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Pride.

What is it and how is it expressed? How do others react to the quality of pride in a man? In the place of pride, what quality should we possess?

We all know the definition of pride as “a high opinion of one’s own worth,” or “conceit.” This definition does not give us a very impressive idea of the term, does it? Yet, shown in different ways and in vary­ing degrees, we all have a certain amount of pride in our souls. Because the exhibi­tion of pride, or vanity, is considered to be in bad taste, many of us have found various ways to disguise it, even through a type of modesty which is merely a cover-up for feelings of superiority. Vanity can be shown in manner of dress, or the quality and number of accessories worn. It is a quality evident in those people who do not want to put out much effort for a particular type of work, yet they try to get into the public eye by doing a little “extra special” deed on the side line. Pride is also ex­hibited in a person who complains that life is bitter and he has always been treated badly by others, that if he had had a chance, a better opportunity or education, he might be worth something.

Pride and vanity are shown in many ways, more in some than in others, but always as bitter enemies. It is difficult to put up with someone who cannot accept criticism, one who likes to make the ac­complishments of another look like his own, and one who knows just how to make alibis for himself when he makes a mistake. Pride is a childish and immature thing which often has its roots in childhood when a child has parents who give him everything he wants and who boast about him to others. By doing this, parents lead their children into stumbling into the pit of pride, a pit out of which it is very difficult to climb. This pride also leads to injury. A proud person is often sensitive to what others think of him, he is easily hurt or offended; a vain man looks at life to find out what he can get out of it, rather than what contribution he can make to it.

These expressions of pride sound quite familiar, don’t they? How many of us can say that we do not have a streak of pride in us? Some of us may be deeper in the pit than others, but who has not been there? And, how can we get out?

In Luke 14, we read a parable which Jesus told to His disciples. Jesus was always teaching His disciples to be humble men, and here He tells them, and us, about the prayers of the Pharisee and the Publican. The Pharisee is the proud man who prays, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I possess.” And the Publican, in humility, smites himself on the breast saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” The lesson which is taught us here is in verse 11, “everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

The pathway to greatness is one of self-denial. The mark for true greatness which Jesus presents is “he that would be great, let him be your servant.” We must forget ourselves and submit ourselves humbly to God. We must strive for greatness in Christ’s Kingdom and these feelings of pride, vanity, and superiority will fade in the light of Him who is the meek and lowly One.

True humility is a quality which is dif­ficult to exercise; but, this humility is the tool that is required to climb out from the depths of pride.

When the Israelites left Egypt for Ca­naan, a difficult and treacherous journey lay ahead of them. Many hardships and temptations faced them as they travelled their long way, during which time God led them in the form of a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. Yet, even though God was guiding them all along their way, a great number of the people rebelled and expressed the desire to turn back to ungodly Egypt where they felt the oppression which they had faced was not so great as the long hard journey.

This journey of the children of Israel was a picture of the pilgrimage which is before all the children of God. We are born dead in sin and under the constant oppression of the forces of the world, facing trials and temptations all along our life’s journey to the Heavenly Canaan. Just as the children of Israel did, we too must endure countless occasions when our flesh tells us to turn the way of the world, to “turn back to Egypt.” Therefore, during the pilgrimage of this life, we must make God our leader, use the Bible as our chart, and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit on our way to Heaven, our final home.

 

I seek no guide save only thee,

Nor ask the way thou leadest me!

My only prayer: “Lord may I know

The work that Thou wouldst have me do?”/

If in far lands, Thou Ieadest me,

Cross arid plains, or storm-vexed sea,

By pathways dark, or lone, or drear,

Clasping thy hand, I will not fear.

. . . Unknown

 

It is extremely necessary that we have this comfort in life and that we follow the guides which God has given to us. There are many enemies, dangers, and pit­falls which lurk behind the rocks and bushes all along our pathway of life, waiting to snatch us from off our road. And indeed the world does use many enticing methods to try to draw us away from this road to everlasting life. And therefore we need this wonderful guidance of God, for our weak flesh is always willing to fall along the way and enjoy the pleasures of the world.

