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Avoiding The Pitfalls


 "All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles."
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
Welcome to all of our beloved brothers and sisters, from all around the world, who have been prompted to join us today. We are glad to have you here!
I believe that is undeniable, that slavery has plagued our society and the world, beginning from ancient times and continuing to this day. The estimates of those enslaved in our modern world run as high as forty million people. The number includes people in debt bondage, domestic servants held in captivity, indentured servitude, serfdom, adoptions in which children are compelled to work as slaves, child soldiers, women in forced marriages and sex slaves in addition to actual slaves captured and held in bondage in a surprising number of Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
The essential unity of all human beings in Christ is clear. And it was probably easier for those in Paul's time to recognize it, since their slaves were most likely Caucasians like themselves, prisoners of war and their offspring, not of another race that could be more easily painted as inferior by racists.

But just as women needed to maintain their roles in society for the sake of the church, so did slaves, "so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered." It was difficult enough to proclaim the Gospel in terms this culture could understand. Christians were called "atheists" during the cruel reign of Domitian because they refused to worship the Greek and Roman gods. If they also became known as the sect that encourages slaves to be rebellious, all the more reason to speak against and persecute the Christians.  

Many nations, races and religions  have practiced slavery. Historically, Asians enslaved Asians. Today, slavery among many Muslim countries is relatively common, especially in the Middle East. Arab Muslims enslave Africans with dismaying regularity. Africans enslaved fellow Africans, often selling them to Caucasian slavers seeking cheap labor for the new world. Without the enslavement of blacks by blacks, slavery among the European nations during the eighteenth and nineteenth Centuries would never have happened. Set against this is the fact that without white Christian intervention slavery would have continued in Europe and the Americas.

The reality is, that even in the present day and age, men, women and children all over the world remain victims of modern slavery. In 2016, an astounding estimated 40.3 million men, women, and children were victims of modern slavery! Global Slavery Index confirms that modern slavery is a crime that affects all countries globally, including, perhaps most surprisingly, highly developed countries.
Let us bow our heads in prayer. 

Heavenly Father,

Father, Thank You for making Your Word for us so clear to us to understand this passage. Lord, we acknowledge, it confronts us, it reminds of our inadequacies, and far far we have to go to be like You.  Help us to be good workers, good servants to those who are over us, whether they’re Christians or non-Christians, not because they deserve it, but because we are Yours. Remind us that, in all situations, we represent You. Help us to lift up Your teaching, in and through our speech and actions, so that Your name would be exalted and not blasphemed. May it all be for Your glory and increase in the Kingdom.
In Jesus' name
Today's Message: Avoiding The Pitfalls
In Matthew 20:27-28, Jesus tells us "and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
In this passage, Jesus clearly calls those who would follow Him to choose a life of service. He speaks of those who choose this life as choosing to be a "slave," a "doûlos." A slave was completely controlled by another. It amazes me, how many today, claim the name of Christ, yet have an issue with the term "slave." Do "Christians," even read their Bibles anymore? Slavery was one of the most common conditions of those living in the Roman Empire, and played an important role in society, as well as the economy. Some estimates suggest, that six out of ten people living in the Roman Empire, were slaves.
Open with me your Bibles to the sixth chapter of I Timothy. As we continue in our journey through the wonderful epistle, we come to the final chapter of this great epistle. This is a very practical, portion of God's Word, and I believe that it is much needed, for the days were are living in.
I would like to encourage you to follow along with me, as I read to you, from our text, to set it in our minds. I Timothy 6:1-2.

"All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles."

As Christian slaves, we are told to show respect toward our non-Christian masters, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered, that is, for the sake of Christ, and the sake of the church. Christian masters were to be respected also, with the additional reason that they are brothers. 
There are a number of people, who have misinterpreted this, to suggest that the Apostle Paul was endorsing slavery. I want to make it clear here, that this was not the case. All Paul is doing here, is providing the thousands of believers who were slaves, with sound guidance. Of course, the seeds of freedom have been sown already in the Gospel. However, at the time Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, slavery in the Empire was changing dramatically. Slavery appears never to have been based on race in the Roman Empire.

In Galatians 3:28, Paul says "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

And, he also encourages slave to get their freedom, elsewhere in the Scriptures, should that option become available. In I Corinthians 7:20-24, "Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called."

And, in Philemon 10-16, Paul encourages them to free his now-Christian slave Onesimus.

"I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel; but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord."  

