes in God and loves God is a miracle-gift of God. And God gives it to whom He wills. Not all have faith. Not all will be born again. The reborn are those that have been chosen and blessed by God. (Mt.13:16-23)

Perhaps it would be helpful if I read a few passages that speak to the truthfulness of this blessed gift from God. I will read one from the OT and one from the NT.

Ezekiel 36:24. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.

John 3:1. Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Titus 3:5, I Pt.1:3, 23)

It is these people, and these people alone, that belong to Christ Jesus as V.24 says. Only by the Spirit-wrought gift of faith can anyone truly say, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God come in the flesh, Jesus is my sin-atoning sacrifice Savior. (I Cor.12:3, Eph.2:1-9, WCF 14.1)

Oh, I do not mean that people that have not experienced this new spiritual second birth cannot say these words. Of course, they can and they do. But I am saying, they cannot truly mean them, not savingly. (Rom.8:7, I Cor.2:12-16) Faith is a gift of God the Holy Spirit. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without being born again by God the Holy Spirit all people are spiritually dead in their sins and trespasses. (Eph.2:1-3)

Listen to Martyn Lloyd-Jones. A man does not become a Christian by making a decision. He is made a Christian by God, who has marked him out before the foundation of the world and sees to it that he is born again, and that he believes in Him.

Here is Lloyd-Jones again. We do not give birth to ourselves. We are not reborn because we believe. We believe because we are reborn.

You see the Holy Spirit gives us new life, faith to join us to Christ. And Christ in turn brings us to the Father. So, the great spiritual gift and blessing is that we have a spiritual union with the holy Trinity. We are spiritually united to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. (Rom.8:10-20, 2 Cor.13:5, Eph.3:17, Col.1:27, Jn.14:23, Mt.10:20)

And from that union we enjoy a holy communion or holy friendship with God. And that holy friendship is something that we can see and hear, and I mean that it comes out of us in our words and deeds, our holy fruits. And this in turn works to our assurance that we do in fact possess that life giving spiritual union. (WCF 26.1, Gal.2:19-20, WCF 16.1-6) As Jesus says, you will know them by their fruits. (Mt.7:15-20)

So, here are some questions for all of us. Has the Spirit given you new birth? Does your soul thirst for God in Christ? Do you desire spiritual truth? Do you have in internal drive towards things of the Lord? Do you now feel that your life only has meaning as bound up in the life of God? If you do beloved, that is the Holy Spirit within you. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor.3:16-17, I Cor.6:15-20)

You are in the Spirit. And He does lead you. And He will lead you. And as we shall see today, He will produce holy fruits that will come out of you.

The fruits of our spiritual life.

Now let’s look at those holy fruits that the Holy Spirit will produce in our lives. Before we go to the list, see that God has inspired Paul to call the product of the Spirit something different than the product of the flesh.

The flesh produces deeds or works of the flesh.

The grace of God.

But Luther says that God gives a nobler name to the product of the Holy Spirit. He calls them fruits of the Holy Spirit. This is the life of God in the soul of man coming out of us. There is a treatise by a fellow named Henry Scougal on this. I highly recommend it.

Just as you cannot hide that a man is spiritually dead, his dead works give him away.

So too, you cannot hide that a man has the life of the Triune God in Him. God has made us new creatures in Christ so that our lives will give glory to God and not to ourselves. Luther said when He stands before Christ on the final day, and Christ says well done My good and faithful servant. Luther will say, Lord I have done nothing. Your word has done everything. Oh Beloved, anything good that is in us or comes out of us is of God. He gets all the glory. (I Cor.4:7, Rom.7:18)

The service of man.

Also, this list is the proper Biblical answer to those that reject the gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ alone apart from any good works of ours because they think it will produce lazy and sinful “Christians”. (Rom.6:1-10)

You see the gospel of faith alone in Christ alone is true. (Jn.3:16) One look to Christ in true and saving faith unites us to Christ savingly forever. However, this list shows us that saving faith is never alone. True saving faith in Jesus always will produce a Christlike life in us and out of us.

Our assurance.

This is what Jesus taught in the Beatitudes and the Similitudes. (Mt.5:1-16)

Matthew 5:7. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

For those that come to Christ for mercy, they in turn will have mercy on others. For those that come to Christ for peace with God, they in turn will have the peace of Christ on others.

Think of this beloved, why should we forgive others that sin against us? Because God in Christ has forgiven our sins against Him. Forgiving Christians show that we have received forgiveness in Christ. (Eph.4:32)

I would argue this is what James is getting at in James chapter two. Our persons are justified before God by faith alone. Our faith is justified before man by our good deeds or as Paul puts them, by our holy fruits.

Our sanctification.

Oh Beloved, Christ has saved us to be reckoned holy and then to live holy. (Heb.12:14) In justification the holiness of Christ is imputed to us. In sanctification the holiness and the life of Christ is infused in us. This is what we are looking at with this list. This list is a summary of the sanctified life. (WLC 69, 75, WSC 35)

Given what we just said, all true Believers are equally justified before God in Christ. However, all true Believers differ in many, many ways with other Believers as regards to our sanctification or practical holiness or practical Christlikeness. (Rom.8:26-29)

All Believers will not all have the same fruits of the Holy Spirit. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, we will not all have them in the same degree. All true Christians will bear holy fruits. But as Jesus says, some will produce 30-fold, some 60-fold, and still others 100-fold. (Mt.13:8, Mk.4:20)

But remember as well, God has not given to any one Christian the perfect quantity or quality of spiritual fruits. We are all works in progress. 😊 And God has so ordered the Body of Christ that we are to help build one another up as we go along. (I Cor.12:1-31)

And remember fruits starts off small and then grow to full size. Tiny love is still love. Tiny patience is still a gift of God. Just be patient your patience will grow. So will all other aspects of your conformity into Christ’s image. Give it time. God will bring to completion the good work He has begun in you. (Phil.1:6) He will water you. Don’t despise the day of small things. (Zech.4:10)

God is the One that gives to each our measure of faith. (Rom.12:3)

Ephesians 4:7. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

By way of application I would say these are here for our personal or individual benefit first and foremost. So, we can see the holy life that pleases Christ and seek to imitate Him and so we could pray and seek that for ourselves.

