"DISCOURAGED BY THE TRUTH"

First Corinthians 16.12-14

INTRODUCTION:

1. Please stand with your Bible turned to First Corinthians 16.12, and read along silently while I read aloud:

12 As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.

2. In this verse the great apostle Paul told the Corinthians that he wanted that magnificent Bible preacher Apollos to journey to Corinth and preach the Word of God to them, but that Apollos did not want to come at that time, for one reason or another, but would perhaps come later.

3. Why did Paul want Apollos to go to Corinth and preach? I think I know. Letís try to place ourselves in the Corinthianís shoes for a moment or two so I can explain what I think Paul had in mind.

4. How would you feel if you had been saved for 4 or 5 years, if you had learned in that time to live in Christian liberty and toleration, and if you had gloried in being a wonderfully gifted Christian . . . and then all of a sudden, out of the clear blue, you get a long letter from Paul?

5. And as the letter is read to you by the pastor, you come to the realization that Paul has written an inspired letter that forcefully and powerfully convinces you (convicts might be a better word) that you are not only unspiritual, but that you are unwittingly the cause of divisions within your Church.

6. Further, as more of the letter is read, you are shown that your inability to deal with sin properly in your family or in your own personal life, for that matter, has given your Church and the cause of Christ a horrible testimony in the community.

7. Finally, the letter reveals to you that you do not, in fact, know anything about the Christian liberty you supposedly were enjoying. You are devoid of any knowledge of the principles relating to Godís chain of command in your home. You obviously do not know the first thing about proper conduct during the Lordís Supper. You do not know anything about the spiritual gifts you have and are using improperly. You have forgotten the tremendous importance that Jesus Christís resurrection is supposed to play in the Christianís life. And you donít even know how to take up an offering properly!

8. I mean, after reading Paulís first Corinthian letter your spiritual world has come down on your head, so to speak. You who thought you had it licked have suddenly been forced to admit to yourself, as has almost everyone else in your Church, "Hey, Iím nothing!" And the result is that youíre depressed, youíre discouraged, and youíre disheartened.

9. Paul, who has been a Christian for some 25 years now, remember, and has experienced these same types of feelings and realizations in his own life many times, knows just what these people now need. What they really need is to be uplifted and encouraged by some dynamic Bible preaching.

10. Well, whoís the best Bible preacher there is? It certainly isnít Paul. Heíd be the first to tell you that. And itís not Peter. The best Bible preacher in the entire world is a man named Apollos. He can exhort them. He can lift them up. He can get them going again. But he isnít coming.

11. Folks, do you ever get discouraged like these folks were discouraged? I mean, have you ever had the air knocked completely out of you? Have you ever been discouraged by the truth? I have been. And itís happened to me so many times that I am in danger of becoming an expert on the subject . . . and itís an expertise I donít want to have.

12. When truth hits you like this and pops your personal bubble (and it will), it is not always Godís will that you be cheered up by the preacher. When you get down, especially when you are down because your unrealistic estimations of yourself have been proven wrong by painful experience or Scriptural truth, there is no Biblical guarantee that some other person will come along and cheer you up. I mean, itís not always Godís will that you be lifted up and encouraged by some other person. Good feelings is not Godís goal for you.

13. And why not? Because God wants you and me to discover something. He wants us to discover that we have been given the tools for dealing with our own discouragement. You have been given the spiritual tools to deal with and conquer the discouragements in your own life. You donít always have to depend on others to do this for you.

14. In First Corinthians 16.13-14, Paul, looking at the problem of discouragement from the human side alone, outlines two areas in your life that will give you the victory over discouragement and disillusionment. Letís stand once more. Again, you read silently while I read aloud:

13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

14 Let all your things be done with charity.

1A. First, THERE IS THE AREA OF ACTION

I donít have to tell you that discouragement oftentimes paralyzes professing Christians. But you and I donít have to allow that to happen to us. You donít have to be like so many who give up and say to themselves, "Whatís the use?" Letís, right now, decide to follow the advice and counsel of a man who conquered more discouragement and disappointment in a year than most of us will see in a lifetime. And what is that advice? Take action.

1B. Paul First Tells Us What Action To Take By Telling Us What To Do

There are two things we must do to conquer depression and discouragement.

1C. First, Paul writes to the Corinthians, "Watch ye"

1D. From a word that means to stay awake, Paul is telling his sad readers to "Stay alert!"

