Gary Petty's 8 part sermon series defining the very righteousness of God that we are to attain.
[Gary Petty] How many times have you seen a child or a young person and he walked up to that child or that young person and said, "You know, I know you, you are so-and-so's child," or, "You're so-and-so's grandchild?" Because they just have features that look like their parents or their grandparents, or they have mannerisms. I mean, sometimes you see somebody, and it's absolutely amazing, especially if you knew that person's parents when they were younger. You knew someone when they were 16, and now you see their child when they're 16, and it's like, oh, that's really strange. They look like them, they talk like them, they act like them. They use the same phrases. And sometimes those family resemblances are so amazing that we see them and we recognize them.
My poor son, my daughters had him convinced when he was little that he wasn't like any of us and he was adopted They had him believing that for the longest time before mom and dad found out and put a stop to that. You were created to be a child of God. That's why you were born. It's why God has called you at this time. All human beings were created to be His children, but not everybody is called at the same time. That means that in the course of this Christian development of this lifetime, we are to get to the place where people should be able to look at us and say, "Wait a minute, I know you. I know you. You're so much like your dad. You walk like him. You talk like him. You're so much like your brother. I read about your brother in Matthew and Mark and Luke and John, and you're this fitting image of your brother."
Now before the Feast, we started going through a series of eight sermons. This is number seven. On 1 Corinthians 13. And I know it gets to the point on these long series, it's like, oh, not another sermon on 1 Corinthians 13. But understand this is the character of our Father. 1 Corinthians 13 explains the character of our brother. This is what we must become. This is why we keep the Sabbath and holy days as our response to God, as our obedience to God, because we are to develop, have developed in us through God's Spirit agape.
And as I said before, agape is an interesting word because it was a philosophical word in Greek and had a very ambiguous meaning until the 1st century. The meaning of agape today comes from the New Testament more than it does from its ancient use. Because the Greek word was developed in a way that it was never developed before. I mean, it just basically meant the greatest goodness, the greatest love. In the New Testament, agape becomes the character of God. And it's broken down in numerous places to explain what that means and how we are to develop that.
Let's go to 1 Corinthians 13. In the first six sermons, we went through the first five verses. We go to 1 Corinthians 13 now. We will pick up where we left off. And the next sermon I give here will finish this series on agape. In verse 3 and 4 and 5 and 6, all describes all these qualities of agape. We've gone through each one, kindness, suffering long, and does not envy, is not proud. We've gone through each one of these. I'm trying to spend enough time to begin to try to dig into what they really mean and what we are to become and how this is a reality that must be lived in our lives through that power and help of God's Spirit.
And then we get to verse 6. And here Paul writes, "Agape does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth." Two aspects of this verse, two statements, and what we're going to talk about today. If we are to have developed in us the character of God, we must not rejoice in iniquity but we must rejoice in the truth. So there's a negative and a positive. Not rejoicing in iniquity but rejoicing in the truth.
How do we not rejoice in iniquity? That's where we have to start. Okay, how do I not rejoice in iniquity? Well, there's a number of ways that we as human beings rejoice in iniquity. So let's go through four ways that we have to battle, four aspects of our lives that we have to battle in not rejoicing in iniquity. Now the first one's rather obvious. And as Christians, it's so obvious that many times we ignore it, we don't grasp. And so we can let this creep back into our lives.
Agape causes a person to be repulsed by sin. Now, human nature being what it is, what we do is we try to get as close to sin as possible. You know why? Because we like sin. We have to admit human beings naturally like sin. You know what we don't like? The bad consequences that come from sin. I mean, that's why we live in a society where sexual freedom among teenagers is promoted. Instead of stopping that problem, because that freedom is good, the way society thinks, what do we do? We live in a society where children almost even without permission of their parents in some states can get an abortion.
I mean, how horrible is that concept? Why do we live in a society that does that? Because they are not repulsed by sin, but they are repulsed by the consequences of sin. So what they try to do is keep the sin and eradicate the consequence. And so we live in a society that literally believes morally we can eat poison every day as long as we take the medicine that stops the poison from killing us. Now the poison kills us a long, slow, painful moral death.
