"Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid." - Proverbs 12:1
For those of you who have seen the movie, Forrest Gump, you'll remember he said, "Mama always told me, stupid is as stupid does". And oddly enough, the truth of Forrest's words make a great segway into the lesson our Proverb holds for us this week.
One translation for Proverbs 12:1 reads, "To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction." And for the first part of our verse, I believe this is what it's getting at: godly people will love learning, they will desire instruction. Those that have grace and love it will delight in all the instruction that come to them by way of counsel; admonition, or reproof, by the Word or providence of God. They will appear eager for opportunities to sit under the teaching of the Word, longing to be fed from the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.
Unfortunately, our Proverb illustrates another kind of person - the fool - the stupid person who rejects instruction and correction from the Lord. They show themselves for what they are. He that hates reproof is not only foolish, but stupid. Like the horse or mule that has no understanding, or the ox that kicks against the goad, the stubborn self-indignation that characterizes the stupid man only shows him for the fool he is.
Yes, stupid truly is what stupid does, yet the same should be said of the wise. Wisdom is as wisdom does. We are only wise as we practice wisdom. If we love instruction, if we earnestly desire knowledge from the Lord, then let us come to Him for direction and then may our lives reflect His precepts in every thing we do! Amen.
Verse 3 "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Paul begins by asking the question, Don't you realize that as many as are baptized into Jesus Christ, we are baptized into His death? Now what is he asking here? He's saying that those who are covered under the death of Jesus Christ are now in Jesus Christ. Being baptized into Jesus Christ here should be understood in two distinct, but not separate ways. First, there is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When we are saved, it is through the work of the Holy Spirit. He comes and takes up residence in our hearts. He washes or baptizes us, cleansing us from all the sin that separates us from God. And secondly, baptism should refer to your actual baptism. If you have been saved by Christ, you ought to submit yourself to baptism. Galatians 3:27 says, "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." This is how we come to publically identify with the Lord Jesus Christ and our confessing His substituting His death in our place for our sin, by clothing ourselves with Christ.
Verse 4 "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
He says here in verse 4 we are buried with Jesus by baptism. What that means is our old self has died. The pre-Christ self. The wicked sinful self that didn't love and serve God. When Christ died for us, He took our old self with Him to the grave. We recognize this glorious reality when we come for baptism in the Church. We are literally baptized in water to illustrate this principle; that we identify with the death of Jesus and His washing our sins away.
Paul goes on to say, "like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life". Here Paul encourages us with the fact that just as Christ was raised up from the dead, so we in our faith should live as one raised from the dead. We should live as though our life is not our own, that it has been buried with Jesus, and raised anew, to be used for His glory and His purpose. Our thoughts should be His thoughts. Our words should be likened unto His Words, and our actions, our behavior, should follow His example as well. There should be a unique newness about a follower of Jesus that never wears off.
When you buy a new car, and when you first get into it, it has that "new car smell". And that smell is like no other smell. It just smells new. But over time, it begins to wear off. After a couple of weeks it is less noticeable. And after a couple of months, it is almost gone altogether. Well, the newness of the believer should never wear off! Our newness, our new life in Christ Jesus, having been baptized into His death and raise in a new life, should always remind us to be excited, joyful, and thankful to God. Always remember to walk, to live, in the redeemed life Christ has granted to you. Why?
Verse 5 "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:"
If the former be true; if we have truly identified with Christ death, by surrendering ourselves to the baptism of the Holy Spirit and if we have publically professed our faith and gratitude to God through our being baptized, if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, then we have the glorious promise of being raised up in the likeness of His resurrection.
And now don't miss understand me, if you have been buried with Christ, you have already been resurrected in one sense. We are to live in the resurrected life, the new life, we have obtained by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But just as Jesus as literally raise from the grave, where death had no hold over Him, we too, as the saints of God can look forward in anticipation to that great day when all His people will also be resurrected in His likeness, and go to spend eternity with Him.
So, as I hope we can see, there are both immediate and future benefits to knowing, loving and serving Jesus Christ. Now, we can start living in a love and joy that surpasses understanding. We can come to enjoy the blessings and benefits of having been brought into the kingdom of God to share with His Church all that He graciously bestows to us. But not only this, we can also, with hopeful anticipation, look forward the glorious day when we will be forever with God and His Lord Jesus, fully realizing all that was done in His resurrection.
