THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 12-21-08
LESSON TITLE : "TAKE HEED TO YOURSELF: KEEPING YOURSELF FROM EVIL"
Good Morning and Happy Holidays! We welcome each of you to the Living Word Program. As always, we will be privileged this morning to give this time to God. We hope and pray that our songs of praise and our study, will be acceptable in His sight, on this magnificent Lord's Day. May we not only glorify God, but may we all learn and be encouraged through the things we do together this morning. Now, let's begin with a prayer!
Isn't our God wonderful and amazing? Certainly He is. This morning we want to begin with a song that confirms how much He has loved us in giving us His Perfect Word. So at this time won't you join in with us as we sing together, "Give Me The Bible."?
(SONG # 1)
Here we are only a few days away from Christmas Day! To my children this means that Santa comes tonight and brings toys and gifts for all to enjoy. As most, I certainly love this time of year and all the wondrous and secular stories surrounding this holiday. Not only Santa Claus, but Flying reindeer, even the Red nosed reindeer, a sleigh - full of toys for all the children of the world, elves who make the toys, and on and on we could go. How the faces of little ones light up as they hear the story of the night before Christmas. What a privilege it is to celebrate this time of good, clean fun - which promotes love, family and giving.
However, isn't it also important to clarify the facts and show our knowledge concerning the things of Christ and His Word? The reality is no man knows the exact hour, day, or even year that our Lord Jesus was born in that manger? No matter how important or significant the event is, we must ask the question, "does this give us the right to set up and bind a religious day or a religious feast and celebrate it?" Is it within our authority to bind days and feasts on God's people that He, Himself is silent about in the scriptures?
I think it is important to note that the church of our Lord Jesus Christ began around 33 A. D. and it was not until 300 years later that this holiday was established. So let me ask you, what does this tell you about this holiday, again from a religious standpoint? Well it tells me that it is man-made: established by man, appointed by man and set up by man! If the Bible is silent about it and the first church established by our Lord, for 300 years did not practice it; I think we must be very careful about celebrating it as something of God or approved of by God.
Let me make one final point! What event in the life of Christ bears the greatest significance to the follower of Christ? You and I know that it is His death. Why then don't we have a yearly feast for it? I will tell you why; God hasn't commanded it, authorized it or sanctioned it. However, what He has authorized is that we assemble every first day of the week. And when we do so, we are to reverence, glorify, honor, praise and magnify His holy name! As well we have opportunity to celebrate His birth, life, death and resurrection as the assembled Children of God. We are to thank Him for all He has done, is doing and has promised to do for us. Thanks be to God, that we have a weekly opportunity to remember Him and worship Him every first day of the week.
So, let's enjoy this season and it's secular parts as we use this time for showing others how much we care about and love them. Furthermore, let's make it our duty to show God the homage and reverence due to Him when He has asked us to in His Word - every first day of the week. Let's not be satisfied with once a century, once a year, or once a month, but only accept once a week, just as He has commanded! How important is your God to you?
Please stay with us, because after our next song I will return with our main lesson from God's Word. This morning we will continue our series entitled, "Take Heed To Yourself." Our specific lesson today will deal with, "Keeping Yourself From Evil!" However, before we get into this important discussion of the day, let's sing our next song together. Won't you join in the hymn; "He Leadeth Me!"
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
Thank you for staying with us today as we return to God's Word and continue to look at our new series that really deals with what we are to do as Christians to keep ourselves before God as proper and righteous in His sight. There are certainly many verses throughout the scriptures that talk about the fact that we are to keep ourselves in a certain thing or in a certain way if we are to find ourselves right with God. Really in our main text that we began considering last week in Deuteronomy chapter 4 we find not only last week's concept brought forth and that is the idea which was covered of purity but also the idea of what we will look at today, the other side of the coin, so to speak. The idea of keeping ourselves from evil.
If you'll go back there to Deuteronomy chapter 4 again we find that as Moses is challenging Israel with the commands of God and the things that he has taught them, he first tells them in verse 1 to, "Listen to what God has to say. Listen to the statutes and judgments which I teach you to observe." So he tells them that they need to hear them. They need to observe them and live by these things. Later on, he reconfirms that in verses 5 and 6 when he says, "Surely I have taught you the statutes and judgments just as the Lord has commanded me that you should act according to them in the land in which you go to possess." But hear verse 6. "For be careful to observe them for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the people," and he goes on to say, "and this is what makes a nation wise." Then he says, "For what other nation is there like the nation of God, Israel, who has been given such wondrous and glorious and perfect precepts to follow. Then we find our really title of the series in verse 9 where it says, "Only take heed to yourselves and diligently keep them." Keep what? The statutes, the judgments, the laws, the things from God, the things that he continues on there in verse 39 of the same text to deal with as he says, "Therefore this day consider in your heart that the Lord Himself is God in Heaven and there is no other." In verse 40, "You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I have commanded you this day." So there the challenge to know the Will of God, to hear it, to obey it and then to do it in every part of our life. Speak it and to live it.
