This a sermon transcript preached by Timothy Williams. These were preached many years back, some decades ago. Preacher Timothy Williams is not associated with any church, denomination, or ministry. Blessed are those who love the honey of God’s Word!

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
(Psalm 119:103)

This sermons transcript is located at www.luke1425.org


Sermon Area Basic Introduction

Not Even Death

Not even death can keep a preacher from preaching. A godly preachers words come from fire in the bones. But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9)



On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.

Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. (Acts 20:7-12)

The sermons normally lasted 45 to 60 but do not grumble that my sermons were long. True by today’s milk toast entertain me Christian standards they are lengthy. But not long when one considers the days are evil and that ignorance floods the church. …making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)


Preach The Word
www.luke1425.org


I never preached about the Word of God. Rather I was led by the Holy Spirit to preach the Word.

What I Mean By Sound Doctrine

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season;
correct, rebuke and encourage
with great patience and careful instruction.
(2 Timothy 4:2)

Audio Sermon Files


 

Sermon by Timothy Williams. This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.

Wounds From A Friend

Turn to Proverbs 27:6. Today we’re going to hear about friendship and the Lord. True friendship. A little different. Most people don’t even want it. Proverbs 27:6 tells us that friends can be trusted. It says:

Proverbs 27:6 – Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

And so we’re going to talk about a friendship that hurts other people. It says that wounds from a friend can be trusted. It means that when a friend is through with you in the Lord you’re going to feel it and you’re going to know it, you’re going to know there’s been an effect there. You’re going to know that that person has dealt with something in your life. You’re going to know that it’s been direct. If somebody were to wound you I don’t think you could walk away, “Gee, I wonder what happened.” Or, “Did they really do anything?” You’re going to know exactly what took place. So we’re talking about a fellowship and an activity that is powerful, that is active, indeed, most people don’t even want to be around it. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, that is, you know their motives are pure, you know that they have one goal in mind, and we’re going to see what that goal is in a few minutes. We’re going to know that they’re also trustworthy if they don’t come with any other sly motives, they’re not coming in because they want to make you a certain way or to conform you to a certain pattern. They’re coming because they are concerned about you. That tells us something about our enemies. It says an enemy multiplies kisses. I know you’ve been in churches like that where they talk a lot about love and they talk about brother this and sister that and they seem to multiply their affection for one another and love for them, but you don’t see what? The wounds either. You don’t see that kind of sharpening going on. You don’t see that kind of action to really purify each other. In fact, if you start that process they’re going to reject you immediately as you begin that. Because an enemy comes along with fine words, he comes along with spiritual words, he comes along with words of love and kindness, but then it’s just really he’s against you because he tolerates sin in you, he allows it to continue to grow. He doesn’t really care about you at all. Because as a person who doesn’t go to somebody else, who doesn’t care, who really has no reason in his heart at all of wanting to present you perfect.

Let’s look at Proverbs 27:5. It says:

Proverbs 27:5 – Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

And so often people have the total opposite kind of idea that they think that love is somehow always speaking gently and always speaking kindly and never saying anything to offend anybody. Really never speaking the truth to anybody. You might do it behind their back but you’re never certainly going to do it to their face. Scripture tells us that better is open rebuke—that is, clear so that everybody can see it and understand it—than a hidden kind of love. A love that kind of stays in its own world and is comfortable, that is really not going to get involved in people’s lives to present them perfect.

Now I’m not talking about this kind of psychoanalyzing kind of fellowship that goes on where I support this sister or I support this brother, but never really turns to say, “This is a sin, this really has got to change. Isn’t it about time this is over with?” We’re going to look at Jesus and how He did that today and we’re going to see what kind of people we need to be. What we really need within the body of Jesus Christ is a little more kindness.

Let’s look at Psalm 141:5. So often when you begin to live it people are going to say, “You need to be more kind, you need to be more gentle, you need to be more loving and understanding.” So, okay, I’ll give you a little more kindness. Psalm 141:5 gives us one definition of kindness. It says:

Psalm 141:5 – Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.

“Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness.” It is an act of mercy, it is an act of love, it is an act of grace for a righteous man to come to us to deal with our sin and to strike us. Now I want you to notice that he’s not telling us what a righteous man should be as far as striking, he is saying this is what he wants. We’re looking at a man with a good attitude. Look at what he says: “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness.” He is saying I will consider that to be a kind act if he’ll do it. He’s showing us what kind of heart we should have rather than showing us just what kind of people we should be. “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me it is oil on my head.” It is something that feels good. To be rebuked is something soothing. It’s life, it gives me comfort, it gives me joy. It’s kind of a bizarre kind of thing.

Now contrast that with your attitude when people come to you. I know a lot of people who don’t even come to you with what I would even call a rebuke. Certainly with nothing that is too wounding. They kind of tiptoe up to you, dance around you a little bit, give you little parables to go with it and are you wounded or offended by that? And you basically tell them to shut up. This guy’s standing up in the forefront and he’s saying, “Okay, righteous men strike me, I’m going to consider that a kindness and everybody please be kind to me.” He’s saying, “Look, I want to feel soothing and I want to feel comfortable and I want to feel relaxed. Rebuke me, it’s oil on my head. It’s something that I really enjoy. So give me more of it and don’t stop.” What’s the attitude he’s walking with?

