Monday, February 6, 2023

Jesus Lord of All #8: Lord and Master Colossians 4


Jesus Lord of All #8: Lord and Master

Colossians 4

Paul finishes his thoughts on Jesus being the lord of our daily living, by applying the principles to masters as the last group of the Christian household, from that statement he then segues ways into the last chapter of the book which is centered on the topic of Christ as our Master.

4:1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. Since they “… have a Master.” He then tells the Colossians what they should do in service to their “master in heaven.” This all goes back to the theme of the preeminence of Christ. I serve Him because He is my Master and there is no greater calling and no greater service that any of us can do in this world than serve Jesus, The Master and Lord of All. The last chapter of Colossians is a job description, complete with example for servants of Christ. And even though it has been 2000 years since it was written, Paul’s job description still applies to us as servants of the Lord today.


So what does Paul tell the Colossians to do as servants of Jesus their Lord? First, he says in vs. 2-4 that …

I.    The Lord’s Servants Pray and Watch – Colossians 1:2-4

2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

A.    Serving In Prayer

1.    Paul asks them to pray in three ways. They are to pray…

a)    Steadfastly: “Continue, Paul says, in prayer.” This means be faithful in your discipline of prayer, be devoted, be consistent and do not give up. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” Servants of the Lord don’t quit praying and they don’t give up on the people and needs that you are praying for.

b)    Expectantly: Watch in prayer. To watch to be on the lookout, to be alert. This is applied in two ways. We pray with expectation looking for God to answer our prayers and we pray with your eyes open to the danger and opposition that always await the servant of God. This is how God’s people have always made it in this world. Back in Nehemiah 4:9. When Nehemiah and the people were rrebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

c)    Paul may have been thinking of what Jesus said to the disciples in Mark 14:38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. It is by being consistent and watchful in our prays that the strength of our spirit can overcome the weakness of our flesh.  

d)    Servants are also to pray, thankfully. “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” In the previous chapter when Paul was telling the Colossian church how they should live their daily lives in the light of Jesus’ Preeminence, he told them in Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. We live thankful lives and we pray thankful prayers. We have been blessed so much by God that our lives should show our thanks and prayers should be filled with thanksgiving.

e)    Paul also says, we are to pray: Specifically. He asks them to pray for him and for those with him, his evangelistic, missionary team. He does not ask to be free from the bonds that hold him, but instead, Colossians 4:3-4 …praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it (the mystery of Christ)  manifest (plainly seen), as I ought to speak.

B.    Praying Is Serving

1.    How good a servant you are can be measured by your prayer life. Measure it by the yardstick of steadfastness. Measure it by the calendar of consistency. Measure it by the watch of alertness. Measure it by the tracks of your thanksgiving. Measure it by the checklist of your specific requests.

2.    Steadfast, watchful, thankful and specific prayers are the marks of a child of God who recognizes we have a Master in Heaven that we must serve.

C.   Serving By Praying

1.    Joe Campbell is a Facebook friend who I’ve never met in person, though I would dearly love to. He is a recently retired pastor and once a week he post this. “Prayed for all my Facebook friends tonight.” Sometimes it takes him two days to finish his list. I don’t know how many friends he has, but I know that when I see that post, I am very glad that I’m one of them.

2.    When I was in Bible College, I first heard Brother Roy Dearmore preach. He was a missionary to South Africa and had been ambushed by Marxist rebels and almost killed. I don’t remember everything he said or what his sermon was about but I wrote down this quote in the flyleaf of my brand new Thompson Chain Reference Bible, “Saying that we’re reduced only to prayer is like telling a soldier that he is reduced only to an atomic bomb.” – James Dearmore, missionary to Brazil and Rhodesia, South Africa

3.    Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works: Prayer is the greater work”

II.     The Lord’s Servants Walk Wisely – Colossians 4:5-6

5 ¶ Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. 6  Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

A.    Serving In Wisdom

1.    Paul then tells the Colossians that servants walk wisely toward them that are not part of the church. They understand the difference between the world and who they are. They are not of the world even thought they are in the world.

a)    Jesus spoke of this in John 17:16-20 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

b)    I am always struck by this verse because in it Jesus prays directly for me and for you, “for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” That is us, thousands of year later that is Jesus still praying for us. Walking wisely in this world means that I know I’m in this world, but I’m not part of this world and my purpose is to change this world through the Word of God. That is walking wisely. Next Paul says that wisdom means.

2.    Redeeming the Time: This means make the most efficient use of time and service.

a)    To redeem is to buy back it.  It is to buy up opportunities. In the case of a Christian, by using time and opportunity wisely in God’s service, first here on earth, means that we get a double blessing. Here by serving Him and one day in Heaven when we see what our service, prayers, sacrifice and work produced in heaven. We invest here by redeeming the time and we reap the dividends, the rewards of our investment one day in the glories of heaven’s courts.

b)    Paul writes the same ethic, the same guideline to the Colossians and to the Ephesians 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Everything we do should be weighed with the consideration, “Will this be a seed that will bring a harvest in heaven.”

c)    Remember what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

3.    Paul says to “walk in wisdom” and next he adds, “talk in wisdom.” Our Speech should also be wise. Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. He uses a phrase that once again reminds us of the sermon on the mount.

a)    Jesus said, “Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

4.    Our speech must be grace seasoned with salt, the grace of the Gospel, the grace of God’s love seasoned the salt of holiness and righteousness.  Our speech must not be so gracious that it never speaks of sin nor must it be so judgmental that it never calls out in the love of God to the lost.

a)    This is the wise balance, the equal telling of truth in love. Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

b)    Later in the same chapter, Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

c)    Again we hear Paul in his own words echo the teachings of Jesus, “Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

d)    The wise servant lives their life and speaks their words wisely, graciously, truth seasoned with love. They live in the world but not of the world. They speak the world’s language without surrendering to the world lifestyle.