But we should resist the great sinful urge in all of us to be the “fruit inspector” for other Christians! 😊 I will say, if we have the first fruit in good degree, then we will make good fruit inspectors. But if we lack the first fruit, without Christlike love, we will make poor inspectors.

And if you remembered from last’s week’s sermon, true Believers have two natures. The old fallen nature, the flesh nature, that is drawn to sin. And we have the new nature that is drawn to God. And what this means is even for the best Believer, our holy fruits will still have a mixture of our sin nature in them. But God accepts them because He accepts us in Christ. (WCF 16:3, 5-6) So, we should accept one another even though are fruits are imperfect.

The holy life.

And we see that Paul also uses what I am calling a “catch all phrase” at the end of his list. He says, “against such things”.

Well, God inspired him to say the same thing with the deeds of the flesh. You can see in V.21 “and things like these”. The idea both for lists of the unholy deeds and the holy fruits is that God is not giving us an exhaustive or complete list. These lists are meant to represent either displeasing unholy lives or pleasing and holy lives.

The list.

Now let’s look at V.22 God gives us a list of nine fruits.

Galatians 5:22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The chief fruit – love.

When we look at the fruits of the Holy Spirit, we would do well to remember what Paul brought in earlier.

Galatians 5:13. For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

Remember Christ has set us free so that we would no longer love sin, but rather we would love God and man. Luther said, our freedom consists in slavery to serve, or slavery to love.

Love is the greatest commandment in the Bible. In fact, the Bible says that love fulfills all the commandments of the Bible. Love fulfills the Law. (Rom.13:8-14, Gal.5:14) Love is the one gift or fruit that governs all of the others or informs all of the others.

We labor to be at peace with our spouse or our children and with all men because we love them – because God in Christ loves us.

Love makes us cover over a multitude of offenses committed against us. Love does not take account of wrongs done. Love does not dwell on the sins of others. Loves thinks higher of others more than self. Love looks to Christ and wants to imitate Christ’s love. (Phil.2:1-11)

There is nothing too hard for love to bear. Is there anything a father or mother would not endure for their little child. No. Many fathers and mothers have gone hungry in order to give their children enough to eat – because of love.

Think of the way Christ will greet His children on the Last Day. To those on His right He will said, you fed Me, you gave Me a cup of cold water, you clothed Me, You visited Me. And we will say to Him, when did we do these things Lord. And He will say every time you did these things to the least of My lambs, My disciples, you did it to Me. Love motivated the giving of the food, the water, the clothes, the kind word, and the visit.

Love compels us to say and to do loving things. We love God and we love others because God in Christ loved us first and gifted us with a spiritual gift to love people with the love He gave us. (Mt.25:31-46, I Jn.4:19-21, 2 Cor.5:14-21)

God is love. Christ is God’s love to sinners that He makes into saints. Love imitates God.

Joy.

Next, we see the fruit of joy, joy in the Holy Spirit. The gift of being able to have joy in the Lord even when we have sorrow in the world. (Rom.14:17-19) You see the happiness of the Christian is the enjoyment of holiness. Even as misery or sadness is the fruit of sin, so too happiness is the fruit of holiness. Being joined to holy Christ we now enjoy His holiness. And holiness is a delight to us. God’s commandments are not burdensome to us, but delightful.

I want you to think of something. Say, you knew of some healthy and wealthy unbeliever. They had a super abundance of good things in this life, but they did not know God in Christ. And say, you as a Believer in Jesus were sitting at this rich man’s door covered with sores? Would you trade places? Do you suffering-Believer have more joy than the “happy” unbeliever? (Lk.16:19-31)

Would you trade places with the rich man and his big barns but having no love to God? (Lk.12:12-23)

Our joy is eternal. Any weeping we have is but for a moment. Perfect joy cometh in the morning. (Ps.30:5) What does the Bible say? At the right hand of God are pleasures forevermore. (Ps.16:11)

As we look at things with our “spiritual lenses” on, we know we are reconciled to God in Christ and we have every blessing in the Bible, so we rejoice. (WSC 32, 36-38) Think of this to make you happy. Christ is your Husband. And you are His holy beloved Bride! 

Peace.

Christ has given us His peace that He purchased with His blood. (Jn.14:27-31) The world did not give this to us. The world cannot take it away. God is at peace with us. No more condemnation in Christ. (Rom.8:1) Therefore we can rest at peace in this troubled world. 

Long-suffering or Patience.

One man said that patience is gentleness of mind that motivates us to see the good and not to be easily offended. Wow. How helpful is this gift to the peace of our homes and of our churches? May God increase this fruit 100-fold!

God gives us the ability to persevere with Christ in the face of tremendous hardship. In Christ our Overcomer we shall overcome. In Christ we can do all things.

Goodness. Kindness. Faithfulness.

One man calls these social virtues, gifts wherein we can live in harmony with others – to God’s glory and to their good and to ours as well. 

Gentleness.

Gentleness or meekness is another fruit of the Spirit that He gives to us in Christ. I have been saying lately regarding all the political and social turmoil that has some of the people of God angry and riled up, crying out for some reaction to what they perceive is injustice, that we are Christ’s lambs, and we are not wolves. Christ is meek. He is gentle. He would not break off a bruised reed. He was not shouting in the public square. (Isa.42:3, Mt.12:20, Lk.6:21-38)

Oh Beloved, it pleases Jesus when we imitate Jesus. I know that gentleness is sometimes seen as weakness maybe even cowardice. But it is not. It is Biblical. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit Himself came down upon Christ in His baptism in the form of a gentle creature, a dove.

Listen to the apostle Paul.

Romans 12:17. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

Self-control.

V.19-21. You remember God warns us against the sin of the flesh in things like sexual sins, outbursts of anger, envying, drunkenness and carousing (which some translations translate as gluttony, excessive eating and drinking).

Now the Holy Spirit tells us that one of the fruits He produces in our life is the ability to restrain ourselves. True Believers in Christ have the spiritual ability in Jesus to control our appetites.

We are no longer slaves to any of our appetites. Uncleanness is not our god. Our belly is not our god. Drink is not our god. God is our God. And He gives us what He requires of us, the ability to walk by faith in Him as He reveals Himself to us in His word. As Believers we can use the world for God’s glory, for our own good, but we can hold the world lightly knowing that it is passing away.