2D. Folks, we all know that Christians are soldiers in the Lordís army. But we sometimes overlook the tendency that discouraged troops have of forgetting to stand guard.

3D. To remain faithful and vigilant we need to stop being so selfish that we forget that thereís an enemy out there to watch for whoís a deadly adversary.

4D. So, if you are troubled and disappointed that you are not as knowledgeable or as spiritual or as mature as you might have wanted to believe you were, donít sulk.

5D. Maybe youíve discovered that youíre not nearly as pretty as youíd like to be. Perhaps youíre not as promotable at work, or as employable, as you want to be. Perhaps your singing voice isnít as melodic as youíd thought. Whatever it may be, what do you do? Lift up your chin and watch.

2C. Paul then tells the Corinthians to "stand fast in the faith"

1D. Okay. The first thing a depressed or discouraged soldier does is stop watching. Instead, he mopes around. He sulks. His feelings turn inward.

2D. Picture a soldier who feels sad. Allowing his improper thoughts to control his actions, he actually begins to look down instead of look out.

3D. Next thing you know, he will start leaning at his post instead of standing at his post. And finally he will sit down. At this point he has dropped out, he has given up, he has for all intents and purposes gone AWOL. Absent without leave.

4D. To counter that tendency Paul says, "stand fast in the faith." Donít give up on Christianity. Donít desert the Church that Jesus died for. Nothing thatís ever going to happen to you can excuse you leaving your post!

5D. You stand fast. Stand tall. Stick with the faith . . . and watch.

2B. So Paul tells us to do right. But you and I both know that it takes special people to do special things. Paul knew this as well. For that reason he tells us not only what to do in times of discouragement, but also what to be.

1C. First, he tells us to be men "Quit you like men!"

1D. This translates a single Greek word that means "make a man!" Paul wants Christians to be manly! Oh, how this command is needed in our day of wimpy men.

2D. And, ladies? Even you are expected to act like a man when you become depressed or discouraged.

3D. I think Paul means by this, "Donít be a quitter. Donít be a crybaby. Be a man about this thing. Keep on keeping on."

4D. Hey, if thatís what being a man is all about, some of the best men I have ever known are some of you ladies right here in this Church.

5D. I wonder how many men Paul would approach whoíve stopped witnessing, whoíve stopped giving, whoíve stopped reading Godís Word, whoíve begun to look for reasons to stop attending Church, because they are depressed, or because they are downhearted, or because they are sulking, or because they feel stressed?

6D. I wonder how many times Paul would have said to me, and I wonder to how many of you he would say, in his own special way, "Brother, youíre not being manly at all, in the Bible sense. Youíre acting like a little child over this matter."

7D. You see, folks, to watch and stand fast you must be a man. And God wants His people to be men.

2C. Next, Paul tells us to "be strong."

1D. This word "strong" is unusual in the New Testament in that it is used only three other times, twice used by Luke in describing the Lordís childhood.

2D. Letís look at the third use of this word. Turn to Ephesians 3.14-16:

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.

3D. Paul prayed that the Ephesians would be "strengthened" (thereís our word) by the Spirit of God.

4D. Strengthening, then, is a work of the Holy Spirit in the believerís life on the so-called "inner man." And I think itís safe to say that the reason a Christian is not strong is because he has not making use of the means of grace the Holy Spirit will use to do a strengthening work in his life.

5D. Are you a Spirit-quencher? Do you grieve the Spirit of God? If you will not be what the Spirit of God wants you to be you will be a weak Christian. Discouragement and depression will defeat you if you donít drink from Godís fountain of sustaining grace.

6D. But if you are nourished and obedient God will make you spiritually strong. And with spiritual strength comes Christian manliness. Will you obey God and witness to men of Jesus? Will you obey God and give to His cause? Will you obey God and provide spiritual leadership for your wife and for your children? People who obey in such areas as these are quite simply stronger in the "inner man" that those of you who do not so obey God.

7D. But if you obey the Word of God, and if you yield to the Holy Spirit, He will strengthen you and make of you a spiritually strong man. And being a spiritually strong man, by Godís grace and through Godís Spirit, you will watch . . . you will stand fast in the faith.

8D. This is the action area of your life in the battle against depression and discouragement. Take action to do right. Take action to be right. But this if action is not taken you have elected to be a pathetically depressed and discouraged person, even though you donít have to be.

