FAMILY (Part One)
I started something last week which I feel I should carry on further this week. This is a more in-depth message on the same subject which I preached on a year and a half ago. This is not a new message form, yet, it will contain much new material. Also t is the second of two messages and will leave a lot of blank spaces.
Let me review a couple of things, because I need a very good foundation for what I am going to say.
Robert Schuller. Any Christian with any Biblical background at all can recognize Schuller for what he is. A smooth talking false teacher, preaching doctrines of devils. The devil is as an angel of light and from the sound of things Schuller is one of his prophets.
Schuller is not our problem though. He is far enough from the truth that most can see him for what he is. The problem is from his disciple. Now, some of you will say, "But you have shown his films and read his statements as well as promoted his material."
To this I must answer, "Yes, I have". That was also before I checked him out. He sounds so good and convincing in contrast to what has happened i the fundamental movement that I did not read his material to know where he stood on some very important issues.
First, he tells in one of his films that he was saved at about the age of three when he asked Jesus into his heart. This would be the first ref flag yet I overlooked that.
Second, and what caught my attention was book I received sometime ago. A place where I order books from sent out a complementary copy of (this book) if you ordered $15.00 I think of books.
I ordered the books and they didn't send me the complementary copy so I wrote them back. They sent the book and I put it on my self. This is probably three years ago. It sat there for a year or more and I picked it up one day and started through it and came across the quote which I just gave. I had already glanced through Schuller's book 3 or 4 years ago so I recognized Schuller's doctrine immediately when I read the quote. I got out Schuller's book and sure enough, there it was.
The root of sin and the basic social ill is "not being able to accept oneself:" according to Schuller and Dobson.
Because of Dobson's 1) the false plan of salvation, 2) his current day philosophy behind his teaching I was forced to face a fact (the same thing I had to do when I found that today's rapture theology is based on a vision that a young girl had (Marlin McDonald) in Glasgow, Scotland in 1833).
The inescapable fact is that Dobson is a false prophet, a wolf in sheeps clothing. He is as sincere as a heart attack yet he is as wrong as the devil himself. He has many good things and is "on top of" many good issues yet if you will notice, he has a very conspicious absence of scriptural principles. He dismisses this with "I am not a theologian". This justifies his lack of the use of Scriptures both with himself and with his followers.
We reject Schuller because of his unscriptural foundation yet we except Dobson even though his foundation is just a unscriptural. Their messages are basically the same. Their basic doctrine is the same, yet, they preach to different crowds and apply their doctrine in different areas. Dobson applies it into the family, and people love it.
Dobson's trust is against God and for the family. We except his message because we have seen the families falling apart and his reason for this destruction sounds good to human understanding. Dobson's' message is and will be just as devastating to the cause of Christ and the family as was the message of easy believeism of the last decade. This easy believeism is being mixed with Dobson's message and the results will be God's judgment, God's curse.
Now, I am no expert in this area or in any other as far as that goes. You may also say "Bro. Need, you are not perfect therefore the message is to be dismissed. You are dismissing Dobson's because he isn't perfect."
1. By his own mouth, he ask Jesus into his heart at the age of three.
2. By his own pen he says the root of sin and the cause of social ills is inability to accept yourself.
3. He points out he is not a theologian, therefore he IS NOT applying Biblical principles to the problems. He prides himself in being a psychologist. He is applying HUMAN WISDOM to spiritual problems.
4. The thrust of his message is "turn your heart's toward the family." This is absolutely unscriptural beyond any doubt.
There are an abundance of scriptures on this. Hag. 2:17, I smote you with blasting and with mild dew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me saith the Lord. What is the purpose here of God smiting HIS people? Therefore we cannot say the family is falling apart because "the heart is not turned toward home".
Lam. 5:21 turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.
The emphasis which Dobson is placing upon the home, family, will destroy the family.
Another thing. There was only one preacher who every lived what he preached, and never had to go back and correct a wrong doctrine. We must listen to the word of God and act upon it. We will be held accountable to God's word as to whether we obeyed it or not. Rom. 2 is clear. Judgment is according to the truth, not according to if the preacher was perfect.
Now, this is all introduction. Let me try to give far too much in this small amount of time. What does the Scripture say in this area. All I can do this morning is give you some high points here, with many holes to be closed later.
First, marriage and the family relationship must be viewed in the terms of God's word. The family relationship, husband-wife, parent, children, these relationships are grounded in the far of God and in obedience to His Word. NOT in emotion.
Every relationship of man including in the family is governed by His Word. God has set limits, conditions and responsibilities which are absolute and cannot be violated. God is the absolute head of the man, therefore head of the work place, church and the home.
Any time feelings are allowed to govern a relationship rather than Biblical principle, then only trouble lies ahead.
Therefore, the obedience of the wife is not conditional upon the superiority of the husband, but upon Biblical principles. We will not go into this at this time because it has been covered so many times and for times sake. There is another place I want to get to today.
But we will say this, (Eph. 5:22-24), the husbands proof of his love for his family is his wise, loving and godly governing of his household according to god's Word. NOt the time spent. The wife shows her love for her husband in her submission to him. (Also by her covering-- I personally think that many times the shorter the woman's hair is the more rebellion there is).
The husband submits to Christ and to al proper authority. The wife submits to her husband and with her as his help-meet, he subdues all things for Christ. The wife gains her status from her husband and when she under cuts him she under cuts herself (Prov. 31).
Now, let's move on to what we need to look at concerning the proper relationship here. We will pass over a tremendous amount here to get to this next thing which needs to be emphasized.
Man (and the family) can only be understood in the terms of God and His Sovereign purpose in man's creation. Let's look at that purpose, Gen. 1:26-28,
God created man with a purpose. That purpose in creation was for man to exercise dominion over the earth and subdue it for God's glory.
This is done by obeying God's law in every area of life. Adam did this as he obeyed the word of God. 1) To dress the garden. 2) To name the creatures. 3) To not eat of the tree of knowledge.
Man was created to bring everything under subjection to God. Man was NOT created for the benefit of Eve.
In Gen. 2:15-20 we find that God placed the man, Adam, in the garden. He was given a job to do. That was to dress and care for it according to God's law-word. This would have required hard work.
We also see that God placed another requirement upon the man. To name all of the animals of the new creation. All of the classes of animals in the world. This would not have been an easy or quick task. This required an extended period of time and a tremendous knowledge.
So now we have two callings upon man BEFORE he wa given a family ad the family must be viewed within this context. First, Adam was HARD at work. He had a task and that task was to dress and keep the garden.