He says, “My head will not refuse it.” And yet how many people do refuse it? Especially this aspect of fellowship. Everybody wants to talk over here about the kindness in terms of how they define kindness and the lovingness and the long-suffering of Jesus and all those things and what they really mean is just cloud over my sins, just smooth it over. Because the minute you begin to live this kind of kindness, the minute you begin to show this kind of gentleness they wonder what part of hell you came from. What demon has gotten a hold of you and how you could become so unloving. But he says, “My head will not refuse it.” He’s not going to run from it, he’s not going to be stubborn about it, he’s not going to be stiff-necked about it. He’s going to love the rebuke of the sin even if they’re wrong. Because when somebody comes to me and they seek to rebuke me and challenge me, they might be totally way off base, I can at least learn how to take that with grace and humility, can’t I? I can at least learn to deal with what’s going on in a situation. I can at least not be defensive and find out if there’s something that’s some sin in this person’s life that needs to be dealt with. So whether they’re right or wrong is not even the issue. And that’s what so many of us get caught up in. Thank goodness if we’d stop for a moment and take a little bit of logic with it, even though they may not see something in your life I’m sure you could tell them about something they could be correct on. But he opens himself up, because why? He wants to be purified. His talk of righteousness is not just that. It’s not just talk. He desires to be holy and he knows that it takes more than “his relationship with God.” And who knows if it’s God working at all? But that’s just nothing more than an excuse of running from the light. We’ll see that here in a moment.

Let’s go to Lamentations 3:24 because all of us need to live this but especially those who are young in the Lord. You’ve just been baptized, this is something you need to live out and live out to its fullest. Again, I want you to think as you turn to Lamentations you’re talking about walking into a church, into a body, and saying, “Okay, hit me, strike me, show me some kindness, give me some oil, do this to me, I desire it.” Lamentations 3:24 says:

Lamentations 3:24-26 – I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

All right, why did I bother reading all the passages about waiting? What’s that got to do with anything? It says in verse 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. For one thing, we get extremely impatient wanting God to deliver us today. One of the old classic examples is God comes along, there’s some sin in your life, maybe the body has helped to reveal it, maybe the Lord has convicted you, whatever, and we immediately say, “Okay, I’ve been convicted, it’s over with, that’s fine, now forget it.” When God hasn’t lifted you up, He hasn’t said basically you’re saved or the salvation has not come to you in your lifetime. He’s convicting you, He’s worrying at it and it’s time to sit down and to be quiet to wait for the Lord. When He sees fit to come He’ll deliver you from it. From the guilt, anyway. See what I’m saying? In other words, if you just discipline the child and say, “Okay,“ he then totally forgot what was going on, you know it’s not going to last, he’s going to be right back where he was before. There are times when God in all of His wisdom, and I can’t explain all the different reasons, allows you to remain in the guilt and the sin and the shame so that you don’t repeat the same sin over and over again. And yet we want to put on this plastic kind of joy, we want our brothers and sisters to give it to us, we want them to tell us it’s okay while we go searching in Scripture and say, “Okay, I’m going to claim this Scripture, there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ.” How many times have you heard that misused? It is good to wait what? Patiently and quietly for the Lord. People get a little conviction what do they do? They sing more praises to God in a louder fashion. It says it is good to wait quietly for the Lord. That is, sitting down and being silent and examining who you are and thinking about what God is working. Verse 27 says:

Lamentations 3:27 – It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.

It’s good for him to be under pain, it’s good for him to feel the wounds of disappointment. Verse 28:

Lamentations 3:28 – Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him.

Are you getting impression here over and over again it’s time to shut your mouth? To lay aside the justifications and the white wash and all the reasons for this and all the reasons for that? To go and to sit before the Lord and to say, “Okay, Lord, are they right in this or not? And so what are You trying to show me here? Is this really true or not?” But yet we want to be busy, we want to talk, we want to get into Scripture, we want to pray, we just don’t want to sit silent before the Lord to let Him do that work in us. That says the Lord has laid it on him. Not somebody else, not circumstance. It says the Lord has laid it upon him. And there are times for sitting silent. I’m not talking about sitting in silence in self-pity, licking your wounds and whining about it. We’re talking about soul searching. Seeing more things about what God is dealing with than He was yesterday. Or having more things when you come out of the prayer closet saying, “God is dealing with this. I see this over here.” And just being overwhelmed time and time again by what God is working to purify. Again it says, let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him.

Lamentations 3:29 – Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope.

If we’d learn to love the dust to find out it really is life. The world might send me to bring something to you in your life, I may be one-half correct, I may be one-third correct, I may not be correct at all. But there may be hundreds of other things the Lord wants to work on. Go find some things that cause you to bury your face in the ground. Learn to enjoy and revel in the fact that God convicts and He brings life that way. That’s how you got to Jesus Christ, wasn’t it? Look at verse 30:

Lamentations 3:30 – Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.

You’ve got to offer yourself. I mean you really have to go, “What’s the man say in Psalms? Let a righteous man strike me.” It’s a kindness, you’ve got to offer your cheek to someone. This is not going to be forced on anybody, in fact, they’re going to leave before that ever happens. But you’re going to have to have a fellowship there where you come up to somebody and you’re going to say, “Strike me, do what’s necessary, bring everything the Lord would say and don’t hold anything back.” “Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.” Filled with disgrace. Not just a little bit of a taste of it. Not maybe fifty percent, but filled and overflowing with disgrace and shame. I don’t know why we consider that such a miserable state to be in. As if what? There’s no life and hope in that? It’s the other way around, totally the other way around. The more that I am filled with disgrace the more that the grace is there to purify and to cleanse. The more that I will confess my sin the more that I will have indignation to get out of my sin, the more that I can have the resurrected life in Jesus. It’s those of you who will not offer your cheek, it’s those of you who will not put your face in the dust, it is those of you who will not be filled with disgrace that never get on to the place of joy. You’re defensive about every little thing God brings you, therefore, He can’t even hope to get you filled with this grace. All He’s trying to do is get you to the place to see the need for that. And you think He’s dealing about this particular issue over here. That’s not what He’s dealing with. He’s trying to break the whole heart, He’s trying to get all of you filled with disgrace so that He can give you life. And once you find the secret of that and once it becomes your joy you don’t ever want to lose your disgrace. Because it becomes a rich source of life. That’s why Paul will say “I always carry around in my body the death of Jesus Christ.” Always that sense of He needed to die for me. Always that humiliation. That’s why Paul can say that when God sends him a thorn in the flesh he rejoiced in it, because why? God’s grace is sufficient, it’s complete. But you’ve got to offer yourself. He’s not going to force it into you. He’s not going to make it happen. You have to humble your heart. Verse 31:

Lamentations 3:31-32 – For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.

