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Faithlife

Standing on your own Two Feet

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            Maybe you can remember the very first time it was said to you. Or maybe even clearer is the time that you said it to your physically grown child, those few words of “it’s time to stand on your own two feet”. I sure remember when it was said to me; I was boarding the greyhound heading up to Birmingham Ala, to what the government called its processing station. That was place where they took all kinds of tests known to man on you to make sure that you are healthy enough to serve your country. And from then you went to 8 weeks of Basic training. The there would be 7-8 months of specialized training. So it was going to be almost a year’s worth of training, almost a year of not being at home and seeing the folks; so my dad felt it was time to say what he said; “it’s time to stand on your own two feet.”

            Those times when that is said can be the most natural and most happy times of life, because someone is growing up.  Like when a child is leaving for college; or right before they walk down the isle and become man or wife; or just like me in my case, I was blazing my own trail in life. That happens because life doesn’t stand still; but naturally opens up doors and opportunities for marriage, kids, professions, etc.

Yet there are situations when persons are faced to grow up and stand on their own two feet; even when they feel that they can’t or shouldn’t have too. I can’t help but think of a friend of ours that was with us in Bible College. As a girl of sixteen her dad died surprisingly; her mother couldn’t handle it so she abandoned her three kids on their own. Here was a sixteen year old girl who just wanted to be sixteen; she didn’t even know how to drive; she had to have someone else show her. She suddenly found herself having to stand on her own two feet. She dropped out of HS and went to work to support herself and her two younger sisters. Between working to pay for rent and buying groceries, she somehow was invited to church and became saved; that was all the family she had up to that point. But there in church she meet a young man, fell in love, became married and God called him to preach and she is now a pastor’s wife. She is one of the sweetest persons I know, not bitter at all that she had to grow up in a hurry; while others her own age took their time.

 That’s sad but it is true about life. Yet it is even truer when it comes to being a Christian in this world. Sometimes we are faced and even forced to grow up spiritually speaking real quick. That’s what is happening when we look at the second major person here in the book of Philemon; Onesimus the runaway slave who became saved is faced with having to stand on his own two feet now as a Christian and take responsibility for what he has done.  This was a major test of his newly found faith of being a Christian. Right out of the shoot, his faith is being tested!

Remember last time we talked about Philemon’s test of his faith. He was wronged and as we saw he as the older Christian was faced with the test to deny himself what was his legal right to have done to his runaway slave. But Onesimus as the new, young Christian in the Lord; his faith is being tested as to its sincerity!

            The word sincerity and its other forms (sincere) are found a good many times in our bibles. For example,

Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.

1Cor 5:8  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

2 Cor  1:12  For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you ward.

2 Cor  2:17  For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

2 Cor 8:8  I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

            Eph 6:24  Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

            Tit 2:7  In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity..”

Our sincerity as a believer is just everywhere in the scriptures; we just can not dismiss it. We can’t get away from it. To understand what is at sake here when it comes to our sincerity as believers look with me at one of those references 1 Cor 5:8.

Paul said, Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Two things here;

1.      The word used here.

The word Paul uses for our English word sincerity goes back to Hebrew word eilikrineia (eye-lik-ree-ni-ah); Strong’s #1505: Literally “judged by sunlight.” The word alludes to Oriental bazaars where pottery was displayed in dimly lit rooms. Unscrupulous merchants would patch cracked pottery or cover defects with wax. Intelligent buyers would hold up the pottery to the sun and judge its quality by the sunlight. Eilikrineia is transparent honesty, genuine purity, manifested clarity, and unsullied innocence. It describes one who does not fear thorough examination of his motives and intents, because he has nothing to hide.[1] Paul is saying that as Christians ourlives should be lived and judged by the light!

2. The apostle Paul also compared sincerity to unleavened bread (1 Cor. 5:8), which is always a biblical symbol of purity. [2]

What was UNLEAVENED BREAD? — bread baked from unfermented dough, or dough without yeast or “leaven” (Gen. 19:3; Josh. 5:11; 1 Sam. 28:24). Unleavened bread was the flat bread used in the Passover celebration and the priestly rituals (Lev. 23:4–8). The tradition of eating unleavened bread goes back to the time of the Exodus 12, when the Hebrews left Egypt in such haste that they had no time to bake their bread (Ex. 12:8, 15–20, 34, 39; 13:6–7). Leaven was produced by the souring of bread dough. Its exclusion from ceremonial breads symbolized purity.