And so, as we celebrate this Resurrection Day, let us remember Christ's resurrection means we can have a resurrection too, and a new life in Christ Jesus. If you know you have been baptized into the death of Christ, leaving your sinful life behind, and raised in newness of life - then I simply encourage you to make every day count for Him. Don't waste a single day not living for His.
But if you within the sound of my voice today, and you don't think you've ever truly buried your sins, if you still feel the weight, burden and guilt of your sin, if you don't know the newness of life that only comes through Christ Jesus, I want to invite you to come and speak with me after the services. I'd love to talk to you and share what I know about these things. If you have never been baptized for the forgiveness of your sins, if you've never publically professed your faith through a biblical baptism, I'd encourage you to come and speak with me. Maybe we could even make arrangements to have you baptized. Jesus was resurrected from the dead on this day. May this be the day of your own personal resurrection too!
I wanted to post some random thoughts about the celebration that I really prefer to call "Resurrection Day" rather than "Easter". I hold to this preference for all the typical reasons that can easily be Googled if you aren't already familiar with them.
But this post isn't about debating the nomenclature of the season, but rather its content consists of simple reflections to add to the occasion. For us, the trip from Advent to Resurrection is fairly short. From December 25th to Resurrection Sunday usually takes us about us approximately four months or so to get there. Depending on exactly where Resurrection Day falls, it could as short as three months. Yet, in any case it is much shorter than the 33 or so years it took Jesus to make the trek.
Jesus lived for about 33 years as a man on earth. Born in Bethlehem, His life didn't take Him much further than the Judean region of modern day Palestine. But this humble figure, there in the dusty desert of Israel, changed the world.
Christ literally filled the time from Advent and Easter with the historical redemption of mankind. Within this period, man was reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. In His perfect life, and with His perfect sacrificial death, Jesus did what no one else ever could, bring peace between a holy God and sinful man.
So, as the day approaches wherein we observe the glorious truth of the resurrected Savior, as we share in the blessings and benefits of knowing His life means life for others who place their faith in Him, may the time between Advent and Easter, remind us of the time on earth from Christ's birth to His resurrection, where salvation was accomplished for the world.
"The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh". - Proverbs 11:17
There is a bumper sticker that has been out for a few years now that reads: "Practice Random Acts of Kindness". And if you were going to reduce our Proverb this week to it's lowest denominator, this just might be how you would describe it.
One translation for Proverbs 11:17 says, "Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel." This is an excellent way of understanding, what I believe, is the essential teaching of this proverb. First, your own soul is nourished when you are kind. Being kind does not merely help others, it feeds your character, it strengthens your soul. By demonstrating kindness, by showing mercy, you cultivate in yourself, with the help of God's Spirit, an ability to share in the lives of others, knowing their pains and joys, their suffering and rejoicing. Kindness opens the door for showing the love of Christ to others and doing good for yourself.
Yet, the opposite is just as true as well. When anger and bitterness, harshness and indifference are allowed to creep into the depths of your heart and take up residence in your soul, it can destroy you. Like varnish and rust, cruelty sets in and seizes up your ability to grow spiritually and be a blessing to others. You may think it is others who suffer most under your cruelty, but it is you, sadly, who suffers the most. Therefore, maybe practicing random acts of kindness is not such a bad thing; especially if it means nourishing your own soul. Amen.
In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul, coming to the end of his life, and just before his martyrdom wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith". He saw his life in terms of a race. And if there's one thing we know about a race, it has a beginning and it has an end. As a young man, you are just beginning your race. Ahead of you lies the potential for great good or great bad. Down the road awaits many things - joy and suffering, times of ease and times of challenge, testing for your life, and rest for your soul. Therefore, as you set out on this race; allow me to impart to you three brief maxims, three principles which I pray will help guide you along your way.
Equip thyself with the Word of God. Psalm 119:11, "Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You!" Dear son, light well the oil of the Scriptures that they might serve as a glowing lamp unto thy feet and a vivid light unto thy path all the days of your life. Freverently read your Bible, more earnestly and more deeply with each passing year coming to love its content. Hide its treasures in your heart so you do not sin against God. Remember its precepts, its teachings, and strive with all you have to life by it today and forevermore.
