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Doctrinal Discussions:

A Weariness Of The Flesh

January 24, 2002

These studies examine the traditional doctrines held by the Church of Christ to see if they are actually taught in the scriptures. This is not an "anti-Church of Christ" site. I was reared in the Church of Christ and have preached in the Church of Christ since 1968. My desire is that we walk righteously before God, not according to traditions of men.  Bernie Parsons

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A Weariness Of The Flesh 

by Bernie Parsons - January 24, 2002 

In the church there are many arguments. One of these often deals with the most important aspect of "worship service"--or, what is the most important "item" of the assembly? Is it the Lord's supper, as many say? Is it the preaching, as some insist? Are all "equally important" as others maintain? 

I am often reminded of the statement of Jesus in: Matthew 23:24: "Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." 

We struggle over whether hell is really fire, and if the body that burns in it is really flesh. Or we argue over whether a thousand years is a day, or a day is a thousand years. We fall out over the Revelation to John, some insisting that it is merely symbolism, while others take it quite literally. And on it goes...and on, and infinitum

We talk a lot in the Church of Christ. We study a lot. We teach a lot. We even learn a lot--well, some of us do, anyway! 

Ecclesiastes 12:12: "And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." 

Only a fraction of the things that Jesus did were written about. Why was not more written? Once sufficient material has been written to document and corroborate the case, anything more is redundant. Once the point is made, and learned, there is little value in continuing to write--and to study that same type of material.

John 21:25 "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."

If much study wearies the flesh, why study so much? 

2 Timothy 2:15: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 

Ah-ha! We study to how ourselves approved before God. What good is all this learning, then? What is the significance of "rightly dividing the word of truth"? Does that not require a great deal of study, that we may rightly understand it? Well, yes...but-- 

What do we then do with that knowledge?  

II Timothy 3:14-17: "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." 

God's intention is not just that we study, talk, discuss, preach, teach, and learn. The object of all this study is to put the knowledge to work! I know that this seems a novel idea to some, yet there it is! "That the man of God may be complete, completely supplied to produce all good works." (I paraphrased.) This fits closely with something that James wrote. 

James 2:17-18: "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." 

James 1:22-25: "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.   For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." 

I wonder what inspired James to pen these words of wisdom? 

Matthew 7:24-27: "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." 

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, Son of God Almighty, appears to be the inspiration for James' words. The message that He gave us is that we are to first listen to the voice of God, then we must carry out that message in the manner in which we conduct our everyday lives. 

Matthew 4:4: "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." 

Remember the quotation from Ecclesiastes 12:12? 

"And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." 

What did the next verse say? 

Ecclesiastes 12:13: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." 

At some point the listening and learning must be turned into action. Listening and learning are passive--we sit, we hear, we ponder. The Christian life is a life of righteous activity, not merely a life of learning. For instance, after James admonished that one is not to be a forgetful hearer, he then had this to say: 

James 1:27: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." 

Activity! Relieve the needs of the orphans and widows, and keep oneself unspotted from the world. That takes work, and denotes action.  

As James was addressing the concept of works coupled with faith, he had this to say: 

James 2:14-18 "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." 

Righteousness is the result of righteous deeds, not of Bible study. Of this, there is much written in the writings we have labeled the "New Testament". After all, does not that Good Book speak of our being judged according to the deeds we perform while in this flesh? 

Romans 2:3: "And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 

Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 

To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God." 

2 Corinthians 5:10: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." 

Isn't it time that we quit talking about all the things that should be done, and just go do them? Just like the Apostle Paul told the church at Corinth to stop talking about how they were going to help the needy saints in Jerusalem, and "perform the doing of it".  

2 Corinthians 8:10-12: "And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." 

Just for curiosity's sake, get your concordance and look up all these action words: deed, deeds, work, works, do, doing, perform, performance, along with any others you know that apply. You will be astounded to find that the Christian life is one of intense activity! 

Hebrews 10:24: "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:" 

Titus 2:14: "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." 

Let's put our money where our mouth is--along with our time, our energy, and other resources. Let's quit talking about what we ought to do, need to do, must do--and just do it! We must couple our study with resultant activity; otherwise, we are merely building sandcastles. 

James 4:17: "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." 

Love, in Christ,

Bernie Parsons 

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