1.    Now Paul concludes his epistle with a roll call of those who are with him and those he wishes the Colossians to remember him to. Paul closes most of his letter this way, but here the roll call also serves as illustrations and examples of what and who Paul has been teaching. These name are the …

III.    The Lord’s Servants Roll Call – Colossians 4:7-17

7 ¶ All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: 8  Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;
9  With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.
10  Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)
11  And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.
12  Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
13  For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.
14  Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
15  Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
16  And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
17  And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

A.    Serving Christ With Paul

1.    Paul begins with the Tychicus, one of the messengers who would deliver both the Ephesian and the Colossian letters that Paul had written. His name means fateful, destined. His destiny was to be Paul’s beloved companion, fellow prisoner and faithful messenger. Paul sent him to Ephesus, to Colosse, and to Crete.

2.    His name reminds me that our destiny, our purpose as a child of God is to serve. If you are saved, then you must serve. If you are not willing to be a faithful servant then do not blame others if they question your salvation. Just was we see in these examples listed here, the two states, salvation and service, always stand together.

3.    The next servant is Onesimus. The runaway slave that found Paul, was saved and now Paul is sending him back to his master Philemon. Onesimus means profitable servant.

a)    Paul sent him back with his own letter for his former master, Philemon and in it he wrote, “Philemon 1:10-11 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: later in vss Philemon 1:17-18 If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;

b)    Aren’t we are just like Onesimus? Runaway slaves that by the power of grace have returned to our Lord? Knowing that now we can quit running and begin to serve our Savior.

4.    Now Paul lists those who are with him in the prison or able to minister to him while he was in bonds. First, he mentions the Jewish Christians who are with him.

a)    Aristarchus is from Thessalonica. His name means “the best ruler.” He is now also a prisoner with Paul, perhaps voluntarily sharing imprisonment with him in order to keep him company, encourage and comfort him during the dark days of being held by Roman authorities.

b)    Aristarchus reminds us that sometimes service to the Lord means just being there when others hurt.  Just taking the time to say a prayer, hold a hand or tell them they are not alone. 

d)    Next is Marcus also known as John Mark. He is Barnabus’ nephew and the writer of the Gospel of Mark, though he has not written it yet. His name means “a defense.” And this is the same John mark who deserted Paul and his uncle Barnabus on their very first trip in Acts 15:36-39. When Paul and Barnabus got read for their second trip Paul refused to take John Mark and Barnabus refused to leave him behind and the Bible says that so great was the contention between them that they parted. Paul went one way and Barnabus with another. But now years later Mark is once again with Paul. Not just with him but serving again and Paul is commended him. 

e)    Later in Paul’s last days before he was martyred, in his last letter to Timothy he writes in 2 Timothy 4:11, “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” He calls for Marcus whose has now lived up to his name of “Defense” and will come with Timothy to help shore up and fortify Paul before he goes to his faithful death. What an example of forgiveness and reconciliation. What an example of being a true servant of the Lord. 

f)    John Mark’s story shows us that God never gives up on us, therefore we should never give up on God and never give up on our fellow servants who even when they stumble, God can still use. 

5.    There is Jesus, a Jew, who is called Justus. Probably not hard to see this but his name means, “just.” It was common among early Christians to take on a new name to recognize their new identity, perhaps Jesus, chose this name because he had been justified by the believing the Gospel or perhaps because as a servant he was marked by the way he treated other, fairly and justly. 

6.    Next Paul lists the Gentiles and first on the list is Epaphras. We first heard of Epaphras in the first few verse of this epistle. In Colossians 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ. He was a teacher and minister to the church. 

7.    His name literally means devoted to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, it was understood as “lovely.” Epaphras has moved from being devoted to a pagan goddess to devoted to the true God and that was truly lovely. 

8.    Paul pays him the highest honor by calling him “A servant of Christ.” This is the kind of person Paul has been describing in the last part of this letter. Epaphras, Paul says, Colossians 4:12-13 (Epaphras is) always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.

9.    Epaphras shows us what is truly lovely in God’s service, a servant who labors in prayer, a servant who has the great zeal, a great desire and yearning, to learn and then to teach others what he has learned of the things of God. 

10.    Then comes Luke, Paul’s constant and most faithful friend and companion, the one he calls the “beloved physician.” Do you know what the name Luke means? It is translated from the Greek and means "light-giving." Luke’s service was in serving Paul but it was also in bring light to the Gentile as the only Gentile who God used to write two of the books of the Bible. Not only that but Luke’s Gospel and Acts of the Apostles are the greatest volume of words in the New Testament. They are the most detailed and the most exact in their movements and times. It is interesting to think that both John Mark and Luke are with Paul at this time and could have been already taking notes and beginning to write their accounts of Jesus life and the first acts of the church. 

11.    Let’s wrap this up quickly, there is Demas which is short for Demetrius. His name means “governor of the people."  We learn later on that he deserted the apostle Paul, when he was imprisoned the last time in Rome returns to Thessalonica. 2 Timothy 4:10  For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica. We don’t know what become of Demas. I like to think that just like John Mark, he was brought back by a Barnabus or by Luke who had traveled with him for so long. 

