The Precious from the Vile

We live in an upside down world, where expressions of love are often reduced to little more than misdirected affection; where pursuit of joy is often misguided into drinking a six pack of beer while watching a football game; and where peace is felt when the bombs are falling on somebody else. It is a cold, callous world, where suffering in defense of the helpless is judged immoral, where the kind and gentle often give way to the rude and belligerent, where meekness and goodness and uncommon faith are scoffed at. Politicians and football players, school children and truck drivers and nearly everybody successful place aggression above goodness, expediency above meekness and winning above charity. How can you and I as Christians separate the precious from the vile?

by Jerry Gentry

"Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them" (Jer. 15:19).

"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Phil. 2:4), the Bible teaches. Can you imagine yourself watching a professional football game where living by the Golden Rule came before winning? And even more ridiculous, can you imagine an abortion clinic where respect for the life of the unborn was paramount? The world we live in has changed the rules, in just about every institution of man.

The world we live in is mostly unChristian, even in Christian circles. Where do you find men and women who "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" (Phil. 2:3)? Such attributes are not at all common, even in churches.

Where can you find people who "love thy neighbour as thyself" (Mark 12:31)? In your own life, do you "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matt. 5:44)?

Where will you find people, even Christians, who "eschew evil, and do good" (1Pet. 3:11), even in the face of great personal adversity? Surely, there are Christians who take Bible instructions seriously. But when the chips are down, and the pressure is on, who will live daily by the Master's Word?

Our world is jaded, callous, unable to separate the precious from the vile. The precious truth is tossed aside, while vile errors are adopted and embraced. Aggression is equated with manliness; onslaught is enthroned as a preferred tactic. Violence has become the norm. From prime time news, to TV cartoons and movies, from football fields to the abortion murder mills, sex and violence, injury and death have become the necessary sacrifice of playing the vile game of life by this world's standards.

The end of our civilization is near when the vile becomes so enthroned that no tide of righteousness will swell in defense against such ungodliness. A nation will be judged who loses decency. A people are lost when sin is piled on top of sin, past the point of no return. With finality, the end must come, when: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still" (Rev. 22:11).

Such is that time of ultimate separation, in the hour before final judgment and destruction of all vile institutions which are enthroned as a way of life.

Who today will dare identify and separate the precious from the vile? Who will dare to discern the difference? Who will identify and separate the wheat from the chaff, the silver from the dross, the clean from the unclean, sincerity from pretense?

The Bible speaks of "precious stones," "precious ointments," "precious souls"and many other "precious things."

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints" (Ps. 116:15), the Bible says. What abortion mills toss in the garbage, God calls precious.

The Bible speaks of "how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments" (Ps. 133:1-2). Such precious unity comes at the price of rejection of the vile.

Oh yes, and there are precious thoughts! "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!" (Ps. 139:17). Precious thoughts come at the price of rejection of the evil and vile.

"Wisdom" is said to be "more precious than rubies" (Prov. 3:15), and "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding" (v. 13).

"For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold" (v. 16).

"For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life" (Prov. 6:26). For the adulteress, "the precious life" is not found where she is looking.

There was a time in ancient Israel when a priest stood in the house of God, who looked on while his sons made themselves vile. It is a sad time, when things vile were set high, and the precious was made low.

"Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD" (1Sa 2:12).

"Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD" (v. 17).

"Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation" (v. 22).

And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people" (v. 23).

"Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD'S people to transgress" (v. 24).

"Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them" (v. 25).

The LORD said, "I will judge. . . [Eli's] house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not" (1Sam. 3:13). Eli refused by neglect to separate the precious from the vile. The price he paid was that God ended his lineage through death of himself and his sons.

Every Christian's future is determined by our willingness to separate the precious from the vile. Such has been the single great challenge of mankind since the very Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve were instructed to eat of all the trees of the garden, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17). At that beginning time, Adam and Eve knew only the precious. Nothing vile had yet entered their lives. Then one day a tall, handsome smooth talking fellow came and "said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Gen 3:4-5).

"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (Gen 3:6 ).

Thereby both Adam and Eve disobeyed God's plain command, and the vileness of original sin infected their lives, and ours as well. From thence forward all men had to choose good or evil, and separate the precious from from entanglement with the vile. If history teaches any lesson at all, it is the lesson of man's failure mostly in all his institutions to draw that line between good and evil, and separate the precious from the vile.

It is only by making that distinction, acknowledging personal sin, and finding God's wonderful remedy in the blood of Jesus Christ, who paid sin's price of eternal death for the saved among Adam's race, that we separate the precious from the vile. The Bible says that we are redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1Pet. 1:19). Do you count His blood precious? Do you believe He has saved you? Yes? When that candle of faith has begun to glow in your heart, then it is time for you to begin the practical, daily separation of the precious from the vile in your everyday life.

The Bible teaches: "the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel" (Prov. 20:15), and "by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches" (Prov. 24:4). Friend, do you live by knowledge? Or you live by convenience? Is your life a reaction to external forces? Have you sorted out and separated things precious from things vile, in your daily life?

The Bible says, "A good name is better than precious ointment" (Eccl. 7:1). What kind of name do you have among the saints? Would you dare receive an evaluation of your reputation and behavior, from one of the precious saints who knows you well? Yes? The Bible says, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). When you ask for prayer, do you confess your deepest faults, your worst sins, or just your superficial, "respectable" sins?

Do you respect what God respects? Or do you esteem things you would not dare let God in on? Do your personal choices grieve the Spirit of God? Do you go places where Jesus cannot go with you? Will you separate the precious from the vile in your daily life?

"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (2Pe 1:3).

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (v. 4).

Yes, brother and sister, that very "divine nature" lost in Adam through sin, becomes the most "precious promise" in this life for all who are genuinely saved. Oh, to be like Him! We are commanded, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). When you walk outside the Word, you are not in the Spirit, because Jesus teaches us: "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).

Will you today separate the precious from the vile in your life? Will you yield to the Spirit, when your heart condemns you for your sins? Will you live in denial of personal sin, or will you confess and forsake personal sin, and experience God's mercy? Will you say, with Jesus, "not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42)? When others sin against you, will you with Jesus say from the heart, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34)?

Will you view acts of reprobation as the Psalmist: "In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not" (Psa 15:4)? Will you "Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy" (Ps. 82:3)?

Will you frame your life, morning, noon and night, by all the Words of God? Will your trust your own heart, or will you in yieldedness throw yourself on the mercy of God, with David, who said: "Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults" (Ps. 19:12)?

When we are cleansed, we are sanctified, purged, to rise above our inate sinful nature. Sanctification separates the precious from the vile, both physically and spiritually, until one day there comes an ultimate separation through the fires of judgment:

"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God" (Zech. 13:9).

Through the process of refinement, both physical and spiritual, we are purged. "For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried" (Ps. 66:10). God separates the wheat from the chaff, the silver from the dross, the precious from the vile, until finally he has a pure offering found in the very lives of His saints: "And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness" (Mal. 3:3).

Throughout salvation history, God has separated the precious from the vile, by all His various means. It is through trials and tribulations that he purges and separates the precious from the vile in every Christian's life:

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1Pet. 1:7).

Christian, will you consciously examine and judge yourself? By the standard of the word of God, you will "Depart from evil, and do good" (Ps. 37:27). By the Word of God alone, can you learn to separate the precious from the vile and live for God every day of your life.

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