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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

 

Preacher:

Scott Richardson

 

Elders:

Owen Griggs

Tim Hamilton

Jackson Drive

Admonisher

                                                                                                        January 17, 2016


Vice versus Virtue (3) The Battle with False Spirituality


Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:19-25)


We have previously noted that Paul lists some of the multiple works of the flesh. Paul, in making this list of fleshly works, groups them into loose categories. The first few works are related to illicit behavior beginning with a generally sexual nature of sin. Immorality, impurity, and sensuality compose this part of the list. The second part of the list might be categorized as the behavior of rejecting God, or the behavior of false religion. The works of idolatry and sorcery compose this part of the list.


Thinking in terms of rejecting God, most can readily see that concept in idolatry. But, what about sorcery [sometimes translated witchcraft]? The Bible deals with other types of related falsities, for example, necromancy [speaking with the dead], divination, and spiritism, but the word Paul uses here is very specific. It is the Greek word, pharmakeia (from pharmakeuo), which means to administer drugs. This word is only used here and twice in the book of Revelation. It is easy to see that our modern English word, pharmacy, has come to us from this same root word. Some, then, jump to the erroneous conclusion that Paul is only speaking of drug abuse. On the other hand, those who wish to justify what they call “recreational drug use,” go to the extreme of saying that Paul is only speaking of murdering someone by poisoning [the word can also be translated as poisoning as well as administering drugs]. Some take the opposite view and state that Paul is only talking about random acts of “magic” as used in Acts 8 or Acts 19 [two entirely different words, by the way]. These “only” views completely ignore Paul’s contextual message. What is Paul listing? He is listing works of the flesh.


Is it true that in the first century Roman empire there were those who were assassinated, politically or otherwise, by the means of poison? Yes. In fact, poisoning was well known as a method of disposing of rulers. The first century Jewish writer, Josephus, mentions this practice: “And as Malichus was now in greater fear than ever of Antipater, he sought to put him out of the way, and with money persuaded Hycanus’ butler … to kill Antipater by poisoning (pharmako)” [Josephus Flavius, “The Antiquities of the Jews” 14.11.4]. Rulers wanted to be received, not rejected. They often were, as history shows, anti-God. Sounds like a work of the flesh to me.


Is it true that in the first century Roman empire there were those who “abused” drugs? Yes. Plants containing entheogens (natural chemicals that induce hallucinations) were widely cultivated throughout the world. The Romans embraced these drugs for recreational use because of the ease of obtaining them through trade. This tied in directly with their religious world. Their priests would take drugs to receive “divine” revelations. They would administer drugs to followers for the same reasons—all to foster a rejection of God. Sounds like a work of the flesh to me.


No matter your approach to the word, pharmakeia, whether using drugs to “cast a spell,” using drugs to alter the mind, or poisoning a fellow man, it is impossible to take it in any other way than as a work of the flesh—attempting to raise man while rejecting God. Now, it is easy to see why Paul Paul mentions it in the same breath as idolatry.


Idolatry, eidololatria, is most often defined as image worship. Certainly, worshiping an image is rejection of God. This was a problem long before the Christians in Galatia were warned. Even though they were God’s nation, the Israelites had been guilty of this, too. They likewise had been warned. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4). Even Solomon was guilty. “For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon” (1Kings 11:4-7).

“Whew! I’m sure glad I’m not an idolater. I can’t believe anyone would burn incense on the high places and build altars and shrines to useless gods. Who would worship wood, or metal, or stone?” That is the attitude most people today have. Stop. Wait a minute. Are you sure that your not an idolater? Where else did Paul use this word “idolatry” and how did he define it, anyway?


“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Are you sure you’re not and idolater? Paul knew that Christians would face the same problems that the Israelites did:


Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1Corinthians 10:6-13)


Let’s ask a question that we’ve asked before: How do you avoid this type of behavior? The answer is still the same. By thinking in a way that is diametrically opposed to the thinking that leads to it. Look at the description of the fruit of the Spirit once more: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Can you imagine ANY scenario in which a way of thinking with these characteristics can lead to behavior that is involved in rejecting God?


We need to be reminded one again that many of the world of the first century had been in involved in this type of thinking and behavior and that God presented the solution. “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1Corinthians 6:11). The solution works today, too. “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-25).


—S. Scott Richardson Sr.

 


 


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