As we practice this moderation and self-control in our life, we know that we are being led by the Spirit, we are sowing to the Spirit.

The growth of these holy fruits.

May I say something as regards to the growth of these holy fruits.

Commune with God.

Christ said, it is as we are attached to Him as the Vine that we bear spiritual fruit. Indeed, He told us that He chose us and appointed us to bear fruit in Him. (Jn.15:1-10)

The more we love Christ the more fruits we will produce. We grow deeper in love with Jesus as we feed upon Him daily in His word, in prayer. As we find Christ our delight when we gather each Lord’s Day to worship Him, we will see the fruits of the Holy Spirit grow in our life and the deeds of the flesh diminish.

You see as we walk by faith in the living God and by faith commune with Him spiritually this then changes us, it conforms us into the image of the One we are communing with.

The Bible says, bad company corrupts good morals. (I Cor.15:33) Well, holy company with the holy God mortifies the flesh and sows to the Spirit, it conforms us into His image.

I want to say something else as well.

Be driven to commune with God.

Most of us think, well if God would send sunny easy days to me, well then, I would produce more holy fruits in my life.

Well, I have been reading through Second Chronicles for my morning worship and what I have seen is that often when the kings became popular and powerful and wealthy that they would suffer spiritually or in their faith. Oh Beloved, it was when God brought Israel into the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey that they grew fat and sleek and worldly and forgot God. (Dt.32:15)

Samuel Rutherford one of the ministers of the Westminster Assembly was thrown into prison for his faith in Christ. And there he learned many valuable spiritual lessons. One lesson was this, grace grows best in the winter!

Lloyd-Jones said this, Christian people are generally at their best when they are in the furnace of affliction and being persecuted and tried.

Beloved, this is because we can only learn some of the sweetest lessons of Christ during the bitterest of times.

Live close to Christ and you will begin to look like the One you love.

Amen

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JOSHUA 6:1-27. Sermon 8. The Battle of Jericho – Lessons Learned on the Day of Judgment https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/05/joshua-61-27-sermon-8-the-battle-of-jericho-lessons-learned-on-the-day-of-judgment/ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/05/joshua-61-27-sermon-8-the-battle-of-jericho-lessons-learned-on-the-day-of-judgment/#respond Fri, 05 Mar 2021 21:58:49 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3110

The greeting.

What a real treasure from God to have one whole day to worship Him (Exod.20:8-11) and to set our minds on things above and to take them off of the things of the earth. (Col.3:1-3) How needful. How spiritually refreshing.

The scripture.

Well tonight we are looking at Joshua chapter six. Let me read this for us. This is the very word of God, may we be those that tremble at holy His word, read. (Isa.66:2-5)

Joshua 6:1. Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. 2 The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. 3 “You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. 4 “Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 “It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.” 6 So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.” 7 Then he said to the people, “Go forward, and march around the city, and let the armed men go on before the ark of the LORD.” 8 And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the LORD went forward and blew the trumpets; and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. 9 The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!” 11 So he had the ark of the LORD taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp. 12 Now Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew the trumpets; and the armed men went before them and the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 14 Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days. 15 Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. 16 At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city. 17 “The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 “But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. 19 “But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.” 20 So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. 21 They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. 22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” 23 So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel. 24 They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. 25 However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. 26 Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.” 27 So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.

The prayer.

Join me as we ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit tonight in our worship of Him, pray. (Eph.5:18, Lk.11:13, Acts 7:55, 4:8) 

The popularity.

We have come to a very famous portion of Scripture. Joshua chapter six is about the battle of Jericho.

For those of us raised in any kind of church we heard that “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came a-tumbling down” to quote the Sunday School song.

An interesting personal side note. When I was an unbeliever in college (1982-1986), I liked to listen to a certain genre of music known as “Gospel Music”. I listened to the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Hezekiah Walker, Walter Hawkins, James Cleveland, and the Winans and others. And I especially liked Mahalia Jackson. She had a song about the Joshua and Jericho, except she pronounced it this way, Josh-u-way fit the battle of Jericho. 😊

The solemnity.

But something interesting happens many times to well known Bible passages or historical accounts recorded in Scripture, that is they have a tendency to lose the divinely intended impact of the account and they become less serious, which is of course one of the reasons they become more popular (to the flesh).

How this works with this account is that we think of a cute Sunday School coloring book, or a jaunty song that gets our feet tapping to the music and we are kind of up lifted and happy. Of course, I am all for being happy. But the reality of this account is anything but fit for a children’s Sunday school coloring book.

We are looking at a battle. And then the subsequent a slaughter of every living thing. I will bring out why as we go along, but that is the true truth of this chapter. Beloved, when you hear anything that has been popularized from the Bible make sure that you personally go back into the Bible and read that account for yourself. You will be surprised what man says versus what God says.

Believe and live upon what God says. Know this, giddy silly things are almost always wrong. Beware of the preacher that appeals to your flesh. (Jer.6:14, 2 Tim.4:1-4)

The lessons.

What I want to do tonight for our sermon is to learn some of the spiritual lessons that God is teaching us by this account of the very first battle upon entrance into the Promised Land.

These lessons are to encourage the Believers. And they are also to warn the unbelievers.

The Day of Judgment.

Perhaps I should start with what I have found to be the hardest thing about passages like this, that is to say, all the fighting and all the killing. As a young Christian these passages would greatly unsettle me. As an older Believer they still unsettle me, but now I know what God is warning us about. 

The key to understanding this passage (and those like it) and the lessons it contains is this, Joshua chapter six is a foretaste of what is known as Judgment Day. Also called the Day of the LORD or the Day of Vengeance. (I Cor.4:5, I Cor.11:31, 2 Cor.5:10, 2 Pt.2:4, Acts 17:31, Eccl.12:14, Heb.9:27, Jn.12:48, Mt.12:36, 24:36, Ps.96:13, Rom.2:16)

Someday Christ will return and judge the world in righteousness. And all those that are not found righteous, He will sweep them away as chaff from His threshing floor. (Ps.1:1-6, Jn.5:22, Mt.25:31-46)

Ezekiel chapter seven shows us the terror of this day.