Agape causes us to be repulsed by sin. An example that we use a lot of times when we give sermons to teenagers is in Genesis 34. And yet, this little story in Genesis 34 just captures the way human beings are. This girl wasn't any more evil than anybody else. In fact, if you had met her, you would probably say she was one of the most... Dinah was probably one of the sweetest, most obedient, lovely moral girls you'd ever met.
Verse 1, "Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had born to Jacob," so this is Jacob's daughter through Leah, "went out to see the daughters of the land." Now they were told not to do that. She didn't go out to do anything evil. She didn't go out to do anything bad. What did she do? I want to see this. It's so exciting. We see sin as an adventure. And until we acknowledge that... And usually, the older you get, the more you begin to understand it. Younger people have a hard time understanding. Sin is an adventure. There's fun. You know, you can't tell them that there isn't some pleasure to sin.
I saw a man one time take his child, and every time the child went to eat a piece of candy, he said, "That tastes terrible. That's disgusting. Don't eat that." And the child wouldn't taste it. Now you know the problem with that? Someday, that child was going to get old enough that someone was going to say, that's not true, this stuff tastes really good. And they were going to taste it, and what were they going to say? I was lied to. I was lied to. We have to admit candy tastes good. After you ate 16 ounces of it and you're throwing up, it's not fun anymore.
But sin on the front end of the experience, there was some reward. If there wasn't, nobody would do it, right? Nobody would get drunk if there wasn't some fun to it for the first few beers, waking up in the gutter on the other end of it, right? So what do people want to do? Stop getting drunk? No, they want to find a way to get drunk and not get sick. We have to understand that we must find sin repulsive, not just the consequences of sin. She didn't understand this.
"And when Shechem," verse 2, "the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her and violated her." Now this doesn't necessarily mean he raped her. It may be he seduced her. Young girl, probably mid-teens, very, you know, excited leaving her little camp. You know, she'd probably never left her camp. And she goes off into a little village and it's exciting. There's shops, and people are selling things. And there's all kinds of things going on that she had never seen before. And a prince shows her favor.
Now you can imagine if you're a young girl and someone shows up in all these expensive clothes and says, "Come with me," buys you a meal, throws around the money. She ends up seduced by the man. The reason I say it probably wasn't rape is because of verse 3. "His soul was strongly attracted..." In Hebrew, it means he literally... She became his soulmate is how we would put it. Now that doesn't sound like someone who's raped somebody, does it? She now was his soulmate. He felt that strongly towards her.
"He was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman." It doesn't sound like a... Rape is an act of violence. This man seduced her. And this man felt a young person's love for another young person. But a terrible sin had taken place.
Verse 4. "So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, 'Let me get this young woman as a wife.'" Let me make this right. Let me marry her, and then that will make up for the wrong thing that I've done. Actually, that's an amazingly wonderful attitude. This man had to have some character. Dinah was willing, of course, to marry him to solve the problem.
"And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter. Now his sons were with the livestock in the field; so Jacob held his peace till they came. Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak to him. And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it, and the men were grieved and very angry, because he had done a disgraceful thing to Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter, a thing that ought not to be done. But Hamor spoke with them, saying, 'The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. And make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters to yourselves.'"
Seems like a nice thing to do. But there was a problem. Abraham had been told not to marry people who were idolaters, who did not worship God. One innocent girl not hating sin, seeing this as an adventure. And, you know, it's sad because she really ends up being the victim of all this sort of childish feelings. So what happens is Abraham now is going to have to marry my daughter off to these people, but these people don't just want to do that. If you read the rest of the story, what these people did, what the king said, "You know what? We marry together with them. We move those people into town and guess what? Their livestock, their goods, that all becomes part of us." He was empire-building now. So now you've got a wrong motive on the side of the king of the little village there. He's going to do some empire-building. He's going to bring in this sizable tribe and end up subjugating them.
