Weeds in the Garden - Galatians 5

Steve Viars January 22, 1991 Galatians 5:

- tonight we're going back to our study on the fruit of the
  Spirit, the phrase that God chose to describe the character
  qualities he wants to be developing in those who have
  accepted his son as Savior and Lord
- remember, we said that the Galatian church had fallen into
  legalism
     - only concerned about the exteriors, ways they could
       supposedly gain favor with God by keeping a set of
       behavior standards that weren't based on the
       Scriptures
- you could tell that there was something very wrong because
  of their attitudes and actions toward others
- they weren't concerned about the inner man - their
  character
- instead of inner character changes that led to right
   behavior
      - they were trying to paste on right kind of behaviors
        like wax fruit without doing the hard work of
        changing on the inside

- so Paul writes to them and says that God wants them to be,
  and they must be developing the fruit of the Spirit

- 2 weeks ago we began talking about the 2nd component to the
  spirit's fruit, biblical joy
- we shared a way of looking at each component of the
  spirit's fruit that would help direct our studies

- I want to be sure we got this concept across because we be
  using this not only in the study of joy, but also in
  studies of the other components

- after defining each component, we said we need to compare
  that fruit to two other categories
     - what did we call those categories? (secular
        substitutes and worldly weeds - obviously staying
        with the fruit metaphor)

     - we're using this as a way of organizing all the
       biblical data on these topics

- INPUT - what's the difference between the secular
          substitutes and the worldly weeds?  (the secular
          substitutes look like the real fruit
             - we need to remember that for each fruit - the
               world has provided a substitute
             - that’s why you might say - well so and so isn't
               a Christian, but they seem to be pretty
               loving...
             - that may be true - but whatever you're seeing
               is a substitute - wax fruit
- INPUT - After looking at the secular substitutes, what
          question do we need to ask ourselves?  (am I using
          that secular substitute as a source and therefore
          am satisfied with something far less than what God
          desires to develop in me?)

 

- the worldly weeds are just like a weed in a garden - they
  either are what the Bible would identify as an opposite of
  that particular fruit, or they are something that hinders
  the full development of the fruit

- INPUT - what question do we need to ask ourselves as we
  study the worldly weeds?  (have I allowed any of those
  things to grow in my "spiritual garden" and therefore have
  choked out the work God wanted to do in my life?

- last time we defined joy as "the deep down sense of well
  being that abides in the heart of the person who knows all
  is well between himself and his Lord",
- another definition we gave is that joy is "feeling of
  happiness that is based on spiritual realities"

- we mentioned three secular substitutes that the Bible says
  could masquarade as biblical joy
     - the world's good times – that’s what Moses gave up in
        order to follow the Lord according to Heb. 11:25
          - another verse to add to that - Prov. 15:21 -
            "Folly is joy to him who is destitute of wisdom"
     - joy derived from wrong motives - like when the
        disciples returning from their missionary trip had
        joy because the demons were subject to them - Jesus
        told them to stop finding joy in that alone
     - joy found in blatant ungodliness - Jesus told His
       disciples that some would have joy at his death - and
       in fact you know from the Easter story that many
       ridiculed and jeered as they crucified our Lord

- I'd like to take a moment and summarize those thoughts
  before we move on to the worldly weeds

     Here's why - As I've thought about this material, I
        think its at this very issue that many of us who are
        Wednesday night attenders might be most prone to fail

      - We need to say this - Part of the what the world
        might call good times may not be intrinsically wrong
        or sinful

      - Can you think of some activities that the world might
        present as fun or joyful or entertaining which aren't
        sinful in and of themselves?
      - INPUT?    (going to a basketball game, certain kinds
                   of humor)

      - INPUT - why would those kinds of activities be so
                attractive to the unsaved world?
                (because it takes the person's mind off
                 problems)
              - in fact the word amuse literally means "no
                thinking, don't think)

       - why doesn't that approach to finding joy work?
          (problems still remain after the event - may have
           even become worse) (i.e. Clyde - tired of work so
           take off and go fishing)