It is also important that we praise God for these guides which He has given us. God made Himself our leader, we did not choose to be His followers: God gave us the will and desire to follow His chart, the Bible. Even as God wrote the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone, He writes on our hearts, through the Holy Spirit, His Word. God’s Word is a “lamp unto our feet, and a light upon our path.” David also writes, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee. Of ourselves, we would ignore this chart, but the Holy Spirit guides us in the way. And not only is it necessary that we praise God for His guidance in the past, but we must also pray for God’s guidance in the future. For prayer leads to praise, and praise prepares for prayer.

The Bible and the Holy Spirit guard us from evils and our enemies. God often leads us through trying times, but this too is His will, and as we all know, “All things work together for good to them that love God.” God does this to show us how powerless our weak sinful flesh really is, and how mighty God is. If God were not there to lead us, we could not lake a single step on the road to our heavenly Canaan.

Even as the Israelites were led by God through the cloud, we too are led by God, through His Word and Spirit, to our Heavenly home. God truly is “Our Won­derful Heavenly Guide.”

 

How many different ideas have come to mind since reading those words, “A World of Iniquity”? Just think about them for a few minutes.

No doubt most of our thoughts have strayed along the lines of the evil world in which we are living today, the “world” as it is in its literal meaning. But let us now look at a different type of “world.” This is a type of world which we do not often think about, one which is contained in each one of us, the “world” of which James speaks. If we turn to the third chapter of his epistle, we will see that this “world of iniquity” is “the tongue.”

The first thoughts of these strong, severe words would probably be that James was exaggerating: or that, at least, he was speaking of an exception to the rule. But all it takes is a little self-examination of our sins and weaknesses to find that the words of the apostle are actually not too strong at all. The tongue can cause more happiness or more pain than all other human instrumentalities. Throughout a lifetime, a single tongue can cause a world of happi­ness or a world of sorrow, one of pleasure or one of pain.

James mentions, in particular, a few of the evils of the tongue. But before he mentions these sins, he speaks, in verse 13, of a wise tongue. A wise tongue is one which usually says little because there is a greater amount of thought put into the words which are spoken. To be able to say the right thing, in the right way, and at just the right time is an extremely dif­ficult thing to do, and very few people have this talent. It is an easy thing, for even one who seems to be a wise man, to make a slip of the tongue and fall from the high pedestal on which he has probably placed himself.

There are many types of sinful tongues, far too many to mention. But there are a few which especially stand out in our minds. First of all, there is that boastful tongue. The human ego can grow to a tremendous size. That big “I” has found its glory in many a mouth, and it is actually a very silly and irritating thing. We like to see a boaster fall and then are quick to say “That’s what he gets.”

Of all the evil tongues, it is the tongue of profanity that has the least excuse. Yet, it has many users and its use seems to be increasing rapidly these days. And we, as children of God, are not innocent of this profane tongue, how many times haven’t we, too, used profanity or even taken God’s name in vain, if not on the lips, at least in the mind?

Another type of evil that comes from the mouth is gossip. A bit of gossip starts out small, but often grows to hurt a reputation. The tongue of strife also is a “little fire which kindleth a great matter,” even as a small street quarrel can incite a riot.

Last, and meanest, is the tongue of the liar. A lie is never justifiable, no matter what the occasion. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 12:22). These “lying lips” were among the objects of divine hate in the Old Testament.

Yes, the tongue is indeed a “world of iniquity.” It is a little thing but the instru­ment of a great evil. Control of the tongue should be learned early in life; and, all through life, it must be by God’s help that we can master the tongue and speak or be silent. We must watch that tongue, that “world of iniquity.”

 

Most of us have undoubtedly heard that common question, “If you were arrested today for being a Christian, would you be found guilty?” But maybe we’ve just brushed it aside without giving it the thought that it should have deserved. Why don’t we make that question just a little stronger and a little more personal? “If I were arrested today for being a Christian, would I be found guilty? Would I?”