12.    Those he ask to greet for him in Colosse, Nymphas, his name means “bridegroom.” He was probably a well off Christian in Laodicea because he was able to have a home large enough to hosted the church in his home. 

13.    Here is Archippus. His name means "master of the horse." (I don’t think I can apply that name here but if you go to the cowboy church out on the loop, I’m sure they can preach a whole series of sermons from the middle of their Rodeo corral on Archippus.) He was actually the pastor of the church of Colosse, possibly the son of Philemon and Paul sends him an encouragement or perhaps it is a warning, “Take heed to your ministry literally “keep an eye on” your ministry. Fulfill your calling. Literally "that thou keep on filling it full."  Paul was telling Archippus, your  calling is for a life-time, therefor guard it carefully that nothing in this world would strip you of the joy of being a pastor and a preacher for Jesus. 

14.     Archippus shows us how valuable, how precious is the calling that we all have as servants of God. Keep an eye on your ministry, guard it as the thing most valuable to you. It alone has the ability to translate what you do today with what you reap in eternity. Fulfill you calling and then keep on filling it full. Isn’t that a great phrase. Just keep on filling it full. It is the calling of a lifetime and it will take all our lifetime to fulfill it. You’re not too old, too tired, too young, too inexperience, too uneducated, too ugly, too pretty or too bald to stop heeding your ministry. 

1.    Many of you knew brother Bill Watson who served as a pastor in this area for many, many years. He pastored Faith Baptist and Leagueville and I don’t know how many other churches. Long after his physical health and even his mental health had declined to the point that he could no longer serve do you know what remained? His desire to continue to keep filling up his ministry. At his funeral the story was told that when he was visited they would find him with his Bible, his notes and in the course of conversation, he would often say, “I think I still might be able to help out in a little country church somewhere.”


2.    Our own sister Karen talks about her dad, J. D. Johnston who even after moving into the nursing home would still preach and teach those around him and was not afraid to contend for the faith especially when confronted by the false gospel of a member of the false Church of Christ.
 

IV.    Conclusion

A.    Two Things I Remember

 1.    John Newton the drunkard slave ship captain who was sold into slavery himself but then by God’s grace became a pastor and the hymn writer who penned “Amazing Grace, when he was old and his mind failing said this, “Although my memory is fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” - John Newton

B.    There are two things that I fear 

1.    No death is not one of them. I’ve been close to death several times now, from the first time when I was almost electrocuted as a 4 year-old and my Dad saved me to the last as a 55 year old suffering a heart valve failure and LeeOra saved me. There have been several other times in between that due to the stupidity of youth or the illnesses of this world I have thought this is it. I’m going home. Not ever did I fear what would come after death. 

2.    No, what I fear in the future is coming to the place where due to my age or my health, I can no longer serve the Lord as a pastor. I don’t know what comes after that. I don’t want to find out, though I know I must. I want to keep filling my service, my ministry full. It gets harder with each passing year, but the desire never diminishes. 

3.    Shouldn’t it be that way for all us? Every one of us no matter age or education knows and will never forget the same two things that John Newton remembered. I am a great sinner and Jesus Christ is a great savior. How then can I be anything but a humble servant to the end of my life. How can anyone who has been touched by grace, saved by the gospel and adopted into the family of God ever be anything but a servant of our sweet Savior.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Jesus Lord of All 5: Lord Of My Daily Life - Colossians 3:5 - 4:1

 


Lord Of My Daily Life

Paul now begins the practical section of his letter to the Colossians. He begins the practical section of his epistle with a summary of what the first two chapters have taught us.  

Colossians 3:1-4 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

The old man, we once were, is gone and now Christ is our life. In the Greek there is no italicized words in vs. 4. It simply says, “Christ our life!”  Now because we are no longer who we once were, now because our life is hid with Christ, now because Christ is our life, let us live our lives every day in the power of these truths. All our actions to do right. All our choices for good, all our refusals to act wrongly. All our choices to resist evil. All these are based upon who we are in Christ. It is not outward legalism, it is the inward power of Christ that directs us, moves us and inspires us to do right.

 Put Down The Old Man – Colossians 3:5-7

5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

Spiritual Slaying

Paul begins his list with the worst, the most deadly things which must be put down, mortified. The word mortify is from the Greek nekrow nek-ro’-o : to make dead, to put to death, to slay, to deprive of power, to destroy the strength of

Mortify these things which may be a part of us

fornication: sexual sin

uncleanness: sinful lifestyle

inordinate affection: lust

covetousness, which is idolatry: sinful desire

God’s wrath comes upon the children of disobedience because of these things. You know this because you used to be just like them. (You have seen what happens to those who live this way.)

Kill ‘em dead!

These terribly dangerous sins must not have any place in the Child of God’s life. Slay them, bury them, walk away and never bring any flowers to the grave.

The child of God has died to these and no longer under the power of those things which used to dominate them. This is a consistent theme with Paul.

Romans 6:4-6 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. 5  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

One of the hardest passages of scripture to understand in the New Testament is Matthew 5:29-30 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

But it fairly easy to understand when you listen to Paul in Colossians 3:4 and Romans 6. What Jesus was teaching in Matthew 5 was not physical maiming but spiritual slaying. Put them down, mortify them, is the same truth as pluck them out or cut them off. You have died to these things old sinful thing that once dominated you so now they shouldn’t have any part of your daily lives.

Why then do we still see these things in our lives?  Well, it probably because we never held the funeral. We need to stop and go back to what happened to us at salvation. As Paul tells us “Reckon yourselves dead indeed to sin.”