Ezekiel 7:3. Now the end is upon you, and I will send My anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways and bring all your abominations upon you. 4 ‘For My eye will have no pity on you, nor will I spare you, but I will bring your ways upon you, and your abominations will be among you; then you will know that I am the LORD!’ 5 “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘A disaster, unique disaster, behold it is coming! 6 ‘An end is coming; the end has come! It has awakened against you; behold, it has come! 7 ‘Your doom has come to you, O inhabitant of the land. The time has come, the day is near– tumult rather than joyful shouting on the mountains. 8 ‘Now I will shortly pour out My wrath on you and spend My anger against you; judge you according to your ways and bring on you all your abominations. 9 ‘My eye will show no pity nor will I spare. I will repay you according to your ways, while your abominations are in your midst; then you will know that I, the LORD, do the smiting.

Judgment Day will reveal that there is a Day of Judgment for sinners apart from Christ.  

Judgment Day is the expression of God’s strict justice apart from God’s mercy. There is no mercy for the sinner on Judgment Day because the day of mercy or of grace is past. 

The question is, are we ready for this Day? Has Christ taken God’s judgement for us? Is Christ our righteousness. (Gal.3:12-14, Jer.23:6) 

God’s promises are certain.

We know that God has promised to Abraham and thus to His descendants Israel a certain portion of land to live in as their own, we know this land as the Promised Land. The Promised Land is in Canaan. Listen to God’s promise.

Genesis 13:12. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD. 14 The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. 16 “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. 17 “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” 18 Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

Abraham lived approximately 2,000 B.C. Joshua lives circa 1,300 B.C. God makes a promise to one man and then 700 years later God makes good on that promise using another man.

The fleshly impulse is to rush God to act according to our timetable. In doing so, we forget ourselves. God is God and we are not. We must live by faith trusting in God and that He will make good on every good promise He has every made to those that trust in Christ. And He will. And here He does. Time and circumstances are no hindrance to God. He created them. He governs them.

The people of God lived for 700 years by faith in that one promise of God. Beloved, that is how we are to live. Two thousand years ago Christ returned to the right hand of the Father and as He did, He promised that He would return for us and bring us to live where He is. (Jn.16:1-6, Mt.28:18-20)

We are called to walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor.5:7) Someday Christ will return. And we will live in the Promised Land with Him. God cannot lie. Christ is the Truth. The Bible is the word of truth. And the Spirit of truth seals God’s promises to us. (Jn.16:13-15)

Judgment Day will reveal that all the promises of God are yes and amen to those in Christ. (Num.23:19)

The question for us is are we in Christ? If we are then God has made glorious promises to us. And this is here to increase our faith and confidence and hope in Him.

God has a chosen people.

Now this is the promise of God as regards to the land, but we also see the beginnings of the realization of the promise as regards to the people of the land.

Here at this time other peoples were living in this land, various tribes of Canaanites.

Exodus 23:23. For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them. 24 “You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces. 25 “But you shall serve the LORD your God,

They were fellow human beings. They were Gentiles. They worshiped false gods. That means they were sinners. And they were sinners without a Savior of their sins. Remember this, the gospel of Christ was at this time confined to the people of Israel. (WCF 7.5)

God has promised military victory to His people over these people. God is distinguishing between His people and those that are not His people. I realize that even Israel was a mixed multitude of true Believers and false professors. However, the general truth is still significant.

God has chosen a people for Himself. And He passed over the rest. This is an expression of His sovereignty. For those He chooses sovereign mercy. For those He passes over sovereign justice.

Listen to how God expresses this to Moses.

Exodus 8:23. For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of insects on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of insects, and also the ground on which they dwell. 22 “But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of insects will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land. 23 “I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur.”‘”  (Exod.9:4, 27)

Judgment Day will reveal that God has a people of His own choosing, the Israel of God.  

The question for us is are we numbered among the people of God? Or are we separate from the household of faith? Are we spiritual Gentiles? Or are we spiritual Jews? Have we received heart circumcision? (Rom.2:25-29, Rom.9:6-8, Jer.4:4, Dt.30:6) Are we born again? 

God intends to save Gentiles.

V.22-25. However, even in the OT we get glimpses that God intends to save Gentiles and also include them among His worshiping people. We see here believing Rahab. Remember that Hebrews 11 places her in the great hall of faith chapter. (Heb.11:31) And James uses her as the counterpart of a true Believer next to Father Abraham. (Jas.2:21-26)

Remember the promise to save an elect people in Christ includes all the families of the earth. (Gen.28:14)

In the NT epoch God fully and clearly opens up His household of faith to now include the Gentiles. But He still has a chosen people from within the nations. (Mt.28:18-20, Acts 13:48)

Hear the word of God.

John 15:16. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

I Peter 2:7. This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” 8 and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. 9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

Judgment Day will reveal that God saves people from every nation and calls them to one flock in Christ. (Eph.2:12-21, Jn.10:1-18) 

God is sovereign.

And those that are not His people, those people that have no faith in Jesus as the Christ, God has not chosen them for His own. He has passed over them. This is an expression, as I say, of God’s sovereignty.

And this brings me to another question. And this question was posed online. Why would God promise to give Israel land that belonged to other people?  

Oh beloved, what a sad question. It reveals a lack of knowledge of the God of the Bible. What is the answer Beloved? God is sovereign. He is Lord of the whole earth. (Ps.24:1-3) He is the Creator and Governor. The land does not belong to the Canaanites. It belongs to God. And He give it to whom He chooses.

Joshua chapter six is a lesson on the universal and complete and holy government of God over all His creatures, and in view, over all men, meaning each and every human being. And I will say to use the language of Nebuchadnezzar after he was instructed by God, and no one may contradict or criticize God’s sovereign government of anyone. (Dan.4:34-37)

God permitted the Canaanites to live here. God permitted them to grow to earthly power. And then in due time, in the same way that God did with Pharaoh, God put them down. (Rom.9:16-23)

In our passage God tells His Joshua His leader that He Himself will give Jericho into their hands. Meaning that the Lord will be the One that defeats the Canaanites. 

Joshua 6:1. Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. 2 The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.