Second, knowledge. He was required to increase in knowledge as he named the animals. EVERY LIVING CREATURE.
Therefore, Adam's call to exercise dominion over the earth required HARD WORK and an increase in KNOWLEDGE.
Man was not created as a child but as a hard working, mature, responsible adult. His wife did not find someone who she would have to train up in the way he should go.
Now, wives, listen to me. Men are made by GOD to find their fulfillment in HARD WORK and in INCREASING HIS KNOWLEDGE. Not in his wife and kids. He had these two responsibilities before he had a wife. The wife will find her fulfillment in helping her husband in his hard work and increase in knowledge.
The man has a built in dominion mandate from God. That mandate is that he subdue all things for God's glory and under God's law. Man does this through hard work and increase in knowledge.
Now, sin has corrupted this to where this built in dominion mandate is apart from God. It is now to have power over creation for prides sake. This to is done through hard work and increase in knowledge and destroys all man touches.
Man is fulfilled and finds joy in a job well done and in knowledge gained because in and through that work and knowledge they fulfill what God has demanded of them. This alone is the way God's kingdom is extended. When a man feels his job is a dead job he is very frustrated.
Man's calling from God is to extend God's kingdom in his work and in his community, and in his church and in his family. When a wife interferes in that calling she is interfering with God and she destroys her husband and the very family she is trying to protect. I am sure that the older ladies can remember that the harder their husbands worked the more at ease they were. If a man has a job where he doesn't feel like he is important or that he isn't able to dominate, he is very restless and uneasy. He gets very frustrated with what he feels is a dead end job.
It was not until Adam had worked at dominating these two areas for sometime was he given a help-meet. Adam had already named every living creature. From the smallest bug to the largest animal. He was already busy at work keeping the garden. Adam was already in control of these areas doing them for God's glory in obedience to God's word. Then, Eve was given.
(Girls, the fellow you marry had better already be busy at work and in increasing his knowledge for the glory of God.)
1. Eve was not given merely to meet a physical need but as a helper. She was to be a helper for him so he could more effectively obey God and advance God's kingdom over al of creation through hard work and increase of knowledge. Only with Eve he has another added area to advance God's kingdom over, the family.
Notice here, that the woman was given to help him govern these areas. The woman is equipped by God to be able to manage both her household and her husband's affairs and business. Actually, she has more ability than him as well as more stamina many times. Yet, HE HAS the dominion mandate, not her. He has the need to dominate all of creation through hard work and increase in knowledge, not her. (Sin has messed that all up, she now seeks to dominate.) Her's is to be as a subjective help-meet, helping him t have dominion.
He is commanded to dominate every area for God's glory. She is equipped to help him do that (Prov. 31). Her job is to do all she can to make her husband's job, work more successful. Might I add, the Prov. 31 woman was able to take on an added outside job and still do these things within her home. A man cannot do that. Again, a woman can do more things better but she is to be in SUBJECTION to her own husband.
Second, Eve was only given to Adam AFTER he was established doing God's will.
Here also, a) It is dad's responsibility to see that his son is established in his work for God's glory. b) It is the girl's father's responsibility t se that the man his daughter marries is busy at work carrying out the mandate of God.
Third, now hear me close, man is called to exercise dominion for God through hard work, long hours and increased knowledge. Then he was given a family. The family is an extension of the man's dominion mandate. Not his dominion as extension of his family.
This is not the way I have been taught. This is not the way which is being taught today. But this is clear here in Gen. 1:26-2:20. Eve was given to help Adam do what God had already told him to do. Part of his dominion for the kingdom of God is his family but the exercise of dominion in work and knowledge precedes the exercise of dominion as husband and father.
Man will find his fulfillment and satisfaction in his hard work and increase in knowledge, not in his family. The woman will find her's in helping her husband in these things. Providing conditions so he can be more effective in advancing the kingdom of God into every area. The older women will attest to this. I'm sure their husband's were more at ease the hard that they worked.
Dominion in the family is important because it is part of man's calling but it isn't his total calling. His calling is in terms of his work which God has given him to do. In contrast here, the woman's calling is in terms of her husband and family.
Fifth, marriage is not bondage, but the normal state of life. The godly marriage will make the man more effective in his efforts to dominate al of creation for God's glory. More effective in obeying God's will for his life. It will not hinder him.
The wife who hinders her husband's obedience to God's will for him is a toll of the devil and the husband had better do it anyway or he will lose both his peace with God and his family.
Finally, marriage cannot be reduced to sex. It must be viewed in the terms of man's calling to have dominion. To advance god's kingdom into every area of life. --To seek first the kingdom of God--
When a man's work seems useless he cannot rest from his labors because they have no satisfaction in that work.
Then men try to put purpose in their work by working harder.
His frustration results in physical and mental problems, lose of his sexual energy and his ability to rest.
A healthy marriage can only be obtained and maintained within the view of man's calling to please God in every area of his life. To exercise dominion in his vocation and service for God.
Now, women, wives, listen close to me. A woman can make no greater mistake than to assume that she (or the family) can take priority in her husband's life over his work and his service for God. Over his obedience to what he feels God has given him to do.
He will love her with a personal warmth and tenderness as no other person, but a man's life is his work, not his wife. When a woman fails to understand this serious damage will be done to the family.
Hear me further women. A godly husband looks and sees the sin sick world around him and sees the utter chaos which results from its turning from God, God has built within your husband the answer. The answer the godly husband sees is more work and more increase in knowledge.
Yet on the other hand, since the wifes calling is within the family, she will feel the answer is for her husband to make his family his priority and less emphasize on work.
You know, we have more marriage seminars to days than ever before, family seminars, and the family break-up rate has only increased.
Because work is man's nature he can easily fall into the serious mistake of trying to solve all problems by working harder, yet, many times the woman becomes even more convinced that work isn't the answer.
It hasn't been too long ago when men worked ten or more hrs. a day 6 and 7 days a week. They could enjoy life, rest well and they trained up strong families.
It is as men have departed from God and doing all things FOR HIS GLORY to advance His kingdom upon earth that we have seen the families fall apart. The falling apart of the families is the result of turning from Scriptural principles. 1) of Salvation. 2) Of seeing the need to advance God's kingdom through hard work and knowledge. 3) Ignoring the law of God in every area of life. Deut.. 27:26 tells us very clearly why the curse of God is upon society and this would include the family. In the many family life seminars., you don't heard of the absolute necessity of returning to all the words of the law to do them. The family being destroyed is the natural result of the curse of God against His people.
