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Hiram Hutto - El Dareer Debate - October 1974

Schedule Of Services:

Sunday Morning:
Bible Study   9:00
Worship      10:00

Sunday Evening:
Worship       5:00

Wednesday Evening:
Bible Study   7:00



Jackson Drive's Address:

1110 Jackson Drive Athens, Alabama 35611



Scott Richardson



Owen Griggs

Tim Hamilton

Jackson Drive


                                                                                                        January 3, 2016

Vice vs Virtue (1)

Have you ever been conflicted? Most people do feel a struggle from time to time going on within themselves—a clash of choices—doing right or wrong, doing good or bad. Unfortunately, many times vice—the choice to do bad—wins the fight. These vices are responsible for much of the pain that is suffered by mankind and for much of the pain that is inflicted by man upon fellow man. The opponent in this war is virtue. Virtuous attributes of character remove and lessen the pain in our lives and in the world. Why is it that vices seem to be so easy, while virtues must be learned, practiced, brought to maturity, and reinforced continually?

Virtues are a cultivated and so developed habitual quality of character that leads to peace, joy, and happiness. There can never be a “bad” virtue. Vice is just the opposite. There is no vice that can ever lead to even long-lasting peace and joy, much less lead to eternal peace and joy. There can never be a “good” vice. Virtues are valuable. Vices are vain and useless.

Everyone needs to be able to comprehend the differences between vices and their opponents—virtue. Both are the intertwining of our thoughts, or heart, and our actions. For instance, a virtue is good morally (good acting) which comes as a result of being good intellectually (good thinking). It is very important to know the characteristics of virtue—this good acting and good thinking.

Moral virtue is very dispositional. That is, it becomes part of our character, our make-up. It is our temperament and inclination. It is the engaging of our will to do good and to do well.

Moral virtues are voluntary. They are something you learn or acquire and then actively choose to develop. How foolish are those people who choose the lack of development of those things that are so beneficial.

Moral virtues involve skill and sound judgement. It is the complete blending of our “emotive” side and our “skill” side of behavior. In other words, we are perceptive emotionally enough to engage our judgement in enacting our skill—hitting the right target, in the right way, at the right time.

Moral virtues are absolutely essential for living life the way it ought to be lived: think right, act right, feel right. How could we ever adequately fill each of our roles in life without thinking right, acting right, with the resultant right feeling? How could we ever be truly happy throughout life without the proper motive and attitude brought out through moral virtue?

Understanding the characteristics of virtue brings us back to the conflict we have already introduced. Vice and virtue are in conflict. From a biblical perspective we know that vice would be equated with sin and things of the flesh. Vice never hits the target. That is the very definition of sin. Virtue is equated with things of righteousness and the Spirit. Righteousness, by etymology, carries the idea of adhering to the straight line, therefore always hitting the target. Can you get any more opposite than flesh and Spirit? Flesh and Spirit are in direct contradiction to one another.

All of this talk of vice and virtue, flesh and Spirit, is not just jargon. It is not some type of psycho-analytical babble. It is a sound, biblical theme. Notice what Paul writes to the Christians of Galatia: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:16-17).

To be right, we must walk by the Spirit. The Christians of Galatia had been influenced to turn back to the legal requirements of the Law of Moses. This created much controversy and turmoil was continually being stirred by false teachers. He even described them as having begun to “bite and devour” each other (Galatians 5:15). They need to return to the attitudes and actions of those who are led by the Spirit and not the flesh. To “walk” means to pursue a certain conduct of life. The choice of direction is made by each individual. The Spirit does not mystically or miraculously control the choices we make. If that were true, there would be no need to warn against false doctrine or walking after the flesh because the Spirit would not permit one to fall.

The Christian has to recognize the warfare in our hearts between the flesh and the Spirit. The Spirit has revealed the mind of God. “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1Corinthians 2:11-13). “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13). We need, then, to walk by the Spirit and to reject sinful temptations of the flesh, following the guidance and direction revealed in the Bible. “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:12-14). Choose to obey righteousness being freed from sin (Romans 6:16-18).

The term “flesh” refers to the bodily desires of man’s nature that are opposed to goodness. The “flesh” is in antithesis to the Spirit. It denotes all the tendencies, appetites, and dispositions which lead to sinful conduct. The Spirit, on the other hand, is in opposition to the flesh. The Spirit reveals to us the tendencies, appetites, and dispositions of godliness which lead to righteousness (Galatians 5:22-23). So long as one obeys the will of God revealed by the Spirit, he will choose to follow righteousness instead of yielding to the temptations of immorality (Please read again Galatians 5:17).

The Law given by God through Moses was one of the ways that man learned to distinguish between vice and virtue. Paul reminds us of that: “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COVET’” (Romans 7:7). The Christian is led by the Spirit and certainly does not serve under the Law of Moses, however, the principle is evident. That Law held men in the bondage of spiritual death because it did not provide justification, but if one follows the system of justification revealed by the Spirit he can rejoice in true moral freedom—virtue over vice.

Paul had already stiffly reprimanded the Galatians for their faulty reasoning in allowing vice, the flesh, to prevail. “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:1-5; see also 5:1-5).

In this warfare of the flesh versus the Spirit, sin versus righteousness, vice versus virtue, there will be times of failure, but by the grace of God, forgiveness is possible. “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1John 1:7-10).


—S. Scott Richardson Sr.



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