Now Jacob is caught in the middle trying to decide what to do, and Jacob's sons decide we have an idea. So a couple of them go to Shechem, and say, "You know what? You can have our sister, but you have to be circumcised." Now they didn't tell him that that was part of a covenant with God. They didn't tell him the truth. They just said, "You have to be circumcised." And the prince said, "If that's what I have to do to bring peace between your tribe and my village, if that's what I have to do to have her as my wife, we'll do that." And they circumcised every grown man in the village. And, of course, the men were incapacitated, in great pain and soreness for a while. And during those hours, Jacob's sons came in and killed everybody in the village.
And you can go and say, "Well, who was right and who was wrong?" We got a murdered village. We have a king that's going to subjugate the people. We have a design to intermarry with idolatrous people. We have an absolute mess here. And you know what it all came back to? One girl not repulsed by sin. It seemed fun. Was that natural for her to feel that way? You bet. Every 16-year-old girl has felt that way since the beginning of time. But we begin to understand in this story what happens when we are not repulsed by sin.
You know, agape causes us to fear the results of sin. See, we don't fear the results of sin. And what we do is we take God's mercy and actually, we play games with God's mercy. We know God will forgive us. You know when you get on your knees and say, "God, I have sinned, please forgive me," you know you will receive forgiveness. But what happens is if we're not careful, we begin to rejoice in iniquity. We begin not to see iniquity as evil. We begin not to hate it. We begin not to fear it, and we begin to compromise with it in our lives. It starts in little ways, it starts in little ways, and it grows, and it grows, and it grows until we are rejoicing in iniquity.
I've had people say to me over the years, and I've had this conversation with people many times since I was a young person, I can remember having this conversation, how come we can see people who don't even believe in God or they're agnostics and yet they seem to have a great deal of love towards their neighbor? They're giving, they're sacrificing, they're kind. We say, "How come that person seems to have more understanding of agape than I do? And here I am trying to obey God and keep the Ten Commandments."
Well, understand human beings can have moments of agape. 1 Corinthians 13 isn't talking about a moment in time. It's talking about your character. And we cannot have agape as character until our love first is towards God. When they asked Jesus Christ, "What is the greatest commandment?" He didn't say, "Love your neighbor." He said, "Love God." And the second is like that. You've got to love your neighbor. It is possible to love your neighbor and not love God. It is not possible to love God and not love your neighbor.
So to truly understand agape, we have to understand that we cannot rejoice in iniquity. It's interesting he doesn't say agape hates iniquity. He said it doesn't rejoice in iniquity. It doesn't find it attractive. So see, a person can be very kind and still find sin attractive. Agape means we have to understand and be repulsed by sin, not just the consequences, but understand how terrible sin is itself.
We shy away sometimes from scriptures in the Bible, where Paul talks about, you know, if you're a drunkard... He gives all this list of things. If you're a liar, if you're a murderer, God will not give you the kingdom of God. He does that in a number of places in his writings. And what is he saying? There are people... He's talking to the church, remember. He says, "There are those who still rejoice in iniquity." And if we don't stop rejoicing in iniquity, we will not receive the kingdom.
So in understanding how not to rejoice in iniquity, we first must understand we must be repulsed by sin. And like was mentioned in the sermonette, you know where you start with that? In yourself. We start with that in ourselves, or we are repulsed by the sin that we see in ourselves. And that drives us to ask for repentance, or ask for forgiveness. And that drives us to change, and the sin is removed. If you're repulsed by it, guess what we will do? God will help us overcome it. Why is it we don't overcome certain sins? It's because we're not repulsed by it yet. We still like it more than we hate it. That's hard, but that's the truth. Sometimes we still like it more than we hate it. We can't rejoice in iniquity.
A second way that we can rejoice in iniquity, and this is a lot more subtle than the first way, is found in Romans 1.