Because of this central need of work and increase in knowledge, men have a very bad problem of making work and knowledge a substitute religion. Instead of seeking his meaning in life from God and His Word, he seeks it in his work and knowledge.
Men have been called to exercise dominion through hard work and increased knowledge NOT through his family. A woman cannot claim priority either in her order in creation nor in her purpose in creation nor even in her command from God. She is to help her husband fulfill what God has for him to do. His first priority is to subdue all of creation for God's glory. To place the Word of God into effect wherever God has him.
As I said, this is strong. This is not what I have been taught and this may not necessarily be what I believe but this is God's Word.
Man has been called to exercise dominion through hard work, long hours and increased knowledge, not through his family as I have been taught and as is being taught by Dobson.
Part of that GODLY dominion is his family but that is not his calling.
Man has been called to advance God's kingdom into every area. Through his job, through his church, through his family.
The answer God has built in the man to advance His kingdom in the face of a sinful, wicked world is hard work, not the family. (This is part of God's kingdom).
Women, when and if you insist your husband to place his emphasis in the home or family you are depriving him of the answer to the problems he sees around him.
Where does this leave us.
1. Women, wives, are you hindering your husbands obedience to what God has for him to do in his vocation, in his community, in his church, even in his family. You are destroying him and your family.
2. Husbands, are we allowing the outside pressure of our family to hinder our obedience to God in these many areas?
Turn your hearts toward home is a lie of the devil. It is the DOBSON - Schuller spirit which is trying to control both us and Christianity today. It is devastating to the cause of Christ. It will destroy the family and the church if allowed to continue.
The word of God demands that we turn our hearts to God.
Yes, a strong nation is built on strong families, but strong families are built by men who have the freedom and encouragement to obey what God wants them to do.
A strong nation will be built on Deut. 27:26. Anything else has the curse of God against it. All of the family training seminars in the world will not stop that curse. All of the physiologist and psychologist in the world will not stop that curse.
Only a return by Christian men to Deut. 27:26 will stop the curse.
WHY DO GOD'S PEOPLE PERISH?
This is just a short little study on a verse that we hear quite often. Prov. 29:18 "Where there is no vision the people perish." Then the speaker will go on and tell of his vision. That "dream" may be of a large new building (with a large new payment, debt with it). That vision (dream) may be of a new "Christian amusement park." It may be of 100 or 1,000 in Sunday School. It may be a dream of a new bus or of a big special offering for a project. It may be a dream of a increased ministry of any and all kinds.
The list can go on and on. We have not only heard of these many dreams and visions by these many groups but we have voiced many of them ourselves.
This verse is especially popular when it comes time to raise support or money for a project. "I have this dream, send me your money so I can fulfill my vision (dream) from God." Then they may even show us the architect's plans of their dream fulfilled. It is then visualized. This visualization of a dream (imagination) is very close to the occult. No doubt but man does have a powerful imagination and through its use can bring things to reality, but that is to be all laid aside for obedience to and faith in God's Word. We are to walk by faith not by the imagination or by sight.
All of these plans and dreams of men are then sprinkled with "holy water" with this verse "where there is no vision, the people perish." In other words, "Now, folks, if you don't give and help support this dream, vision from God, that I have then we will all perish, and it will be your fault because you didn't join in this vision with your money."
Again, we have all heard it and even used it, but, let's look at the verse. Yes, it does say, "Where there is no vision the people, perish." But if you will notice, this is only half of the statement. It cannot stand alone without stripping it of its context and true meaning, as well as stripping it from God's Word. Without the second half of this verse the first half can becomes the slick words of a covetous teacher used to make merchandise of you; used to sell people on something that will fulfill a need which he has, as he tries to impart his imagination upon others, I Pet. 2:1-3.
We are experts at dividing the Word but very seldom is it rightly divided. Let us take this division out and put this verse back together again. This verse says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish (note, there is NOT a period here): but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." The two halves must go together. To separate this verse in the middle completely corrupts and changes the meaning. Many times this is used to try to put God's blessing upon something contrary to His revealed Word.
What is God saying here? "Vision" is contrasted with, "The law", which is God's law. There are many passages which confirm this. A couple would be I Sam. 3:1 and Mal. 2:7. There can be no greater disaster to a people than to lose the instruction in the law of God. In losing this instruction, they have lost instruction in the way of life, II Tim. 3:16.
This verse is not at all talking of a dream of "bigger and better". To use it as such is to try to place God's approval upon something He clearly condemns, I Tim. 6:5.
There is a vision for the godly which reaches into the future. Our vision of hope in the bleak, hopeless future is in keeping His every law-word now. This vision here is not a dream world of something in the future. It is the REALITY of the promises which are attached to the conditions of keeping God's every law-word today, Heb. 10:34-39; 11:13.
When there is no instruction in God's law in such a way that the people can understand it and apply it, the people perish. Israel perished. Why? Because they did not have a dream or vision of a big beautiful temple? Maybe it was because they didn't dream of being in control of their enemies. Maybe it was because they didn't dream of big crowds flocking in to the temple. Of course all of this is silly. Israel was destroyed because she turned her back upon God's law-word and walked after the imagination of her heart, Lam. 1; Ezek. 3:7; chp. 8, 9; Hosea 8; 18; Amos 2:4; 3:2, 3; 5, etc..
The NT is very clear on this, Jn. 13:17; Ja. 1:25. Paul covers this quit well in Rom. 1:21 (Hosea 11:7; Rev. 16:9). He points out that the judgment of God is against those who start out knowing God and His requirements upon them and then proceeded toward total apostasy. Their inheritance then being the wrath of God, 1:18.
"I have a dream, vision. Help me finance it because Prov. 29:18 says "Where there is no vision the people perish."" These are slick words to extract money from God's people. More than likely, used by those who do not really realize what they are saying. The "vision" here in its context is God's law. When it is ignored and not taught to God's people, His people perish. But, on the other hand, when it is taught, "he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
"But that's OT." Come on now! We try to use an OT passage to condone own dream, and raise money with "Where there is no vision the people perish." Let's use the OT to identify what the "vision" is, especially when that identity is found right in the same verse. The vision is THE LAW-WORD OF GOD. As we teach it and as the hearers apply it, God's people will not perish. In fact, they will live, prosper and be happy, Matt. 4:4.