On the other hand, we find the same text saying what they should not do. If you'll back up with me to around verse 15 you'll notice he begins to notice warn them or caution them about certain things. He first says, "Take careful heed to yourselves for you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb or at Mt. Sinai." In other words, he is saying in verse 16, "Lest you act corrupt and maybe worship a carved image of some sort." Another warning in verse 19, "Take heed to yourself lest you lift up your eyes and (do what?) worship the sun, the moon, the starts." Just the other day, I was watching a movie and someone stopped for a moment and said, "Let's pray." They were praying to the sun, the moon and the stars. Well, the very warning was given here by God Almighty not to do such. Be careful, He says, take heed lest you do it for it is wrong. If you'll notice in verse 23 he again warns, "Take heed to yourselves lest you forget the covenants of the Lord." Now why were these things so serious? Verse 24 says, "Because your God is a jealous God and your God is a consuming fire and if you do these things (notice verse 25), when you beget your children and grandchildren and you've grown old in the land and you act corrupt and make carved images in the form of anything and do evil things in the sight of God." You see, the warning was already clear by God. Someday most likely your descendents will choose evil. Instead of keeping yourself in the commands and judgments and the things of God and purity and being diligent in what God has asked, one becomes evil and focuses on themselves. And what will happen? Verse 26, "They will be literally destroyed. The Lord (verse 27) will scatter them. They will be driven out of the land of promise and they will be those who are punished by God Almighty."
So herein we have the same concept designed and given to us in our discussion today that we have a choice in life: the choice of good or the choice of evil. Our text and our study today specifically then centers on this concept of evil and even more specifically it is well clarified for us there in the New Testament if you'll turn there to the book of Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians that is. We find here the concept that is given to us, or rather that is 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, look with me there in verse 22 first of all. We have the evil that is mentioned. 1 Thessalonians 5:22, "Abstain from every form of evil." You see on the one hand, what did we say? Good things. On the other hand, bad things or evil things. Notice how specific it is but how all encompassing this statement is. Abstain from what? Every, all evil. It doesn't mean you can straddle the fence or someday choose some evil or things we like. It means that if we are to be of God we must abstain completely from what? Every form. Well that covers it all, doesn't it?
Back up to the verse before that because it gives us the other side once again that we have spoken about. He said, "Test all things. Hold fast to what is good." He says, "Keep that which is good and righteous." And earlier in the text he had talked about doing godly things or worshipping God or praying to God, and he certainly mentions many things there. Then he says, "Abstain from evil." Whether that is in what we say or in what we do, or even in how we treat others. If you back up in the same text, verse 15, he says, "See that no one renders evil for evil." Even when somebody does evil against us, we are not to do evil back. We are to do good. Abstain from all forms, every form of evil. Brethren when we can learn to do that, my friends, when we can accept that challenge and put it or implement it into our lives then we begin to know who God is, then we begin to be seen as followers of God and then we are those who are no longer seen as partakers of evil, but those who abstain from it and those who focus on that which only is good.
Even God again in scripture tells us that we not only should abstain from evil, but that as we have said should keep ourselves from evil. A moment ago, I mentioned 2 Thessalonians and now we want to turn there in 2 Thessalonians in chapter 3 and in verse 3 because here where does the evil come from? Where does this temptation, where does this sin come from? In this text, he mentions this: "But the Lord is faithful who will establish you and guard you from the evil one." Here we find that our God who is with us, who is helping us, who loves us is going to be there to help. Help us do what? Know His Will and obey it unto goodness rather than to do what is evil which is obviously evil would be contrary or those things that are not according to the plan of God.
We also find here in this same text, if we back up in the first few verses that it talks about the need that brethren have to do the work of God Almighty, the need they had to be delivered from those things that are wrong in order that they might serve that which is righteous, and even how that they should withstand or stay away from those who are unreasonable or who are wicked men. Why? Because serving God is about striving to be like God, not wickedness or as our topic today, those things that are evil.