You must believe that the person who once was dominated by those sins, that weakness, that flaw, that bad habit. That person and those sins were crucified with Christ, buried with Christ and now we are risen new in Christ. That new man is no longer dominated and controlled by that old sin!

Too many times we simply don’t believe this is true. We are like Lucy in the "Peanuts" comic strip, she asks Linus, "Do you think people ever really change?" "Sure," replies Linus, "I feel I’ve changed a lot this past year." Lucy says, "I meant for the better."

Everything that is born of God is no shadowy work. God will not bring forth a dead fruit, a lifeless and powerless work, but a living, new man must be born from the living God.-Johann Arndt (1555-1621)

In the natural world it is impossible to be made all over again, but in the spiritual world it is exactly what Jesus Christ makes possible. - Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the captain of the ship sought to turn him back. "You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages," he cried. Calvert only replied, That is alright, "We died before we came here."- David Augsburger, Sticking My Neck Out,

Next Paul moves on to those things that must be put off daily.

Put Off The Old Ways – Colossians 3:8-9

8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

Spiritual Pruning

In addition to spiritual slaying, we must also practice spiritual pruning.

These are attitudes and actions that constantly recur in our life, they sprout up like  weeds in a garden, therefore we must constantly keep cutting them off.

Anger: the attitude of getting and acting mad. It is not harmless, it is not benign. Cut if off.

Wrath: This is the stronger even more dangerous attitude. It takes control and causes us to act in that anger we were just feeling but now we say or do something, instead of just feeling angry which is bad, now we lash out and that is worse.

Malice: Anger becomes wrath and wrath become malice. It takes ona  life of it’s own. It is not just a passing storm but the constant climate of a person’s life.  This is a bitter person.

Blasphemy: Slander and gossip which is false and hurts another.

Filthy Communication: Obscenity, foul language. Which dishonors the Lord we love.

Lying: Speaking or spreading that which is not true.

Nip It In The Bud!

When we find these traits and attitudes, these sins cropping back up in our lives and they always will, then we must take the advice of the great philosopher, Barney Fife, who said, “Nip it in the bud!”

Don’t wait, don’t let it take root in your life again. When the seeds of anger, wrath, malice, gossip, foul language or lying sprouts up like a weeds in our daily life then stop and listen as the Holy Spirit convicts us and go to the Lord. Ask for his forgiveness and strength. Reckon, count it as true, that you are dead to those sins and instead are alive and new in Jesus Christ. If He is Lord of All, then He certainly is Lord of the actions and attitudes of my life.

This is not the end of what we must do to let Jesus be the Lord of our daily living. Not only are we to put to death and put off the old man and his undead life, but we must also put on. Both the negative and the positive is necessary. We have seen the negative and now Paul says, lets leave that behind and go on to the positive things of Christ that we must, “put on.” Look at 3:10-11

Put On The New Man – Colossians 3:10-11

10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Spiritual Planting  Vs. 10

Paul says we must put on the new person who is renewed every day in the knowledge and after the image of Christ. By planting this new person every day in the attitudes and actions of our daily lives we don’t give room for the weeds to find the fallow ground of our daily lives and begin to take root again.

In vs. 11, We see the extent and the extremes of this new person. This new man in Christ is so new that even his nationality, his race and his station in life no longer exists. The new person is so new that those old things, those old labels that once defined us are now overwhelmed by the new person we are Jesus.

Paul says this new man has moved passed from all those things to a new reality, an new understanding, “Now, all that exists is my identity in Christ. Christ is life!”  He has become our ultimate reality, our consuming passion and our overcoming power. Colossians 3:11 “Christ is all, and in all.”

New as a Shiny Penny

My grandmother used to have a saying, “Today, I feel good, like a brand new, shiny penny. That is how we are every day the new person we are in Jesus.

The key is seeing ourselves as God does, in His Son now, not as we once were in our sin. But as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

I believe this is the knowledge Paul says renews us every day. The knowledge of who we are in Jesus Christ. The newness we can experience every day in His love and forgiveness. In that love and forgiveness, we strip off the old person with his sin and failure and are renewed in our knowledge that Jesus Christ is our all in all.

The more we know Him, the more real and effective this is in the reality of our daily living. In other words, You can only be as new as your last walk with Jesus. You can only be as close as your last prayer to Him. You can only be as powerful as your last battle fought through Him. The more you know Him, the more you are renewed in Him daily.   

Isaiah’s Mission of The Messiah

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;  To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

This the description of the new person we are in Christ. Our broken hearts are mended, our captivity has been replaced with liberty, our prison of sin with the freedom of forgiveness. We have comfort instead of pain, beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning. We wear the garments of praise instead of the rags of heaviness. In Christ we are trees of righteousness not the weeds of our own destruction. We are the planting of the LORD, not the tares of the enemy.  

Paul then expands this theme of “put on” by listing several attributes that come with the new man. He likens it to putting on new clothes.

 Put On The New Clothes – Colossian 3:12-17

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Spiritual Dressing

Paul tells them, as new people in Christ, to make a conscience effort, to commit to a consistent action to put on the clothing of the new man each day. In the same way a person is conscience of putting on fresh clothes in the morning we must be conscience of putting on these renewed attitudes.

Bowels of mercies (tender mercies) this was the seat of the emotions to the people of the new testament. They were to be clothed with a compassionate heart on the inside.