You’re going to be tempted to think when is this going to end? You’re going to say to yourself, “I can’t do anything right.” Especially, especially when you’re young in the Lord. You’re just getting started again. And certainly those periods in your life when God comes to renew that brokenness. The Lord doesn’t cast off forever and He shows compassion and He’ll bring about rich life if what? If we learn to have a fellowship that is able to wound each other.

So when you go up to a brother or sister and you say, “Be my friend,” what are you saying to them? “Hit me, strike me, give me some oil, rebuke me, love me, present me perfect,” that is what you are literally saying. Is that what people mean? Is that their definition of friendship? You know that it isn’t. The thing is we all need each other. At least that’s the way God has set things up.

Look at Proverbs 21:2. It says:

Proverbs 21:2 – All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.

“All a man’s ways seem right to him.” Everything I do appears to be righteous, it appears to be holy, it appears to be proper, I’m really seeking God. Everything I do when I examine myself and look at all that I am doing appears to be righteous and holy and proper. That is the attitude every single one of us walk in. That’s how we begin our Christian walk and our Christian life. And one of the biggest obstacles you have, especially with young Christians, I’m not saying just young either, but “No that’s not what I meant.” Or “That wasn’t my real motive,” or the hardest part you have is getting them to admit that it wasn’t quite as pure as they thought it was pure. Because what? We have this natural blindness that looks at our lives and says everything is right. And so we’re talking about a fellowship that what? Deals with this attitude. It comes strongly against it. This is what the Holy Spirit’s going to work and this is what He’s going to bring. We’ll tell God but we still need each other. Because that’s the way God has chosen to work.

I know a lot of men in their pride right now that are sitting in their nice little houses and their homes saying, “Well, it’s just God and me, I don’t want to be dependent on anybody else” and going to hell because of it. It’s a true statement that we’re only dependent upon God but what they fail to realize is that God seems to use fellowship, He uses other human beings to bring conviction about sin. And we’re to have the attitude toward one another that allows God to do that.

Let’s look at 2 Samuel 11:27 because David even needed somebody else to come to him. Now David has committed several sins here. Adultery is one, conspiracy is another, murder is another, betrayal of a friend, despising of a friend. Now you would think if you committed conspiracy to murder, if you actually committed the murder you’d have a little bit of guilt about the situation, wouldn’t you? You think you’d be walking around kind of avoiding people, making judgments of any kind, wouldn’t you? That’s not what David did. 2 Samuel 11:27 says:

2 Samuel 11:27 – After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

So what’s chapter 12, verse 1 say?

2 Samuel 12:1 – The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor.

The Lord sent Nathan to David. Did God go to David? Yes, but it was through Nathan. Now so many people in their arrogance say what? “Who are you to bring it to me?” Or they’ll say, “I’ve got to go pray about that and hear it from the Lord.” They cannot hear the Lord speaking at that time, in that moment, at that place specially through you with whatever God is trying lead. It says that what? “The Lord sent Nathan to David.” And in the past God has spoken directly to David. In some very powerful way they have had some holy fellowship and worship, hadn’t they? But here David has committed this kind of sin and that’s not how God chooses to deal with it. “When he came to him, he said, ‘There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor.’”

2 Samuel 12:2-5 – The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die!”

You would think after committing conspiracy and murder and adultery and all of the things he did the last thing this guy would do was make a judgment. Do you suppose that David lived that all the ways of a man seemed right to him? I don’t know what the justifications were but I know how far one can go. He feels secure enough, he feels that somehow his relationship with God is still fine, so he continued to mete out justice. By the law David should have been killed a long time ago. Along with his adulteress. David burned with anger, even had the self-righteous kind of anger against this man. Totally blind up until this point in his need for repentance. Now if David can do this with murder how much more can we do it on every day things? If David could do this with adultery then how easily can we change our words or alter the circumstances? And if we’re not Nathan the prophet, with just normal fellowship trying to be filled with the Holy Spirit coming in our holiness to rebuke someone else, how easily can we manipulate them so that they don’t come to us with a rebuke? How easily we silence them and put them off and avoid them and change things and hope it doesn’t come up. “David burned with anger.” He could walk around in this kind of self-justification and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives,” he can even call down the name of the Lord as the authority for what he is saying. He can say, “Well, I prayed about it. I feel in the Spirit that the guy must die.” And so we can what? Do the same words, speak the same Scriptures, we can stand up in all of our glory and say, “Yeah, that’s really wicked and that’s really evil,” and be totally blind that we’ve done something far, far worse than that. “The man who did this deserves to die.” Verse 6:

2 Samuel 12:6 – He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.

And then in verse 7 it becomes clear. Nathan is to the point.

2 Samuel 12:7 – Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.’”

“You are the man!” Wounds from a friend can be trusted. Is there any guess work about what Nathan is saying? Most of us give the nice little story: “Well I got this friend in Wichita who is doing this, this, and this,” hoping this guy is going to say, “Well, that’s me too.” We never get around to saying, “You are the man. You’re the one committing the sin. This is what needs to be dealt with.”

2 Samuel 12-7 – You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.”

Now we’ve really got a man who first of all comes along and says, “You’re the man,” but he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to detail David’s sin. “Oh, you claim to be a Christian, these things have happened to you, God has blessed you here, look at where you’re at now.” I mean, he draws not only the fact that there’s a sin in this man’s life with this story but he also lays out the fact of everything else that he should be guilty for.

And we’re talking about that kind of wounding with one another if we love one another. Not just coming to someone and saying, “Look, there is sin,” but explaining and showing where the sin is at. Getting them to see that they’re the ones, and then, so to speak, putting salt in the wound.