Far to often we visualize the further as we think God would have it to be then we work toward that vision. Satan told Eve, "You can be as gods, knowing good and evil." Let us add something here. He tells us, "you can be as gods, knowing good and evil. You can know what is best for you in the future. Visualize and Imagine it and you can have it." God help us to restrict our visualization to walking in His every law-word today, II Cor. 10:5.
I heard of a pastor who sat in a restaurant across the street from his big new church and wept as he thought of the bodies of his family he built that church on. What happened? It sure looks like he was presented a vision of the future and that vision controlled him rather than every word which proceeded from the mouth of God. He felt he knew best what the future held and it cost him everything as he acted upon his vision rather a than day by day following the law-word of God and letting God take care of the future.
Of course, there are things, projects, which we would like to accomplish, goals to set and reach, but all must be "NEVERTHELESS, NOT MY WILL BUT THINE BE DONE." Then we are to do our very best with what He has given us to do. Paul has given us our definition of what our goal should be and only by God's grace can it be, I Cor. 10:31; Ph. 3:14. Everything must be viewed in the words of our Lord, Lk. 22:42.
Let us be warned. When we hear the first half used to raise money for "bigger and better", think of what Paul told Timothy in I Tim. 6:1-11. We cannot use one half of a verse to try to get God to condone something He has already spoke against. The Word of God is not a bottle of holy water to be broken up and sprinkled about to sanctify something we dream of or want to do. It is a Fire which will burn away the dross if we will let it, so that our lives and even our motives will be pure before Him, Rev. 1:14; I Pet. 1:7; Heb. 4:12.
We have presented a problem. Now how about an answer. The Scriptures are full of the answer. Paul pretty well sums it up in his first letter to the church at Corinth with chp. 3:6, 7 giving the total. Do what is right according to the total law-word of God in every area and leave the results up to Him. If HE wants us to have "bigger and better" He will provide the increase. The formula is given in Ps. 1, meditate on His law day and night. Then Ps.. 119 presents the need to develop in us and in others a love for His law and He will bring it to pass just as it please Him. To meditate upon anything other than His law-word is a vain imagination and a violation of II Cor. 10:4, 5. We might even try to justify that imagination with "This is a godly goal, so it's okay to meditate upon it because it is according to God's Word." A couple of things here, 1) "In his law doeth he meditate day and night;" 2) Matt. 6:34, our Lord here is clear. We do our best for Him today and He will work tomorrow out, all we are assured of is today. Our meditation is to be on Him, His Word and its principle as we go about our daily activity for His glory. The future is HIS. 3) How do we know what God's will is for us tomorrow?
It is time we replace the misuse of Prov. 29:18a with all of v. 18 as well as Ps. 37, and I Cor. 3:6, 7. Our vision is His law and allowing it to direct our every step, then He will bring it to pass. What will He bring to pass? I have no idea nor do I have any right to suppose or imagine what the future may hold. As the song says, "I do know who holds the future." All I know for sure is, IT WILL BE WHAT PLEASE HIM and FOR HIS GLORY. What more could we want?
ROE vs WADE
We are in a most heated discussion at this present period of history (May '89) over a very infamous ruling which legalized the murder of the unborn. This ruling took place in 1973, Roe vs Wade. There have been demonstrations and counter- demonstrations as the ones for and against this murder of the unborn attempt to sway public opinion and with the public, the supreme court. All in hopes of either persuading the court to uphold or overturn Roe.
Considering the dedication to the cause which we see from both sides, we would think that the court holds the answer concerning this murder of the unborn. But DO THEY? It would be wise for us to consider the word of God in regards to these many social ills of which this attitude of women toward their very own children is only one.
No doubt one of the most revealing passages concerning this is found in Heb. 13:5, 6. These two verses seem to go together so we will take them as such. Let your conversation--or conduct--. In, Ph. 1:27, Paul gave the command that our conduct be in accord with our profession of Christ, Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ. This includes our speech, thoughts as well as every action. In other words, "Let your conduct as a citizen be as becomes the gospel or as is fitting of a professor of Christ."
This includes how we act as a citizen of our community or as citizens of the state. It includes godly submission to authority. In our particular situation in America, it includes choosing godly men to rule over us.
Not only does Biblical conversation cover good Christian citizenship but primarily, heavenly citizenship. Does our speech reflect a heavenly citizenship? Do our actions? Does our life reflect Scriptural, godly principles as is appropriate of a Christian? Do our thoughts reflect our heavenly citizenship? In other words, Biblical conversation is far more than our words. It is our total manner of life, from the thoughts out.
Therefore our every thought and action is to be free of sin. Christ alone provides this freedom. Here in Heb. 13:5, the sin which is the root of all sin is dealt with and condemned, covetousness.
God's word has a tremendous amount to say about the sin of covetousness. We live in a society today which is built on this foundation of sin. (There is nothing wrong with advertising as long as the purpose is to present a superior product but when it is designed to arouse covetousness, it is wicked.)
This sin is mentioned clearly in the Decalogue as the 10th. Ex. 20:17; Deut. 5:21, the Decalogue starts out with thou shalt have no other gods before me. It closes with thou shalt not covet, which Paul identifies as idolatry.
First of all, let's identify covetousness. COVETOUSNESS IS NOT AN ACTION. Mk. 10:19, thou knowest the commandments. Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honor thy father and mother.
It is important that we see something here. Christ, as he regave man's half of the Decalogue separated the two which we want to see. Do not steal-- do not defraud. Stealing is separated from defrauding (covetousness). To clarify this, let's look at Paul's usage, Rom. 7:7. Here Paul identifies covetousness as lust. Lust is a totally inward attitude of the heart. When the lust comes out into action it is fornication, adultery, theft, sodomy, false witness, etc.. Therefore, covetousness is not an action but an attitude.
Heb. 13:5 identifies covetousness as any discontent with such things as we have. Let us be quick to add and we will pursue this further. This discontent is a willingness to sacrifice our relationship with God to further what we want, (or even for what we may think God wants). This discontent leads to compromising our relationship with God and His law for gain. It leads to ignoring our duties to God and to man for gain. (Covetousness can only be defined in relationship to God's word.)
Thus, not all discontent is wrong. Only the discontent which is willing to ignore our responsibilities to God and to man as revealed in His word. Whatever makes us discontent and willing to neglect our godly duties and our relationship with God is covetousness.
Secondly, let's look at what God thinks about this inordinate (depraved, vile) desire. It is most important that we keep this in mind. I Cor. 5:11--a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater. Covetousness is listed second after fornication. Rom. 1:29, being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder... Covetousness is listed third behind fornication and wickedness and before murder.