Kindness: clothed with that compassion on the outside that reaches out to others

Humbleness of mind: clothed with humility, no pride in self, no ego or power trips

Meekness: clothed with the gentleness of real strength

Longsuffering: clothed with the patience through the events of my life

Forbearance: clothed with the patience towards the people in my life

Forgiveness:  clothed with the true character of Christ

And above all put on charity (agape, self-sacrificing, Christian love) which binds everything perfectly together: and shows us as mature and complete.

Paul ends with two submissions:

Let the peace of God rule in your hearts: this is unity, the outward uniform of a child of God that the world can see.

And then, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly: this is inward guidance of the Lord that leads us daily in all wisdom.

Don’t get the wrong idea as did a certain Ethiopian emperor named Menelik II.  When he would get sick, he'd eat a few pages from the Bible. He believed it would restore his health. Or perhaps he was taking Paul literally when he said let the word of God dwell in you. Anyway, the emperor died in 1913 after a particularly bad illness which he tried to cure by eating the entire book of 2 Kings. No, don’t be that guy, be the guy that Paul goes on to describe here.

Paul goes on in vs. 15 and tells us when we have put on the clothing of the new man and submitted to unity and the word of God, then we act wisely, by teaching and admonish one another is psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

This is corporate worship, all of us together. In other words the new man, dresses in new clothes, the new spiritual attributes and actions. This new person submits to the peace of God and is led by the word of Christ. And you know where that submission and that guidance leads them? To church to be with the people of God. The wisdom that is now ours as new ones in Christ, won’t let us miss church or make excuses for being absent from the Lord’s house, because then you can’t teach and admonish one another if you are not with one another in God’s house.

Final admonition

Finally, Paul says in Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Everything you do, in speech or in actions, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Jesus. 

If only we could apply that principle to every action we take, every word we say or every decision we make, what a God honoring, spiritual difference it would make.

If we stopped and thought, “If I do this, am I acting in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I expressing my thankfulness to God the Father by Jesus Christ the Son, in what I am doing, saying or choosing, right now?

My life, my family, my church would so change for the better and we would better glorify our Savior if we just applied the guidelines of this chapter to our daily living.

How Will I look today?

When I used to work at United Parcel Service in Dallas. In the driver’s locker room was a mirror. And etched into the glass of that mirror were these questions. Starting at the top. Hair combed? Smile? Clothes Ironed? Shoes Polished?  The last thing every driver was to be aware of as he left to meet the public was, “How well do I represent UPS.”

As Christians we have a much more penetrating, powerful mirror. A spiritual mirror that we look into and that asks us, “How do I, a child of God, a follower of the Lord, a disciple of Christ, a member of His body the church, look to others this morning?  How well am I representing my Lord to the lost world?” That spiritual mirror is the Word of God.

We look into the mirror of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit reveals who we are.

James 1:22-25 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Put It All Together – Colossians 3:18 - 4:1

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

Paul Gets Personal and Practical 

He addresses the Christian family because on the family is the church built. One the family is society built and through the family the world is changed.

Paul gets personal and tells wives to submit this is worthy of the new person you are in Christ. Husbands love your wives. Sacrifice for them.  Children obey your parents in all things, this is honoring the Lord. Fathers, notice men we are the only ones dealt with more than once, fathers be very careful in the way you raise your children. If you provoke them instead of love and lead them, they will be discouraged, disheartened, dispirited, and broken in spirit. Servants, Paul says, obey your masters not with only the outward visible actions but with the inward heart as though you served the Lord. No matter who we serve or work for on earth in heaven’s eyes we are actually serving the Lord Christ. Finally, Paul talks to the Masters and tells them to treat their servants, their workers, their employees justly and fairly because they even though they are the bosses here on earth they have a much greater Master in heaven.

Conclusion

In Colossians Chapter 3 we are given Guidelines For A Godly Life. If each one of us would just commit ourselves to live Colossians 3 in our daily lives. If we would just weigh every action, every thought, every choice in the light and wisdom of this chapter, what a difference that commitment would make. What a new person I would be daily. What a more forgiving, more loving, more compassionate child of God I would be. What a different world I would then live in. What a different family I would then love and raise. What a different church we would then grow.

I was saddened just this week by a situation that hurts my heart as a pastor. A situation that would never have arisen if the new person in Christ, just acted in the love, forgiveness and wisdom Paul talks about in this chapter. Instead, the old man put on the old rags. Pulled them out of the grave and put those filthy things back on. Don’t let that happen to you, don’t let that happen to our church. That is not who we are in Christ. He is our All in All and we should be His new people dressed in the fresh, clean clothes of a spiritually new man in Him.

 

Monday, January 23, 2023

In the Image of God: Sanctity of Life - Genesis 1:26, 9:6, Psalms 139:14-16

 

In the Image of God: Sanctity of Life

Genesis 1:26, 9:6, Psalms 139:14-16

Holocaust, Human Sacrifice, Infanticide and Abortion

Today is National Sanctity of Life Day first declared as a national observance by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 on the 11th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade that made abortion legal and accepted in our nation. This year is the first Sanctity of Life Day that is post- Roe v. Wade. Just last year on Friday, June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Something I had never thought to see in my lifetime if ever. The truth is that the belief that human life is sacred throughout history has been held among a very small minority of nations and peoples.

