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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
Greetings one and all, and welcome to HBS. It’s heartening to know there are other Believers out there who love the Lord and are willing to meet regularly to study His Word. I thank you for being here today.
I have two announcements for the group before we start this week’s lesson.
#1: For the 3rd week in a row I’ve decided not to review the previous lesson with you guys – same reason as before. Please do take the time to look over the previous Bible lesson(s) from time-to-time to refresh your memory, and to “nail” the things our Apostle Paul has spoken about down. Please use your Bible while doing so.
#2: Since Paul has been teaching us about the Body of Christ and other matters pertaining to God’s Church, such as Spiritual gifts and unity. I’ve taken the liberty to report on the present condition of the church in America, using reliable church statistics and it’s not good. Be that as it may, the reader of these Bible lessons should not assume from this that I am anti-church. May it never be - what will be, will be.
However, as a member of Christ’s body, not only should you be aware of the condition of God’s Church, I shouldn’t have to point this out to you. I believe it’s safe to say you know what’s going on in your immediate family. If one of the children is ill or out of sorts you soon know about it and address the issue. Yet, there are close to 300 church denominations in America today in violation of Scripture, saying they have it right and nobody within the body questions this or speaks out against it? How confusing to an individual out there who is honestly seeking the Truth. Do you honestly think God approves of this confusion and division amongst His saints?
Believers should not overlook the obvious and understand while God is aiming to bring about unity and fellowship within His Church Satan is intentionally bringing about enmity and division. The god of this world is busy preparing this planet for the arrival of the anti-christ. (Matthew 16:1-4)
Please open your Bible at Romans 12:14.
14: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Verse 14 literally says what it means and means what it says. Believers are not to be provoked to anger, or to cursing by any persecution or wrong. You must remember when Paul speaks (writes) he’s the voice of the risen Lord Jesus Christ here on earth (Romans 1:1). Permit me to show you another Scripture passage. Please turn to Luke 6:28 where Jesus Christ virtually says the same thing: “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
It’s just not natural to love someone who spit in your face, beat you half to death, hammered a crown of thorns onto your head, and then crucified you on a Roman cross, but our Savior did. Now some come back with the argument that He was God and therefore capable of doing this whereas we are not. But never forget that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully Man here on earth. This means that in the single person of Jesus Christ he has both a human and divine nature. He isn’t merely a Man who had “God within Him,” and He isn’t a Man who “manifested the principles of God.” He is God in the flesh, second person of the Holy Trinity (John 1:1, 14; Colossians 2:9).
Before He died Jesus Christ forgave all those who had a hand in His death. Furthermore, He died for their sins too (Luke 23:34; 2 Corinthians 5:15).
Without a doubt this is one of the most difficult duties Believers have been assigned, but it can be done. Permit me to illustrate from a personal experience. When I was in the 5th grade a neighborhood bully cornered me and spit in my face and then dared me to do something about it. His name was Michael and he was in the 10th grade. At that time I stood 5’ 5” tall and weighed about 135lbs soaking wet. Michael was 6’ 2” tall and weighed about 245lbs. I don’t know why he disliked me but he did.
I spent the one entire summer dodging him and his gang but we finally met up one afternoon in 7th street Park where I was playing baseball with some kids. He bullied himself up-at-bat; I was pitching; and he hit a line drive right at me. Michael meant to take me out of the game or worse. But I instinctively reached out with my gloved hand and snatched the ball out of the air, yelling out loud at the same time, “You’re out!”
He was visibly upset. He wouldn’t drop the bat or leave. He dared me to throw him another ball to hit. So, I did; I threw him an underhanded ball right down the middle. He hit that ball hard. It left the bat and we never saw it again. However, it was what happened next that Mike never expected. I dropped my glove to the ground and I started to cheer and clap my hands. All the other kids joined in too as he ran the bases, and you know what not only did I see him smile I thought I saw a tear on his cheek. You know what else? After that day, Michael and I were friends.
There’s an old English saying that goes: Kindness begets kindness, which means: if you act kindly toward another, then they will respond in like fashion toward you. I don’t think this works 100% of the time, but this is how Believers are to respond to those who mistreat them. This is a difficult assignment, but our faith enables us to perform this responsibility. It was the Lord Jesus Christ who said: “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either… Treat others the same way you want them to treat you…” (Luke 6:29-34)
Why is This Important?
