by Mike Ratliff
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NASB)
Proof that these are Laodicean times, that is, lukewarm, man-centered, not fervently God-centered times in the “visible church” is always found in points of contention. One such point presents itself in which a “mega-church” pastor has gone public that he is “gay,” which took place several years ago. How something like that is “handled” by the “visible” church reveals it’s spiritual health. I see the division between genuine Christianity and man-centered, Laodicean “christianity” becoming even more defined through this. I believe there will probably be even more well-known so-called “christian leaders” come out of the closet soon. However, if we focus too much on the apostasy all around us my brethren we can become very discouraged, therefore, as the writer of Hebrews says in the passage above, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
Let us focus in this post on a word from v24 in the passage above that the NASB translates as “stimulate,” which is παροξυσμον; the Accusative, Singular form of παροξυσμός or paroxusmos. We get our English word paroxysm from this word, which means “a fit or outburst.” The Greek word παροξυσμός, in turn, is made up of a root, ὀξύς or oxus, which means sharpen, irritate, or incite, and the prefix παρά or para, which pictures movement toward a certain point. Therefore, παροξυσμός gives us the idea if impelling, inciting, or rousing someone toward something.
This word can be used in either in a good sense or a bad sense and we see both in the Word of God. It is used in the good sense in the passage above in which believers are encouraged to stimulate one another to love and good deeds… Let us obey this.
On the other hand, the Word of God also uses this word to speak of sharp contention, or even an angry dispute such as Paul breaking away from Barnabas in Acts 15 over the issue of taking Mark with them on their missionary journey. The παροξυσμός was so sharp between Paul and Barnabas that they split up (Acts 15:36-40).
We find this word again in Acts 17:16 in which Paul’s spirit was παροξυσμός in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. He became incensed with how truly pagan the city was. Now, think again of the so-called pastor I mentioned above “coming out of the closet” mixing what is not Christian with what is Christian. This is impossible. It is only pagan and God will not tolerate it, especially when it is mixed in and blended with His name and worship. Consider this a παροξυσμός from me to incite each of you to become totally incensed against this sort of thing and not allow it to stand and be called Christian. When we use παροξυσμός this way it is literally “a sharpening,” so figuratively, consider this a spurring, a stimulation, an encouragement to each one reading this to seek ways to be an encouragement to other Christians, to impel others to do right in any circumstance. We should both look for ways to show our love and concern for the well-being and spiritual life of others as we stand firm against all apostasy.
If we will do this then we will be what we are supposed to be in this world as Christians.
Soli Deo Gloria!