2A. RIGHT ACTIONS ARE TREMENDOUSLY IMPORTANT, BUT RIGHT ACTION IS NOT ENOUGH. THERE MUST ALSO BE, WITH RIGHT ACTION, RIGHT ATTITUDE (16.14)

14 Let all your things be done with charity.

1B. "Charity" is love. You might remember that itís what Paul leads us to pursue in First Corinthians 14.1, and itís wonderfully described in First Corinthians 13.4-8. Letís read those two passages:

14.1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

13.4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

13.5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

13.6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

13.7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

13.8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

2B. If you were to take this whole concept of love and charity and choose a single word that was synonymous with the idea, Iím convinced that the word you would use is "giving." Giving of yourself. Giving to meet needs. Giving, as opposed to taking.

3B. The discouraged and depressed and despondent Christian, you see, tends to be an extremely selfish person. And itís quite easy to see this selfishness when you think about it. If he or she gives up, for whatever reason, if he or she quits, then it is quite obvious that that Christian is not thinking about Christ.

4B. Itís quite obvious that he or she is not thinking about the needs of others, or the impact his life has on others. He or she can only be thinking of themselves. By anyoneís definition, thatís selfishness.

5B. But when there is love, when there is charity as the governing principle behind all that you say and do . . . whether it be love for Christ or love for others, that Christian will not quit. He will not give up.

6B. Love, you see, especially love for Christ, will move a believer to be strong when he thinks no strength remains. Love will move you to be manly when you feel like a little boy who wants to quit.

7B. Further, love like that produces loyalty to the cause of Christ, to the person of Christ, and to the people of Christ. It will manifest itself by watching when you feel like hanging your head in despair, and standing when you feel like sitting down or running away.

CONCLUSION:

1. Hey, every Christian gets discouraged. And the hardest discouragement to deal with is the discouragement that comes from learning the truth about yourself. Such as when you thought you had it licked, or when you thought you had it together, or when you thought you knew what was going on, only to find out otherwise.

2. When this kind of thing happens to you and you get emotionally down, make up your mind that youíre not going to stay down. Decide that by Godís grace youíre going to pull out of it.

3. And how does one do that? By acting as you ought to act at all times anyway. Do the right things. "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith." And then be the right person. "Quit you like men, be strong."

4. Take that kind of action at all times, especially when you get discouraged by the truth, and youíll be well on your way to recovering the joy that is yours to have as a Christian, the joy you would not have lost had you done this in the first place.

5. And donít forget your attitude. Thatís critical. "Let all your things be done with charity." Donít rule out the possibility that God allowed the discouragement to enter your life for the express purpose of renewing and rekindling your love for Him and for His people.

6. My friend, let me ask you, "Are you discouraged and depressed and do you feel defeated right now? Have you all but given up?"

7. If so, give me an opportunity to lift your spirits. Let me try to encourage your heart with Godís Word. But if I try and then fail, donít presume that God has left you high and dry.

8. Remember that God has given you the tools to encourage yourself if you are truly converted. And why should you encourage yourself? Why should I encourage myself? So you can continue to serve God. So you can keep on doing right. So you can be a man about things, instead of a child. So you can love Jesus like you ought to.

9. As we stand and prepare to sing an invitation song, get this matter settled in your heart. Donít wait for Apollos to come and cheer you up. Heís not coming. A better than Apollos is already here. Heís the Spirit of God and He dwells inside you, Christian. As we bow our heads in a word of prayer before we sing, you decide now to do right.

10. And what should you do if you feel discouraged and depressed and youíre not a Christian? Let me tell you, if your sins have not been forgiven and your destiny is Hellfire, you have no reason to be anything but discouraged and depressed.

11. But your situation can be forever changed, your discouragement replaced by great joy, your destiny altered from Hell to heaven, when you repent of your sins and trust Jesus Christ to wash away your sins in His precious blood, to forgive them and never remember them again, and to make you a child of God.

12. How many of you, by uplifted hand, would say, "Pastor, pray for me. I am a discouraged Christian." Thank you.

13. Now, how many of you would say, by uplifted hand, "Pastor, Iím discouraged and depressed, but Iím not a Christian. I donít know that my sins are forgiven. But Iíd like to know." You raise your hand.

 Home   Who Is God?   God's Word   Sermons   Tracts   Q & A   Feedback  

Order this sermon on tape:    or Mail/Phone