In ancient times among the pagans of the world the killing of infants was not uncommon. In the lands of the Philistines and the Canaanites, the worship of Moloch and Baal reached its highest devotion with the sacrifice of a child. The worshippers of Baal would take a child and place it into a larger clay pot and then bury that pot in the corner of their home in order to receive the blessing of their bloodthirsty god. The worship of Moloch was much worse. In a ceremony called passing their children through the fire, they would place a living baby in the hands or lap of a bronze idol of Moloch which had been heated by an oven built into the base of the metal idol and the child would literally be fried as the worshippers watched. Is it any wonder that God had Joshua drive out and destroy the inhabitants of that blood polluted land?

Among the Greeks, a child born with deformities would be taken into the hills, wilderness or to a cave and left for the animals and scavengers to devour. In ancient Rome, babies weren’t considered fully human upon birth, instead they gained humanity over time, first with their naming a few days after birth, and later when they cut teeth and according to some sources up to 3 years old.

The so-called refined and educated Cicero (106-43 BC) in his On the Laws 3.8 states: “Deformed infants shall be killed.” The “deformity” could simply be an unwanted child, a sickly child, a deformed child or the wrong sex. The Stoic philosopher Seneca (4 BC-65 AD) comments On Anger 1.15: “…mad dogs we knock on the head…unnatural progeny we destroy; we drown even children at birth who are weakly and abnormal.”

Even the preeminent and to this day influential Greek philosopher Aristotle recommends that parents should be compelled by law to expose deformed or handicapped babies. In Politics 7.1335b Aristotle says: “As to exposing or rearing the children born, let there be a law that no deformed child shall be reared;  but on the ground of number of children, if the regular customs hinder any of those born being exposed, there must be a limit fixed to the procreation of offspring…

Nor was the life of a child consider of no value in the ancient world, all human life was simply something to be given to the bloodthirsty pagan gods. In the 1500s, when the Spanish Conquistadors came to America and conquered the Aztecs, they observed the daily sacrifice of humans atop the great pyramids. A firsthand account of the sacrifices was written by Bernal Diaz del Castillo's. "Hardly a day passed by that these people did not sacrifice from three to four, and even five Indians, tearing the hearts out of their bodies, to present them to the idols and smear blood on the walls of the temple. The arms and legs of these unfortunate beings were then cut off and devoured, just in the same way we should fetch meat from a butcher's shop and eat it: indeed I even believe that human flesh is exposed for sale cut up in their markets." 

Human sacrifice had a long history in Mesoamerica, long before the rise to prominence of the Aztec Empire. The Toltec, Mayan and Teotihuacan civilizations all practiced human sacrifice, it was a common practice, accepted and even looked upon as an honor.

In one special year, 1487, the Great Pyramid in what is now Mexico City was complete. They held a massive celebration to inaugurate their great temple—and by the Aztecs own count they sacrificed 84,000 people over a period of four days. Overall, it is estimated that 250,000 people were sacrificed by the Aztecs across Mexico during an average year.

Do you know what stopped such horrific Pagan practices as human sacrifice and infanticide? (Hold up the Bible) This stopped it. The Word of God declared that human life was sacred and the people of God began change the world.

One of the resources I copied said this, “The catacombs are filled with very tiny graves with the epitaph “adopted daughter of…” or “adopted son of…” inscribed on them. These inscriptions refer to the many babies and young children Christians rescued from the trash over the centuries. Tertullian says Christians sought out the tiny bodies of newborn babies from the refuse and dung heaps and raised them as their own or tended to them before they died or gave them a decent burial. The Christian idea that each individual person has worth because they were created by God was foreign to the lies of pagan society where the State, the tribe, the collective was the only value they knew.”

So lets turn to Genesis 1:26 and begin to see who that God’s book and God’s people of the book changed the world and are still capable of changing it today.

Sacred In Creation - Ge 1:26–28.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

God’s Touch on The Creation of Man

Psalms 8:4-5 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
 

Psalms 100:3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;

What we read in God’s word, the Word that elevated society and mankind past the horrors of human and child sacrifice, is that God directly created man, in a unique way, completely different from the way He created the animals.

The Bible lets us enter into the counsel of the Godhead before man was created on the sixth day of creation. Genesis 1:26-28 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…

We are given the exact process of this creation in Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

God specially created man in His image. He did this by using the elements of His existing creation, the Bible says the dust of the ground, but He also did something that was unique to humankind. God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life and he became a “living soul.”

There are two truths of man’s creation that you must take note of because upon these two truths hinge the difference between the horrors of the ancient pagan world, the modern neo-pagan world and the hope of the Judeo/Christian world.

The Image of God: Two Truths

First truth: Man was made in the image of God. What does that mean? What is the image of God?

First it was not a physical image. The Jesus Himself told us, John 4:24 God is a Spirit. Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. 1 Timothy 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The image of God in man instead is a moral image. As Henry Thiessan writes, “it consists in both man’s rational nature and in his moral conformity to God. The theologian Hodge said, “He is the image of God, and bears and reflects the divine likeness among the inhabitants of the earth, because he is a spirit, an intelligent, voluntary agent…” - Henry Clarence Thiessen and Vernon D. Doerksen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), 155.

It was also a mental image, capable of freewill. To quote Hodge again, “God is a Spirit, the human soul is a spirit. The essential attributes of a spirit are reason, conscience, and will. A spirit is a rational, moral, and therefore also a free agent. In making man after his own image, therefore, God endowed him with those attributes which belong to his own nature as a spirit. -Henry Clarence Thiessen and Vernon D. Doerksen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), 155.

Finally, it was a social image. Thiessan again, “God’s social nature is grounded in his affections. He finds the objects of his love in the trinity. As God has a social nature, so he has endowed man with a social nature. Consequently, man seeks companionship.