And consider the Canaanites. They are trusting in their stone walls to protect them from the judgment of the Lord, to keep them safe from calamity and death. Oh Beloved, no man-made defenses will thwart the arm of the Lord when He rises up in judgment.

The same God that divided the Red Sea and stopped up the Jordan River will throw down the walls of Jericho as easily as a little child toppling over a tower of blocks.

God rules the earth. God rules the church. God rules all. (Eph.1:11, Rom.8:28, Mt.10:29-31, Col.1:13-17, Isa.45:7-9, Prov.16:33, Job 42:2, Lam.3:37-39, Acts 4:27-28)

Judgment Day will reveal that God is the Lord and He alone reigns. (Ps.97:1)

Judgment Day will dash the idol-free will of man to pieces and revealed the free will of God.

Do we, Beloved, submit willingly to the sovereignty of God?

God is revealing.

V.1-6. Now let’s come to the marching around the city of Jericho, blowing trumpets, and for the space of seven days. 

The method of God.

Well, the people of God are marching around the enemies of God. The holy priests are blowing holy trumpets. The ark of the covenant, a symbol of Immanuel God with His people – Christ, is circling around the enemies of the Lord and His people. You remember that this passage is about the coming Day of Judgment.

Now we know what all the sights and the sounds are for. God is revealing to those that hate Him that the Day of Judgment is approaching them. God wants this messaged to be preached, as it were, by His people to those who are not His people.

Oh Beloved, think of the preaching of Jonah. Jonah walked through the city of Nineveh and he had a simple sermon, in forty more days the Lord of heaven and earth will judge the sinners of this city! (Jonah 1-4)

The time to repent.

Now I know some say, how awful! Judgment preaching is awful! Well Beloved, that is quite right. It is meant to stun us, to put us in “awe” of holy God. Jesus said at the preaching of Noah the unbelievers repented (and believed) and God spared them. (Mt.12:41) May I say, how wonderful!

Beloved, please do not think that this message is somehow sub-Christian or contrary to Christ or to the ethos of the New Testament.

Christ Himself says this.

Luke 12:2. But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. 3 “Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops. 4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5 “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!  (Mt.10:28)

The foolishness of God.

May I say something Beloved? Look at the method that God uses of announcing His victory and their defeat. A bunch of guys marching around, blowing trumpets, and carrying a box! The inhabitants of Jericho must have thought the Israelites were fools! What is this nonsense?! Are you going to defeat us by this foolishness?!

Not only the unbeliever would have been tempted to think this was a foolish method, but also the Believer. You have armed men ready to fight. They are told, carry your weapons, don’t use them, just have the priests blow their horns, you march! Even Believers would be tempted to think this is silly. Even Believers would be tempted to think the only way to win is with a steel sword. No Beloved. That is the just the point. We do not fight this battle. God fights.

Oh Beloved, God chooses the foolish and weak thing to shame the wise and powerful. Even as He uses the preaching of the Gospel to seek and to save, but it is foolishness to the natural man. (I Cor.1:18-31) But it is the power and the wisdom of God to them that believe in Christ.

The glory to God.

But you see that God chooses this method so that none of the glory would be attributed to Man. This method ensures that the victory is attributed to God alone, to His power, to His mercy.

The culpability of man.

This public proclamation of the coming judgment of God assures us that no one can accuse God of wrongdoing. No one can accuse God of hiding His purposes to bring sinners to the judgment. No one can accuse God of not telling men that the wages of sin is death and after death comes the judgment. (Rom.6:23, Heb.9:27, Rev.20:11-15)

The victory of God.

Beloved, Jericho represents the world of unbelievers. Jericho represents Babel. (Gen.11:1-9) Jericho is an example of the righteous vengeance of God upon all the ungodly. (Ps.1:6, Nahum 1:2, Jer.51:56, Ps.94:1, 2 Thess.1:8, Jer.51:11, Isa.1:24, Rom.12:17-19)

The City of Man will be thrown down. The kingdoms of men will become the kingdom of Christ. (Rev.11:15) All false gods and their worshipers will be brought to nothing. They will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

The Babylon of Man and his sin will be thrown down, never to be built again. God puts a curse upon those that try. Only Zion the City of our God will remain. The Prince of Peace will put down all enemies with a road of iron. And He will then call His people to enjoy an enemy-less and sinless Promised Land. (Fallen is Babylon the Great – Isa.21:9, Rev.14:8, 18:2)

The kingdom of Satan has been destroyed. Christ’s kingdom of glory has come. (WLC 191, WSC 102, see WCF 32.1-3, 33.1-3)

The separation of God.

V.17-18. And by God’s refusing to let His people enrich themselves by the earthly spoils of the Canaanites, He is teaching us that none of the idols of the unbeliever will remain to corrupt the holy people of God. Then and there we will enjoy the perfect riches that are found in Christ. (2 Cor.6:14-18)

Revelation 18:10. standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’ 11 “And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more– 12 cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, 13 and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and human lives. 14 “The fruit you long for has gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you and men will no longer find them.

Beloved, the battle of Jericho is not a “ battle”, it is the divine administration of the divine penalty against sinners, it is the capital punishment of the Lord upon the guilty. (Rom.6:23)

Judgment Day will reveal to all that God had warned all men that this day was coming for all men.  

It is a terrible thing to fallen into the hands of the living God being found in our sin. (Heb.10:31, 2 Sam.24:14, Ezra 8:22) Apart from Christ, all people will find God to be a holy consuming fire. (Heb.12:29) Are we preparing for this day?

God is preserving.

V.17, 22-25. The final thing I want us to see is that amidst the destruction of the city God preserves Rahab and her family. Oh Beloved, look around. Our country is Sodom. Our world is Babylon. God has placed all unrepentant unbelieving sinners under His holy ban (anathema), destined for destruction.

Judgment Day will reveal that God knows how to preserve everyone that loves the Lord. (2 Pt.2:9, Ps.28)

On that day all eyes will see the Christ that was once hated and rejected now exalted and glorified. 

And all of the people of God, on that great day, will give a great shout to the glory of God.

Amen

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JAMES 4:1-3. Study 15. Worldliness Defined https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/03/james-41-3-study-15-worldliness-selfish-desires-and-deeds/ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/03/james-41-3-study-15-worldliness-selfish-desires-and-deeds/#respond Wed, 03 Mar 2021 20:38:25 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3090

The greeting to God’s people.