Endeavor to honor thy father and thy mother. Exodus 20:12, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you". It has been said that no matter where life takes you, it begins and ends with family. God commands us to honor our parents. They have been given stewardship over you. As you mature under their provision and care, their love for you will come in many different forms, but always remember by honoring and loving your father and your mother; you are honoring and loving the Lord.
Exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. Col. 1:18 says we are to live so "that in all things Jesus may have the preeminence". Dear young man, if I might to leave with you one singular piece of advice, one precept with which to carry with you as if I were to never see you again, it would be to live with every breath to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. Live each day as if it is a gift from Him, and seek to serve Him in respect and awe of who He is. If this one principle finds root in the recesses of your soul, and your heart is given completely over to the Lord Jesus, then you will find all other things in this world, no matter where God in His providence might take you, will we added unto you and you shall find the blessing of the Lord.
Luke 9:49- 50 "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."
The following wisdom comes to us from J.C. Ryle:
Who this man was and why he did not consort with the disciples, we do not know. But we do know that he was doing a good work in casting out demons, and that he was doing what he did in the name of Christ. And yet John says, "we forbade him." Very striking is the reply which the Lord at once gave him: "Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us thousands, in every period of Church history, have spent their lives in copying John's mistake. They have labored to stop every man who will not work for Christ in their way, from working for Christ at all. They have imagined, in their petty self-conceit, that no man can be a soldier of Christ, unless he wears their uniform, and fights in their regiment. They have been ready to say of every Christian who does not see everything with their eyes, "Forbid him! Forbid him! for he followeth not with us."
The plain truth is, that we are all too ready to say, "We are the men, and wisdom shall die with us" (Job 12:2). We forget that no Church on earth has an absolute monopoly of all wisdom, and that people may be right in the main, without agreeing with us. We must learn to be thankful if sin is opposed, and the Gospel preached, and the devil's kingdom pulled down, though the work may not be done exactly in the way we like. We must try to believe that men may be true-hearted followers of Jesus Christ, and yet for some reason may be kept back from seeing all things in religion just as we do. Above all, we must praise God if souls are converted, and Christ is magnified,—no matter who the preacher may be, and to what Church he may belong. Happy are those who can say with Paul, "If Christ be preached, I rejoice, yea and will rejoice," (Phil. 1:18) and with Moses, "Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that all did prophesy." (Numbers 11:29)
"By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked." - Proverb 11:11
This verse is one of many places in Scripture that speak straight to the civil (public) nature of the Christian faith. For those who would like to relegate Christianity solely to the private and personal, they will find difficulty reconciling their views to verses like this.
For it is the blessing of the upright that exalts a city. Not by virtue of any blessing inherent in them, but that grace and influence that flows through them from the Lord. As the blessings of God are abundant, and exceedingly overflow all the needs and expectations of His people, these blessings are carried into every aspect of life and are shared with the community at large.
Where the grace of God is known, it must needs be shared. Where the mercy of God has been displayed, it must needs manifest for all. And where the Gospel has found a home, like the rays of light emanating from the sun, it too will shed it's light indiscriminately upon those around it so by the blessing of the upright, the city itself is exalted.
Conversely, wherever the light of God's grace is hidden, wherever the gracious presence of His people is mocked, ridiculed, and taunted, God's blessing will be absent. When we live in such times as these, when good is called evil, and evil is called good, when the upright are put down, and the wicked are exalted, don't look for the blessing of the Lord. God dwells in the presence of His people, and only there will you find the blessing of the Lord. Amen.
The opportunity to share God's Word all over the world just came to Christ Covenant Church. We are pleased to announce you can now listen to our Lord's Day messages online right here on our webiste. Simply click on the link on the sidebar entitled "Listen Online", and you can choose from the past several sermons to listen to. We are grateful to God for this opportunity to share His Word and we pray many will be edified through these means.
