Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Limit to Free Speech

1 Kings 12:1-20; Mark 3:20-30 / Psalm 22:1-31

I. Jesus’ Ministry Disrupted Life

A. People demanded so much from Jesus that He did not have time to deal with the basic necessities of His own life. “And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.” (Mark3:20) “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)

B. Friends proposed an intervention under the assumption that Jesus had lost control of His life; some of his own family did not believe in Him. “And when his friendsheard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.” (Mark 3:21) “For neither did his brethren believe in him.” (JOHN 7:5)

C. People who refused to listen to Jesus came up with evil alternate explanationsfor what people were seeing in the Lord’slife and work. “And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.” (MARK 3:22) Beelzebub [Lord of the Dung or Master of the Flies] was the abomination of the Philistines.

D. Fear factored significantly into the decision to call Jesus a liar and servant of Satan; any other decision would have compelled detractors to recognize Him as the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel. “The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.” (MATTHEW 21:25-26)

II. Jesus Countered Detractors with a Parable

A. To label opposition to Satan as satanic requires an impossible stretch of the imagination; Jesus was being slandered. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?” (Mark 3:23)

B. Division yields destruction in spiritual matters just as it does in civil matters. “And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24)

C. The principle of destruction through division applies in every field of endeavor. “And if a house bedivided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (MARK 3:25)

D. If Satan divided his kingdom, it would come to an end. “And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.” (Mark 3:26)

III. Do Not Lie about Grace

A Satan is the strong man, his house the body of the demoniac, and his goods the evil spirit within the man; Jesus had entered Satan’s house and seized his goods, proving that, instead of being in partnership with Satan, Jesus had overpowered Satan. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.” (MARK 3:27)

B. The power of grace is enormous. “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:” (MARK 3:28)

C. Free speech stops at the point of condemning the truth-bringer as a liar.But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:” (Mark 3:29) “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13)

D. When people reverse truth and error, they cut themselves off from life-saving truth and serve Satan [Father of Lies}. “Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.” (MARK 3:30) “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)

E. Trust in God and be careful when speaking; mistakes can kill.Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21) “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” (Proverbs 14:15)

F. Even God gets tired of some things people say; occasionally it is best to stop talking. Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” (MALACHI 2:17) “Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” (James 3:12)

Foolish Fearlessness

Psalm 36

I. People Who Refuse Grace Demand Disaster

A. When people do evil things, their actions demonstrate that they do not expect terrible consequences; functionally such people are atheists. To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD. The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.” (Psalm 36:1) “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” (Psalm 14:1)

B. People who defend themselves with flattery do not understand their peril till the situation becomes disgusting to the surrounding world; rottenness eventually smells bad. “For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.” (Psalm36:2) “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

C. Wisdom and goodness simply have no place on the fool’s agenda; evil people in effect repent of their righteousness in a cruel mockery of people who turn from sin to God. “The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good.” (Psalm 36:3)

D. The background noise in an evil heart promotes evil and accepts evil as normal. He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.” (Psalm 36:4)

II. God Is Totally Different

A. In contrast to the self-centered evil, God’s mercy reaches everywhere. Thy mercy, O LORD, is in theheavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” (Psalm 36:5)

B. Rather than consume, God preserves life. “Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.” (Psalm 36:6) “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)

C. God illustrates lovingkindness. “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.” (Psalm 36:7)

1. God’s compassion stretches across Scripture and history. “The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” (Psalm 145:8)

2. David’s family knew God’s compassion vividly in the story of Ruth who trusted in God and received a blessing, which would ultimately bring eternal life to multitudes from her time to the end of the world. “And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”(Ruth 2:11-12)

D. God delivers the pleasure which evil seeks in devious and hidden ways.They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” (Psalm 36:8) “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” (Psalm 23:5-6)

E. God produces abundant life and through Him comes insight to understand all levels of wisdom. “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” (Psalm 36:9)

1. The light David was praising is ultimately Jesus.In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4)

2. The ignorance and distress of evil people cannot change the fact that Jesus is the great wisdom of reality.That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” (John 1:9-10)

3. In contrast to evil, which promotes decay and yields death, God produces unending life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

III. Believers Can Live Confidently

A. Believers seek what God provides. “O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.” (Psalm 36:10)

B. God protects people who want protection. “Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me.” (Psalm36:11)

C. God continually pours out goodness on those who turn to Him while evil people experience the inevitable consequences of their destructive lives. “There are the workers of iniquity fallen:they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.” (Psalm 36:12)

D. Ultimately, peace and healing are reserved for those who rely on God. “I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” (Isaiah 57:19-21)

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