In Romans 1, Paul's writing, of course, to the church that's there in Rome. And this first chapter is just a scathing attack on Roman society. I mean, he just comes, he just lets it all out, okay? Paul's charging forward, his sword is drawn, and he's just taking on Roman society. He attacks their idolatry, their entire religious system as being in rebellion against God. He attacks the immorality and specifically attacks homosexuality, which was pretty rampant in Rome. He goes through all kinds of different things they do. And he says, "This society is sick from the very core of it and cannot be saved by God." I think the society that you and I live in is getting sicker and sicker and sicker. And it soon will be to the point where it will be so sick it can't be saved. It can't be saved. It may already be there. It may already be there.
And so you and I live in a world very similar to Rome. In Rome, the sense of what they considered ethical, you know, is very similar to here. You may not lie to your friends, but you lie to people when you're doing business. Violence was a way of life. You know, people went to the Circus Maximus. The Coliseum wasn't built at this time yet, but they went to the Circus Maximus which was bigger than a Coliseum and they watched people kill themselves or kill each other by the thousands. These were people whose sexual immorality was rampant. Abortion was rampant. In fact, abortion was so rampant that...
One of the reasons the Roman army, for a couple of hundred years, did so well is because they were made up of Romans with a similar idea, similar cause. And you think, "Well, how did you get so many soldiers who stayed home?" Well, now they're starting to realize that so many women died in abortions and in childbirth that there were many, many more men than women. That's why the Roman army existed. They had more men than women, which is not normal for most societies. Most societies have more women than men. And one of the reasons why is because they died in abortions. Homosexuality was rampant and accepted. And then, towards the end of this is this attack on Roman society.
In verse 28, he says, "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them to a debased mind to do things which are not fitting," to do things which aren't even natural for human beings. "Being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers." You know, rumors. Just the whole society thrived on rumors and backbiting. "Backbiters, haters of God." And they did. They hated the Christian God. "Violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful."
Their society had reached the point that people weren't even merciful to each other. They had reached a society where the number of slaves outnumbered the number of people who were free. And a Roman slave was property that you could do with whatever you wanted. And so the whole society had, from its core, rotted out.
And then in verse 32, Paul says to the church, "Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death." He didn't back down. He said, "This is a sick world, and this world's going to die." And they deserve the death because of the evil that's part of their society. But notice the rest of the sentence. "Not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them."
We can rejoice in evil by simply approving of it. Now, that doesn't mean the you and I are to go around judging every situation. The you and I aren't to find out everybody's sins, that you're to go into work and stand up to the person there in the desk next to you and say, "You're living in adultery, you sinner, get out of it, you know, stop it." That's not what I mean. We can if we're not careful, in a vicarious way, live out sin through other people.
You ever been watching a movie and about partway through the movie, you start to feel real uncomfortable? Maybe I'm the only one who's ever done this. And I realize I'm rooting for the bad guy, because movies are designed sometimes to make you root for the bad guy, right? You know, he's justified in doing this. Oh, they pushed him around and pushed him around in saloons. So one day, he strapped on his guns and went in and killed everybody in the town, right? It was justified. Wait a minute. How was he justified in doing that according to God's law? But we can be drawn into a vicarious rejoicing in sin not even realizing what we're doing. We can approve of it.
Now once again, it is not my job to go to my neighbor who is maybe... I don't have any neighbors doing this, but had a neighbor that was living in... Well, we did have a neighbor recently that we all in the neighborhood started to realize that...you know, and a different boyfriend shows up every two weeks and stays until there's an argument and gets kicked out. A week later, there's a new boyfriend. What was going on in that house wasn't right. But it wasn't my job to go knock on the door and say, "Repent." But also, I can't approve of it.
Now, if that woman's house was burning down, I'd go over and help her put out the fire in her house. I'd still be a good neighbor. But we can't approve, and that's where we have this danger. So you work with somebody who is a practicing homosexual, and they're a nice person, and you get along with them at work. And if you're not careful, eventually you can almost approve of their sin. Well, you know, it's just the way he is. No, it's not. It's a sin. But we can do that in all kinds of levels if we're not careful.