Our text today is the first eleven verses. John 8:1-11. (Read)
I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. But when preparing sermons, sometimes your preparation takes you into other areas of interest and study. There is a principle in law called the 'unclean hands' principle, sometimes known as the "clean hands doctrine" or "dirty hands doctrine". Maybe you're familiar with it. This is a principle of law which states a defendant can argue in his defense that the plaintiff is not entitled to obtain an remedy (or what is called "equity") in his case. In other words, the plaintiff is not entitled to action against the defendant on account of the fact that the plaintiff is acting unethically or has acted in bad faith with respect to the subject of the complaint — that is, with "unclean hands”. The defendant is arguing the plaintiff is not acting in good faith in bringing his suit. The motive is under suspicion. The doctrine is often stated as "those seeking equity must do equity" or "equity must come with clean hands".
This passage before us here in John is a textbook illustration of a case of "Unclean Hands". The Scribes and Pharisees who brought this woman before Jesus had no interest in justice. They were acting unethically. Their cause was not towards righteousness. These religious leaders had no intention of seeing the true purpose of the law upheld or true equity meted out in the case they were presenting before the Lord Jesus.
They had come before the Lord Jesus with unclean hands. Their action in this case was purely of an unethical sort. This woman's guilt or innocence mattered not to these men. The arrows of their bitterness and guile were directed in a different direction. The venom they wished to spew wasn't towards the woman at all - their target was the Lord Jesus. If ever there was a case where the plaintiffs acted in bad faith with respect to the subject of their complaint, this was it.
After having failed on several occasions to trap Jesus in His own actions and words, these evil cunning men believed they had finally devised the ultimate snare. This time they had Him. They were finally going to witness the fall of their arch enemy - the Lord Jesus. Here was the plot: Having "caught" this woman in the very act of adultery (vs.4), they hoped to entrap Him into saying something for which they might accuse Him. Here was the plan: If Jesus was to agree with them that the law of God required this woman be killed for her infidelity, then they would accuse Him of sedition against the Roman government, who reserved for themselves the right to execute people for capital offenses. In this instance, Jesus would be viewed as a Roman law-breaker. Yet, if Jesus decided that a guilty woman, guilty under the law, should escape the penalty of God's Word, then the Pharisees would turn the people against Him, as one who does not uphold and fulfill the law of God as He promised in Matt 5:17-18), but as one who has abrogated, one who has set aside the commandments of the Lord. Thus Jesus would be a Jewish law-breaker.
To us this might present a genuine dilemma. Yet the Scriptures teach us the wisdom of man cannot even be compared to the foolishness of God. The best laid plans of these men would come to no avail against Wisdom incarnate. Our Lord knew the hearts of the malicious questioners before Him, and dealt with them with perfect wisdom. He knew they had come to Him with unclean hands, and that this woman, her guilt not being the issue, was but caught in the scheme of these evildoers.
Now notice with me in verse 6, "Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not". Now it is generally agreed among bible scholars that the phrase "as though he heard them not" does not belong in the original text. Though this is clearly the implication of His actions, Jesus appears, at first, to simply be applying the Scriptural principle of not answering these fools according to their folly, and we ought not to read much more into it than that. The textual addition "as though he heard them not" is not in the original and has most likely been added by a later scribe.
Likewise, regarding Jesus' writing on the ground, much has been written and debated about what exactly the Lord Jesus was writing as He stooped. And though this is the only reference to Jesus having ever writing anything - we simply cannot know for certain what it was - the Bible simply does not say. Much conjecture and debate has been given to this issue. So whether it was a Scripture verse, the sins of the Pharisees, some other such thing, or mere scribble, we will leave this kind of speculation to others to hash out.
Jesus knew the law. He knew they had no case against this woman - and more than likely, they knew it too. His reply to these accusers was ingenious, violating neither the laws of Rome, nor the law of God. His reply in verse 7, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" brought their wicked crusade to an abrupt halt. Why? Because according the law, the law these religious zealots, the Scribes and Pharisees were so adamant to uphold, had no case. By telling them "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stoner" Jesus was applying a law Himself found in Deut. 17. "The hand of the witness shall be the first upon him to put the [guilty] to death, and afterward the hand of all the people."
These men had accusations, but they produced no witness. These men had indignation, anger and rage, but they had no proof. And it was according to the law that if a person was to be put to death, then that one who witnessed the act worthy of death had to initiate the ritual killing. And by virtue of no witness, the standard of God's law had not been meet nor violated, and neither had the laws of the Romans been usurped.
