Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Little Foxes That Spoil the Vine - Part 7


Song of Solomon 2:15 KJV  Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

SPIRITUAL APATHY

General Quotes

Anonymous—Apathy is the glove in which evil slips its hand.

Elie Wiesel—The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, its indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, its indifference and the opposite of life is not death, its indifference.

Martin Niemoller—First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

G. Bowes—One apathetic Christian may do untold harm to a whole church.  Pour a quantity of cool water into a pot that has boiling water and immediately the temperature change of the whole will sink.  Just so the contact of men who are indifferent with those who are fervent, deadens their fervor, and tends to reduce them to the same apathy.

Where Does It Start?   

Another of the little foxes that can spoil the vine is spiritual apathy.  We are all susceptible to this creeping little monster and if it moves into our lives it can be quite destructive.  In fact, if spiritual apathy ever gains a foothold it can spawn multiple other terrible conditions that greatly hinder the vineyard of our soul, our family, and our church.  Spiritual apathy allows our spiritual battles to almost eat us alive.  It opens us up to great feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated.  Spiritual apathy causes us to coast and lean more on natural abilities instead of leaning on the provision of God. 

Spiritual apathy often starts in a subtle manner.  We are converted and it seems like we cannot get enough of the Word, positive spiritual fellowship, and corporate worship at church.  Our life seems to revolve around God and His house.  Our priorities are set according to spiritual events so that growth can take place.  Just being involved with the things of God creates a faithfulness, strength, and passion that open doors to a great walk with God.  We feel the joy of spiritual growth and can sense that the sky is the limit with what God wants to do with us. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Little Foxes That Spoil the Vine - Part 6


                
Thirty Sins of the Tongue to Avoid


As a conclusion to this part about the little fox of sinful speech, I discovered the old Puritan Richard Baxter wrote a book that was primarily intended for the people in the church he pastored in Kidderminster in the 1600’s.  He called it A Christian Directory and he noted that there were thirty sins of the tongue to avoid.