- we need to confront the idea that fundamental Christianity
  is for people who don't think, don't read books,
     - people who are brainwashed and ignorant

- the truth is that the approach the Bible recommends for joy
  is the thinking man's approach

- it doesn't mean we never watch a ball game or tell a joke
  or read the comics

- but it does mean that we don't use those as our primary
  source of joy
- we're not going to sit in front of the television and go
  brain dead because we don't want to face reality

- biblical joy comes from wrestling through problems,
  wrestling through difficulties, and then factoring in our
  relationship with the Lord, and concluding - regardless of
  the trial or difficulty - I can have joy because of my
  right relationship with Him
- the Psalmist said it this way:

    Psalm 137:6 - "If I do not remember thee, let my tongue
     cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not
     Jerusalem to my chief joy"

- I think we've seen this truth graphically illustrated in
  the past week with the middle east conflict
- illus - news article about playing ball games

- the problem is that some college and professional sports
  organizations are wrestling with whether they should hold
  games while we're at war
- I'm certainly not interested in taking a position on that
  here - the point is that the fact that that question is
  even being discussed shows that even the world sees the
  impotence of that kind of joy-seeking at a time of crisis
- There's something unsettling, even to the unsaved mind,
  about cheering and clapping and yelling at the refs when
  our country is at war
- if our world is suspicious of their sources of joy during a
  time of crisis, that means we better ask some important
  questions, crisis or not

1) What is my greatest source (chief source - Psalms) of joy?
   - nothing wrong with ball games, comic strips, jokes - but
     some believers in the final analysis, have used those as
     a primary or even exclusive source

    - it’s important for us to remember that the Bible does
      recognize sins of omission
    - an action may not be intrinsically sinful but being
      involved in that could become sinful if it causes me
      not to do something or be involved in something I
      should have been

    - for example, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with
      going fishing - but if I go fishing every Sunday
      instead of coming to church, its become sinful

    - nothing wrong with going golfing - but if you go
      golfing when you need to be spending time with your
      family, its sinful

    - in the same way - some of what the world would call
      "good times" may not be intrinsically sinful, but being
      involved in them could become sinful if they prevent us
      from seeking the source of joy God has provided

- another way of asking that would be:

2) Do I receive my greatest joy from thinking or not
   thinking?

   - bottom line is - when it comes to the subject of joy, we
     all need to be wary of secular substitutes
   - some secular substitutes are sinful in and of themselves
     and obviously must be avoided

   - but others, while not being intrinsically sinful, can
     become that if they become the primary source of joy
     instead of a person's relationship with the Lord

- Now we want to look on the other side of the scale at the
  worldly weeds
- remember, these are areas the Bible would describe as
  either opposite of the particular spiritual fruit, or at
  least its presence would slow down the fruit's development


I. Worldly Weeds

    - let me ask to think about a question without answering
      it out loud
    - what would you say is the opposite of joy?

- some of us might be tempted to answer - "sorrow is the
    opposite of joy"

- we need to say at the outset of this discussion that

    A. not all sorrow (is the opposite of joy)

        - remember that, the way the Bible defines joy, we
          must be joyful at all times
        - joy is a gift from God that comes from being in
          right relationship with Him and the believer has to
          be growing and cultivating and developing that gift
        - Rejoice in the Lord always...