Now there's forgiveness from God. We've got to be real careful. Remember, approving or disapproving of a sin doesn't mean you personally take it upon you to go correct the sin. After services, let's all jump up and say, "I don't approve of you. I don't approve of you." That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying we have to look at sin sometimes and say, "That's it. Even if I can't do anything about it, it's sin." But the subtlety of...because we live in a society that's so tolerant, right?
We live in a society where tolerance is the greatest virtue, and so we won't say it. We won't say that Islam is a false religion. It is. I'm not against Muslims. I've met Muslims. I'm willing to sit down and have a meal with them and talk to them and be friends with them. But the bottom line is, it is a false religion. It is not of God. So we can't approve. We can't approve of things that are wrong.
You say, "Well, how do we live in the world that way? How do we deal with that?" You know, the Church of Corinth was having that problem, although they had a different problem. They had inside the church people who were committing horrendous sins. And Paul wrote them a letter and said, "Look, you know this person was committing a fornication. You know this person is actually worshiping idols. You know some of these people are doing certain things." He said, "You're to shun those people until they repent. You can't have fellowship with them. You can't have them over your house."
So what the people in Corinth did, they began to quit their jobs, shun their families, and just live in a little by themselves because, well, I can't associate with sinners. Paul said, "That's not what I meant." Look at 1 Corinthians 5. 1 Corinthians 5. He's saying, "Don't rejoice in sin. And sometimes if a brother is caught in a sin, that brother must be forced to face their sin. But it has to always be done in love." It must always be done in love. So what do we do with the world? What do we do with the sin that we see in the world?
Verse 9 of 1 Corinthians 5. He says, "I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people." So I said, "Wow, I can't keep company with anybody at the place I work," or, "I can't keep company with anybody in the apartment building I'm in." Now, once again, there's a difference between friendship with the world and interacting with the world. And now the people in Corinth were a little confused on how they were to carry out this instruction.
Verse 10, "Yet I certainly did not mean with sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world." He said, "You'd have to go live in a desert," because guess what you're going to find in the world? Extortioners, liars, cheats, right? That's what we're going to find out there. He said, "So I'm not telling you never talk to your neighbor because they're an idolater. Now, I didn't say have friendship with the world." But we can't rejoice in iniquity. We have to recognize.
The other day, we had, what was it? National Neighbors' Night Out or something. And so our whole neighborhood, one of the people had food out on their lawn. That's why I went. And we all went. And all the neighbors stood around. And all the women sat around and talked. I don't know what they were talking about. All the guys stood around and talked about their hobbies. So I listened to all the guys talk about their hobbies. And we talked for a couple of hours, had a wonderful time. And they're my neighbors. I have no idea what their religions are. You know, they all know I'm a minister. They can't quite figure out why I get up every Saturday morning and leave. They all know I'm a minister of some kind. But it's funny, they don't want to talk to you about it, right?
So I asked him, "Hey, what are you doing? Are you still building your...?" And they all have projects. One guy does stained glass, one guy builds toys, you know. And so they show me their toys and they show me all their stuff. And we're great neighbors. I'm not going to have any of them over Friday night for Bible study. But I have nothing against them. But I understand what Paul's talking about here. We must interact with the world. We must show love to the world. Sometimes we have close friends in the world. But we can't become the world. That's what's so hard. We can't rejoice in the iniquity.
He goes on, he says, "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, and not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?" And the point he was making, okay, if we have someone in the church that is an alcoholic and they're a drunkard and they're working on that, we all support them. But if they show up at church drunk, we ask them to leave, right? That's what he said. And don't become friends with the world.
And so the second way that we can rejoice in iniquity is at times, if we're not careful, we somehow approve of those who do these things. We approve of them. A third way that we can rejoice in iniquity is that agape doesn't enjoy spreading stories of other sins. I mean, there are times when you have to tell somebody about somebody else's sin. I'm not saying that. But you know there are people and they just enjoy telling about other people's sins. And they remember other people's sins from 20 years ago. Well, you know, I remember when that person... Agape doesn't enjoy, but then you remember where we went through where agape does not keep records of wrong? That all ties together. We don't enjoy spreading other people's sins. Sometimes you have to tell about somebody's sin, but you don't enjoy doing it. Agape never enjoys doing it. It's only done out of necessity.