Understand and remember what the sins of the tongue to be avoided are.   And they are very many, and many of them very great: the most observable are these:
1. The first among all sins of commission is that of blasphemy, which is the reproaching of God: to speak contemptuously of God, or to vilify him, or dishonor him, by the denying of his perfections, and to debase him, by false titles, doctrines, images, resemblances, as likening him to man in any of our imperfections; anything that is a reproaching of God is blasphemy.
2. Another sin of the tongue is, false doctrine, or teaching things false and dangerous as from God. If any falsely say, he had such or such a point by divine inspiration, vision, or revelation, that makes him a false prophet. But if he only says falsely, that this or that doctrine is contained in the Scripture, or delivered by tradition to the church, this is but to be a false teacher.
3. Another of the sins of the tongue is, an opposing of godliness indirectly, by false application of true doctrine, and an opposing of godly persons for the sake of godliness, and objecting for no good reason against particular truths and duties of religion; or defending those points and practices which would subvert or undermine religion: a secret endeavor to make all serious godliness seem a needless thing. There are many that seem orthodox, that are impious and malicious opposers of that truth in the application, which themselves do notionally hold, and positively profess.
4. Another great sin of the tongue is, the profane deriding of serious godliness, and the mocking, and jesting, and scorning at godly persons as such; or scorning at some of their real or supposed imperfections, for their piety sake, to make them odious, that piety through them might be made odious. When men so speak, that the drift and tendency of their speech is to draw men to a dislike of truth or holiness.
5. Another great sin of the tongue is, unjustly to forbid Christ’s ministers to preach his gospel, or speak in his name; or to stand up against them and contradict, resist, and hinder them in the preaching of the truth; and, as Gamaliel calls it, ” to fight against God,” Acts 5:39.
6. Another sin of the tongue is, profane swearing, either by God or by creatures: and also all light and irreverent use of the name and attributes of God.
7. Much more is perjury or forswearing a most heinous sin, it being an appealing to God, the author and defender of truth, to bear witness to an untruth, and to judge the offender; and so a craving of vengeance from God.
8. Lying also is a great and common sin of the tongue.
9. Another sin of the tongue is, hypocritical dissembling, which is worse than mere lying: when men’s tongues agree not with their hearts, but speak good words in prayer to God, or conference with men, to cover evil intentions or affections, and to represent themselves to the hearers as better than they are.
10. Another is, ostentation or proud boasting, either of men’s wit and learning, or greatness, or riches, or honor, or strength, or beauty, or parts, or piety, or anything that men are  proud of.’ As the faithful “do make their boast in God,” Ps. 34:2; so the “workers of iniquity boast themselves against the righteous, and the proud do triumph and speak hard things,” Ps. 44:2-4. “Even against the Lord,” do they boast, in their boasting against his people, Ezek. 35:13.
11. Another sin of the tongue is, unseasonable speaking of common things when holy things should be preferred; as on the Lord’s day, or at the time of public worship, or when the company, occasion, or opportunity call for holy speeches: worldlings are talking, as Saul, of their asses, when they should talk of a kingdom, 1 Sam. 9:10.
12. Another common sin of the tongue is, a tempting and persuading others to sin, enticing them to gluttony, drunkenness, wantonness, fornication, or any other crime; as men that ”not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them,” Rom. 1:32.
13. Another is, a carnal manner of handling the sacred things of God, as when it is done with lightness, or with unsuitable curiosity of words, or in a ludicrous, playful manner, especially by the preachers of the gospel themselves; and not with a style that is grave and serious, agreeable to the weight and majesty of the truth.
14. Another is, an imprudent, rash, and slovenly handling of holy things; when they are spoken of so ignorantly, unskillfully, disorderly, or passionately, tending to dishonor them, and frustrate the desired good success.
15. Another sin of the tongue is, the reviling or dishonoring of superiors; when children speak irreverently and dishonorably to or of their parents; or subjects of their governors; or servants of their masters, either to their faces, or behind their backs. “They are not afraid to speak evil of dignities”’ 2 Pet. 2:10; Jude 8.
16. Another is, the imperious contempt of inferiors, insulting over them, provoking and discouraging them. Eph. vi. 4, “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.”
17. Another sin of the tongue is, idle talk and multitude of useless words; a babbling loquacity, or unprofitableness of speech; which is speech that does not edify.
18. Another sin is, foolish talk, or jesting in levity and folly, which tends to possess the minds of the hearers “with a disposition of levity and folly like the speakers. Eph. 5:4, “Foolish talking and jesting are things not convenient.” Honest mirth is lawful; and that is the best which is most sanctified, as being from a holy principle, and about a holy matter, or to a holy end: as “rejoicing in the Lord always,” Phil. iv. 4. ” If any be merry let him sing psalms,” James v. 13.
19. Another sin is, “filthy speaking, Eph. 5:4; obscene and ribald talk; which the apostle calls “corrupt or rotten communication,” Eph. 4:29; when wanton, filthy minds do make themselves merry with wanton, filthy speeches. This is the devil’s preparative to whoredom and all abominable uncleanness; for when the tongue is first taught to make a sport of such filthy sins, and the ear to be delighted in it, or be indifferent to it, there remains but a small step to actual filthiness.
20. Another sin of the tongue is, cursing; when men wish some mischief causelessly or unwarrantably to others. If you speak but in passion or jest, and desire not to them in your hearts the hurt which you name, it is nevertheless a sin of the tongue, as it is to speak blasphemy or treason in a passion or in jest; the tongue must be ruled as well as the heart. But if really you desire the hurt which you wish them, it is so much the worse. But it is worst of all, when passionate, factious men will turn their very prayers into cursings, calling for fire from heaven, and praying for other men’s destruction or hurt; and pretending Scripture examples for it; as if they might do it unwarrantably, which others have done in other cases in a warrantable manner.
21. Slandering is another sin of the tongue; when out of malice and ill will, men speak evil falsely of others to make them odious or do them hurt: or else through uncharitable credulity, do easily believe a false report, and so report it again to others; or through rashness and unruliness of tongue, divulge it, before they try it, or receive either just proof, or any warrantable call to mention it.
22. Another sin is, backbiting and venting ill reports behind men’s backs, without any warrant. Be the matter true or false, as long as you either know it not to be true, or if you do, yet vent it to make the person less respected, or at least without a sufficient cause, it is a sin against God, and a wrong to men.
23. Another sin is, rash censuring, when you speak that evil of another, which you have but an uncharitable surmise of; and take that to be probable which is but possible, or that to be certain which is but probable against another.
24. Another sin is, railing, reviling, or passionate, provoking words, which tend to the diminution of charity, and the breach of peace, and the stirring up of discord, and of a return of railing words from others, contrary to the love, and patience, and meekness, and gentleness which become saints.
25. Another sin is, cheating, deceiving, overreaching words; when men use their tongues to defraud their neighbors, in bargaining for their own gain.
26. Another sin of the tongue is, false witness bearing, and false accusing; a sin which cries to God for vengeance, who is the justifier of the innocent.
27. Another sin of the tongue is, the passing an unrighteous sentence in judgment: when rulers absolve the guilty or condemn the just, and call evil good and good evil, and say to the righteous, “Thou art wicked,” Prov. xxiv. 24.
28. Another sin of the tongue is, flattery; which is the more heinous by how much more hurtful. And it is most hurtful, 1. When it tendeth to delude men in the greatest things, even the state of their souls. 2. Flattering is pernicious when it tendeth to the hurt of many; as when rulers are deceived and perverted by it to the destruction of the people and themselves.’ Prov. 26:28, “A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it, and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.” See 1 Thess. 2:5; Ezek. 12:24; Ps. 12: 2-3.
29. Another sin is, a jeering, mocking, deriding, or scorning at others, either for their infirmities of body or mind, or for their virtues, or through envy and malice, or pride, or a custom of deriding, scornful speech. Especially when sinners scorn at the reproofs and counsels of the godly, and cast them all back into their faces with contempt; for he that “reproveth a scorner getteth himself a blot,” Prov. 9:7-8- “A scorner loveth not one that reproveth,” Prov. 15:12.
30. Another tongue sin is, idolatry or false worship; the praise of idols, or praying to them, or making songs, or speeches, or disputes for them; as also the false worship of the true God. These among others are the sins of the tongue to be avoided. No wonder if there be yet more, for the ” tongue is a world of iniquity,” James 3:6.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Little Foxes That Spoil the Vine - Part 5