More than likely, we would look back on our lives and answer that we most likely would be found guilty. After all, we’ve gone to Church since the early days of our childhood, haven’t we? And haven’t we been brought up knowing that we must pray before and after we eat a meal, and before we go to bed at night? Most of us have gone to a Christian school and have at­tended catechism classes. So we would definitely be inclined to answer that we certainly would be found guilty if we were to go on trial for being a Christian.

Let us go back to the question and change the position of one word. We can change the meaning slightly by making the question read, “If I were arrested for being a Christian today, would I be found guilty?” Now we must consider this question in a different light. Rather than looking back at our lives as a whole, we must look back to the time we woke up this morning and began to undertake our daily duties, whether it be work at school or at a job. We must consider the attitudes we’ve taken regarding it; work which we must do, the attitudes towards those with whom we work, and the attitudes which others form about our­selves.

First, we’ll consider the Christian-like attitude of facing the job which we must do. We have all been given different talents and different interests. We must each uti­lize our individual talents to the greatest of our ability, and also do our work to our fullest capacity, in doing this, it is also our duty to honor and glorify our God, and constantly be thankful to Him for these gifts which He has bestowed upon us. It is wrong of us to seek the “greener grass on the other side” simply because it offers more money and a higher status in society. God has not given all of us the abilities to reach these higher positions. Rather, it is our duty to seek stature in those areas in which we have been placed. We must not look enviously at someone who has created a high image for himself; we must realize that God has given him his talents, too. However, this does not mean that we cannot seek to attain a higher goal than the position in which we are now. We are to strive for the highest achievement of the talents God has given us.

If a co-worker were called to the witness stand to testify of the attitude we took about our job today, what impression would he give the jury? Would this witness say that we were happy to do the work that we did, or would he testify that we looked at our job as drudgery, feeling that we are insignificant, or envious of those working around us?

And what about our altitudes towards those people with whom we come in daily contact. Do we act as Christians towards them or shove them aside as though they are not good enough for us? Do we pull up our noses at some of them just because they may not be particularly attractive to the eye, or because of some other trait with which we do not wish to associate? It is certainly not very difficult to think of our­selves as being better than the neighbor, for the big “I” likes to show itself quite often.

Finally, and probably most important of all, what do the people with whom we associate think of us? We often try to make ourselves conform as much as possible to the world. We follow the latest fads be­cause we do not want to be considered “square.” Not that we must completely ignore the world, and live alone in groups to avoid the influence of the world, but we should follow the fads to moderation. The deeper meaning of many of the modern day fads is one of sinfulness. For instance, the clothing and various other items on the market today, are advertised as being able

to “turn on the opposite sex.” Another thing which gives others a great impression of ourselves is the language which we use. There is much corruption of the tongue these days, and by constantly hearing these words which take God’s name and His creation in vain, it would be easy for us to pick up these words and use them our­selves. If not actually say them, at least think them. Also, just sitting by and listen­ing to someone rattle on with his foul tongue can be taken by a bystander to mean that we are accepting them.

Now let us return to our original question and consider what the verdict of the jury would be. Innocent? Insufficient evidence? Or, guilty?

Throughout all the ages there has been a constant battle between the Church and the world. This is a spiritual battle in which the world, in hatred against Christ, unites to oppose and destroy the cause of Christ and His people. It is also through this battle that the people of God unite in love to God and stand with the victory of faith to fight this opposition.

This battle was especially outwardly apparent during the days of Christ’s ministry. At this time, the unity of the world in its hatred for Christ was evident even from the time of His birth. The world so greatly hated Christ and His purpose on earth, to save His people and establish a heavenly kingdom, that they tried desperately to kill Him and did so after only a few years of His ministry. It may have seemed then that the wicked world was victorious, but three days after it was clearly evident that they were all wrong. For when Christ arose, all could plainly see that He was indeed the Victorious One.