It is very important that we see this. In Eph. 5:3, covetousness is listed third there after fornication and all uncleanness, (would include sodomy). Eph. 5:5, covetousness is listed third after whoremonger, unclean person, (immorality and wickedness of all kinds), and we are told that the covetous person has no more inheritance in the kingdom of Christ than does the whoremonger or sodomite (those who persist in these wicked practices).
We need to notice, (1.) What God thinks of covetousness. (a.) He places covetousness in the same depths of depravity as whoredoms and uncleanness of all kinds and, (b.) He places it separate from whoredoms and immorality and uncleanness of all kinds. In Matt. 5:27-28 Christ identified lust after the opposite sex as adultery. Therefore, immoral thoughts are adultery, not covetousness. Covetousness is the desire to have something in an unlawful way. (In other words, we could desire to have someone without any immoral thoughts.)
As we have already seen, covetousness is a willingness to ignore, overlook, by-pass, avoid or compromise, (etc.), the principles of God's total law-word in order to gain what we desire to have. It is a willingness to sacrifice what He requires for us for what we want or even for what we think He wants.
Again, look at where God places covetousness. It is placed on an equal level down with fornication which brings up a second point here. Point (1.) being, what God thinks of covetousness. He places it on the level of fornication and all uncleanness, (sodomy, etc.). (2.) Look at what He promises as the result of covetousness. (a.) He promises His wrath against those involved. This is the same wrath as is promised against the whoremonger and sodomite.
Let's pursue this further. We talk about our kids whoring around (The devils term for this is sexually active, God's term is whoredoms). God, in these many passages, (I Cor. 5:11; Rom. 1:29; Eph. 5:3, 5; Col. 3:5), identifies the adults, (parents), who are willing to sacrifice their spiritual well-being and their walk with God for gain of any kind on the same level as those involved in whoredoms and sodomy.
Now, this raises a question and establishes a principle. Is this a reason that so many kids to day are "whoring around?" Is if this a reason that sodomy is so open? Is it because the parents, (society in general, Christians in particular), are so caught in covetousness? Remember, COVETOUSNESS IS NOT AN ACTION. It is a hidden lust of the heart that only God and the individual knows about.
Covetousness is listed on the level of whoredoms and sodomy. Covetousness has the same wrath of God against it, including the missing of the kingdom of Christ. Human nature is what has glossed over covetousness, not God's word. God regards covetousness as idolatry. Idolatry definitely has His wrath against it.
Covetous is far more inclusive than just desiring what the neighbor has. It is a willingness to sacrifice or ignore the principles of God's word to gain what we desire to have. (Maybe for a pastor, to have a larger church, to have influence, a name. As the saying goes, gold, glory, and gals.) It is the very root of whoredoms and sodomy as well as all other sins.
I am against abortion as is every born again Christian. But, abortion is only a fruit of a deeper problem. We will have abortion until the root is dealt with. We see here a two part root.
First, the individual covets their own personal pleasure and well-being. The result is an attack on anything which might interfere with what they desire to do, including an unborn baby. "The child will cost me too much in reputation, in pleasure, in money, in time and commitment, therefore, I will kill it." Coveting our own well-being was the root.
Secondly, and even more important would be that here God identifies this inner hidden sin, (covetousness), with whoredoms and idolatry. Therefore, the parents attitude of covetousness is the same attitude which causes the kids to have an abortion. Ready, this goes deeper. The attitude of the parents, (covetousness, hidden desire for what is not theirs and the desire to gain it unlawfully), is reflected in the children as the children now want what isn't theirs, sex outside of marriage, resulting in the abortions. As the society pursues covetousness, the children will have this ungodly immoral spirit which is resulting in the murder of innocent children.
God lists them on equal footing. The whoredoms which lead to abortions and the willingness to compromise our spiritual walk with God for more of what we want (covetousness).
Any stand against abortion is useless without a stand against the spirit of covetousness which leads to abortions. Notice how God places them in Heb. 13:4-6. Sex sins are placed with covetousness. We can't stand against the moral sins without standing against covetousness. In fact, we could overturn Roe and out-law abortions, we could close down every murder mill in the world but that would not avoid the wrath of God.
The word of God is quite clear on this point. Follow Paul on through as he revels the attitude of God in this area, Col. 3:5-6. God considers covetousness on the same level of degradation as fornication, (which leads to abortions), uncleanness (this would include sodomy), inordinate, (unlawful) afflictions, evil concupiscence (desires), and idolatry.
Now, notice that both here in Col. and Eph., God tells us that His wrath comes on those who are involved in this wickedness, Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6. What wickedness?-- Fornication, uncleanness of all kinds and covetousness. Notice here He doesn't say His wrath is against murder (abortion), but against the wickedness which leads to murder, fornication, uncleanness and covetousness. Murder is listed AFTER covetousness in Rom. 1:29.
Therefore, we could stop all of the murder, (abortions and even drug related), and the wrath of God will still come unless the attitude of covetousness, (I want what I want, etc.), is dealt with.
Murder is not the problem. The problem is the covetousness which leads to the murder. The wrath of God is against the covetousness. Covetousness is not an action. It is the desire which leads to action, if it is not dealt with. It is an attitude equal with whoredoms, adultery, sodomy, and idolatry.
It is an attitude of discontent with where God has us and/or has given to us. The outward actions can be as pure as the new snow but the inner attitude of covetousness will call down God's wrath upon the individual, a society, a family, or upon a church. There is no escaping this wrath.
Let's break it down a little more as we identify covetousness.
As we have already touched on. It is a desire to use unscriptural methods to accomplish something or to obtain something which is not already ours. Some practical applications--. It would be a desire to use unlawful means to increase our possessions or acclaim. Here are several ways this desire could manifest itself. (A.) A willingness to neglect our spiritual well-being to gain what we hold as important, (using unlawful means to success). (1.) This person would be willing to neglect his personal walk, (prayer, Scriptural studies), with the Lord to gain more of what he desires to have or even to, "Do more for God." (2.) There would be a willingness to lay aside their Christian responsibilities of public assembly together as a body of believers for mutual comfort, exhortation and instruction. Willing to neglect this that they might pursue the things which they desire, (maybe even "good" things). (3.) They may be willing to neglect God's command concerning tithes and offerings because they desire to use that money to advance their standing in the world's eye. (Or even in their own eyes.) In other words, they won't obey God in their giving because they want to use that money like they want to use it. Covetousness is the desire or willingness to do this. When the desire takes form of action then it is theft. (4.) This may also be a inner refusal to get involved in the affairs of the community for godly principles because they don't have time, or they are afraid of what man might do to them. What it might cost them to be involved. This inner fear or attitude of not wanting to get involved is identified as covetousness, Heb. 13:6. (5.) Maybe this is an attitude of not seeing the importance of, (or ignoring), fulfilling the responsibility to evangelize the community and/or the world. Again, holding what they want to do above what God requires that they do. These are attitudes which only God and the individual knows about. The actions may be perfect.