The Second Truth: God breathed in the physical body of man and that physical body becomes something much, much more. God breathed into a senseless, soulless body and man then become a living, sentient, self-aware soul.

Only man has this. I’m sorry but instead of all dogs going to heaven I have to tell you, no dogs go to heaven. Nor do cates, horses, cows or turtles. Only man has a living soul that can commune with God in heaven just as Adam and Eve did before they sinned.

John MacArthur says it well, “We are not mere mortals. We are not merely flesh. We are immortal. The shell of skin, and bones, and muscle is only a vessel, it’s only a repository in which something of the very image of God resides.”

So originally man was created by God, in the image of God for the plan and purpose of God. Is that still true today? Is it true for every child born into this world and this modern age. Again, God’s word tells us that it was not just Adam that was a living soul special designed and created by God, but that all of Adam and Eve’s descendants also share this same unique touch of God.

Sacred In Procreation - Psalms 139:14-16

 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

God’s Touch On The Birth Of Man

David says in vs. 15 “My substance was not hid from thee,” literally, substance is “my strength, my bones and my sinews and my muscles.” Was not hidden from God “when I was made in secret.” God saw the child in the secret place of his mother’s womb and in His divine design of procreation he made the child. This was skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.”  The Hebrew could be translated “when I was interwoven of various colored threads,” when I was knit together. We can now look into that secret place of the womb with cameras and sonagrams and what we see is a miracle only a little less amazing that the creation of Adam.

Timeline in the “Secret Place”

Stages of Baby Development From Conception to Birth By: Norma DeVault  13 June, 2017

In the week after conception, cell division and multiplication has already resulted in 100s of cells that are differentiating into the parts of the body they will be by birth. By two weeks the embryo has attached to the uterine wall.

In the first four weeks from conception, the baby develop the spinal cord, nervous system, gastrointestinal system, heart and lungs. By eight weeks, the face is forming, arms and legs move, the baby’s heart begins beating and the brain and other organs form.

By 12 weeks, the baby grows to 3 inches long and weighs 1 ounce. She can move fingers and toes. Fingerprints are present. The baby smiles, frowns, sucks, swallows and urinates. The sex of the baby can be discerned by this time.

During the second three months of pregnancy, the baby kicks, can hear and has a strong grip. At 16 weeks a strong heartbeat is evident. The skin is transparent and fingernails and toenails form. The baby can roll over in the amniotic fluid. At 20 weeks, the heartbeat can be heard with a stethoscope. The baby has hair, eyelashes and eyebrows. He can suck his thumb and may have hiccups. By 24 weeks, the baby is 11 to 14 inches long and weighs 1 to 1 1/2 pounds. His skin is covered with a protective coating, his or her eyes are open

At 28 weeks initial breathing movements begin. She is adding body fat. By 32 weeks, the baby experiences periods of sleep and wakefulness and responds to sounds. A six months supply of iron is accumulating in the liver. By 36 to 38 weeks she is 19 or more inches long and weighs 6 pounds or more. At this point he or she is less active and gains immunities from her mother.

Now, I could have used one of those timeline that is popular today that compares the size of the baby at different times to things you have in your kitchen or garden. You know what I’m talking about. Today the baby is the size of a pea, then a walnut, then I don’t know and acorn squash and then of course toward the end every mother is sure their baby is the size of a watermelon and were not talking about a seedless fridge melon. No, we’re talking about a Texas Black Diamond monster melon. I could do that kind of timeline but sorry, to me its just weird. Its probably one of those difference between men and women or old school, new school things but to me its just strange. Nothing at all wrong with it, just doesn’t work for me, personally.

And by the way this idea that kidney stones are harder on men than childbirth is on women. That is a total joke. I’ve had kidney stones, bad ones and I’ve also been in the delivery room with all my children and believe me, what LeeOra went through in delivering that Texas Black Diamond Watermelon was a lot tougher than me passing a pebble of a kidney stone. Again, that’s just me, but I know I’m right.

Before we leave this point, I want to look at one other important scripture because it specifically deals with how God views the child in its mother’s womb. Go to..

The Child In Womb from God Perspective - Exodus 21:22-25 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

What this verse clearly tells us is that God sees the child in the womb as fully human, with the same rights as the parent even before it is born. Do you see it? Its right here in the phrase if any mischief follow. The word means if any harm comes from the injury to either the mother or the unborn child. If the woman is hit or knocked to the ground and her child comes early or if she is injured then the penalty shall be appropriate to the crime, “life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

That’s not barbarism, that is justice, that is appropriate. The punishment should fit the crime. This penalty written into the laws of the nation Israel, shows that God considered the unborn child fully a human being while still in the mother’s womb. Not as some say after it is born, not as some say with its first breath and certainly not as the Romans believe after months or years.

And what about today, in our modern enlightened, Oh so benevolent society? What do many, many people believe today? Let me give you a couple of quotes.

In 1993, ethicist Peter Singer suggested that no newborn should be considered a person until 30 days after birth and that the attending physician should kill some disabled babies on the spot. Years before in 1979 he wrote, “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”

American University philosophy professor Jeffrey Reiman has asserted that unlike mature human beings, infants do not “possess in their own right a property that makes it wrong to kill them.” He explicitly holds that infants are not persons with a right to life and that “there will be permissible exceptions to the rule against killing infants that will not apply to the rule against killing adults and children.”