2 Samuel 12:8-9 – I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.

Again, he details before him his sin again, doesn’t he? The very thing we do not want. We want somebody to come to us, tell us our sin, and then we go, “Okay, that’s fine. You confessed in your soul.” We don’t want them detailing it again for us. Every once in a while somebody will come to me to confess sin and they’ll be laying it all out for me, or maybe I come to them, whatever. And I’ll say, “Yeah, that’s really right,” and then I start to detail it more and then they get all defensive about it. “But you’re here, that’s why I told you,” and then you start laying it all out for them. Bury your face in the dust. Verse 10:

2 Samuel 12:10-12 – Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own. This is what the Lord says: “Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.”

Now how many of us are really going to respond to this? We’re going to tell this guy to shut up; “Since when does he become so holy he can speak like that?” You know, he who is without sin cast the first stone, that kind of thing. “And who qualified you to come tell me all these things? Look, I’ve done all these things up here, Nathan, what are you? Just a simple priest or prophet?” I mean, he doesn’t come to him with love and grace, does he? Not how we think in terms of love and grace. Not how we want it. Everything is fine, God will forgive you, no consequences, it’s all worked through. Nathan hasn’t even gotten to the good part yet. He hasn’t even stated what? “You’re forgiven,” has he? He has simply stated, “You are the man. This is what you did, and these are the consequences and you are going to suffer for them and so is everybody else.” Then we’re going to go, “You’re right, I want to repent.” That’s really how we’re going to respond? Baloney. You can’t even take it when somebody comes to you on something minor without becoming defensive about it. Without asking “Where’s the grace and the mercy?” It’s there, verse 13:

2 Samuel 12:13 – Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.”

He doesn’t get defensive, he doesn’t put down Nathan, tell him to shut up. He doesn’t look for some error in logic in what Nathan is saying. He doesn’t say, “Well, you don’t quite know the situation. I didn’t really mean to kill the guy that way,” or whatever he could come up with. If you do it with small things you’ll do it here. The first one because David had a good heart, he didn’t do it on the small things and he’s not going to do it on the large things. I would have rather died, but that’s beside the point. All the discipline he’s still got to go through. His sins are forgiven but it’s not this smooth kind of comfortable grace that is so flung around in the churches today. Is it? There’s discipline to endure, there are consequences to the sin that was committed. And if all of that wasn’t enough look at verse 14:

2 Samuel 12:14 – But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.

Now the innocent are effected, much more so. I mean, I would have thought everything up above was enough, wouldn’t you? That is after he is heard that he is forgiven of his sins, he gets this tacked on the end. Now do you think David was burying his face in the dust? Do you think he was doing that for more than a day? Do you think in the midst even after the joy of knowing that he is forgiven and all of that is done, does he still carry it around in his heart the remembrance of that sin? Does he learn somehow to have a joy in all of that? Of course he did, he continued to be faithful to the Lord. And no matter what God brought, no matter what discipline was brought in his life he continued to love and worship God. No matter how many times God reminded him of that sin.

I’m just talking about our fellowship with one another. I’m not talking about situations where we’ve murdered somebody or God has to send these kinds of things. But if you can’t take it on a normal fellowship basis, you don’t really want friends in the Lord, and there’s no way you’ll survive this kind of sin.

Look at Galatians 2:11. What’s so sad about all of this is usually people will try and quote you Scripture as you come to rebuke them. There are some classic ones I can think of. One is: First you go one on one and when the person doesn’t respond to that then you get two and then you take three and then you tell the whole church—as if this is the formula for all circumstances and every situation. Galatians 2:11 it says:

Galatians 2:11 – When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.

“Opposed him to his face.” Wounds from a friend can be trusted.

Galatians 2:12-14 – Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”

Not this little private conversation in Paul’s office. Well there are reasons for this. We don’t have time to get into them all. One is the fact that everybody else is being led astray. It was too late for a little office call. And I remind you also of the fact that when God spoke to David He said, “You did it in secret, now it’s in public.” I said to Peter in front of them all; I opposed him to his face, cause he was wrong. That doesn’t happen today. Peter would have said, “Who are you, Paul? I walked with Jesus Christ. I was with Him for three years He even told me how I’m going to die. He worked all these miracles through my life.” There’d be this big debate about who’s got the most miracles and who has the most authority to speak. And then you lose total sight of the sin that is even going on. Are you really that soft that you’ve offered your cheek that somebody can talk to you in front of everybody? Because it happens—you know it happens. You’ve seen it happen here. How do we respond? Are we looking around to see what everybody else thinks? Or are we looking at our hearts to see if the sin is there?

In Proverbs 27:17 it tells us what kind of people we need to be; what kind of fellowship we’re talking about here; and what you can expect. It’s one sentence, but it covers it all as far as this aspect.

Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

You’re going to have to be iron in the Lord. You take a piece of iron and put it up against a piece of glass and try to sharpen the glass, it’s going to shatter, it’s not going to make it. You take a piece of iron and a soft piece of clay and try to sharpen it it’s not going to get sharp. The iron’s not going to get sharp and the clay is going to be torn apart, isn’t it? You take a piece of hardened clay and try to strike it against a piece of iron to sharpen the iron, what’s going to happen to the clay? It’s going to shatter. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” But you can’t be all this Mr. Sensitive, defensive, the pride. We all have to have our faces in the dust if we’re going to survive this one. We’re talking about that kind of fellowship that first of all, number one, is not comfortable. To sharpen two pieces of iron you’re going to have to build up heat. There’s going to be sparks, there’s going to be rubbing back and forth, this is a very dynamic kind of fellowship that has all kinds of ramifications to it. Number one, there is so much flesh even in us coming to one another, this is a dangerous thing to live out. I’m saying to all of us, “Okay, let’s live this out and start challenging each other.” You’re asking for disaster because you may go to somebody, you may be one-tenth correct, you may be ninety percent correct, I mean everybody’s flesh gets dealt with, that’s the process.