Since the time of Christ, this battle has changed somewhat. Although it remains a spiritual battle as it was then, it has lost most of its physical form. In the Old Testament, there was actual warfare between Israel, the nation of the children of God at that time, and the wicked nations of the world. When Christ was on the earth, the opposition was directed mainly upon Him. But, as long before promised, after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit the Church grew and was chosen out of the world. Since the world now has no one particular nation to fight or no specific subject to oppose, they can only take an inward opposition to the followers of Christ. For this reason, we, as Christians, are “hated by the world.”

In his farewell sermon, Christ said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: But because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18 and 19). It sounds like a great privilege, does it not, to be hated by the world? Even though from every earthly point of view we may seek to be loved by the world, what true Christian would, for even one minute, want to forsake Christ to get a taste of a little of that love?

Many times, even for us, it may appear that the world is winning the battle. The Powers of Darkness far outnumber the Powers of Light, and the greatest riches and power of the world have usually belonged to the wicked. It can also be much too easy for us to look at these earthly treasures with lustful eyes because these powers are so great. But this is where faith plays its important role of making us see beyond these powers and accept the hated of the world: for, it is faith that gives us the victory.

Hate may seem to be a strong word and we may not particularly enjoy the idea that we are being “hated by the world,” but would we want it any other way? It is our Christian duty to witness for Christ in the world. Many of us do too little of this because we fear the open hatred which may well be the result of our efforts. But as Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the Sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” This is our calling. We must be as lights shining in the darkness of the world, a world which hates light. But the battle will soon be won. For Faith is the Victory.

Originally Published in:

Vol. 31 No. 5 August/September 1971

God hath not promised skies always blue
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through,
God hath not promised sun without rain
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God hath promised strength for the day
Rest for the labor, light on the way;
Grace for the trail, help from above;
Unfailing kindness, undying love.
In Romans 8:28, we find stated one of the greatest promises of God. In this epistle Paul writes “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” If Paul had said “some things work together for good” or “most thing work together for good,” it would not be so difficult for us to understand. However, that little word “all” is most important to this text.
When we read this verse, our first thoughts usually turn to our heartaches, disappointments, pain, inconvenience of life, poverty, and persecution. And why do we first tend to think along this line? Because we are too human to see how our “Dark Days” can possible work for our good. Even though it is often hard for us to see the hand of God working for our good in the difficult things of life, we must trust where we cannot see. To try to seek out reasons for our sorrows is to doubt the wisdom, the love, and the power of God. It is through faith only that we can, and must, accept these things; for, they too, are given us out of the loving hand of God.
The meaning of this verse is that all things work together unto the salvation of the children of God. This verse applies, in general, to the suffering of this present time which we endure in the flesh. More particularly, however, the text applies to the suffering which we endure for Christ’s sake. Texts which can be related to this suffering can be found in Romans 5:3-4, where we read that “Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope,” and in James 1:2, where it is stated that we must count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations.
The verses which follow in Romans 8 further explain how “all things work together for good.” For example, in verse 31, we read that “if God be for us, who can be against us?” When we are in the midst of experiencing one of our “Dark Days,” we should realize that this affliction can in no way be against us, even though from every human point of view, we wonder how this particular suffering can be for us.
Further in this chapter (verse 36), Paul says, “As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Although we lie in the midst of death and taste death in all the sufferings of this present time, it is no punishment or satisfaction for sin. Christ fully atoned for all our iniquities; and therefore, the sufferings which we endure must be sufferings as servants of Christ, and tend unto our eternal good.
Paul, in his epistle to the Philippians, says that the things which happened to him were unto the furtherance of the gospel (chapter 1:12). Paul’s experiences are but only one proof of God’s promise that “all things work together for good.” Every trial which we endure is but another proof of God’s divine personal interest. Trials are the tools in the hands of the Divine Architect as He builds us into His eternal plan.
When we experience a “Dark Day,” we must realize that these winds of adversity will cause us to become more firmly grounded in the depths of God’s love. The fiery trials which we must face from day to day will only cause us to seek more often the eternal springs of grace. It is only by grace and through faith that we can fully understand how “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.”