EPHESIANS 4:29—DON’T LET UNWHOLESOME WORDS EXIT YOUR MOUTH

The words that are spoken give great revelation to the state of the heart.  Sinful speech can fall into disgraces against God and those against man.  Those against God can be rash swearing in the name of God, irreverence toward God in light conversation, using Scripture in a jesting or scoffing manner, mocking the church and those who are serious about their walk with God, reasoning against the doctrines of the church to defend sinful practices or opinions, and murmuring and complaining.  Speech against man can fall into areas such as idle speaking with words that add no value, coarse jesting that has worldly undertones or innuendo, lying, wounding the reputation of others even if the words may be true, slander or spiteful speech that raises a false report.  Our speech needs to affirm both God and man. 

Most likely when you read the title of the lesson about sinful speech, your mind probably went immediately to a couple of categories.  Cursing would probably top the list and then it would be followed by gossip because this is perhaps the only categories we may have thought of.

The passage from Ephesians 4:29 actually covers a much broader category than just cursing and gossip. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Little Foxes That Spoil the Vine - Part 4 - Sinful Speech


Sinful Speech

Song of Solomon 2:15 KJV  Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

Ephesians 4:29 KJV  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.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 MSG  Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Ephesians 4:29 NASB  Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 Moffatt NT  Let no bad word pass your lips, but only such speech as is good for edification, as occasion may require, words that are gracious and a means of grace to those who hear them.

Ephesians 4:29 J B Phillips  Let there be no more foul language, but good words instead—words suitable for the occasion, which God can use to help other people. 

Ephesians 4:29 NLT  Don’t use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. 

Thomas Manton—The tongue had need to be restrained with force and watchfulness, for it is quick and ready to bring forth every wicked conception.  You must not only watch over it, but bridle it; it is good to break the force of these constraints within us, and to suffocate and choke them in the first conception.