Not only is covetous a desire to follow unscriptural methods in these areas but we can further define covetousness as: 2. A spirit of grief, over what God has allowed either in our lives or in our neighbors life. (A.) We are grieved in our spirit that he is doing well, we would like to see him stumble and fall. (1). It is a discomfort because they are comfortable. (2). We are envious or jealous that they have what they have. Maybe the position that they hold. This attitude is prevalent among Christians when that person holds a position in the body of believers that we wish we had. "I would like to see that person fail. Then maybe I will have the opportunity to take their place."
The list is endless. These are inner attitudes which only God knows about. When they come to the outside then we have the other sins listed. False witness, adultery, theft, (trying to even take a position which doesn't belong to me), etc.. As we said, God knows about these things. His wrath is against them. He will judge an individual which has these things well hidden in his heart where no one knows about them except himself and God. He will judge the society which is built on this sin of covetousness. He will judge the church which is built on this. He will judge the family which is built on this.
We are against immorality. Whoredom is whoredom. Adultery is adultery. Sodomity is sodomity. Theft is theft. Murder is murder. Abortion is murder. But, until this root of whoredoms which leads to the abortions is dealt with in the heart of the parents, (and especially Christian leaders) we will have the whoredoms, adulteries, abortions, murders, and evil work's of all kinds.
The stand against abortions which will bring about a change is not at the street corner in front of the murder mills. The stand which will bring about a change is not in Washington, D.C., in front of the national media. The stand against abortion is in the pulpits as preachers preach against covetousness. But not many can do this because they are so involved in it that they have to avoid the subject. It is much easier to stand against murder in the streets than it is to stand against covetousness in the pulpit.
I can stand publicly in these many social areas without having to deal with sin in my heart. As I take my public stand, others may say, "My, look at what a good Christian they are." The problem is not behind the doors of the murder mills. The problem is behind the door so the hearts.
The problem is the covetous attitude, (not actions, that would be something else), which is allowed to remain in the heart. The problem is behind the doors of the churches which won't preach against covetousness. Until the pulpits start standing and preaching against the root of sin, (covetousness), the fruit will remain.
Let us observe that a good hot message against abortion (or any other of the many social ills) will get many "amens" and have many followers. A good hot message against covetousness will not win friends and influence people. But who are we trying to influence?
Until the parents (and spiritual leaders of all kinds) deal with their willingness to compromise, (even thought they may not do it), on the commands of God's word and His principles, so they can have more of what they want, we will have children whoring around. Not only our children, but society will view adultery, fornication, murder and sodomy as it does today.
Not until we get back to casting down these imaginations which are against God can we expect Him to cast down the murder mills and the other social ills of our day such as drugs, (alcohol and tobacco included). As long as preachers and parents view covetousness with indifference, society will view these other wicked vices with indifference also. We will reap what we sow. There is no victory over evil apart from the self-controlled individual.
Covetousness is a denial of God's presence with us, for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. Covetousness is a denial that the Lord is my helper, he helps as we do it His way. Covetousness involves a fear of what man shall do to me.
Covetousness has overrun society and the church. We are only seeing the outward results of this hideous sin. Do we really want to see abortion stopped? Do we really want to see drug abuse stopped? Do we really want to see the sky-rocketing divorce rate stopped? Do we really want to see the rising crime rate stopped? Do we really want to see godliness returned again to society? It must start with God's preachers and people returning to His law as given in places such as Heb. 13:5, Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
The passage concerning the resurrection of the dead which confirmed the deity of Christ contains a very interesting principle which is worth looking at.
The resurrection of Christ is one of the best authenticated facts of human history. It is upheld and supported by many proofs and witnesses. Few events in history have been so well documented.
Of course, we have the empty tomb, Matt. 28:1-8. Here we see that the tomb was already empty when the stone was rolled away. In Matt. 28:11-15, we see that Christ rose not even braking the seal of the empire. There was no time from the placing of the body of Jesus into the tomb until the stone was removed when it was left unguarded. The indication here in Matt. is that the two Mary's were presents at the breaking of the seal and the removal of the stone.
Even more significant is Matt. 28:11-15. The Jewish leaders had to admit that Christ rose from the dead without breaking the seal. They had to bribe the guards to say that his disciples broke the seal.
This is only one instance out of a great many where we see that facts will not convenience anyone of a spiritual truth. We can argue facts all we want to but it is a waste of time.
The sinners problem is not a lack of facts or that he doesn't believe facts. His problem is a moral problem. He loves his sin and he pleads "a lack of understanding" of facts to justify his sin.
I read of a professor at Falwell's school and a atheist having a debate the other day. Now, I'm not against debates. We should know what we believe well enough to debate anyone but if we are looking to a debate to change someone's opinion about Christ or the word of God, we are wasting our time.
Let's look at six things here:
First, we are not told to argue or debate for the faith. We are told to stand for our faith, live it day in and day out. This is a argument which no one can contradict. We are told to have an answer for every man as to the hope which lies within us but this isn't debate. This is being able to give the Scriptural answer for why we live like we do and believe what we believe.
I Pet. 3:15. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Notice this verse. This is not at all talking of debates and arguments. This is talking of answering questions with meekness and fear. This is quite contrary to debate. I believe that we will find this consistent throughout the Scriptures.
Second, debates and arguments over facts, (resurrection, in this case), never brought conviction. The main reason for this is that the problem with the person we may be arguing with is not a lack of facts on their part. Their problem is a moral problem. They are a sinner.
The word of God clearly teaches us that every person has an inborn knowledge of God. The only way a person can avoid that knowledge is to willfully hold it down or suppress it. A person has to choose to deny the facts and the truth of God and His message. The reason they do this is so they will not have to face up to the fact of God and His law for them. They do not want to admit there is a law to live by and a judgment according to that law.
Therefore, that person who claims to disbelieve Biblical facts, doesn't. His problem isn't a lack of facts, his problem is a lack of morals. His problem is a moral problem. He is a SINNER. "A person's morals will dictate his theology," and no man will argue him out of it.