A brother might come to me and think he’s totally right because all his ways seem right to him. He’s prayed about the thing, he’s even got a Scripture, he comes to rebuke me, and he might be right ten percent of what he’s saying, and ninety percent have a bad attitude. I’ve got to say, “Okay, you’re right on the ten percent, let’s deal with the ninety percent, the bad attitude.” That takes some depth in my own flesh to say that I’m going to ignore this ninety percent jerk part of him and listen to the ten percent here and love him in the process. There will be a lot of problems through this. There’s no doubt about it. A lot of different attitudes toward each other. A lot of bad attitudes, a lot of struggling back and forth, a lot of discussing with somebody, why I went to so and so and they didn’t respond to me—there will be a lot of that kind of thing going on. You’ve got to deal with gossip, you’ve got to deal with inactivity. There are all kinds of things that will take place. But in the process, if there is love for God and a desire to be made holy, then you will become sharp. Then you will know your own heart and its motives. You’ll be able to discern when the Spirit is telling you to go to somebody and when you’re just going to somebody. But you’ve got to begin to what? Get into living it and having all the flesh come out and having all the dull edges taken off.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” It is not comfortable fellowship, but it is warm fellowship. It is hot fellowship. It is a dealing with flesh in one another. Dealing with your own flesh and it is God working all of that if we give ourselves to Him. How many people are willing to be struck? To be sharpened? They cave in at the first sign of any type of admonishment or correction, let alone anything that’s serious.

Let me deviate just a little bit. Let’s go to Colossians 1:27 because this is what will keep you from getting into so much flesh when going to somebody. I’ve had a lot of people coming to me about an awful lot of things. I’ve been guilty of about every sin that they could imagine and think up. Because there’s a central problem there. Colossians 1:27 tells us what that is. He says:

Colossians 1:27 – To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Now verse 28 says:

Colossians 1:28 – We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

“We proclaim him.” See that is the first mistake everybody makes. They do not proclaim Christ in you. They do not proclaim Him. They proclaim their church. They proclaim their idea of what you should be in Jesus Christ. They proclaim their understanding of Scripture and how it ought to be lived into your life but they do not proclaim Him in you. That is, there is not an understanding of the Holy Spirit being in you and having the mind of Christ and being dead to your own opinions. In other words, if I come to a sister with my own opinion of what she ought to be in Jesus Christ, that’s where the mistake comes in. That’s where man winds up following man. That’s where this kind of fellowship destroys. I mean it will wipe the whole church out if they live this without having Him in them doing it.

“We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom.” This takes more wisdom than you can ever possibly conjure up with all of your Bible study. I don’t care how much Greek and Hebrew you know. I don’t care what the Hebrew says what kind of iron it was. All I know is that it requires all kinds of wisdom, so that we may what? “[P]resent everyone perfect in Christ.” So I know people are going to complain that this sounds too hard and too narrow, too judgmental. Fine, go your way. All I know is I have to present you perfect in Christ and you have to present me perfect in Christ. Now think about it for a moment. You’re going to stand before God and I’m going to be required to present you perfect in Jesus Christ and you’re going to be required to present me perfect in Jesus Christ. Now you don’t think that takes a little bit of wisdom from heaven? Maybe just a tad? Look at verse 29:

Colossians 1:29 – To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

“To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy…” Not your own energy, not your church’s energy, not your concept of right or wrong, not what you think they should be, but His energy, he says, “which so powerfully works in me.” Let’s back up. To this end I what? Labor. This is hard work. It is hard work to put up with one another while you are seeking to present one another perfect. It is extremely difficult to love one another, to deal with your own flesh and your own sin while you seek to present everybody else perfect in Jesus Christ. You have to think about what you’re doing with somebody else’s life. You have to consider. You have to come, I know, a little bit out of yourself, think about this other brother and sister and say, “Okay, what does God have in mind?” You’ve got to pray and be concerned about what God is saying that they should be. He says, “I labor.” He says, “struggling.” This is no easy kind of thing to live. It requires a cross. I don’t know why that should surprise us. So this is not some easy thing you can check off and go live and say, “Oh, yeah, we’re doing it.” It requires sweat, hurt, struggling, talking to people when you don’t feel like it, letting them talk to you when you don’t feel like it. Not gritting your teeth and denying the truth and say, “Here I am, taking this like I should.” He goes laboring, struggling with all His energy. And see there is the key. People labor with all kinds of energy but it’s not His energy. It’s not His wisdom. He says this is no minor deal in his life. He says this is powerfully done. Powerfully done.

I know some of you have seen this, how God can work wisdom in other people and no matter how you try to justify the sin somehow you’re boxed in one way or another. You couldn’t arrange these things if you tried. Where are the people who want to be perfected? Who offers their cheek? What do you usually hear? “Nobody is perfect,” and whine and complain. Jesus, of course, set us an example as to how far it can go in Matthew 16:23. He called Peter, Satan.

Matthew 16:23 – Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Do you think He was seeking to present Peter perfect? Think He was speaking the truth? Of course He was. To the same degree is not God living in us? Is it not Christ in us? And He’ll seek that kind of perfection and that kind of fellowship. Besides, if you’re going to be my friend, you’re going to wound me, you’re going to strike me.

Look at Proverbs 1:22.

Proverbs 1:22 – How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?

They’ve got fellowship down, they’ve got walking in the light down, they’ve got all aspects of loving one another down. It’s just a simple little path to them. Yeah, we walk down this, we do that, yeah we live that. It’s simple. We’re just looking at one aspect of fellowship and that’s iron sharpening iron and it doesn’t look all that simple to me. It looks like a very complicated thing to do. “How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?” That is, they mock the things you say. We’re going to find out what the test is here in a moment, whether somebody’s a mocker or they really live this. Verse 23:

Proverbs 1:23 – If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you.

