Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Live in Peace

Deuteronomy 13:1-18; Mark 9:42-50 / Isaiah 33:1-16

I. Some Things Are Just Wrong

A. It would be better to die an agonizing death than to rob a young believer of confidence in God; there are many ways to discourage believers and all of them are wrong. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. (Mark 9:42)

B. It is disgusting when believers become barriers to belief in Jesus Christ. “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13)

C. Avoid people who teach what is contrary to sound doctrine in word or deed. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” (Romans 16:17)

II. Spiritual Suicide Also Destroys People

A. Some losses are worse than others; bad doctrine and behavior can open the door to eternal devastation. “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:43-44) There is a real hell, and that hell is eternal.

1. Sin expresses itself in what people do with hands, feet, and eyes; the problem is not exclusively mental or spiritual. “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Romans 6:13)

2. Bluntly, people need to transform their enthusiasm for sin into enthusiasm for righteousness. “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” (Romans 6:19)

B. Bad doctrine and behavior are not just bad for other people; they are self-destructive. “And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:45-46)

C. Kill sin or it will kill you; no tool or asset is worthwhile when the price is eternal misery. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:47-48)

D. Do the numbers, where are you taking yourself? “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

III. Give Up Dodging God and Get Right Today

A. Purification is coming and it will be on God’s terms. “For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.” (Mark 9:49) “I [i.e. John] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:” (Matthew 3:11)

1. Temple sacrifices were purified with salt. “And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.” (Leviticus 2:13)

2. Without salt and fire there was no sacrifice then, and there is none now. “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

3. The life of sacrifice is normal for Christians. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:” (1 Peter 4:12)

B. When Christians fall into patterns of life that the ungodly celebrate, they become unable to point people to God; genuine purity produces peace. “Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” (Mark 9:50) “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

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