Third, to even think that convincing someone of enough Scriptural facts so they will agree and this will lead to their salvation is to deny Scriptures.
Heb. 11:3, through faith we understand-- To believe that a person, as a result of debate or confrontation with Biblical truth, will have faith because he now understands the Biblical facts is to deny God's word.
We believe unto salvation from faith, not from facts. To argue over the existence of God is for us to deny God's existence. All argument MUST start from God to man. To argue for his existence is to argue from man to God as we appeal for man's reasoning for God denies God's existence.
Fourth, to think that convincing someone of Biblical facts is necessary for their salvation denies the words of our Lord as he said, no man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him, Jn. 6:44, (all of Jn. 6, is exceptionally clear on this).
Our responsibility is not to convince someone of Biblical facts, whether those facts are about the existence of God, the creation, the flood, the exodus from Egypt through the Red Sea, the giving of the Ten Commandments, the birth of Christ or even his resurrection. To follow this through a little, if we would say we have a responsibility to convince someone of Scriptural facts, then we would have to also say that the reason folks are not saved is because we aren't able to reason with them well enough. It would say that only those with a good memory and ability of debate could win someone to the Lord.
This makes the term, "win someone to the Lord," very misleading in itself. It speaks of the person who is doing the witnessing being in a contest to see who can win out. The saved one who is doing the talking or the unsaved one who is doing the listening. It leaves the Holy Spirit out.
Bringing us to the fifth point. What is our responsibility if it isn't to try to convince others of Biblical facts? Or, to WIN THEM OVER TO THE SCRIPTURES?
As we have already mentioned. That person's problem is not that he doesn't believe enough facts. His problem is that he is a sinner. His problem is that he doesn't want to repent of his sin and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. His problem is that he doesn't want to admit he is wrong and that the word of God is right.
Following this through, Jn. 16:8. And when he is come, (that is, the Holy Spirit), he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. We see here that, first of all, it is the Holy Spirit's responsibility to reprove or convict the unsaved world of sin, (and the Christian also, we might add). Secondly, we see that without that conviction a person cannot be saved. Third, if we feel that argument will convenience a person of the need of salvation, we have denied the work of the Holy Spirit and we have sought to replace Him with our own wisdom.
"Okay, the person's problem is a moral problem, he is a sinner. He denies Scriptural evidence because he is a sinner, now what?" Our responsibility is simple.-- We make our witness and go on about our business.
Bringing us to a sixth and final point. II Cor. 4:1-6 could not be clearer. That sinner which we are tempted to argue with is blind. He will not see the Scriptural truth without the voice of God speaking to him. Our responsibility is to present the Scripture, (of the resurrection), to Him. It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to convince them of their lost condition. (Worry is taking upon ourselves a responsibility which is not ours.)
Ja. 2:19 is very clear. The devils believe in the fact of the resurrection. They were present at the time. In fact, it was their demise. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross and his resurrection absolutely striped them of their power. They know that but they sure fight hard for us not to.
I heard of the Gallop Pole the other day as I'm sure most of you did. They asked some questions about heaven and hell. A surprisingly large number said that they felt they were going to heaven. I would guess that most, (from folks I have talked to), are basing that belief on the fact that they believe that Christ died on the cross in the place of the sinner and that he rose again.
As we have said over and over, this is not salvation regardless of the personality of the one who preached this.
I have read of well-known Bible teachers of our day who have said that they were confronted with facts which they could not deny, therefore, they had to believe in Christ. That is not Biblical.
A person can confess their belief of facts from now until eternity and die and go to hell. The gospel message is plain and simple.
1. Christ suffered and died in the place of sinners.
2. Christ was buried, spent three days and nights in the grave and according to the Scriptures, rose again the third day.
3. The individual must realize they are a sinner. They must realize that the payment of that sin is death. They must realize that there is nothing they can do to avoid that death. Then they must trust in the finished work which Christ did for them upon the cross, to die in their place, to take the wrath of a righteous God against their sin for them. Then we should serve and obey him willingly because of what he did for us.
There is no magic prayer that they can pray. They cannot just confess that they believe the facts of Christ's death, burial and resurrection.
They, of course, must know and believe all of that, but salvation is the result of trusting what the has done for them, in their place.
GROWTH AND GODLINESS
We had a situation arise some time ago as we discussed some basic Biblical principles with a missionary which we had been supporting. His missionary organization was a printing and teaching organization. In their material they used a false plan of salvation. The plan of "ask Jesus into your heart and you'll be saved."
As several of our men and myself confronted him over this and some other things he fled to an old familiar argument. "Look at how much we have grown. Therefore what we are doing is right." We replied, "Then you must say that the Mormons are right because of their growth." Mission boards and missionaries by the hundreds will use the growth which they might be experiencing to confirm that God's hand is upon them. Churches and religious organizations of all kinds will do the same. But is growth that conformation?
I have been in meetings where the pastors have stood up and said, "We are right about this matter and our attendance proves it. Look at our gain, this proves we are godly." Then proceed to base their argument upon the size of their church.
Many try to justify their doctrine upon their size, financial health, influence on the community and many other things which the world holds as the mark of success.
We cannot avoid it, we are caught in the world trap of "Might Makes Right". To try to confront many of these pastors, leaders or missionaries with a Biblical principle which they are violating they will say, "How many are you running in Sunday School," or, "How many did you have 'saved' last week?" If the number doesn't meet their approval then they will dismiss the "message".
Paul warned a young preacher named Timothy about the fallacy of this type of thinking. In fact, he is quite hard on this, saying that this line of reasoning comes from men of corrupt minds, I Tim. chp. 6 (v. 5). Paul goes much farther than just warning Timothy of these types of men. He tells Timothy "from such, withdraw thyself", v. 5.
As we look at this passage the context of it is quite striking. First, Paul is addressing a pastor of a local church. Secondly, follow through what Paul is telling this pastor. Check the context of v. 8 and what leads up to it. V. 5 is the one I would like to draw our attention to.
We are caught in the exact same worldly philosophy. "I have gained, or am gaining, worldly possessions or, wealth. Therefore, I am right. I have political influence, therefore we are right. Our numbers make us influential. I have these things, therefore, God is blessing. We have these big buildings, this proves God is blessing us." The list is endless here, but the idea is this, "We have gained and are gaining in numbers, size, possessions, building, wealth, etc. and this is God's stamp of approval." I have heard it said, "Look at these buildings, aren't they big and beautiful? God is surely in this. Look at these blessing." Yet all the time these building is deep in debt. Of course, paid for buildings are not the proof as to whether God is in it or not. Was that gain in material possessions godly? Christians think the same thing. "I am gaining in material possessions, therefore, this means God is blessing me for my godly life," or, "God is blessing my vocation".