You just couldn’t get anymore purer, anymore scared, anymore genuine, anymore sincere than unleavened bread to a Jew!

Now with that idea in mind about sincerity let’s think about Onesimus. He’s a new Christian, he’s done wrong and now he’s facing this test which will display just how true, how genuine, how authentic, how real his faith is in this new found God! Him going back and facing up to what he’s done is a major test of his faith in God! His life was literally in the palm of someone else’s hand, yet since he found a God that was bigger than his sin problem maybe he realized that God is still bigger than this problem that he has brought on himself. For everyone that has every done something wrong, ever hurt someone else, ever was at fault for a problem that others had; Onesimus paved the way. He stands for all Christians that have ever had to come back and admit those most painful little words, “I was wrong …”

            When we have wronged someone else that’s the prime time for us to learn how to stand on our own two feet as a Christian while proving just how sincere our faith really is.

There will be times when others have wronged us: but I think that the times of us hurting others just might overshadow it. So when our faith is put to the test of having to face someone else remember these few thoughts. 

To Stand on our own Two Feet means…

I. Confession

That’s no big earth shaking thought, but it is the first step. When was the last time that you had to painfully confess that you were wrong to someone else? Maybe nothing life-changing, but you were wrong nevertheless? If you have to go back a few years in your mind to when you were wrong; then this right here just might be your problem.

Have you ever meet someone that thought that they never done anything wrong? I thought I would have to wait until I was in heaven to meet someone like that, but there they were in all their glory! Happy in their minds that they never have to say they are sorry. Give me a break!

Confession does for the soul what preparing the land does for the field. Before the farmer sows the seed he works the acreage, removing the rocks and pulling the stumps. He knows that seed grows better if the land is prepared. Confession is the act of inviting God to walk the acreage of our hearts. [3]

      A.  Confession to God

(1) Confession leads to Salvation.

Rom 10:9 -13 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

(2) Confession helps us stay right with God.

1Jo 1:6-9  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When we have wronged God with our sins, confession is the first step back into fellowship. Confession keeps us in the light! Confession keeps us right with God. Spurgeon said “keep a short list of your sins with God”, i.e. confess regularly.

B.  Confession to Another

James 5:16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Confession helps to bring about the prayers of those who maybe know where you have been in life.

Mat 5:23-24  Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Delaying confession to someone about what we did can impede our own walk with God. Before you offer your gift to God; get right, confess if need be to whoever you wronged. Your walk with God will suffer not theirs. 

C. Confession the entire Church

Not all sin is public and made into news, but sometimes it is and when it is public and everyone is mulling it over then there should be a public confession to the church! When we live in open, glaring sin we not only disgrace God but his church as well!  We give the enemies of God an occasion to ridicule God. 

We knew of a teenage girl that had ran away from home with a guy and for weeks the pastor, youth pastor, and father tried to find her and bring her back. It was one of those cases where she loved him but she was at that age where the police couldn’t do anything about it. She was sixteen.

After weeks of prayers and stress. She finally came back to her mom and dad. She got right with them and then her and her parents were all down at the alter the next service asking for the church’s forgiveness. Why? Do you think they did that? Some would have tried to keep it quiet and under wraps.

You might as well get it out in the open. The parents wanted to continue to go to that church there; but they knew that if they tried to hide what had happened; folks would naturally talk and draw their on conclusions. They might have done that so their daughter could get that pass her, so she could move on with her life. They did it, and what a warm response from other parents they received! That was sweet alter call! That’s what this alter is for, not for looks but getting right! Getting things out and in the open, getting things pass you!