And so God helps us to withstand evil. God helps us by doing what we read in 1 Corinthians chapter 10. He speaks there about making a way of escape. When temptation comes, He will not only make sure that we are not there, but He will show us a way to get out of it. That's our God. That's how much He loves us. That's how much He wants us to remain good. He even helps us to know how to get out of evil and how to overcome it and how to prepare to make sure we will make the best decisions and the right decisions in our lives.
Again that would lead us to the thought of the writer of Proverbs there, Solomon. In Proverbs chapter 16 and verse 17 he declares "The highway of the upright is to depart from evil. He who keeps His way preserves his soul." If we want to preserve our souls and keep our way, watch our way, see that we are on the right path and be diligent to keep it as we have been studying together, what is the goal? What is the focus? Abstain from evil. If we are upright, evil is not going to be a part of our life. It is going to be kept away from us. So what do we need to do? We need to draw nearer to God.
I love the way that James clarifies this in his writings there in James chapter 4. In verse 8 you might notice with me that he says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." You see the more like God, the more pure, the more righteous, the more things we strive to be in conjunction with God and obedient to God, what happens? He is closer to us. He is more helpful to us. Then as we read here, "He draws nearer to us."
Now, what is the other side of the story? Again if we go on in the same verse, he says, "Cleanse your hands you sinners. Purify your hearts." Two choices again: sin, evil, wickedness or wash our hands of those things as we did in the beginning when we left that which is contrary to God and obeyed God and did what? Purify our souls, following God, striving to be what God has asked us to be in our lives so that we might be found pleasing and proper before Him, those who are faithful in His sight.
Paul spoke the same things to the church of Colossi there in Colossians chapter 3. You might notice there in verse 3 or actually it begins there in verse 1 up to verse 3 because he says, "If you were raised with Christ, seek those things that are above where Christ is at the right hand of God and set your mind on things above not on things of the earth for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ and God." Again the focus is all about God, about Christ, about putting our mind where He is not on the world, not on the evils of it, but about godly things.
In this same text you could even drop down there to verse 10 and it says, "Rather what we do is to put on the new man." Putting on the new man means that as verse 12 says, "We the elect of God are those who strive for tender mercy and kindness and humility and longsuffering and love, on and on and on, all those great attributes of God. But those who practice evil, who are of the old sinful man, if we back up in the same text to verse 5, those things that will cause us to die or have spiritual death, those members he says are such as fornication, uncleanness, passions, idolatry, lying, all of those sinful things.
So again the choice is clear. The decision we have to make is a decision that has been set in motion from the very beginning, the very beginning of all of creation, but even more specifically the very beginning of the challenge God gave those that would follow Him, His own disciples as He told them that they had a choice to make as well. And what was that choice? To be a good tree or a bad tree. Verse 33, "Either make yourselves a good tree, a good tree that bears good fruit or a bad tree that bears bad fruit for as a tree is it is known by its fruit." But then notice with me how we notice these things. Verse 35, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth (what?) good things, but an evil man out of the evil treasures of his heart brings forth evil things." You see again the choice. Good and evil. If we do good, if we are focused on God, if we draw near to Him, it is going to be something that is clearly known, clearly seen by God and all of the world. If we focus on the treasures of evil things and our heart is centered on that, what is going to be seen by God and the world? Evil things. We must make the right decisions. Why? Because verse 36 and 37 says, "Someday by our words, someday by our actions, we will be judged," righteously judged if we are faithful, receiving not only the blessings today but the blessing of eternal life as those who are pure, who have kept themselves pure as we saw last week or as those who have chosen evil. By choosing evil realizing that we have rejected God and thus by rejecting God we are not those who receive the rewards of God but those who will be punished.
I know today you want to do what God has said so receive that challenge, accept that reward and do everything He has commanded through His wondrous and precious Word the Bible.
(SONG # 3 - "He Lives")
Again, let me thank you for putting God first and choosing to give this time to Him. We invite you to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to worshiping God in His way!
Now, let me ask you if you have any questions or comments about today's lesson? Maybe, you would like a transcript or a cassette tape of this program? Could we assist you with free Bible materials or correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please feel free to contact us at the following address:
The Living Word
2540 N. Kansas Expressway
Springfield, Mo. 65803
Many of these items are also available on our website:
that address - www.thelivingwordprogram.com
Or if you prefer, you may call us at:
May we always abstain from evil, just as God has said. So that we might be found pleasing in His sight and do all things acceptable and according to His Will.