In 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled that abortion was legal in all 50 states based upon a new, made up, right to privacy, women now had the right to kill their own babies while still in the womb. This ruling resulted in abortion becoming a multi-million dollar a year industry with the yearly average of 1.5 million deaths a year, just in the United States alone. children. This ruling basically said that a child in the womb was not a human being and had no right to life.

It is estimated that as many as 75 million babies will be killed this year around the world. To put that in perspective, that is more than all the deaths, in all the wars, in all the history of the world, combined. It is more deaths than Hitler’s Holocaust, Lenin and Stalin’s starvation of their own people, more than the Chinese peasant deaths of Mao and the killing field of Cambodia.

Thank God and God’s people who refused to give up the fight here in the United States.

After the ruling that nullified Roe v. Wade there has been a dramatic reduction of abortions nationwide and in states like Texas that percentage is as high as 99% less. We will never fully realize the blessing that will come from saving innocent lives and we will never fully realize the terrible curse that followed the slaughter of millions of innocents.

That brings us to the last consideration of the Sanctity of Life that we need to understand, defend and stand for, it also involves the taking of an innocent human life but not in the womb. Turn to … and look consider the Sanctity of life as seen in retribution.

Sacred in Retribution - Genesis 9:5-6

And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man.

God’s Touch On the Murder of Man

Leviticus 24:17 And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.

Numbers 35:30-31 Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die. Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.

There is really no explanation, no exposition, needed on these verses is there? They are very plain, clear, succinct in what God is saying. I mean it can’t be any clearer than, “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”

The principle, which God codified into law, is this, if you intentional take an innocent human life then your life is forfeit. You might think, well this is universal, all societies and civilizations understand this, but if you thought that you would be wrong. Among ancient people and especially today, you’d be wrong.

This was often not the case with pagan people, people who did not acknowledge the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Often among those people, murder was compensated by a blood price. The family of the victim would be paid off. This was acceptable because human life was not a gift from God, but instead was cheap, inconsequential, random. Sure, it would be nice to see your dead relative alive, but a little silver, gold or some cattle meant a better life for you.

 Why was it different for God’s people? Why did it become the law in the nations that looked to the Word of God for how to live? It the principle we are talking about today, the Sanctity of Life, the understanding that the penalty for murder was life for life because humans were created in the image of God. God set this value and it could not be satisfied with a material payoff. God places his highest value on His highest creation and when one of His highest creation is murdered then the only just penalty is the life of the one who took that innocent, God breathed life, made in the image of its Creator.

 I don't have to tell you that this aspect of the Sanctity of life is no longer a part of our society. Our civilized world kills babies but protects murderers. Today, there are only 26 states with the death penalty, the others have outlawed it or placed a moratorium on it. Only 26 states that believe life is sacred. I imagine it is about the same number of states that have restricted or outlawed abortions.

Consequence of Ignoring The Sanctity of Life

What has been the consequence of ignoring the Sanctity of Life, of disregarding and willfully disobeying the Word of God? It is not hard to see is it? The proof of God’s removal of His blessing on our nation or even His curse upon us is too apparent to ignore.

I’ve already told you about the 75 million babies being killed by abortion. It is the most easily recognized consequence of forgetting God and His word. But today we see nations that once called themselves Christian making euthanasia legal. Sometimes for nothing more than depression. We have seen the holocausts and genocides of the Nazis, Communist and Islam. I don’t believe we are past those things and if fact we may be seeing another kind of holocaust occurring all over the world today. Much more subtle and hidden that a gas chamber or mass starvation. Today suicide is not longer abhorrent but something that is okay if you just can’t stand to live any longer. The world believes it means the suffering ends, it does not and in many if not most cases it means the suffering will be worse than ever. Murderers have no fear of the death penalty and therefore the rate of murder has soared in city after city. Where once we could let our children play outside until the street light came on, now we don’t even let them go in the front yard for fear someone will stop and snatch away. We have mass shooting after mass shooting. We have parts of aborted babies being sold for so called scientific research. We have drug being legally sold on our street corners and the illegal drugs are so rampant that we can’t prosecute the drug dealers much less the drug users. If you look on the internet you can find stories about how once great cities like San Francisco, Detroit, Philadelphia and so many others have become havens for drug use. So much so that they call the streets where they live in cardboard boxes and makeshift tents, The Streets of the Walking Dead.

What has happened? We have turned from God to Darwin. We have turned from the Bible to the Origin of the Species. We have turned from a religion that worshiped the God of heaven to a religion that worships the creature more than the Creator. And life to the majority of people you will meet is not a gift from God because there can be no such gift since there is no God. To most of your friends, coworkers and yes your family, man is not unique, he is not a living soul, God did not breath into him and create an image of Himself. Today man is considered a plague on the world at worst and at best a parasite and many are working to stop the plague of mankind and bring Mother Earth back to health with as few people as possible alive at any one time.

What is the remedy? Or is there even a hope left to us? Let me give you one final proof of the value of man and in this proof we will also find the remedy and the hope.

The final proof and hope

The final proof of the true measure of the sacredness of life and the hope we still have in this very Godless world is this. We can see how much God values mankind in this truth, Jesus, God’s own son, gave his precious, pure sinless life to purchase and redeem ours.

 Romans 5:6-8 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure (perhaps) for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth (proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

How much is your soul, made in His image, still worth to God? You are precious and priceless because even for that sin scarred soul, God sent His own son to die and pay the price to redeem you. No greater measure, no more convincing proof can there ever be of your worth to God than what Jesus did on the cross of Calvary.