A fourth way that we can rejoice in iniquity is found in Proverbs 6. Let's go to Proverbs 6. Proverbs 6:12. This is not politically correct to say things like this today, but Solomon looked around and he said, "You know, there are certain people that unless they repent to God, they are worthless." That doesn't mean they're not worthless to God, but they are worthless to society. They're worthless to themselves. We've all seen people who become worthless to themselves. They actually self-destruct. He says, "A worthless person, a wicked man, walks with a perverse mouth." You can never trust anything he says. "He winks with his eyes. He shuffles with his feet. He points with his fingers. Perversity is in his heart. He devises evil continually. He sows discord. Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly, and suddenly he shall be broken without remedy."
In other words, this person always is finding a way to trick others. Always trying to find a way to trick others. Always trying to find a way to get a fight going. Always trying to play a practical joke that harms somebody. You know, you and I all know the difference. I've had practical jokes played on me that I just sit and laughed because they were good-natured and they were funny. And so what?
Sometimes we have to look at ourselves and laugh at ourselves. I'm not talking about that kind of practical joke, but there are practical jokes that are done to hurt somebody, and we know the difference. Ever seen a practical joke and you see the look on the person's face and they're just hurt? And the person who did it just keeps laughing and laughing and says, "What's your problem?"
So we have to be careful. We can rejoice in iniquity in the wink of the eye. We can rejoice in iniquity because we've picked a fight and watched two people fight, and we're enjoying watching it happen. We can rejoice in iniquity because we're always trying to trick people like this person is here. Well, I mean, I didn't cause it. All I said was this, or I did was that. I didn't lie to the person, I just didn't tell them all the truth. You know, I didn't lie to the person about my house, you know, that it's sitting on top of a toxic waste dump. I just didn't tell them. Boy, did I get a good deal. You see, that's rejoicing in iniquity. And we don't even know we're doing it. Agape never rejoices in iniquity.
Now the second part of that verse is it rejoices in the truth. Now this is very important because there's, I don't know how to put this, two kinds of truth I want to talk about. One is the truth of God. You know, we can know this so much, so long we don't rejoice in it anymore. How much of the truth do you compromise with all the time? How much do you compromise? Do you compromise with the Sabbath? Because it's just sort of become... You don't rejoice in it anymore. Do you compromise with your marriage, with your lifestyles, with the way you dress? The little things. Do we compromise and compromise and compromise because the truth just doesn't really excite us anymore? We know the truth. We know the truth, but hey, the Cowboys are playing tomorrow. And we're not excited in the truth anymore. We don't rejoice in the truth. And if you don't rejoice in the truth, you will find a way to compromise with the truth. When you rejoice in the truth, you can't compromise with it because you're excited about it.
You know, it's very interesting. In 2 Thessalonians, and we read this from time to time because it's about the great deception that happens at the end time when the lawless person, the man of sin, comes on the scene and deceives the whole world and is destroyed by Jesus Christ. So this is the anti-Christ, this is the person that's connected with the beast and the false prophet who deceives the world with lying wonders. But I want you to notice something interesting about why he's able to bring a deception on the entire world.
Verse 8, "And the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming." So this individual will be killed by Jesus Christ when He returns. "For the coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved." It didn't say they didn't hear the truth. It doesn't even say they didn't believe parts of the truth. It says they did not receive the love of the truth. They did not rejoice in the truth.
All ideas are equal, right? No, they're not. All religions are equal, right? No, they're not. They are not. Yet our society says that. And so people will accept part of the truth, they'll understand part of the truth, but they won't love it because it will be mixed with all kinds of lies and deception. In fact, to really deceive people... The best lies always have what? Some truth in them. If I told you the moon was made of cheese, I don't think anybody would believe that. But see, you can take part of a truth and you can twist it. And in that twisting, people will believe it.
