~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Peter DeWitt. You can hear the whole sermon, Valuing what God Values (Part 1: Introduction) by clicking here.
If you desire to live Godly, we will suffer persecution. Said differently: if we go a decade thinking we are living Godly and we don’t suffer persecution, chances are we are a little like salt that has lost its taste. We are supposed to be salt. Salt preserves things. What does salt preserve? Dead meat – so it doesn’t rot! Do you realize that the whole world is in decay unless the believers salt it by living righteously – and perhaps suffering persecution for doing so? We are supposed to not lose our saltiness so that we can preserve a rotting world until they can receive Jesus! (Said with not negativity). This is part of our service to the world. We cannot be half-way salty. What good is salt if it has lost it’s saltiness? This is why we are addressing these topics of societal import – because we are not to be afraid or be troubled about talking about these issues. They are not controversial to God.
Continuing with verse 15 (from 1 Pe. 3) “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” When this verse says “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” what that means is to set the Lord apart in our hearts. Make Him Holy / separate in our hearts. So long as our mind is on the throne of our heart, we won’t set the Lord apart in our heart which is going to cause us to not give a defense for the hope that is within us. Peter is saying “give a defense” which is a lawyer-type term. We are supposed to be able to give a legal defense for the hope that’s within us. Note that it says we should be ALWAYS ready to do that and to EVERYONE. Many of us feel like we could share the gospel with a teenager but would be comfortable sharing the gospel with an evolution professor?
If we don’t know what the Word of God says on these controversial-to-the-world matters, we will have what the Word of God calls a “weak conscience.” (1 Cor. 8:7) Notice that this is different from the “evil conscience” talked about in Hebrews 10:22. There we see that an evil conscience needs sprinkled clean by the washing of the water of the word so that a born-again believer can awaken to who they are in Christ and sin not! (1 Cor. 15:34) That is not what this is about. That is an EVIL conscience. This is a WEAK conscience. This has nothing to do with sin. A weak conscience has nothing to do with sin.
Let’s look at an example of a weak conscience: Peter is a pastor. If he was out to dinner with his wife for a date, had a glass of wine with dinner, ran into another pastor who remarked “you drink wine? …” If Peter’s conscience is weak about what the Word of God says about wine drinking as a believer his heart will melt like wax within him at that interrogation. However, if Peter really knows what the Word of God says about wine (not just like “I think I heard someone talk about that before …” but truly KNOWS what the Word of God says about wine) then he would have a strong conscience. So, if Peter KNOWS that wine is no problem for a believer but being given to drunkenness is then at the accusation-al interrogation from another pastor he says “yes, I am drinking wine; what’s the problem?” and starts to consider how he might be able to minister freedom to the other pastor if possible.
So, what’s the difference between a weak conscience and a strong conscience? That you know the Word! When you know the Word of God on the matter, that’s what gives you a strong conscience! The reason we may faint at the thought of talking with someone about abortion, homosexuality, evolution, and other secular humanist concepts (or about grace and cessationism) is because our conscience on those issues is not strong in that area. We must be CONVINCED of what the Word of God truly says about these issues so that you can give a reason! So that you can give a defense for the hope that’s within you. There’s a freedom that comes with this! You stop walking around being worried that someone is going to ask you “so do you think that homosexuality is a sin too?”
A philosophy is basically a value system. So what did Jesus value? Let’s look at John 5:19-20 “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.”
Jesus says that He does nothing except what He sees and hears from the Father. The core focus of Jesus’ life was to imitate the Father. In other words, this was Jesus’ philosophy. It was His value system. Jesus’ philosophy of life was to do what the Father was doing and say what the Father was saying. Let’s look at Matthew 10:24-25. There is a great humility in Jesus’ philosophy of life. There is a level of humility that is going to bring a tremendous freedom in our lives that Jesus modeled perfectly. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.” It is enough. This is enough. You don’t need to add to this … it is enough for a disciple to be like His teacher. Its enough that we would be like the Father! It’s enough for us to be like our master. It’s enough.
Philippians 2:5-7 (ESV) speaks to this as well: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Paul was saying to “think like this – let this be your philosophy.” He went on to say “this mind that I am about to tell you about is yours in Christ – you already have this mind. You’ve been given the mind of Christ.” When you read 1 Corinthians 2:16 about the mind of Christ, realize that the mind of Christ is not a laundry list of facts. This is the mind of Christ: “I can do nothing of Myself, but what I see the Father do; for whatever the Father does, I do in like manner … it’s enough for Me to be like Him.”
Think back to Genesis 2 and 3. In Genesis 2:17 we hear God say “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God was saying “in the day that you eat of that tree, you are going to die. That will not give you life and life abundantly; that will kill you.” There are two operating systems in the world for our thought patterns. There are two philosophical operating systems available to us. The one was subscribed to (through deception of the serpent) by Adam and Eve. They ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had said “I’m giving you a freewill because I want you to be able to choose to love Me if you choose to love Me, but please for your own sake don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for I never made man to be able to discern good and evil for himself.” In fact, as a man, if you try to discern good and evil for yourself it will destroy you.” And THAT was the root of all sin – a desire to discern good and evil for ourselves was the root of all sin.
But Jesus was not like the first Adam. Instead we hear from Jesus “I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do.” I can say nothing of Myself other than what I hear the Father say. That’s it. There are two philosophies for life. The one is “I am going to discern good and evil for myself.” The second philosophy is “what my Papa says is what I say.” The second philosophy says “I’ve decided that’s it’s enough … I’ve decided that it’s enough for me to be like the Father.”This is THE ROOT of Christian philosophy. Having a value system – a philosophy – that is like Christ!
1 Corinthians 2:16 says that we (as believers) have “the mind of Christ.”Jesus was saying “here’s how I operate. I say what He says and I do what He does.” And we have the mind of Christ! What many of us have done is use the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as the “operating system” for our entire life and what we’ve done is we’ve taken the Word of God and put it into that operating system as a program. And the Lord is saying “I want My Word and My ways to be the whole operating system – not just a program.” Like the Lord told Peter “your mind has been on the throne of your heart and I want to be.” This is that! Pastor Brad taught on humility a couple of years ago. This is a follow-up to that humility series. THIS is humility. It’s saying “I know I have a right to have my own thoughts; I just choose to have His.” Amen!