Title: When Virtue Embraces Truth
One powerful truth in Psalms Chapter One is that the blessed man is the man who finds his “…delight in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2) The Hebrew word for “law” (torah) in its application refers to any instructions flowing from the revelation of God as the basis for life and action. The child of God who has a true Christian mindset checks everything he hears, reads and experiences to God’s Word.
1 Timothy 4:15-16, "Be diligent in these matters: give yourselves wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."
Introduction: One of the basic ideas of today’s philosophy of ecumenical evangelism is that love is more important than doctrine. I have had professing Christians tell me that “doctrine divides, whereas love unifies.” The Bible does say in what many refer to as the love chapter, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love…. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Interrogative Sentence: Just what is sound doctrine that saves a person's life and soul, and saves the lives of those who watch our lives?
Proposition: I would propose to you that when we examine 1 Corinthians 13 more carefully: we discover that “truth” is also mentioned in the chapter 13:6. “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6)
When one does a healthy exposition on 1 Corinthians 13, he finds that faith, hope and love are virtues while truth has a different status altogether. Truth is the frame of reference, the foundation or the atmosphere in which the virtues of Biblical faith, hope and love can exist. For without truth there is no genuine faith, hope and love. Biblical truth interprets, protects, and guides all Biblical virtues.
When Jesus stood before Pilate He said, “…for I came into the into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me." (John 18:37)
We cannot imagine life on this planet without water. Water is absolutely essential for life, as long as it stays within proper channels, within its canals and pipes. Christians cannot imagine life without Biblical truth.
Transitional Sentence: True love begins with love for God and it is determined by our desire to know His revelation for our lives. Christians who love God know the truths of Psalm 119, "Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep His statues and seek Him with all their hearts." (Psalm 119:1-2)
Somehow the cancer of traditionalism has blinded church attendees to think that just because they attend a local church, they will enjoy the virtues of faith, hope and love. Jesus said powerful words which illustrates the distinction between what many call love today and truth. "...Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really My disciples. Then he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him.'" (John 14:21; supportive verses are 1 Jn. 2:4; 3:24 and 1 Jn 1:6)
Christians who grasp the truth of loving the Lord are like the psalmist who wrote Psalm 119:24, "Your statues are my delight; they are my counselors..." Their prayer is, "Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your laws. I hold fast to your statues, O lord; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for You have set me free." (Psalm 119: 29-32)
Transitional Sentence: Once the child of God has their heart set right in regard to where to find His truth, then they can enjoy the truth of Biblical faith. The Bible says, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)
"Faith" (πίστις pístis) means a firm persuasion, conviction and belief in the truth or reality. As it is used in 1 Corinthians 13, faith or persuasion is not the outcome of imagination, but based on facts from having Christian knowledge. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament)
There is a big difference between faith in ice and faith on the knowledge of how thick the ice is before walking out on it. You can look out and see that a surface of water is iced over, you can step on the ice because you have faith the ice will hold you up. That is unwise and hazardous. Real faith that is healthy and genuine is to gain knowledge of the thickness and density of the ice, determining its stability before venturing out on it.
Real faith is based on the knowledge of the whole counsel of God's Word, and then trusting God to protect, provide and open doors as the Holy Spirit illuminates His truths into your hearts.
Transitional Sentence: Once you have gain knowledge of the whole counsel of God's Word, you can enjoy Biblical hope. The Bible says, "And now these three remain: faith hope and love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)
"Hope: (ἐλπίς elpís) means that your expectations are based on the author of the source of the one giving it. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament) Hope is in our behalf of joyfully believing the promises of the Lord to those who seek Him with all their heart, mind and strength. (Word Pictures in the New Testament) This hope never relents, even in times of spiritual attacks, trials or persecutions. (The Pulpit Commentary)
You can start a project, start college, or start an adventure with a worldly hope that you will complete it by a certain time and have desired accomplishments. However, illness, deaf in the family or other circumstances outside your control could keep you from achieving your goals.
Biblical hope is a sure thing. If you are hungry and seeking after the righteousness of Christ, your needs will be provided for. (Matthew 6:33) Jesus will never forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5) When you pass from this life, you will spend eternity with Him. (John 11:26) He is coming back someday to get His church and you will spend eternity in heaven with Him. (1 Corinthians 15:52) Obedient Christians will be rewarded for their labors with the Lord. (Ephesians 6:8)
This hope knows that the Lord is in charge of all things. In Exodus 12 we read of God plundering the Egyptians to provide for His people as they were delivered out of slavery.
Charles Swindoll wrote about a missionary who had received a letter from home in a time of need. As she opened the letter, a crisp ten-dollar bill fell out. She was pleasantly surprised, but as she read the letter her eyes were distracted by a shabby dressed man down below leaning against the front of her apartment building. She could not get the stranger off her mind, thinking that the man might be in greater financial stress than her; she placed the $10 in an envelope, wrote on it, "Do not despair," and dropped it. The man picked up the envelope, read it, and then opened it. He just smiled and walked off. The next day a knock came at the door; standing at the door was the shabby-looking man holding a roll of bills. The missionary asked, "What is this?" The man replied, "It is the sixty bucks you won, lady. Do not despair, they paid five to one." (Charles Swindoll, Giving in the Seasons of Life)
The same God who plundered the Egyptians to provide for His people is able to take control of all things to provide for His servants.
Transitional Sentence: Christians can have Biblical faith, hope and love." The Bible says, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Love (ἀγάπη agápē) here is goodwill toward others. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament) It is the ability to sacrificially show love to others, even at the cost of our own comfort and lives.
Army Carmichael wrote a book entitled, A Chance to Die. It is a book showing how everything we face is an opportunity to die to self in order to consider others better than ourselves. She wrote:
"If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weaknesses in contrast to my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting Who made us different, and what has thou has received from Him, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I feel bitterly towards those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love."
This love enables us:
• To listen before speaking
• To sacrificially give time and money, even when there is nothing to gain for ourselves
• Not punish those around us with bad attitudes
• Consider others better than ourselves
• Agree with God's judgments, not make our own
• Consider the Lord's reputation above our own
• Willing to be wronged and not wrong others.
In Closing: When virtue embraces truth there is no misunderstanding of God's love for us. Many Christians find themselves embracing non-belief, bitterness, hopelessness during great loss, trials and temptations, all the while claiming to have faith, hope and the love of God. Sadly, it is because of this they have not been able to gain the knowledge of God's Word about the things they are facing or suffering through. Instead of a burning passion for the truths of God, the waves of doubt flood their minds.
Enjoying faith, hope and expressing God's love involves hard work and time. Real faith, hope and expression of God's love are all like getting firewood so you can keep warm in a cabin.
If a camper wants good wood to keep a fire going all night, he has to go out into the woods and seek the type of tree stumps that burn slowly but still emit the needed heat. It usually involves seeking the right kind of wood, cutting it just the right way and carrying it back to the cabin.
The Holy Spirit cannot burst forth flames of virtue unless the Word of God is placed in the mind. In order for us to have a spiritual fire in our hearts, we need to venture out into the woods of God's Word, looking for the material the Holy Spirit can burst forth into flames that will get us through the dark periods of life.
There are a lot of voices calling out faith, hope and love, but is the virtue of life that is birthed from God's Word that pleases the soul.
Let us pray!