Peace to you Beloved in the name of Christ our Lord and Savior even our Life. Let me extend a further greeting to you that I hope does not appear too strange. It is a word that keeps coming to my mind lately, the Aramaic word is maranatha, it means “come Lord” Paul closes his first letter to the Corinthians with it. (I Cor.16:22) The Bible ends with come Lord Jesus, come quickly (erchomai) and then, “may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, amen”. (Rev.22:20-21)

May we live in that frame of heart. May we approach our Bible study today with an eye to Christ’s return. It will make us more faithful and more useful, and I would argue even more happy and hopeful. (Mt.25:13-30, I Cor.15:58, Lk.19:13) 

The word to God’s people.

Well, this is our fifteenth study in the book of James. We are beginning chapter four today. We will look at James 4:1-6. My intention is to study verses 1-3 this week and then verses 4-6 next week. With your Bible open please read along with me. Hear the very words of our holy God, read. 

James 4:1. What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

James 4:4. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James 4:5. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 

The prayer of God’s people.

God tells us to humble ourselves before Him. Then in due time He Himself will exalt us. Well, let’s humble ourselves before Him in prayer, coming as loving children to our loving heavenly Father asking Him to bless our time in His word today, pray. (James 4:10, I Pt.5:6, Mt.23:12, 2 Chron.7:14, Lk.14:11, Phil.2:1-11)

The outline.

Today we are looking at worldliness defined by God as wrong or sinful or selfish desires and deeds. Next week we will look at worldliness condemned by God as wrong relationships, adulteresses and friends of the world. 

The subject of worldliness.

Let me see if I can summarize the logical connection of some of what James has just taught prior to this passage. There were professing Christians that had an unruly evil tongue. They produced bitter water. This in turn revealed their bitter heart. This bitter heart was governed by earthly, fleshly, and devilish wisdom. Remember, this is as professing Believers in Jesus! (James 3:1-16)

Now we have the subject at hand – worldliness, and the sad fruit of worldliness, which is fighting and discord among the people of God.

As you reap so you shall sow. Sow to the flesh, reap to the flesh. For a true Believer to act like an unbeliever they will reap pain and shame in this life. (Gal.6:7-9, Prov.14:4, Lk.6:38) For a false Believer, proved so by their habitual worldliness, they will reap pain in shame also in the next life.

The love of this world and its things is contrary to God’s desire for His children, which is that all Believers would be of one heart and mind; that brothers and sisters in Christ would dwell in holy unity in love with one another and with God. (Acts 4:32, Ps.133:1-3)

The definition of worldliness.

The basic idea of worldliness or of being worldly or being friends with the world is to think and to act in devotion to this world and to neglect spiritual or religious truths, to be more concerned with temporal things than with eternal things, to be more concerned with self-pleasure in this life than meeting God in the next life.

For our purposes, please remember in the Bible to be worldly or to express worldliness is a negative or bad thing. I say this because sometimes in common speech people put a good connotation on being “worldly” in reference to being well traveled or cosmopolitan in outlook or something like that.

Let me read a few Scripture passages that get at the idea of worldliness.

Romans 12:1. Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (2 Cor.6:14-18, I Thess.4:3-5, Titus 2:12) 

I John 2:15. Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (2 Tim.4:10, Isa.13:19, Jn.8:23, Lk.4:5-8, Jn.17:14, 18:36, 15:19)

As you might have already surmised worldliness is another way of saying fleshliness. Living for this world is being led by the flesh or sowing to the flesh as Paul talks about in Romans eight and in Galatians five and six (Rom.8:5-13, Gal.5:15-21, 6:7-8)

The unconverted live in worldliness.

Two things before we proceed. Being “in” the flesh means that we are still unbelievers. To be in Christ and in the Spirit means we are believers. (Rom.8:9) Unbelievers have only one nature; the fallen nature. Believers have two natures, the fallen nature and the spiritual renewed nature. This is why we are required to fight against the old nature and to nourish the new nature. As regards to our study, a worldly person is an unbeliever, as James says, an enemy of God.

These desires are worldly desires and pleasures. This is a love of the world and its things choking out love of God and love of others. People that live to satisfy these desires may be savingly unattached to Christ. Listen to our Lord.

Mark 4:18. And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Unless we are changed by God in Christ to have different desires, these worldly desires will harden us against Christ and keep us earth-bound.  Carnal desires are enslaving.

Romans 1:24  Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.

2 Timothy 4:3  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,

2 Peter 3:3   Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts. (Jude 1:16-18)

The converted fight against worldliness.

Now true Believers are no longer “in” the flesh, but we can still do fleshly things. We should not but we do. In this way, we are no longer of this world as Jesus says, we are no longer worldlings, but we can still think and act worldly. (Jn.17:16-17, I Jn.2:19, Jn.15:18-19) That is what James points out in verses 1-3 with worldly desires and deeds.

James tells us that these worldly fleshly desires wage war in our members.

The causes of community-fights are the battles that go on within us as professing Christians.  Our Flesh.  The Old Man.  (Rom.7:1-25, 6:6, Eph.4:22, Col.3:9)

I Peter 2:11. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

In the Christian life though we are at peace with God being found in Christ our Peace-Bringer (Shiloh), at the same time we are at war with the world, the flesh, and the devil.  The spirit and the flesh wrestle each other. (Gal.5:17) We must fight by faith. (2 Cor.5:7)

The correction against worldliness.

Here James is warning us as true Believers to live like Christ’s heaven-bound lambs rather than worldly unbelievers. We are to live in the world, but we are not to live like the world (or the worldling). This is God’s correction for sinning Christians to help us. They are hard words. But they are needful. And if we heed them, then they are good for us.

The nature of worldliness.

For the remainder of our time, from our passage I want us to see the evil nature and some of the sad fruits of worldliness. 

Worldliness is unsubmissive.

The overall theme for James chapter four might be classified as submission, submitting our lives to God’s will as revealed in His Word. (2 Tim.3:14-17) The submission we are to render is first inward or spiritual, which in turn is to produce outward submission to God’s will for our lives.

James will illustrate (and seek to correct) a lack of submission to God’s will by the wrong desires that Christians sometimes have which causes discord in the community.