And the important word throughout all of that is “my.” You would have the heart of God, verse 23 says, because He says, “I would have poured out my heart” and you would have the thought and mind of Christ because He says, “[M]y thoughts.” If you would respond to one thing. What was the one thing they would not respond to? What was the one thing they opposed in all the different ways God brings it? “[M]y rebuke.” And God comes to us in all kinds of small ways to rebuke us. In fact, they wouldn’t even really be rebukes if you just respond to them and go on. We make them rebukes because we get stuck at that point and there is no way He can go anywhere else until that’s over with.

Discipline a kid, you tell him to stop something and if he goes, “Okay,” changes and goes on, no big deal. Right? You tell him to stop and he goes, “Why? What for? I wasn’t doing anything wrong.” You can’t go do anything any where else until that is dealt with, can you? “If you had responded to my rebuke,” whether it comes through Nathan, whether it comes through fellowship, whether it comes from grace in the Bible, whether you have dreams and visions of heaven and hell, whatever it is, however God brings it, if you had responded to that rebuke then you would have God’s thoughts and not only would you have His thoughts, you’d also have His heart. And this is why so many people can’t live this fellowship because what they’re bringing to one another is nothing more than their church’s idea of what is right or wrong. Because why? They themselves did not respond to God’s rebuke. Listen, when I go to somebody else and say, “Look, you need to bury your face in the dust,” don’t you think I have to be there myself? Or have been there myself before? Or experienced those wounds before? Of course. That’s how God deals with self-righteousness and arrogance.

Proverbs 1:24-27 – But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

Look at verse 28:

Proverbs 1:28 – Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.

If you don’t respond to God’s rebukes when He’s trying to come to you in small ways, when the day of disaster does come, you will then cry out to the Lord. And you will say, “O Lord, deliver me and save me,” and He will not answer. Because you know why? What’s in the back of our mind is that when God brings rebuke is that I can always repent somewhere. I can always ask for forgiveness later. I can always deal with this tomorrow. I don’t really have to accept what somebody is bringing to me because later on in the privacy of my closet I can ask for forgiveness. And God is saying, “No. You didn’t respond to My rebuke when I offered it”—so now verse 28: “Then they will call to me but I will not answer.” What way has God been trying to rebuke you and you will not answer that rebuke? And you think later on you can call to Him? But somehow you have a good heart and somewhere when a disaster comes you’ll give it all up then?

Proverbs 1:29-30 – Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke,

I want you to also notice the knowledge and wisdom are given only by rebuke. I wish Bible colleges would do that, become nothing more than a rebuking university. Then people would have wisdom and knowledge. At least His thoughts.

In Proverbs 9:8 it tells us how we can tell who are the mockers and who really loves God. It’s really a very simple test.

Proverbs 9:8-9 – Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

The simple test is this: You rebuke a mocker and he’s going to hate your guts. Absolutely. All the excuses and reasons I’ve been giving you—he’ll come up with them. And so what’s so sad about a lot of this is a man who is a mocker, who hates wisdom from the Lord, God will come to him. And since he is so violently opposed to that rebuke he of course leaves those people who do that. And God doesn’t keep coming time and time again. So they leave that situation, right? They get away from that person. So they never hear rebuke from God so they think everything is fine. They’ll say, “I don’t have any conviction, oh I know I’m dealing with sin.” The terminology, the words are there but because there’s no rebukes, there’s no real dealing with sin they have this false sense of illusion of everything is fine because we’re not being convicted. It’s a devil trap, but the truth is God has just backed off. He just knows you can’t get to Him.

In Proverbs 10:17 it tells us there are whole groups of people going to hell because why? They refuse this kind of fellowship.

Proverbs 10:17 – He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

It doesn’t say he just leads himself astray. He leads others astray. Also you can tell stories of people who have been barely corrected. And when they leave what do they do? They take hosts of other people with them. They lead other people astray.

Proverbs 12:1 puts it a little more clearly.

Proverbs 12:1 – Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.

Or more to the point, a little more direct, he’s downright stupid. The dumbest move you could ever make. Proverbs 13:1 says:

Proverbs 13:1 – A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.

They’re just not going to want to be around it. And we’re talking about an aspect of fellowship they will not live, cannot live, but think they do live.

Proverbs 13:10 – Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

This is basically what happens. This is what people call “sharpening,” is they quarrel back and forth over who’s right, who’s wrong, what this needs, what this person needs to change. I mean, it’s semi-gossip, some quarreling all those kinds of things. Because why? They’re not really dealing with sin. Jesus is not their first love. It says, “but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” That is, they act upon it, they know that it is right, they can see it happening. Nathan comes to them and they don’t complain and whine and say, “Well, let me go back in the prayer closet and weigh all this before the Lord,” and they get all their aspects down so they can look the best they can. They go, “You’re right, I sinned.” David just simply says, “I am the man.” And that’s all he says—no excuses. And he acts on it, he changes, he worships, he does what he needs to do. Anything else is just going to lead to all kinds of quarreling and destruction. Not because the Scripture’s wrong, but because the heart isn’t right that’s living it. Because the people are sharpening each other, they’re not doing it under Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ, for sin to be dealt with. They’re doing it to feel better, to live the Christian life.

Look at Hebrews 12:14. This kind of iron sharpening iron and friends who wound it will flat out destroy most people. And it requires a great deal of making Jesus your first love. Because I guarantee in your flesh, it gets old. It gets old. And think about it—it’s the very thing your flesh doesn’t want. Some of you will try to find a church that is comfortable for you. In Hebrews 12:14 it says:

Hebrews 12:14-15 – Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Everything we’ve been looking at if Jesus is not your first love it will cause a bitter root to grow up that can defile many people. That’s why it says in verse 14 make every effort to be at peace with all men and to be holy. Jesus will say it another way. He’ll say: Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with each other. Expect this kind of fellowship, expect God to work this way. Expect your flesh to be challenged. Expect for there to just be a brother or sister that rubs you wrong. It’s iron sharpening iron. Expect for God to use the body to deal with your sin. When you get stubborn I guess you can use the world if that’s really how you want it to be done. “But make every effort to live in peace and to be holy.” See, it’s the “be holy” that causes the problem. They’re to seek to be at peace with, many in the world seek that. But that holiness in there, where sin really needs to be dealt with, to really go to one another and wound each other? For two brothers to come out of a prayer closet limping, rubbing their shoulders because they’ve been wounded by each other? Or a couple of sisters to work through everything so they’re kind of sore all day long? Because why? They’ve been wounded by each other, they’ve been smacked by each other. The iron, the heat has built up, there’s pain involved. And they’re still at peace with each other? That’s an amazing kind of fellowship. Many times both of us are just in the flesh. It’s a matter of wearing each other out, wounding each other to realize we’re both wrong. All kinds of dynamic things to this but only the Holy Spirit can work it.