At the end time, the world will not love the truth. And for Christians, one of our greatest challenges is going to be to rejoice in the truth. Now I think of, as David had said, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation." He had lost the joy of salvation. He didn't say he had lost salvation, he had lost the joy of it. He had lost the excitement of it. He had lost the motivation of it. He said, "You gotta give that back to me, God." And David understood. That man loved the truth.
Just sit down and read Psalm 119. Sit down and read Psalm 119, where he says, "Oh, how I love thy law. Teach me, train me. Above all things, this is what I want. I want to learn how you think. I want to learn your precepts. Take my mind, take my thoughts, take my heart," he tells God. "Take my emotions and shape them by the truth." Read Psalm 119 and you see a man who just loved it.
Now did he make his mistakes? Yes. Were there times he rejoiced in iniquity? Yes. But you know what? Every time he faced the, he said, "I am wrong and I rejoice in the truth, and the truth of God condemns me, and I ask God for forgiveness because I am worthy of condemnation," because he loved the truth. He loved it. It's what he thought about. In Psalm 119 he says, "It's what I think about at night when I lay on my bed. It's what I meditate when I'm walking around through the palace. I just love this. This is real. Everything else is fake, but this is real." And he loved it.
Agape rejoices in the truth. We're not ashamed of it. We don't feel like we have to hide it. No, we don't feel like we have to cram it down people's throats either, do we? But we rejoice in it. How much trouble do we have in life because we're not rejoicing in the truth and we're compromising with it? Now that's one kind of truth. We rejoice in the truth.
There's something else about rejoicing in the truth. We must search for truth in everything. And that's not easy. There's things you and I learned as a child that as an adult you find out just isn't true. George Washington really didn't chop down a cherry tree and say, "I can never tell a lie." That was a lie. Great story, but it's not true. Now, it can be passed on as a story, and that's fine, but to pass it on as truth, it's not. There's assumptions we make that aren't true. There's something you may know and it seems true to everybody, and then years and years later, some new fact comes out, and suddenly what you knew wasn't exactly true.
We must be willing to adapt to truth. We must be willing to follow truth. But as human beings, so many times what we do is we judge situations that we do not fully understand and we make decisions on half knowledge. And in doing so, we're not rejoicing in the truth. Our motivation may be right but we're still not rejoicing in the truth. The truth is I must find all the truth before I make my judgment. I have made judgments that have affected people's lives. I did not wait for all the truth, and I've made some terrible judgments. And that's why when most of you come to me for advice, how many times do I say, "Let me think about that," or, you know, "Let me get some other input before I give you some advice here?" You know why I do that? I better find out the truth.
I've had people mad at me because they'll tell me something and I'll say, "Well, let me find the other side of the story." "But I'm telling you the truth." I believe that you're telling the truth from your viewpoint, but you know... Remember when I gave the sermon and showed the blue ball and all of you agreed it was blue, and I said it was green, and you all thought I was crazy? I said it's green, and you said it was blue. I turned the other side, and it was green on the other side. Just depend on where I was standing. The ball was green and blue. And yet, if I could argue long enough, you would all think that guy's either crazy or a liar, right? Because I'm only showing the blue side of the ball.
We must search for the truth. And a lot of times that takes time, takes understanding. And you know what? There are some things in life we will never know the truth. There are some things in life we will never know the truth of exactly what happened in certain situations. But we must pursue it. And that takes a lot of patience.
I heard a story one time about a prominent older woman in a church who was well known, well respected. And one day she was walking into the church office and the pastor's door was shut. And she goes up to the secretary and says, "What's going on?" She says, "It's really strange. I don't know." And the door opens and this younger woman, very pretty younger woman, comes walking out of the pastor's office all sort of disheveled. And then she turns around and throws her arms around the pastor and then runs out. The secretary and the woman look at each other and the pastor shuts the door. And later that day, the woman finds out that that woman and her husband are getting divorced because of adultery.