I suppose we could also classify worldliness or fleshliness by its ultimate real name – unbelief. A world-worshiping heart does not believe about God what God requires us to belief about him. A self-serving heart refuses to do those things that God requires of us. (WSC 3) Worldliness rejects the Lordship of the LORD. The chief end of worldliness is to glorifying self and to enjoy self forever. (WSC 1)

The song of the worldly man is captured in the blasphemous poem “Invictus” written by William Ernest Henley (1875).

As we will see worldliness is blamable before God and destructive to self and to others. May God give us victory over our worldly desires. In Christ. By faith.

Worldliness is destructive.

The flesh opposes the things of the Spirit and James uses three words that depict a fight.

James 4:1. What is the source of quarrels (polemos) and conflicts (mache) among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war (stateuo – serve as a solider) in your members?

The Greek words here are literally wars and fighting and then fighting like a soldier. James does not mean that there is a real civil war in the church, with real bombs and bullets. Or that these Christians are actually coming to blows in the church.  These words as more figurative of discord, squabbling, and verbal conflict.

However, Jonathan Edwards recorded at one regional assembly of ministers to discuss points of theological difference that the men actually did physically fight one another. Edward’s wrote, they savagely beat each other in the head. Yikes! So much for brotherly love. But this is James’s point.

What we see with Edward’s though is that worldly carnal desires give birth to sinful words and sinful actions. 

Remember the conflict in view is not outside of the church among the professing unbelievers.

This is strife and quarreling among the avowed disciples of Christ.  Christ’s lambs acting like lions and wolves, because of their wrong or sinful fleshly worldly desires.

These things give a reason for the unbelievers to blaspheme Christ, and His Gospel, and His church. These things put a stumbling stone before the unbelievers. These things hurt the tender lambs of Jesus. And they hurt us as the Christian doing the sin.

The preeminent mark of a true Christian is that we love other Christians. Jesus says this. (Jn.13:34-35, I Pt.2:17-19, I Jn.4:7-20, Rom.12:10, I Jn.3:18)

One of the worst sins in all the world is a Christian fighting against another Christian. Oh God give us grace to believe God’s word! Oh, how many professing Believers think that they have a special gift from God to bite and devour other professing Believers in Jesus all because they differ on secondary or tertiary matters? To say nothing of the fights that we have with members of our own churches, all because we refuse to obey Jesus and love the brothers, all because of our selfish worldliness.

Oh, beware beloved, those that cause divisions in the church may find themselves one sad day disapproved before God. (I Cor.11:18-19) May God pour out His dovelike Holy Spirit on contentious Christians, which is to say on us! 🙂

Listen to what Paul says in Romans about the Jews when they sowed to the flesh and acted like Gentiles.

Romans 2:21. you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24 For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written.

Worldliness is selfish.

James, like a good doctor tells us of the cause of these problems, “our” carnal fleshly worldly desires. Our sins are our (main) problem, not the sins of others.

The various translations include, your pleasures, your desires, your passions, and your lusts.  This word is in the plural teaching us that there are many and various kinds of these desires which cause community-conflict.

Worldliness is evident.

James now gives a series of examples to prove his point.

James 4:2. You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

James says what Paul says about the desires and deeds of the flesh, they are evident. You cannot ultimately hide this ugly selfish unbelief. (Gal.5:19)

James tells them they have these worldly lusts, desires but they cannot (completely) satisfy them.  In part, this is because sinful desires can never make a person satisfied.  This is the great lie of the devil, sin against God, do what “you” want, and you will be happy.  Oh, the devil is the father of lies and a soul-murderer. (Jn.8:44-45, Gen.3:1-8, 2 Cor.11:14-15)

Beloved, as Believers we can only be truly happy and content with God in Christ. Only true holiness can bring true happiness.

Worldliness is murderous.

You murder, you kill.  James is not implying that these Christians actually murder other Christians.  If that were the case, he would not be speaking to Christians, murderers cannot inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal.5:21, I Cor.15:50, Eph.5:5, I Cor.6:9-11, Rev.21:7-8)

This is figurative murder, heart murder, malice, and all its wicked offspring.  This is church-peace murder. (Mt.5:21-22, I Jn.3:15) Christians hating other Christians how sad. How common.

What would we conclude about a professing Christian if for the sake of their sinful desires, they destroyed the peace of Christ’s church?  Wrong desires are supremely selfish.  Wrong desires do not care about the good of anyone else. How unlike Christ Jesus. How devil-like.

Worldliness is uncontented.

You covet.  Part of these wrong desires is coveting.  Coveting is craving something that is not yours, something God has not given you but that He has given someone else.  This can be physical things and inward things such as gifts, graces, titles, honor, etc.

Coveting is anger at God’s government in our lives.  (I Kg.21:1-14)

Covetousness is an expression of discontentment with God and His government over us and others. Read the Westminster Larger Catechism on the Tenth Commandment. (WLC 146-148)

This is a manifestation of pride. How hateful to God and to others.

Worldliness is prayerless.

You are prayerless.  Unbelievers do not pray to the True God.

James 4:2. You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.

But sadly, often even professing Believers do not pray to God.  This shows a lack of faith, and a lack of friendship with God. Living for the world will choke out our desire to pray because our heart is divided in its affections. Or if we do pray when we are living for self, then our prayers will be spiritless and formal, which is an offense to God.

Oh, Beloved our prayer life is so important.

Jesus said, for everyone that asks, he shall receive. (Mt.7:7-8)

But we have to pray believing, pray by faith in Jesus. (Mk.11:24) Ask in faith without doubting. (Jas.1:4) And we have to be (very) persistent in prayer, keep asking, seeking, and knocking. (Lk.18:1-8, Heb.11:6, I Thess.5:17) And we have to pray for those things that we are allowed to pray for, those things agreeable to God’s word.

I John 5:14. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 

Listen to how our secondary standards summarize our primary standard on prayer. 

WSC 98  Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God,(1) for things agreeable to his will,(2) in the name of Christ,(3) with confession of our sins,(4) and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.(5)    (1)Ps. 62:8 (2)1 John 5:14 (3)John 16:23 (4)Ps. 32:5,6; Dan. 9:4 (5)Phil. 4:6

Worldliness is ineffectual.