Hebrews 12:15 – See to it that no one misses the grace of God.

You have to put forth effort, you have to put forth thought and prayer, you have to struggle with all of His energy which will so powerfully work within you. To see to it that no one has a bitter root, that no one misses the grace of God. See when you have this kind of activity going on there is every potential for it to start at any moment in time. Because all you need is one person who gets in their flesh who doesn’t deal with their sin and they’re going to want to justify themselves and they’re going to seek to spread that all through the body, aren’t they? That’s all it takes is one incident because why? There’s not this relaxing kind of fellowship. This is eating together at men’s prayer breakfast—anything but prayer—but anyway, there are prayer breakfasts where everybody gets together and everybody leaves buddies and chums. Where people are challenging and admonishing and correcting and all the mistakes that take place. If one person gets a bad attitude, if one person refuses that kind of grace and nobody else is on guard it goes.

Look at Hebrews 3:12. That’s why it says:

Hebrews 3:12 – See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

Oh yeah, you can turn around and live this but not so there will be a living God. Not so there will be a living God. That’s why churches “become cold.” They wind up following a man because there’s not the living God doing it. There are two extremes: those who don’t live it at all and those who live it in their flesh. Verse 13:

Hebrews 3:13 – But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

What? Encouragement is helping to see that I’m not deceived. Are there not people to find encouragement? Where you go up to a brother or sister and say, “Be careful, you know how vulnerable you are to this sin. You could be taken in.”

And a brother takes that as an encouragement? “What are you always reminding me for? Every time I turn around you bring that up to me? When are we ever going to forget this?” Well you know, all things are forgotten in Jesus Christ. “Encourage one another daily” so that you’re not what? “Hardened by sin’s deceitfulness,” that is, all your ways seem right to you. All of them. And it’s through what? Daily fellowship. Iron sharpens iron daily that this sin’s deceitfulness is dealt with. Now is this really what we want? Some of you are going to have calluses from being wounded so much. And we all have our certain sore spots. I suppose pounding me on the ankles might hurt a little more than pounding me on the back. I don’t know. But there’s going to be all aspects of our flesh that are dealt with as God works this kind of fellowship within us. But guess what, folks? It’s not on Sunday and it’s not on Thursday, it is every single day, at least as long as it’s called Today. Is this really what we want? What does verse 12 tell us? What is a sinful, unbelieving heart that is turned away from the living God? You know what comes to mind immediately is you don’t encourage one another daily to be on guard against sin’s deceitfulness. And, please, I do not mean a general kind of rebuke. “Brother, be careful, watch out for sin’s deceitfulness today.” “Yeah, you’re right, Tim, I need to watch out for my flesh.” Specifically, directly, you look at what needs to be sharpened. He’s got certain things he deals with. I’ve got certain things I deal with. And it’s just so easy to get hurt.

In Hebrews 10:22 it says:

Hebrews 10:22-24 – let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

We are talking about real love and fellowship, aren’t we? You’d better sit down and each brother and sister, each member of that body, you have to think, “What do I need to encourage them in, specifically?” What one brother deals with I don’t deal with. But I consider, okay, what does this brother have to deal with? And I go directly to him, specifically with him in mind to encourage him directly in the Lord with what he needs to deal with because it’s different than somebody else. But brothers and sisters, this takes a life of love, this takes a life of laying down your life for one another. It takes a life of thought, it takes coming out of your nice little world and being concerned not only about your own life but about other people’s lives as well. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” A little jab here and there. Or go do this, correct this, change that was good, but you can say this here. Constantly spurring one another on toward doing more. But you know what you get? “You don’t know how much I pray. You don’t know how much I serve. You don’t know how much I gave last year. You don’t know all the things that I do.” “Spur one another toward love and good deeds.” You’re dealing not only with actions, aren’t you? Deeds. But also with motive. Spur one another on toward love. Oh, what? We’re dealing with each other’s hearts now? Nobody can see my heart but God. You know the old defensive line. That’s right, God never sends a Nathan, God never gives wisdom among His people. This is the deed, somehow shows you have a good heart. You know it makes no sense at all but that’s the way it goes. If you do the bad deed you’ve got a bad part of your heart. You’ve got problems. These are all this sermon. But you’re dealing with the heart as well as the action. Not just action. That’s why some of you come back and go, “But I did what you wanted.” And I go, “But your heart was the pits.” Or you’ll give me the old line, “Well my heart was really in it, I just didn’t do the deed.” Okay. Love and good deeds. Verse 25 tells us you can’t relax in this.

Hebrews 10:25 – Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

How the church trumpets the fact that we’re in the last days but I don’t see this happening more than it was before. What’s everybody want to be like? The first church. That tells me there’s a problem there. Because we’re supposed to be doing it more than the first church did it because we’re more in the last days than they were in the last days. Verse 26 tells us:

Hebrews 10:26-27 – If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

All because verse 24 says they do not consider how to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Wounds from a friend can indeed be trusted. I’m not done yet. I’m going to have to finish here though. Let’s look at Proverbs 15:31. Let me just read the last few passages out and you can look them up later. Proverbs 15:31 says:

Proverbs 15:31 – He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.

Proverbs 17:10 says:

Proverbs 17:10 – A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool.

But I like Proverbs 25:12, it says:

Proverbs 25:12 – Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.

