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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Friday, October 06, 2006

Do Not Partake

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ephesians 5:6-7
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 10

Puritan Catechism
Question #43 - What is required in the first commandment?

Answer - The first commandment requires us to know (1 Chron. 28:9) and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God (Deut. 26:17), and to worship and glorify him accordingly (Matt. 4:10).

Devotional Thoughts
There is a noticeable distinction between the sons of disobedience and the sons of God. One lives only for self, the other abandons self for God. One takes, the other gives. We can even hear a difference in the way members of different kingdoms talk! Their accent as it were causes them to stand out and be readily identified.

As we have learned to see the difference, and hopefully to live the difference as we are in Christ, we read next that when it comes to the sons of disobedience we are not to be partakers with them. What does this mean? It sounds simple enough, but it is often confused or muddled as people try to interpret the verse to mean all sorts of things.

There are those that would teach us that this speaks to hair length or hair styles for men and women, or clothing styles, or the kind of music we listen to and enjoy. There are differences of opinion that vary from each end of extremes. So what does the Bible mean when it says, "do not be partakers with them"?

The word "partakers" means to be partners. More than companions, a partner is someone who is actively involved, even entangled in our affairs. There is the pursuit of common goals. This is a term that can be used to refer to fellowship! Here we see that this phrase means then that we are not to be partners with the sons of disobedience. Another way to say it is to say, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Cor. 6:14). I have explained what this verse means in detail in a blog post previously available here: The Second Foundation of Fellowship.

Some would say then that this means simply avoiding unbelievers. But in fact this does not mean to avoid them. If we avoid sinners how will they hear the gospel and be saved? We are never told to avoid all contact whatsoever with unbelievers. But we are told not to be partakers with them, not to partner with them. To better understand this I want to break this down into two key areas of partnership.

Partakers in Their Sin

We are not to partake with them in their sin. We can be around them and strive to reach them, love them, minister to them, and witness to them, but we must not partner with them in their sin. Especially here we need to keep in mind the nature of the particular sins and motives of the sons of disobedience. We do not join in their sin. We do not encourage it or enable it. We do not run with them in the same "flood of dissipation" nor do we make ourselves part of the group by endorsing what they do when they sin and chase their lust. As I stated earlier this week that means that we do not laugh at or otherwise encourage sin.

The Bible has plenty of warnings about evil companions. We need to heed those warnings. We need to steer clear of getting involved in a situation where we will either be led into sin or could be put in a position of helping someone else sin. And let us never think that we are above sin. We each face temptation daily and we know what triggers temptation. If people around us are doing things that will encourage us to sin or to be tempted we need to be prepared to flee!

Not many pastors preach on fleeing these days it seems. Too often we are encouraged to embrace our culture and act, talk, and look like those we are trying to reach with the gospel. But what change can we encourage if we do not think, talk, or look any different then they? We are different. And we cannot partake with them in their sin.

Partakers in Their Judgment

The sons of disobedience will suffer the wrath of God. That much we have seen clearly. We are not to be deceived by empty words or lead into a false assurance that we can have Jesus and our sin, walking in disobedience and still hoping for grace to abound. If those who think, talk, and act like sons of disobedience will suffer the wrath of God then this also means that we are not to partake with them in this wrath.

Jesus has born our sin and its penalty for us. He has been our substitute. Why then would we want to live like those who are only sure to receive His wrath? We must not partner with them in their sin or its consequences. We must come out from among them and be separate. We must act like what we are. Otherwise, we prove to be false disciples and we will be judged.

We cannot play with sin and indulge self and hope to be spared judgment. The truth is we will live like what we are! A key passage to keep in mind about the things we do and those with whom we partner in found in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11, 16-20. There we are told:

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies.

We must live like what we have been appointed by God to be - disciples of Jesus Christ. And that life is distinct. It stands out like a light in a dark world. If people cannot tell that we are different and if we partake with them in their sin then we are living a lie. Either we are not really disciples of Christ, or we are hypocrites. And trust me, the last thing the church needs is more hypocrites!

We know the truth. Jesus has told us "without Me you can do nothing", but with Him and in Him and through Him, we "can do all things." For nothing is impossible for God. Nothing.

He has saved us. He has made us new. And He has sent us back into the world to serve as His ambassadors, living and preaching the gospel so that others can be reconciled to Him with us. And so we must keep in mind that if we partake in the sins of the sons of disobedience then we will suffer their judgment as well. There is no room for an identity crisis. All doubts must be overcome with the Word of God and with the truth - Jesus knows those who are His, and those who are His live like it!

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Fellowship with God by Charles Spurgeon
The Perspective of My Life: Obedience by John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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