Quite often, the New Testament writers referred to themselves, as "servant of God," "bond servants," or "slaves," of Jesus Christ. Paul appears to have favored speaking of himself as a "bond servant," of Jesus Christ. And Paul’s letters followed the standard format of his day. There were those in Paul and Timothy’s day and in our day who teach and preach many things that are different than what Jesus taught. The point here is this if someone preaches or teaches something that does not line up with what Scripture teaches us in the Bible, then they are teaching a different doctrine! Anything other than Biblical teaching is heresy.

Paul points out that a different doctrine is not just another person’s view and that every person can believe what they want and every doctrine is as good as another. No, Paul teaches that a different doctrine is one that does not line up with what Jesus taught and since Jesus’ teaching is sound and the true Word of God, then the different doctrine cannot be true and sound, because it is different. 

Depraved in mind and deprived of truth. He cannot be godly because his teaching is different than the teaching of Jesus. He cannot be godly because his teaching is different than the teaching of Jesus. Teaching depraved lies that sound like truth, they sound right. All the while these false teachers are getting rich and God will hold him accountable for the their blood. There is no one who will escape it. 

Slavery was not an ideal state, but it was not the inhumane condition which we so often associate with slavery today Slaves and freeborn people worked side-by-side in both menial and responsible tasks. No particular work was reserved exclusively for slaves. Slaves might be physicians, teachers or business owners; or slaves could work as street sweepers, hand workers and dock workers. Selling oneself into slavery was commonly used as a means of obtaining Roman citizenship and gaining entrance into society. 

I am not by any means suggesting that buying or selling slaves was Christian, it was decidedly sub-Christian. However, if we wish to understand how to apply what Paul has written concerning slavery, we need to understand how the first readers of his writings reacted. The overall concept of slavery is more complex than the word itself might indicate. Servants were most often bound to their owners for a period of time, they could own property, achieve social advancement, and could even be released or purchase his own freedom. Slave’ is used; where a more limited form of servitude is the case, ‘bond servant’ is used where the context indicates a wide range of freedom, ‘servant’ is preferred.

Much like Jesus, the Apostle Paul was not advocating some sort of a slave revolt or throwing off slavery through some form of resistance. The social status of a slave was dependent upon the social status of the owner of the slave. Persons who were free, that had to look for work each day without any certainty of finding it, such as spot laborers at a temp service today, were at the bottom of the social economic pyramid, not those in slavery. In the New Testament, slaves were considered part of the household, and were often loved and cared for like extended family members. It is likely that the makeup of the congregation was disproportionately composed of slaves, which is why Paul was addressing this issue.

Ephesians 6:5-9, Paul says " Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him."

When we read passages such as Proverbs 18:9, "He also who is slack in his work
Is brother to him who destroys," without drawing the conclusion that God look upon lazy people too favorably. Today, there seems to be many however, that think of work as "four letter word," to avoid, or some type of a curse arising from the fall of our first parents. Nevertheless, such a concept is completely errant.

In fact, Genesis 2:15 tells us that "Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." The point I am making here is work is not a curse. Work was given to man by God in a perfect environment that existed before sin. However, after the fall, the ground was cursed and man would toil to enable the earth to bring forth its fruit. 

I believe that our culture would do well in this day, to seek and to adopt a biblical theology of work, realizing that God has designed us for labor. He designed us to find fulfillment in work, and in gainful employment. However, it seems that we have come to a day when men exalt pleasure at the expense of fulfillment. I fear that we are moving inexorably toward a day in which we invite Divine wrath because we abjure work and espouse pleasure. Perhaps, we have already arrived. 

Proverbs 30:8-12 teaches "Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God. Do not slander a slave to his master, Or he will curse you and you will be found guilty. There is a kind of man who curses his father And does not bless his mother. There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, Yet is not washed from his filthiness."

Satan's snares are everywhere, he lures the culture of today, by purposefully desensitizing impressionable minds, to practice "meism," resulting in violence and moral decadence. I believe that we must always be alert to Satan's tactics, responsibly teaching our children how to put on the whole armor of God to withstand his attacks, that we may rear our children to view the world as a spiritual battleground, not a playground! 

For all of us as believers, who are called to a life of purity and holiness, instructed to bear fruit and are challenged to be prepared. This is not an issue of lifestyle, personality type, nor should it be an issue of personal comfort. It is, as it always has been, an issue of obedience.

Ephesians 4:17-19  tells us that "So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness."

In Closing...

I'd like for each of you, to ask yourselves, " If I only I had _______________ then I would be completely happy." 

Beloved, if you inserted anything into the blank other than Jesus, then the reality is you will never find contentment in life, happiness in your situation, or in a lesser god. However, you will find destruction, literally eternal damnation. 

As we close, allow me to leave you with the words from Hebrews 13:5-6: "Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you," so that we confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?"

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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