They love it, it’s something of value, they treasure it, they savor it, they hold on to it, they meditate about it. They wear it, it’s there, they keep it, nobody else can have it. It is a thing of pride. They love the rebuke. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear. It is a great thing of value. Now Proverbs 20:6 tells us what we see all the time.

Proverbs 20:6 – Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?

They claim to love you. They claim to be your brothers and sisters. They claim to care about you but do they come to you? Do they bring anything to you? Our worst enemies are those in the church who say things like, “Well, I was going to tell them that, I was going to say that to them.” That’s your worst enemy. Your worst enemy is the person that won’t tell you. If you need to be called Satan your worst enemy is the one who won’t do it. That’s who opposes you, that’s who hates you. The guy who cares nothing. Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man, he’s consistently there. A friend who wounds you. He can be trusted, he’s there, he’s faithful about what he’s doing. These are the people you can trust.

Look at Nehemiah 13:22, it says:

Nehemiah 13:22 – Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember me for this also, O my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.

Now listen to this, right here, all right? Nehemiah is going to tell God something: “Remember me for this also, O my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.” He’s getting ready to go into the pearly gates, all right? He’s saying, “God, I want to tell You there’s a reason why You ought to show me mercy and this is the reason why You ought to show me mercy.” Look at what he says in verse 23:

Nehemiah 13:23-25 – Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah. I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: “You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves.”

“I rebuked them. Remember this very clearly, Lord, I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name.” I think he’s proud of this fact. “God, I beat Your people. And I pulled out their hair. And I became a cult leader. I made them take an oath.” There are lots of books out there today about pressure kind of fellowship and what to watch out for. I haven’t read any of them but I can imagine what’s in there. I’m sure they’re not quoting Nehemiah. They might give a copy to Nehemiah. But he boasts before the Lord of this fact. And so when we read Psalms, I know the beginnings of a righteousness tract, we go, “Oh, that’s a nice parable.” That’s no parable for Nehemiah. And I’m not even going to bother to explain or smooth this over so that somebody says, “Are you really saying we should literally hit one another?” I hope not, some of you guys are bigger than I am. But on the other hand, if I’m in that kind of sin, now this is a dangerous thing, you can pull out my beard, you’d just better be right. “I rebuked them and I called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. And I made them take an oath in God’s name. And I also said you’re not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or yourselves.” A little on the forceful side, huh?

Wounds from a friend can be trusted. You know something has happened. These guys didn’t walk away from this sermon going, “Boy, that was powerful. I was really encouraged by that, brother.” They knew their life had to change in no uncertain terms. The problem is most of us don’t know how to fellowship like this. Most pastors and leaders don’t even want this kind of fellowship. They’d have to change then too.

In Isaiah 56:9 it talks about them. It says:

Isaiah 56:9-10 – Come, all you beasts of the field, come and devour, all you beasts of the forest! Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep.

I can’t even begin to talk about this. And woe unto them if they tried to live it. What a disaster. “Are mute dogs.” I mean knowledge about correcting and sharpening, purifying into holiness. “They cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep.” They think today is dreams and visions and understanding all this. They’re mute dogs. They’re dogs with mighty appetites.

Isaiah 56:11-12 – They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain. “Come,” each one cries, “let me get wine! Let us drink our fill of beer! And tomorrow will be like today, or even far better.”

All the boasting and the bragging and accomplishing and the gaining, where’s the sharpening? Where are the wounds of a friend? All the jumping down and the hallelujahs as you look out, where are the people who are wounded from being sharpened? Where are the guys with pieces of beard missing in their face? Black eyes, where there really is a dealing with sin. What’s so ironic is that this kind of fellowship can be so natural nobody thinks twice about it except those people who haven’t lived it. You get used to that heat and you like the heat and the sharpness. But first it’s an unbearable pain, unbearable.

Isaiah 59:4 is really what we see going on. It says:

Isaiah 59:4 – No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.

Nobody calls for the truth in any matter anymore. You know why? Cause we can’t know the truth. “Only God knows my heart.” You really can’t have all wisdom about any circumstances or anybody. Nobody seems to cry for justice. Nobody seems to even ask. Everybody likes excuses, don’t they? “Nobody’s perfect,” “You can’t know my heart.” Nobody stands up and says, “God, reveal my heart to everybody.” Nobody ever says that. “No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity.” It’s who can outwit who. Not just a bunch of people sitting in a room silent together going, “We’re guilty,” and just have that look toward one another. Nobody pleads it with what? Integrity. With truth, with a desire to see everything. You may not be right on nine-tenths of what you bring to me but I’ll give you nine of the things you could be right on. They rely on what? “Empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.” They do not have nor are they striving for and gaining this kind of fellowship. The only thing they have are empty arguments and lies and all they’re giving birth to is not righteousness and not holiness but all kinds of evil and trouble.

Let us really become friends toward one another. Let’s really become not only brothers but friends. And let people turn to one another and be able to say, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Give me your wounds, show me your love by presenting me perfect. I’ve heard people say this is all oppressive and all narrow and then I say, “Goodbye. Go on down the road somewhere else.” Cause this is life, purification in its holiness. And it’s good, pleasing and perfect.

Let’s go ahead and pray.

Father, we do plead before You and ask that You would work this in all of us. And that, Father, You would deal individually with the flesh that is in each of us so that we would be able to be friends with one another. A friendship, Father, not only that is pure and holy of You but like the world has never seen before. That we can be at peace with each other and still be holy. Where heat and sparks can fly and there still be life. Most of all, Father, for any of this to be real we know that it has to be Christ in us and that when we seek to go to any brother or sister, please, Father, stop us if we’re in our own thoughts, our own mind, our own ideas of what they should and shouldn’t do or be. And grant us, O Lord, Your wisdom, all wisdom, and teach us, Father, to lay down our lives for each other, to consider how we can spur one another on toward love and toward good deeds. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.

 


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