Her sin was public, open, scandalous, shameful, but she came back and confessed plainly, honestly, very humbly that she had sin before a great huge crowd. Instead of rumors floating around there were prayers being offered up! For her and her parents. Let me balance that by saying; before any public confession of any kind; let your pastor know before hand. Granted desire the spotlight even when; they tell on themselves. Seek the pastor’s help before.  

Onesimus was to confess maybe to all three. Confession to God, to Philemon, and maybe to the whole church. What humbling thought! What a test of his sincerity as a Christian that he admit that he was wrong and sinned!

 

To Stand on our own Two Feet means…

II. Submitting to Consequences  

You have heard that there is no little sin or big sin in God’s eyes; all sin is sin. That’s true. But when it comes to the consequences for sin they are not the same; there is differences in the consequences for sin if not dealt with quick.   

A. Don’t prolong it    Matt. 5:25-26

Jesus spoke about two persons that apparently had a big problem together. First there was the chance to resolve this outside, just between the two. If that would have happened, the person at fault could have said, I’m sorry, I was wrong, whatever was needed, humble himself, lose some face in front of this other person.  And that could have been that!

But the problem was taken to the next level “the Judge”. The court was deciding the matter now. And if the offending man was found guilty under law, he would delivered to the Jailor for punishment. Watch what Jesus said, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. I.e. now to be right you will be suffering the “uttermost” the maxim consequences for your wrong. By delaying, now the price isn’t losing face in front of someone else it’s losing time! 

The longer we wait to submit to whatever consequences are due us; they can grow way beyond our belief! 

B. Submit to them.

The bible abounds with examples of folks getting out of line with God and with man; and the only way through to the other side of the problem was submitting to the consequences. You might as well try to beat back the ocean with a pitch fork; rather think that we can escape the consequences connected with sin. We can run from consequences but in the end, the only way back to where we were with God; is to submit.

(1) The People of Jeremiah’s day had to learn to submit to their consequences or die.

The Lord speaking here, Jer 21:5-9 And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.

And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast: they shall die of a great pestilence.

And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.

 And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.

He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.

God was using Babylon to punish his people’s unfaithfulness. God was saying submit to them as your punishment from me and you will live! If you try to defend yourself you will surely die! The only way through was to submit! To take it as God’s punishment! To fight them, was like fighting God!

Onesimus was anticipating the worst, maybe even death! But to be right with God and Philemon he must submit whatever it cost.  Was Onesimus at fault? Yes. What would he be saying if he came back? That he was responsible and was willing to submit and accept whatever the consequences. 

To Stand on our own Two Feet means…

III. Restoration

Restoration: a bringing back to a former position or condition, i.e. making something right!

A. Apart the Old Testament Law. If you killed my ox and it was your fault, you replaced my ox! That was law!  You restored what you took or damaged.

B. Apart of Repentence Process.

Paul tells us that this element (this wanting to make things right) was in the Corinthians repentance 2 Cor. 7:11. They wanted to clear themselves of suspicion; that was great!

           

C. Apart of anyone’s life; who wants to remain in FELLOWSHIP with others.

           

Anyone can break, hurt, damage or even kill and run away.  But to make something right takes courage and strength and humility. It’s a good sign that the person has learned a lesson.

Onesimus was on his way to make things right! Whatever that meant; by his life or by his death. His new faith in Jesus was the strength that he leaned on. That he took from to help him every step of the way. Yes, this was a uncertain time, a dark valley, but the Lord was right there with Onesimus! And if we have to stand own two feet and have our faith tested to its limits the Lord is right there with us! 

Closing:

Standing on his own two feet as a new Christian; that was what Onesimus faced! He had to grow up quick! Remember the test that was happening here. His sincerity as a believer was being put to the test! How sincerity are you when it comes to making your wrongs right? Times like that; the lord is looking for reality in our faith! We all will face tests like this one; I hope we don’t fail them, but pass them with flying colors.


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[1]Hayford, J. W., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Hayford's Bible handbook. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2]Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Nelson's new illustrated Bible dictionary. Rev. ed. of: Nelson's illustrated Bible dictionary.; Includes index. Nashville: T. Nelson.

[3]Lucado, M. (1996). In the grip of grace (Page 122). Dallas, Tex.: Word Pub.

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