So the woman goes to all her friends and says, "I even know who she's committing adultery with. I saw her with the pastor. You can't believe it." And because of that, it got passed on. And then this person believed it, and that person believed it, and this person believed it. The woman motivation, what she was passing on, what she believed to be the truth.
One day after a couple of weeks when the whole church was in turmoil and people were fighting each other and the elders had got together and decided to remove the pastor, the pastor called the older woman into his office and said, "You're the one who started all this, didn't you?" She said, "Yes." He said, "Let me explain to you what happened." He says, "That young woman had been up all night because she just found out her husband had committed adultery. She came into my office, and if you would have cared to look in, you would have seen my wife was sitting there in a chair in the office because my wife and I were counseling her. I would never counsel a woman in that situation without my wife there. It's true when she was leaving because she was all disheveled, she hadn't slept all night and she was so distraught she turned around and hugged me and walked out." He said, "That's what you actually saw."
The woman said, "I'm so sorry." She says, "Would you forgive me and tell me what I must do to make it right?" And he said, "Of course, I forgive you, but here's what I want you to do. I want you to get a pillowcase filled with feathers, and I want you to go to the top of this nearby hill out here and wait till there's a windstorm. And then I want you to throw all those feathers up into the air." She said, "Well, that's sort of strange." He said, "Well, that's all of it. After you throw all those feathers up in the air, and they're all carried off by the wind, I want you to go around and gather up all those feathers." She said, "Well, I can't do that." He said, "And neither can you stop all the damage with that rumor, the damage to me or to my wife or to that woman or to yourself. You can't clean that up. You can be forgiven, but you can't clean up the damage that you have caused."
If we all waited in situations because we rejoice in the truth, we would react much slower than we usually do to almost any of them because we would try to find the truth as much as we can. Like I said, you can never know the whole truth. I've sat down with people and said, "I can't give you advice. There's two different stories and I'm not wise enough to know the whole truth because you're both only giving part of the truth. And I wasn't there, so I can't make a judgment." But if we rejoice in the truth, first of all, we rejoice in the truth of God. Secondly, we always search for the truth. What actually happened in a situation? And many times we will find where people did things wrong. But we rejoice in searching the truth, not just spreading feathers into the wind.
So before you make any judgment on any situation, search for the truth. Be careful how you make judgments. Agape does not rejoice in iniquity. Agape rejoices in the truth. Search your life and make sure that you are not vicariously rejoicing in iniquity, or that you're not compromising with iniquity, or that you're not approving iniquity. But did you understand and hate iniquity in yourself and in others, but you still love people but you hate sin, not just the consequences, but the sin itself?
And if you find yourself no longer rejoicing in the truth, go ask God to restore to you the joy of salvation. Go ask Him. Help me rejoice in the truth. Stir up the spirit that is in me that You have given me. Stir up the Holy Spirit so that I rejoice in the truth, so that I rejoice in worshiping You, so that I rejoice in honoring my parents, so that I rejoice in being honest, so that I rejoice in keeping the Sabbath and the Holy Days, so that I rejoice in being a good neighbor, so that I can rejoice in suffering long and being kind and not envying and not being covetous, so that I can rejoice and be happy in the truth and in the relationship that you have with God. And then search for truth in all situations.
Well, next time we will finish our series on agape. I will not be here next week. I thought I would be able to be here all the time. I need to go up to Waco in Austin. Mr. Franks is going to be in England as a council member. He's sent out of the country once in a while. But after that, things should settle down for at least a couple of months. You know, I was looking at the schedule and I thought, "Wow, I can actually take a vacation." I get so much vacation time saved up. They don't even count it anymore. You know, I'm just losing vacation.
I can actually take a vacation in November. So things will slow down, hopefully, and I won't be running around so much. And I think there's like six weeks in a row I get to come here. It's amazing. And I don't have to run out every time afterwards. Remember, we do have, after services, lunch. Everyone just bring in your picnic lunches and enjoy it. And then somewhere around 2:00, it depends if we finished eating earlier, we'll do it earlier. Otherwise, somewhere around 2:00, we'll have the Bible study.