The Lord Jesus Christ has created a new standard for “relationships.” The Lord used an illustration of the sun rising and the rain falling on both the good and the evil, signifying God’s indiscriminate love for all people (Matthew 5:45; 2 Corinthians 5:15).
Therefore, as adopted son and daughters of our heavenly Father, we are to imitate His character and exhibit this same indiscriminate love to all people – friends, strangers, and our enemies: “But love (Agape) your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:35-36)
The Lord Jesus Christ calls us to live by a higher standard than what the world expects. Michael, the bully, didn’t expect “kindness” or a standing ovation from me and all the other kids in the park that day. Lives were changed because of kindness. To show the distinctiveness of being adopted sons and daughters of God, we need to respond with (Agape) love to those who “hate” us and with goodness to those who would intentionally harm us.
Although difficult, this command from God becomes possible for all those who have given their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within each one of us.
Let’s go to verse 15.
15: Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Verse 15 is to be read in the same context as verse 14 in that we are called to rejoice with and weep with those who are persecuting us. In this instance, I don’t think he’s referring to normal life events such as births, graduations, and weddings within the church. He’s primarily talking about the proper attitude Believer’s should have toward those who are persecuting them.
Why would we choose not to weep with those who weep? How about we’re glad their weeping? In other words, they hurt us in some way, then something bad happened to them, which caused them to suffer, and we’re delighted! Paul wants us to understand this attitude is both sinful and uncharacteristic of our heavenly Father, which means don’t do it: He (or she) who mocks the poor taunts his Maker; He (or she) who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 17:5)
Scripture and not life is the best teacher, so I remind you of Joseph’s brothers in the O.T. Did they rejoice with him when Israel, his Father, gave him a beautiful muti-colored coat out of love? Nope. They were jealous to the point of bitter hatred. They actually planned to kill their brother. (Genesis 37)
The word rejoicing here infers that we are to find joy in another’s good fortune and be vocal about it. If your enemy hits a home run for instance, at your expense, you share their enjoyment. By doing so, you demonstrate a lack of animosity and resentment. The barriers either imagined or real come down.
When you obey Jesus Christ’s command regarding His new standard for relationships; you are showing them the (Agape) love of Christ - without any expectation in return.
The word weep in the Greek language is Klaio (pronounced: klah’yo) meaning – to mourn, to shed tears. Paul’s command: Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep also carries over into the church. Members of the Body of Christ are to come along side; to partner with other Believers who are experiencing hurts, pains, sorrows, trials and joy.
Paul writes: so that there may be no division in the body (of Christ), but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)
Without a doubt our best example from Scripture is the Lord Jesus Christ. He displayed His remarkable ability to empathize with both the physical and the Spiritual condition of His people time and time again. For instance, He saw the grief of Mary and Martha and openly wept at the grave of Lazarus, His friend (John 11:21-35). But He was “outraged” at the sin and unbelief of the nation of Israel (John 5:39-42).
Jesus Christ mourned with those who mourned. Scripture affirms that He also rejoiced with those who rejoiced: “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will (what) rejoice over you with shouts of joy. (Zephaniah 3:17)
Here’s the thing. Our Savior has “set the bar” when it comes to selflessly loving others the saved, the unsaved, friend, or foe. Now we can look to His example to help us put other people first, accepting the role of servant; while remaining indignant toward sin. By rejoicing and weeping with other people we show them the love of Christ Jesus thus proving that we are set apart from this world where selfishness and self-reliance is the norm (Romans 12:1-2).
Let’s go to verse 16.
16: Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
It’s as if Paul knew of or expected tension to build up in this Roman assembly between Jew and Gentile, causing rifts and divisions in the Body of Christ. Whether he expected this to occur later on in the church is open to speculation. In any case, this verse hits the target dead center!
Note: the word mind is found three times here. We find the word mind twice and the word for wise is also mind-related.
Be of the same mind toward one another means – to have equal regard for one another.
No one is better than anyone else, no one is to be placed on a pedestal or idolized, and definitely “Don’t gravitate toward certain people, or groups, while ignoring or looking down on others.” “Don’t be cliquish.”