        - but that’s doesn't mean a person doesn't face sorrow
        - that’s where the primary difference between the
          world's joy and biblical joy shows up
           - its possible for a Christian to have joy even in
             the midst of sorrow
           - we'll talk about this more next week when we
             talk about some of the hidden facilitators
        - let's think of some examples of sorrow that was not
          sinful, that was not the opposite of joy

 

        1. Jesus - Luke 19:41 - Jesus wept over Jerusalem
            - there's no question that our Lord was sorrowful
              as He considered the spiritual condition of
              Jerusalem
            - but surely there was nothing wrong with that
            - he was tested in all points yet without sin

            - we wouldn't say that He was violating the
              principle that would later be penned by Paul -
              Rejoice in the Lord always

            - point is - when we think about joy's opposites,
              worldly weeds, we can't make a blanket
              statement that all sorrow is sinful and hinders
              the development of joy

        2. Acts 20:38 - sorrow of Ephesians at Paul's leaving

        3. Phil. 2.27 - Paul had been sorrowful while
              Epaphroditus was ill

        4. II Cor. 6:10 - apostolic band knew many sorrows

        5. Rom. 12:15 - told to rejoice and weep - you know
             in a church like ours that often you have to be
             doing both of those at once
               - there are times when in the same week we are
                 announcing the birth of a baby and the death
                 of a loved one

        - so the point is - not all sorrow is the opposite of
          joy - we'll develop that more next week, but having
          said that, we now need to say that there is a lot
          of sorrow that you and I could fall into that
          would be the opposite of joy

    B. worldly sorrow

        - the Bible speaks of worldly sorrow, things that
          will take away our joy

        - let's look at II Cor. 7:8 for an example of this
             - read 8-11

        - you know the context here - Paul had written them a
          letter rebuking them for a number of ways they
          needed to change

        - the passage says that the Corinthians were sorry
          after a godly sort, which Paul said was the
          opposite of worldly sorrow which brings death (v.
          10)
        - The passage gives us some hints at what worldly
          sorrow is like

        - so tell me, if the Corinthians hadn't responded
          properly, what would their worldly sorrow have been
          like?  (or, what are some characteristics of worldly
          sorrow according to this passage?)

            - worldly sorrow doesn't repent
            - worldly sorrow doesn't want to change
            - worldly sorrow doesn't see the value of a
              confrontation

        - see, one of the questions we'll have to ask in this
          study is - when we're not exhibiting the spiritual
          fruit of joy
             - when we're not working at developing that
               spiritual fruit and allowing God to develop it
               in us
             - is it possible that we've allowed a worldly
               weed to get in the way

- boy, isn't this a big one? - worldly sorrow:
        1. at a time of confrontation

    - see, do those around you know that if they speak to you
      about a way you need to change, a way you need to
      improve, something you've done wrong - do they know
      they're going to have to put up with a moody,
      depressed, angry person for days afterward?
    - we're not talking about someone grieved because they
      realized they've sinned

    - we're talking about being grieved because they got
      caught
    - we're talking about someone protecting their pride
    - we're talking about someone not being humble, but just
      being humiliated

    - God says that one of the things that will rob a person
      of biblical joy is the weed of worldly sorrow at a time
      of confrontation

    - INPUT - what kinds of things do we need to think at a
      time of confrontation (spouse, boss, friend, pastor)
      that will help us develop biblical joy instead of a
      worldly weed

        (Jim Dodson illus. - I appreciate you loving me
         enough to talk to me about this - there's someone
         headed for biblical joy - by experiencing the joy of
         repentance)

        2. at a time of death

    - Paul said in I Thess. 4:13 that we sorrow not, even as
      others who have no hope
    - that means that the possibility exists for a Christian
      to miss out on joy because they're caught up in worldly
      sorrow - hopelessness at the time of someone's death

    - over the years I've had several opportunities to speak
      at funerals for unsaved folks who had a loved one pass
      away but didn't have any connection to a church
    - those are always very difficult situations-because in
      any funeral, you're there to try to comfort
      the family
          - but you're also there to try to challenge those
            who are still alive to trust Christ as savior so
            they'll be prepared for the day they die
    - that’s why Solomon said in Eccles. 7:2 - its better to
      go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting,
      because that is the end of all men, and the living will
      lay it to his heart

    - so you've got this tension between trying to comfort
      the family but also trying to clearly communicate the
      gospel to those who are lost

    - now, some liberal pastors solve that by just preaching
      everybody onto heaven, and maybe you've been to a
      memorial service like that