Originally Published in:
Vol. 31 No. 1 March 1971

After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, the Devil came to tempt Him. After the first temptation in which Satan told Jesus to make stones into bread, Jesus replied, “It is written, Man shall not life by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
The trouble today is that most of us overstuff ourselves with the bread of the world until we can hardly stagger under the weight of it; and yet, we starve the very spark of life in us that lives eternally. We are so busy trying to gain material things and impress one another that we almost completely ignore the One Who is most worthy of our love and devotion. We are often deluded into being “too soon old and too late smart.”
A large percentage of our church members do not really study the most important text of all time, the Bible. The most commonly heard excuse is “I don’t have time.” Even on the Sabbath, we much too often complain about not having anything to do, and at the suggestion of studying God’s Most Holy Scriptures, a shrug of the shoulders is frequently the scene. Even though most of us admit that Sunday is “God’s Day,” many of us do not make it “God’s Day.”
During the week, we indulge ourselves in the bread of the world. We go to school or do some type of work where we devote all our time and attention to the things of the world. We have our catechism classes or society meetings; but then again, do we? If we are there in body but not in heart and mind, how can we truly say that we are there? If we think about our work or what we will do as soon as we get out of the meeting or maybe what we will do next Friday or Saturday night, we will already be getting a stomach ache from eating too much evil bread. And what do we do when the Beacon Lights of the Standard Bearer arrives? Do we read the news items and a few short articles that catch our eye, or do we sit down and read and think about all the articles?
As we walk with the people of the world, we often have a tendency to dine with them, eating their evil morsels; when instead, we should not be ashamed to partake of the bread of life and let our “inner lights” shine. It is our duty as Christians to show the world that we are Christians and that we are not embarrassed to speak out against a statement with which we disagree. We are also overeating when we listen to a worldly person take our Lord’s Name in vain, yet it is frequently too easy to go right along with the world. If we do not care to be Christians in our everyday walk of life, we cannot really care about eating the bread of life and about actually being a Christian.
Then Saturday comes, many times with the feeling that it has crept up on us much too soon. The time has come to prepare for the Sabbath at a time when we feel that last Sunday has just gone by. As we look back at the previous week, we see that we are sick from consuming so great an amount of worldly bread. Bread of this kind seemed so much more appealing at the time, like a piece of delicious pie in comparison to a little-favored vegetable. Then, to top all this deadly sickness, we spend late hours on Saturday nights to get a quick final taste of the worldly bread before the Sabbath dawns.
We wake up on the Sabbath day and prepare ourselves for the morning service. We go to Church, but are we really there? Is it difficult to keep our eyes open or to listen to the sermon? Do too many of us doze off during prayer and hear only the “Amen” at the close? Then we go to our Young People’s Society meetings. We usually have prepared our single assigned verses, probably as quickly as possible copied from an available commentary. Instead, we should have studied the whole section to be discussed and should have been prepared to give our own ideas on the subject. What about Sunday afternoons? Can we listen to a radio service or read and study God’s Word, or do we have to sleep off the waste of the past week? And then are we ready for another Church service and possibly a singspiration?
At this time, it is suitable to turn to Psalm 34:1-4, which was written by David when he changed his behavior before Abmimelech. Here we read: “I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together. I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
We, too, must change our behavior and eat more of the bread of life. We may prefer to partake of the evil bread of the world which is much more appealing at the time, but the bread of life is really more appealing in the end because it keeps us healthy. The Bible is the most precious treasure to be found in all the world and yet many of us are too overstuffed with the worldly bread to know its value. The value of the Bible can only be genuinely known if we partake of the bread of life. Do we have room for the Bread? If we don’t, we had better make room!

Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 7 November 1970

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we love God, but that he loved u, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. I John 4:7-10
Love is the bond of perfectness. It is profoundly ethical and, thus, it is the bond that unites the ethically pure only. The first and great commandment concerns the love of God and the commandment to love our neighbor as our self is like unto it. Love is the unity of the communities of similar interests or sentiments that unites two parties that share a delight in each other. It is the only power in earth and in Heaven that cannot be fathomed by man. Love is defined as an affection, warm liking, or a fondness. But these words do not even begin to describe the true depth of the meaning of love.
The love of God is much more than the love of father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife; for these are loves of the earth and they belong to this life only. But the love described here by John is one which is born in Heaven and given to man as a gift from God.
In I Corinthians 13:13, Paul says, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.” Love, here stated as charity, is the greatest of these because God is love. This is the noblest of all word portraits of God. This love is much greater than merely saying that God is our “Father”; for, we have only an earthly picture of fatherhood. As we think of fatherhood, it is mainly something just and generous, and not strongly characterized by love. Surely our love must be more than that!
We are also commanded, in both the Old and New Testaments, to “love God with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, and with all our strength.” Could we really say that we do love God in such a manner? God is the sole Good and the implication of all perfections; therefore, He must be the object of our strong desire and the longing of our whole being.
“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” God’s love for His people was so profoundly ethical that he promised His Son from the time of the fall of man and sent Him in the fullness of time. Instead of showing His deep love by sending His only begotten Son to suffer and die for His undeserving people, He could have sent a written message to tell us of His love, or He could have dispatched a mighty angel to tell us His message. But, no, He sent the Crown and Prince of Heaven, above all angels and heavenly dignitaries, His divine Son, Jesus Christ.
Christ’s love for His people is also very recondite. He gave His life in Holy ministry to the poor, the sick, the oppressed in body and Spirit. At the end of only three and a half years of ministry, He became the willing servant. He gave the supreme proof of His love by dying on the cross for the sins of His people. There was no other and is “none other name under Heaven whereby we must be saved.”
“To love our neighbor as our self: is like unto the commandment to love God. When Christ was nearing the end, with the shadow of the cross on Him, He said to His disciples, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” John also admonished that if “God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
One of the most cutting sayings of John is that “if a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” This shows how unfathomable love is and it shows the importance of the commandment to love God. It also shows how closely the commandment to love our neighbor is related to it.
A sure test of the epistle of John is, “Do I love my neighbor? If I truly love him, then I know that I love God, and that I am a Christian.” Most of us love, but we also fear. A son or daughter in the home who had the habit of loving father or mother one day, and drawing back in distrust the next, would be a strange child. So it is in our relation with the Heavenly Father. We have “Torment,” as John says, because our love and trust towards God are not perfect.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 2 April 1970

We wish to welcome Miss Donna Van Uffelen to our staff as associate editor of Critique. She is a member of our Redlands Church and of the Young People’s Society. Her first article appears below. EDITOR