…do not be haughty in mind means – “Don’t be high-minded.” “Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to think” (Romans 12:3). Our Apostle Paul is speaking specifically about self-pride and conceit within the church. Clearly this sinful activity was occurring within this assembly of Believers. Jews were looking down on uncircumcised Gentiles, circumcised Gentiles (who called themselves Jews) were looking down on uncircumcised Gentiles, and believing Gentiles looked down on unconverted Jews as discarded branches of the Olive Tree.
It was King Solomon who said, “That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So (In other words) there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Division in God’s creation existed long before the creation of man. This occurred when Lucifer’s allowed pride to override reason and he attempted to usurp the throne of God in heaven, drawing one-third of the stars (angels) of heaven (to rebel against God)…
If you know the Bible, then you understand from creation to the cross and from the cross to eternity future, God’s purpose in creating man is comprehended in unity and fellowship out of His image. Man and woman were created in God’s image and they were one flesh (Genesis 1:27). When Adam lost God’s image through rebellion, he lost unity or oneness with God and all creation came under God’s curse and into conflict as a result. Since then, there is a common pattern from Adam’s sin to today: from deception to pride, rebellion to disobedience, conflict to division.
Division is still one of Satan’s strategies: But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time (age) there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts. These are the ones who cause (what) divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. (Jude 17-18)
Divide and Conquer
Satan desires to divide the Body of Christ and this is being done. Satan’s ambition is to deprive God of His fellowship and union with Believers and to deprive Believers of our fellowship with one another.
Where there should be unity and fellowship Satan has introduced enmity and division. Our Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians has shown that God gave the precious blood of His Son “to break down the barrier of the dividing wall.” “…that He might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:13-16)
Paul knew true reconciliation could not take place as long as there was division; you have to have restoration before you can have reconciliation. People have to be willing to break down the barriers that separate them and then be willing to restore the unity and fellowship the Creator God intended for His Church.
Paul writes: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important that yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4);
Selfishness, conceit, and pride are the instruments of Satan. They break down our fellowship and over time erode church unity. The division we are witnessing today is a sign of the End Times. Jesus prophesied splits and conflict in the last days. He told His disciples it would be a sign marking the season of His return: “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:10-12)
Paul, the apostle of Jesus Christ, also remarked on this End Time phenomenon in the book of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4: Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of (perdition) destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
Associate with the lowly. The word associate in the Greek language is Sunapago and means: to be swept away, as in a flood. It was used of Barnabas being “carried away” by the Jewish hypocrisy in Antioch (Galatians 2:11-13).
The unity of the Body of Christ, created in Christ Jesus, includes all nations, tribes, and tongues; all races and all ethnic groups, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, male and female alike. By coming into union with the Lord Jesus Christ through faith in the gospel, they come into union with you and me. (Ephesians 3:6)
Jesus Christ sought out the lowly and associated with them to the dismay of the Jewish religious leaders of His time: Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2)
Not only did Jesus Christ associate with the lowly He befriended and promoted them (Matthew 19:13-14; Mark 9:35-37: Luke 15:1-2). The Jews were seeing the very nature of God who chooses to love all people. God chooses humility and lowliness as opposed to pride. He stoops down to the level of the lowest because this is His nature. We should all remember He washed the feet of His betrayer, Judas, too (John 13:1-20).
Do not be wise in your own estimation means – “Don’t be conceited!” In 1973 the top song on the Billboard charts was “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon. One of the lines in her song went like this: “You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte.” It describes the base personality of one who thought more highly of himself than he ought to think.
The Apostle Paul has shown us why all people, no matter how good they may seem outwardly, need God’s gospel (Romans 1:16-17), because they all have sinned. The root sin is pride causing one to reject the Truth of God and to worship the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).
Honestly, there are too many questions and too few answers about life, too many tragedies and trials, and too much sin. There is just too much we don’t understand. The only real solution is to wise up by going low (humbling one’s self), which means each individual needs to carefully examine how they think, speak, and act.
True wisdom comes from our heavenly Father: He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
Unfortunately, the majority of mankind is seeking answers to life’s problems in all the wrong places, that is to say, local bartenders, psychologists, scientists, and philosophers.
God has this say about the wisdom of man: For the word (gospel) of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” 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? 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 believed (the gospel). For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks (Gentiles) search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
(To be continued)
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