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Summary: The response to disruptive people demonstrates the Christian's maturity. Paul counsels the expression of the character that marks all who are mature in Christ.

“In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” [1]

“Everyone makes us happy here—some by coming and some by going.” This was printed on a sign situated prominently on the desk of the receptionist for the Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry when I was conducting doctoral studies. It spoke volumes, and is assuredly applicable to the situation found among the faithful. There are Christians, and there are Christians. Not all that are fellow saints cause us to rejoice, though we do not doubt their sincerity in the Faith.

In the broader realm of life, though sometimes neglected, the principle nevertheless holds true—character counts. Throughout the world, considerable attention has been focused on the American presidential primaries. Numerous individuals have asked me to explain the caucuses and primaries for the various states, asking at the same time for my thoughts on the candidates. It appears that the choice Americans will face is between an individual whom ongoing investigations could demonstrate to have performed acts that can only be considered treasonous and a pathologic, amoral, unprincipled, narcissistic, vulgar liar. Either candidate for President is prepared to distort the laws to enrich themselves through graft and sleaze. Spurgeon was correct, “Of two evils, choose neither.” [2] Character counts.

I am very much aware that significant numbers of professed evangelicals—and especially supposed evangelical leaders—have supported these particular candidates. To do so, they have been compelled to justify the perfidy, the incivility, the immorality, the wickedness, the unrighteousness while focusing on one or perhaps two tenuous promises uttered by people willing to say whatever is necessary to gain the prize of election. Nevertheless, character counts.

While it is true that character counts in the broader world, we are not necessarily shocked with earth dwellers fail to demonstrate righteous character. We understand intuitively that those identified with this dying world cannot—cannot—be men or women of character. Ultimately, these dying souls expose the poverty of life through acquiescing to that which is opposed to God.

Though benighted souls may preface unrighteous tolerance with weasel words intended to excuse their silence such as, “I don’t personally approve, but…” or “I wouldn’t do that, but…” At other times, those marked as belonging to the world will attempt to absolve themselves of blame by saying, “I wouldn’t do that; but who am I to judge?” However, when fellow Christians choose what is against righteousness or even approve of such acts, we are rightly shocked. Character counts.

The truth of God’s Word still stands: “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” [JAMES 4:17]. Thus, we turn to the situation among the faithful as we consider the Apostle’s instructions concerning character. What he will say in the verses comprising our text this day assume exaggerated significance in light of the prophecy he will shortly present in 2 TIMOTHY 3:1-9. “Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.”

VESSELS OF THE FAITH — “In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” In light of the verses preceding the text, it is obvious that Paul has the congregation as a whole in view. He sees the individual members as those that make up the house, but he has an obvious and high regard for the congregation.

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