The paradigm which is often held up to women, is that they ought to be a “Proverbs 31 wife.” This is based on Proverbs 31:10-31. Precious little seems to be said about the 1st 9 verses and what is said to the King in being a godly ruler and man. The omission is tragic.
In truth, both halves apply more to the Church than they do to individuals. There is the 1st part where we find an interesting parallel between the Church ruling and reigning with Christ as a “royal (kingly) priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). And the 2nd where she is portrayed as His Bride (Rev. 21:9). The latter is the subject for another post. In this one, I’d like to focus on the 3 things mentioned about the King and how we ought to conduct ourselves in this role as those who are “seated with Him in the heavenly places” (Eph. 2:6). And there is much here for us to contemplate in that capacity.
Three things directly impact and cripple the Church’s effectiveness in its witness in the World: In effect, this is an exposition of 1 Thess. 5:19.
I. 2-3 / The Church cannot represent the Gospel to the World if we are a morally compromised Church. See 1 Cor. & the letters to the 7 Churches. How timely this word is in our sex-saturated culture, filled with erotic liberty trying to lay claim to being the supreme right, gender confusion and rampant eroticism. Speak against anyone’s sexual “rights” a you are immediately branded as biased, judgmental, out of step, repressive, homophobic, intolerant – you name it.
Note how vs. 3 demonstrates that the weakness of the Church, its ineffectualness is directly connected to its moral compromise. It deprives us of our strength – of our ability to work for the Kingdom and bring about true change. It is true in the individual and it is true in the Church at large.
Secret sexual compromise will rob you of the ability to minister to the lives of others with any effectiveness. The outward activity may seem to be OK, but the spiritual impact will be nullified.
We cannot control these things in the culture at large – but they are NOT to be part of the Church. Eph. 5:3
II. 4-7 / The Church cannot represent the Gospel to the World if we are not sober in our perceptions and judgments. vs. 5 clarifies – it is in being under the influence of anything that leads us to forget God’s decrees, and then to pervert the rights of the afflicted. And what greater perversion can we commit against those still afflicted by sin and guilt than distorting or depriving them of God’s Word? If we are drunk on consumerism, drunk on trends, drunk on worldly wealth, drunk on self-importance, drunk on political power, etc. The picture of drunkenness is one of the loss of clear perception and proper inhibition.
When this is the we cease being the Church in any effective sense. For this reason – the Priests in the OT were not allowed to drink anything alcoholic when ministering. Leviticus 10:1-11 This is critical to our role as Christ’s kingdom of PRIESTS on earth.
III. 8-9 / The Church cannot represent the Gospel to the World if we have lost a true sense of justice. For the Gospel is rooted in justice. The just wrath of God on the cross. God justifying the ungodly through Christ’s substitution so that His mercy is not wrought at the expense of His justice. Lose this – and the Gospel ceases to make any sense. Only if it is a means to clear the guilty and yet justice not be deprived of its proper due. Hence the false Gospel of today which says the death of Christ was not penal and substitutionary.
It is a grave concern in our day that I hear Christians looking for vengeance against the Muslims, or delighting in the fall of those who are of a different political bent. We are NEVER to rejoice at the fall of those who are our opponents. Rejoice at deliverance yes – but never dancing on the real or proverbial graves of those that oppose us and are eventually brought down.
Personal vengeance falls into this category as well.
We cease to be the Kingdom Christ has made us to be, we cease to rule and reign with Him when any of these is compromised.
Now it is these things which directly look to answer a question raised by Paul when he says “do not quench the Spirit.” Do we actually have power OVER the Spirit so that He cannot move freely among us? No. But we enter into things where as a result of our dabbling in them – the Spirit REFUSES to move among us.
When the Church finds itself just going through the motions. When people are not impacted by the preaching of the Word and gets diverted into other good – but distracting things (causes, programs, etc.) – you can be certain that one or more of these areas are in desperate need of correction.