Now, as an aside, it is important to note that in saying "He is without sin, cast the first stone", Jesus was not suggesting the presence of sin precludes the execution of justice. Jesus was not saying that the law or the processes of the law were of no effect if those executing them are tainted with sin. But He is applying the principle of the "unclean hands" in that in this case, the woman's accusers were acting unethically. Their motives had not been pure. They had not presented their case in good faith. And in the sense that they had sinned as it pertained to the issue, none of them could cast that first stone. They stood before Christ guilty before the law, if not more so for the maliciousness of their sin, as did the adulteress woman. Now, by way of application, consider with me each parties involvement in this matter, and what it means for us today.
1. In verse nine we read, "And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last". Consider the response of the Pharisees. J.C. Ryle says of this verse in his commentary on John, "Wicked and hardened as they were, they felt something within which made them cowards. Fallen as human nature is, God has taken care to leave within every man a witness that will be heard." And though they were convicted in conscience, it did not produce repentance. Their response is the difference between regret and repentance. They possessed regret, their conscience had been pricked, but rather than falling at the feet of Christ in repentance, they simple went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, probably the one who realized first they had failed. Yet, here had been an opportunity to come to salvation. Having been presented with the reality of their sin, these men could have poured out their conviction at the feet of Christ and received grace. Sadly they only suffered regret, regret of failure, regret of fault, and walked away still in their sin. They came to Him with unclean hands and hearts and left in the same condition.
2. Now consider the words of the woman. When Jesus asks her; "Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more". This woman remained with Jesus even after the other guilty ones had departed.
Not denying her guilt, she remains in the presence of Christ. And notice how she addresses Jesus in her reply, "No one, Lord". She is confessing Him as Lord. She saw Christ in His wisdom and power. She had witnessed His ability to disarm her accusers and she calls upon Him has Lord. This is the nature of true repentance. In her was born a heart for Christ and the gift of faith that crys out to Him for mercy. And though Jesus never denies her guilt, He forgives that guilt, and sends her away with the new admonition to "go and sin no more". No longer let sin be named once among you. No longer place yourself in a position to be used of any accusers. Go away, forgiven, and restored in Me, and sin no more.
3. Look at the contrast. The difference between mere regret and godly repentance is the difference between eternal life and eternal death. The Scribes and Pharisees walked away having been convicted in their conscience but still in their sin. Many today will be convicted in their conscience of their sin. And yet they will walk away from Christ in regret rather than come to Him in repentance. Being convicted of sin is not enough. Regret over sin is not even enough. We can be sorry we said this or did that, regretting we sinned against God, but that is not the same as repentance. Repentance involves the fulfillment of Christ's admonition to "Go, and sin no more".
The woman addressed Christ as He is - as Lord. She stayed when others left. She offered no excuse, no defense, while the others walked away buried in the guilt of their conscience. In her laid the heart of godly sorrow which provoked our Lord to say unto her "Go and sin no more". The Pharisees came to Christ with unclean hands, and they left with unclean hands. The woman had been brought to Christ with unclean hands as well. Yet she left cleansed. As you have come unto the Lord Jesus Christ this morning, you have unclean hands. We all stand guilty before the Judge. Will you cry out to Him as Lord, and receive His pardon and admonition, or will you simply walk away in regret and convicted in your sin?
"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight." - Pr. 11:1
If we believe all of Scripture applies to all of life (and we do) then the bustling and blustery world of business should not escape our attention. How we conduct business, how we enter into agreements, contract, obligations, etc. with others in our community speaks directly to our worldview, and our understanding of the principle of all of Scripture for all of life.
In our Proverb this week, we are told that dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord. Now what does this mean? Back before the days of electric scales, and precise measuring instruments, people used balance scales to weigh items of value. Sometimes, business men would use false weights to measure the value of a customer's goods. They could make their weights appear lighter or heavier than they truly were thus cheating the customer. God hates this kind of dealing.
Rather, in the eyes of God, honest business dealings are a delight to Him. When we deal with integrity with our fellow man, when our word is true, and our "scales" are accurate, it pleases the Lord to know we are conducting business according to His Word. Do you apply sound, biblical practices in your business? Are you honest with your customer, co-worker, or boss even if it makes you look bad? Have you ever lied to increase profits or position? Dishonest business is an abomination God, and will not receive His blessing. Be truthful in all your dealing, and be a delight to the Lord! Amen.