Finally, the Holy Spirit tells us that worldliness, selfish desires, self-centered prayers are ineffectual before God.

Living for self, living to enjoy worldly pleasures is a spiritually unfruitful way to live. God will not bless selfish worldliness. God blesses that which glorifies Him. God does not bless sin.

Now He may allow sinners to prosper in their sin. But that does not mean He is “blessing” them. No. God may allow a sinner to super abound in their outward estate only as a way of increasing His judgment upon them. (Hos.2:7, Prov.14:14) 

God will not grant a Believer’s selfish requests.

James 4:3. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

God will not satisfy a Believer’s idolatrous desires.  What an insult to Holy God, for a Believer to ask such a thing. But we do – all the time. How many of our prayers are for the glory of God and for the good of others? How many of our prayers focus on our own enjoyment of this world?

Rachel had a wrong desire for children.  So, God for a time made her barren – for a time. (Gen.20:22-23) The foolish rich man desired bigger barns, so God took him from them. (Lk.12:16-21) Oh how we need to be saved from our self (from our selfish old nature).

The antidote to worldliness.

Beloved, we have just spent a good bit of time looking at God’s denunciation of our remaining sin of unbelief, worldliness, fleshliness, and selfishness.

Let me end on a constructive note. Let us believe the word of God as regards to this. So that we can repent. So that we can humble ourselves before God and ask Christ to forgive us and to ask the Holy Spirit to help us.

You see Beloved, the answer or the antidote for our sin and for our struggle against sin is always the same – to turn our eyes upon Christ, to meditate upon His loving atoning sacrifice for all of our sins.

From the moment we are born again, each day we repent of our sins and believe in Christ. And we do this every day of our life. And bit by bit, the Holy Spirit increases our love of Christ and of His church and of heaven and diminishes our love of self and sin and of this world which is passing away.

And then we will be worldly no more.

And then we will be properly heavenly for time without end.

To God be the glory.

Amen

Study Guide.

  1. What is the definition of worldliness? In what way is worldliness also fleshliness? What is the opposite of being worldly minded? (James 4:1-6, Col.3:1-3, Rom.12:1-2, 2 Cor.6:14-18, I Thess.4:3-5, Titus 2:12, I Jn.2:15-17, 2 Tim.4:10, Isa.13:19, Jn.8:23, Lk.4:5-8, Jn.17:14, 18:36, 15:19, Rom.8:5-13, Gal.5:15-21, 6:7-8)
  1. What does habitual worldliness say about a person’s spiritual nature? What does it mean to be “in the flesh” and or “of the world”? What are some characteristics of those “of the world”? (Jn.15:19, Jn.17:14-16, Rom.8:5-11, Mk.4:18-19, Rom.1:18-32, 2 Tim.4:3, 2 Pt.3:3, Jude 1:16-18, I Cor.1:20, I Tim.6:20, Titus 2:12)
  1. Why do true Christians, who are not “of” the world still struggle with thinking, speaking, and acting “worldly”? What should we do about this? (James 3:1-6, Jn.17:16-17, I Jn.2:19, Jn.15:18-19, Rom.7:1-25, 6:6, Eph.4:22, Col.3:9, I Pt.2:11-12, Gal.5:16-18, 2 Cor.5:7)
  1. God reveals His will to us variously in Providence and in Scripture. How do worldly desires manifest a lack of submission to the will of God in Providence and in Scripture? How is a lack of submission to the will of God unbelief? (James 4:1-6, Num.11:5, Num.21:5, Ps.19:1-14, Jn.3:16, 2 Tim.3:14-17, Lk.19:14-21, Lk.15:25-32, WSC 1, WSC 3, WCF 6.2)
  1. How and why does worldliness or worldly desires and behaviors harm Christ’s Church and people? How is this the polar opposite of what Christ’s requires of us as Believers? How could causing divisions prove dangerous for those that do this? Have you ever caused strife in the church? If so, what should you do about it? (James 4:1-6, Gal.5:14-15, Jn.13:34-35, I Pt.2:17-19, I Jn.4:7-20, Rom.12:10, I Jn.3:18, I Cor.11:18-19, Rom.2:21-24, Col.3:8, Eph.4:30-31, I Pt.2:1-3)
  1. Describe some ways that worldliness is selfish and carnal and not holy and heavenly. Describe some ways that worldliness is harmful to others. How are our worldly desires and deeds unChristlike? (James 4:1-6, Gal.5:19, Jn.8:44-45, Gen.3:1-8, 2 Cor.11:14-15, Gal.5:21, I Cor.15:50, Eph.5:5, I Cor.6:9-11, Rev.21:7-8, Mt.5:21-22, I Jn.3:15)
  1. How does worldliness reveal our covetousness and or discontentment with God? (James 4:1-6, Gen.4:1-9, I Kg.21:1-14, Exod.20:17, Lk.12:15-21, I Tim.6:10, Eph.5:3, Mt.6:24, Heb.13:5, WLC 146-148)
  1. What is prayer? Why are worldly people prayerless to the true and living God of the Bible? What does prayerlessness indicate about a person? Why and in what ways are true Believers prayerless? What should we do about this? (James 4:1-6, Mt.7:7-8, Mt.11:24, Mt.13:21-22, Lk.17:26-30, Jas.1:4-5, Lk.18:1-8, Heb.11:6, I Thess.5:17, I Jn.5:14-15, WSC 98, Rev.2:4-5, 2:14-16, 2:20-24, Rev.3:14-20)
  1. Why is selfish worldly “prayer” ineffectual with God? (Jas.4:3)
  1. How and why does meditating on Christ and on His return help us put to death our fleshly tendency to worldliness? Do you regularly think of Christ’s return? If you do not, why not? When you do think of Christ’s return what are some truths associated with this? (I Cor.11:23-26, I Cor.16:22, Rev.22:20-21, Mt.25:13-30, I Cor.15:58, Lk.19:13, 2 Pt.3:1-18)

Extra credit.  How does the blasphemous poem “Invictus” written by William Ernest Henley reveal worldliness or the nature of the worldling? Who or what is the worldling’s “god”? What is the worlding’s “heaven”? Hint: read Rom.3:9-18. You may use the internet to look up the poem.

 

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