Bishop Stevens—You can sooner make the condor of the Andes perch upon your wrist; you can sooner make leviathan sport with you in the cresting surf; you can sooner make the boa-constrictor coil harmlessly around your neck; you can sooner make the lion so gentle that a little child can lead him , the tame the tongue; for the “tongue can no man tame.”

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Little Foxes That Spoil the Vine - Part 3


The Control of Weeds

The keeper of the vineyard also has to keep a watchful eye for those weeds, thistles, nettles, briars, and scrub trees that will exploit his soil.  These kinds of things take the plant food and the water and consume them at the expense of the vines.  All of these things have to be entirely removed from the vineyard or else.  Cultivation is the most effective way to accomplish this as it stirs the soil and shaves off the roots just below the surface of the ground.  Cultivation also works as a deterrent against various forms of fungus and bacteria that will deform the vines.

In the parable of the soils, we are told that some of the seed fell to the ground among the thorns (Mark 4:7, 18-19).  We are told that the thorns are the cares of this world.  It is those worries about secular things instead of the sacred things.  Some of the cares of this life are the necessary things that relate to our survival on the earth.  Food, clothing, work and other matters are involved in these things.  We have certain responsibilities that are given to us and really at their core they could be considered gifts from God.  Food, clothing, and even work are gifts of God that He has given to us to help us to function in life.  However the great deception from the devil is for us to turn those gifts into idols.  They become idols to us when they are all consuming to the extent that God is entirely squeezed out of the picture in our material pursuits of them.  This is when the weeds will begin to rage out of control. 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Little Foxes That Spoil the Vine - Part 2


Song of Solomon 1:6 KJV  . . . they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

The utterance of the Shulamite in this verse proves to us the perils that exist in the confines of the Christian life.  There are responsibilities that we have but often do not live up to them because of neglect.  Neglected vineyards makes for a wearying journey that is filled with doubt, discouragement, and a knowledge that our spiritual walk could be on a much higher plain.  This vineyard keeper is voicing a sorrowful confession of how things really are as she looks about the disarray of the vineyard.  

 
How many times on our knees in prayer have we confessed the very same thing to the Lord?  We have confessed about the faulty, shoddy spiritual work that has been accomplished because of the condition of our own soul.  We know what it is like to have wanted to speak words of faith and hope into someone’s torn up life only to discover the emptiness of our own soul.  In moments like this often lips often outrun our devotion.  Truth is declared but it is somewhat empty of passion.  We have told of the love of Christ with the deep-seated knowledge that we have not yet attained to what we are speaking of. 

We can only be reminded of the stark condition of the sluggard’s vineyard that is laid out in the Proverbs for us:

Proverbs 24:30-34 KJV  I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;  [31]  And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.  [32]  Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.  [33]  Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:  [34]  So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Little Foxes That Spoil the Vine - Part 1


 Every person has a vineyard.  We may not perceive that we are keepers of vineyards but there are responsibilities that we all have for our vineyards.  First, we have the personal vineyard of our own soul.  It is perhaps the most important vineyard of all that we are to take the most care of.  Our soul is the most valuable possession that we have according to the Word of the Lord (Matthew 16:26; 10:28; Ecclesiastes 12:7).  The care of the soul is a very tedious and challenging process.  It involves the careful work of plowing, planting, cultivating, weeding, watering, and harvesting.  Just as a farmer is in a joint venture with God, to care for our soul will have to be a joint venture with God.  We cannot do it all alone!  We must have God to intervene with Spirit and Word to accomplish His will for us.    

The care of the soul is not something that will be accomplished with a single attempt but rather it is an ongoing process that takes years of constant devotion and care.  It is a process that can be called holiness or sanctification (Luke 1:74-75; 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 4:24; Heb. 12:14; 2 Peter 3:11).  There will be ups-and-downs with the walk of holiness and yet we are to constantly strive to be pleasing to God (Php. 3:14; Romans 6:1-12; 8:1-10).  We must not let self-righteousness or self-reliance get in our way of caring for our souls.