2000-08-03 - Guard Dogs
1 Cor 5:8 Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (NAS)
Paul has just instructed the fellowship at Corinth to do something very difficult. He has pointed out that there is a member of the fellowship who is living an immoral lifestyle with his stepmother. Paul mourns that this kind of behavior is not commonly found outside the Christian community, and yet it is being tolerated in the church at Corinth. Paul reminds them that a little leaven infuses itself into the whole lump of dough - a picture of sin infecting the body of believers. If this instance is accepted, then it becomes more difficult to enforce the standard Jesus called us to the next time around.
Paul instructs the believers to feast on the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The word sincere comes from the Greek phrase without wax (sans cere). In Athens, sculpting was very popular and valued. It could take months or years to finish a piece of stone into a work of art. If a piece of the work was broken off in an accident, there was a technique that could be used to re-attach the broken portion by mixing clay and ground stone. An art critic would be aware of this and look for it when he reviewed a work. If the work did not use the wax and clay fix, it could be declared sincere or true in its presentation.
The opposite of truth is hypocrisy. The word comes from the Greek term hypocrete, literally meaning two faces. It refers to an actor who played two parts in a single play. Since the actors held masks in front of their faces when they played their parts. A hypocrite would have two masks, or two faces. We must guard our hearts from insincerity and hypocrisy. Harry suggests three areas that need to be protected by guard dogs.
Guard Your Heart
John 7:38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'" (NAS)
The heart as we know it, or literally the bowels, the seat of emotions. This is that inner place in a person that is the deepest spiritual place in your heart.
Isa 29:13 Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, (NAS)
Where it says they removed their hearts, they allowed other things to get into that inner place. We need to keep that area clear of other things - cares and desires - that will affect the attitude of our hearts. Pray for the things that are in your heart the attitude of your heart. Sin is not just a physical or verbal violation of the law, it is the intentions of the heart (Matt 5:28) as well.
Guard Your Relationship with God
Luke 18:13 "But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' (NAS)
In Luke chapter 18, there is the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector and their prayers. The Pharisee was more interested in the recognition of men and did not regard his own state before God. He believed his own press releases, that he had everything covered. The publican would not even come close, but humbly stayed at a distance. He made no defence of his character to God but asked for mercy and remained a humble servant.
Just like the chorus that Dr. Graham uses for his call those who want council at the end of a crusade meeting - "Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bids me come to Thee - oh Lamb of God I come." This is the attitude, that we come to God for mercy at His bidding. There is no place for pride or self-sufficiency.
Guard Your Relationship with Others
1 Cor 5:9-10 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. (NAS)
Protect the relationships with your spouse, children and brothers and sisters in the Lord. Guard your tongue from rash statements that you will regret later (Jer 9:8). If someone outside the church is involved in immoral lifestyle or a believer repents and returns to the church, they should be welcomed and given every opportunity to repent - to turn mentally and physically away from their sin. The Holy Spirit requires a broken and contrite heart. With that as a foundation, the process of restoring the proper spirit within the individual is possible. Then the guard dogs can be put back into place protecting the spiritual life of the believer.
Dealing with Hypocrisy
Heb 12:1-2 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NAS)
How do we deal with hypocrisy? We lay it aside. Not like you take off a favorite shirt carefully folding it. Rip it off like a jacket that is on fire. Tear it off. It should make no difference if their are buttons or snaps, remove it as fast as you can for your own good. We are told to abhor what is evil, and hypocrisy is evil to everyone involved including the hypocrite. Treat it as something horrid - get away from it and cling to that which is good.
Dear Lord - give us wisdom and honesty to guard the areas of our spiritual life that are critical to our spiritual health and well-being. Surround us with honest, caring Christian friends who will tell us when we need to hear what we don't want to hear. Help us keep that inner-most place clear of obstructions so that nothing comes between You and us. Amen.
Grace & Peace,