    - you know we wouldn't let that happen, but those can be
      very difficult times, and you look at the family and
      other friends and loved ones
          - looks of hopelessness
          - let's get this thing over with

    - the other side of that is the believer, who still has
      sorrow - but its not sorrow that robs joy because the
      passage says - the believer's sorrow still has hope

    - illus - Patty Vancel - last (grandpa diagnosed with
       cancer - passed away very quickly - he's in a better
       place)

    - but not all believers handle death in that way
    - some fall into worldly sorrow, sometimes for years

    - Scripture says that worldly sorrow robs a person of joy

- the Bible identifies a number of other worldly weeds:

    C. Self-Pity

        - INPUT - who would be the classic example of this?
                  (Elijah in I Kings 19:4-7)

        - here's a man that God had blessed in a number of
          ways
        - had just recently had the experience on Mount
          Carmel where God took on the prophets of Baal
        - but now Jezebel's made a threat and Elijah's going
          to forget all God has already done and have a pity
          party

        - some of us aren't developing the spiritual fruit of
          joy because we're busy attending the pity party

        - God's people have struggled with that throughout
          history
        - here's one of the key ingredients of that -
          exaggerating the negatives of the future and
          glorifying the positives of the past

        - isn't that what the Children of Israel did after
          God brought them out of Egypt?
        - Oh, God has brought us out here to kill us. Would
            that we were back in Egypt, where we sat by the
            flesh pots, and did eat bread to the full"

    - do you hear their pity party - exaggerating the
       negatives of the future - we're going to die - I just
       know it
          - glorifying the positives of the past - it was so
            good when we could just sit around in Egypt and
            eat meat and bread any time we wanted it

    - let me ask you - is that weed growing in your garden?
       - self - pity - choking out the fruit of biblical joy?

    - Pool illus - Spring - in a hot classroom - trying to
             concentrate- it sure would be nice, being
             outside pouring concrete today
    - do you know what cured those kinds of thoughts? (about
         a week of pouring concrete)
    - if I wasn't careful - do you know what thoughts came
       would come next (after a week of pouring concrete)
         - boy it sure would be great to be back in a nice
          comfortable classroom!

- the worldly weed of self-pity, robbing us of joy

- there's several more that the Scripture identifies, let me
  just mention them and encourage you to do more study on
  them later

    D. Unthankfulness - Deut. 28:47

        "Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully
         and with a glad heart, for the abundance of all
         things"

        - he goes on to say that he's going to bring a
          foreign nation in to take those things away -
          because they should have been thankful for them -
          and as a result had great joy

    E. Failure to serve - I Chron. 29:9, 17

        9 - "...Then the people rejoiced because they had
             offered so willingly, for they made their
             offering to the Lord with a whole heart..."

       17 - "...so now with joy I have seen thy people, who
             are present here, make their offerings willingly
             to thee."

        - some folks aren't developing the spiritual fruit of
          joy because they have the weed of non-service
          growing


    F. No concern for the spiritual well-being of others

        II Chron. 30:26, III John 4

        "So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the
         time of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel,
         there was not the like in Jerusalem"

        "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children
         walk in truth"
        - here are examples of people who had great joy
          because they had been concerned about the spiritual
          well-being of another person, and now that person
          was responding to God and his word

        - but folks who don't have that concern, they have
          the weed of no concern for the spiritual well being
          of others, don't have this potential source

    G. No interest in the work of God - Ezra 3:12

        "...when the foundation of this house was laid before
         their eyes, wept with a loud voice and many shouted
         for joy."

         - because they were interested in the work of God
           and when they saw that work progress - it brought
           them joy

    H. Failing to raise children for the Lord - Prov. 23:24

        "The father of the righteous shall greatly
         rejoice..."

    I. No prayer - John 16:24

        "...ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be
         full."

    J. Holding "things" too tightly - Heb. 10:34

        "For you had compassion on me in my bonds, and took
         joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in
         yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and
         enduring substance"

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video