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul gave us the command to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. We cannot obey or carry forth this commandment if we do not wear the complete armor of God. Not just one, or some, pieces of this special suit of clothing will make us completely able to stand against the subtle trickery of the devil.
We have an extremely difficult, spiritual battle to fight. The battle must be fought in every aspect of our worldly lives and even in the church itself. We must wear the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace and the helmet of salvation. The shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit must be taken up. Do we dare fight in the armor of the world?
A girdle is a very necessary part of a warrior’s armor. It keeps the complete armor in place, supports the sword and gives strength to the warrior himself. Truth, therefore, is the band that girds or binds the character of the Christian together. It was also necessary for the people of Israel to have their loins girt when they began their march out of Egypt. They were ready and alert as the Christian soldier must be; for the call to march may come at a time that we least expect it to come.
The breastplate is a piece of armor worn directly above the girdle. It protects the vital organs, specifically the heart. Solomon says in his proverbs (chapter 4:23) that we must keep our heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Our heart is to be above all keeping. In the great test, our righteousness will be as filthy rags to cover our heart, and Paul prays that he may put on the perfections of Christ, “not having mine own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ.”
If we wear the complete armor of God and our feet are not shod, we will be sure to stumble, for rocks lie ahead somewhere in life’s path. Our feet must be shod with the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace. Since the Gospel is a message and every Christian is a messenger of the Gospel, his feet must be shod with preparedness and winged with speed. Many years before Paul, Isaiah had once said, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7)
The head is one of the most principal parts that must be protected. When the head is wounded, the whole warrior is wounded, since that part which controls the whole body suffers. Since this is the case, it becomes very logical that Satan tries to assault the mind through the ear, the eye and the palate. In order to protect our head and consequently our whole body, we must put on the helmet of salvation. “He will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” This shield is not only “above all” in importance, but the meaning implied is that it covers and protects all the pieces put on previously. The shield protects the warrior from the fiery darts aimed to kill. If the fiery darts of temptation—wrath, lust, revenge, doubt and despair—are aimed at the unshielded Christian’s heart, faith is lost as the warrior falls. We must live with our shield of faith and be willing to die for it.
To fight a good fight, we must carry the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Christ’s religion with the banner of the cross has been propagated by the preaching of the Word. Satan fears no weapon as he does the Bible, for it is the Christian’s one offensive weapon.
Paul concludes by saying that we must pray with all supplication and prayer in the Spirit and watch with perseverance and supplication for all saints. We do not have to “wear” prayer. If we have truth, righteousness, the preparation of the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the Word of God, we will naturally want to pray. In prayer, all our armor is strengthened, for we have a direct line to God anytime that we want to make it. If we do not pray, we cannot possibly wear the armor of God.
We have now drawn a complete picture of a warrior, a Christian warrior, ready for battle; the spiritual battle of the saints. We can never erase it. Be armed! Be ready! Pray!

Originally Published in:
Vol. 29 No. 8 December 1969

The following article was written by a member of the Redlands Young Peoples Society which was considered worth publishing in the magazine.

 

What is Christian liberty?

Is it the liberty of the Christian to have a right “for an occasion to the flesh”? Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? Is it the freedom of the Christian to hurt others?

No, indeed!

Christian liberty is the teaching that Christ has freed us from the bondage of the Old Testament Jaw and the teachings of men. It is our liberty to worship God as filled with His Spirit. We have no right whatsoever to return to that bondage and we are not in bondage to anyone but Christ. We must also be careful of false brethren who try to bring us back into that bondage. Jesus also verified this when He said in the temple. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”’ “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:32, 36)

It must also be remembered that Christian liberty must be exercised in love. All the law is fulfilled in one word, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” If we love God, we will desire to deal with the neighbor in the love of God. We will want to obey the neighbor when God invests him with authority over us. We will not want to injure him, steal his goods, defile him, speak evil of him or even covet his goods. We will know that the best way to serve God with the neighbor’s goods is to leave them in his possession. If a neighbor performs acts of hatred against God, we cannot love him, For man was made to live antithetically opposed to evil.

The third and final point to be remembered is to live a life led by the Holy Spirit. Paul says in his second epistle to the Corinthians, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3:17). If we follow this point we will truly be following Christ, we will keep our freedom, and we will use that freedom properly. Christian liberty is not the liberty to sin but the liberty to follow Christ and Christ alone.

As Paul said in his first: letter to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 8:9). we must take heed lest by any means this liberty of ours become a stumbling block to them that are weak. In this case, the word liberty can also refer to power, if we sit at meat in the temple of an idol, we can set a bad example for a weaker Christian. The conscience of him can be encouraged to eat of those things offered to idols. If we use our liberty this way, “that through our knowledge, the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died, then we sin against the brethren and wound their weak conscience, then we also sin against Christ.

In our Christian liberty we must be careful not to turn to license. License, here, refers to the disregard of that which is light and proper. Another name for license is havoc. We must constantly be aware of the dangers of the wrong use of this liberty, given to us by Christ.

An example of liberty and license would be that of a train. As long as the train travels down the tracks with no hindrance, it has liberty. But as soon as something happens to throw the train off its careful of following those three points of Christian liberty, and never be tempted to turn to license track, it has license; it runs wild and destroys itself.

So in our daily lives, we should always be careful of following those three points of Christian liberty, and never be tempted to turn to license.

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

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Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

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