I like what William Garnall said back in 1665, "He that sells cheapest shall have most customers, though, at least, best will be best cheap; trust with self-denial [is] a better penny-worth, than error with all its flesh pleasing (The Christian in Complete Armor, "Banner of Truth Trust," pg. 82)."
How much of our ministry is based upon what draws the greatest crowd? How many of our messages do we think are godly because of the "gain" we see from them?
Notice here in this passage. "--and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, (v.3)" He goes on to define the man who has departed from the words of Christ. Let's point out a few men which fit into the line of thought here. Men of evil surmisings, perverse disputing of corrupt minds, destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness. This is a hard saying. ANY DOCTRINE that connects godliness with gain (increase in size, or numbers) in anyway is NOT according to the words of Christ.
These doctrines which connect godliness with gain (GROWTH AND GODLINESS) fill our airwaves and control our pulpits. This doctrine is taught in our Christian schools and colleges. "If you don't have so many "saved" this week you are not godly." Carry this on, "If you don't see as many "saved" as I do then you aren't as godly as I am." It goes farther, "if you don't build a large church you are not right with God." I have heard it and so has every other preacher who has been around any at all. Of course, this is not restricted to "church building". It goes into a multitude of areas.
If godliness is connected with gain in any way, then it is not the doctrine according to godliness. It is a evil surmising, perverse disputing of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth.
We have been trained in the school of Humanism very long and well. Therefore, I am not putting down here what I believe. I believe just like everyone else. That numbers, increase and possessions is equal to godliness. If I am not very careful I will allow this belief to take over my actions but I must act on faith in this passage.
This is one of the glorious things about the gospel. I do not have to let these ungodly beliefs control my actions or what I pass down to my children. I can face up to my problem in these areas, confess them to God, claim His grace and live by faith above these things. It will take a daily walk with Him to avoid this danger of passing these strange doctrines down and this is one of the reasons Christ redeemed us (I Pet. 1:18-20).
To restrict the redemptive work of Christ to evangelism is disastrous of the cause of Christ. His redemptive work includes teaching and living above the desires of the flesh. We are seeing the results today of this restrictive gospel which has been preached and it is destroying society. Christ came to give power to live for today that the following generations might serve God and those around us influenced for Him, I Cor. 15:34; I Pet. 1:9.
Look at I Tim. 6:6-8. Here is God's definition of godliness and this sure doesn't fit well with what I have been taught and believe. "But godliness with contentment is great gain." This is Lk. 12:22-48 and Matt. 6. Both Matt. and Luke identify godliness with being faithful in doing what God wants us to do to advance His kingdom. Lk. 12:31-32, we are to do our best and leave the results up to Him. This with being contentment is godliness. Paul does exactly the same thing with Timothy. He tells him to live a godly life (according to HIS total word, II Tim. 3:16), be faithful in every area to God and then be content with what He provides. This includes reaching all we can for Christ in accordance with His Word. What has happened to I Cor. 3:6-9?
This sure is a strange definition of godliness. It goes against what I think and believe but His ways are much higher than my ways, Isa. 55:8, 9. Also check with James. How many godly men did it take to control the elements and for God to show Himself strong through, 5:17, 18?
Paul carries his instruction further with vv. 9-10. He warns that desiring gain leads to many foolish and hurtful lusts. It will cause error from the faith as this desire for gain causes compromise to achieve that gain. BIBLE PRINCIPLES ARE COMPROMISED FOR THE GAIN AND THEN THE GAIN IS VIEWED AS GOD'S CONDONING OF THE VIOLATION.
Now look what happens. First, we feel our gain proves we are godly. We have been taught this and believe it wholeheartily. Secondly, God deals with us, even chastises us for our compromise of His principles which brought the gain. Third, we are so convinced that we are right because of the gain, then rather than face up to the wrong belief we feel our faith is being tested. This causes us to be even more convinced that we are right in our supposition and compromise. Fourth destruction comes and we fall by the wayside, feeling that our faith wasn't strong enough. This wasn't the problem at all. The problem was we had compromised for gain.
Another point here, OBADIAH 1:3. "The pride of thine heart deceived thee--" Pride leaves us wide open for deception. We will study the Scriptures with the things we want to believe in mind and look for Scriptures to confirm them. Then rather than finding verses which will expose the sin, we only find verses which will further increase our deception and make the hold stronger and judgment surer.
No one wants to admit they are wrong and this pride is DANGEROUS. If we read Scriptures to try to prove us right, we are open to deception and it will come. This is how the false cults can study Scriptures and come up with some strange things. They search them to confirm what they believe. We, far to often, do the same. We believe a doctrine and do not want to admit that we might be wrong, then read the Scriptures. This causes deception. We must study Scriptures with an open heart of, "Okay Lord, any area I have been taught or believe which is contrary to your word, I'll forsake if you will show me. There are NO locked areas from your Holy Spirit. There are no "sacred doctrines" which I have been taught that I am not willing to examine in the light of your word and lay aside no matter how much of the "gain" I might lose," Ph. 3:15.
Keep in mind that our enemy will point to whatever gain which might have come our way to confirm that our compromise or even false doctrine is right. We cannot view our beliefs in the light of the "gain".
All of us study Scripture in the light of what we have been taught and it is extremely difficult to overcome this. Yet, a study of the Scriptures with any attitude less than this can lead to even worse deception.
Paul tells Timothy what to do with people like this, v. 5-- "from such withdraw thyself."
Conclusion: The doctrine which identifies "gain with godliness" is not according to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. True godliness is being faithful in every area to God's Word (which includes soul-winning, evangelization, missions, teaching, even politics and civil government, etc.) and leaving the results up to Him. Be faithful to our Lord and His Word and Paul tells this pastor, "--Therewith be content."
Mercy, we would vote Paul out of the "fellowship" wouldn't we? This sure isn't the words of a great church builder, or is it?
(Pastor Ovid E. Need Jr.)
ZEAL WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE
These two visions (role and ephah) are sad visions whereas the previous ones had been joyful, victorious visions. These two speak of judgment against the hidden sin of the individual, church, or society. Chapter eleven follows this line of thought also.
Zechariah chp. five gives us a insight into the major purpose of Zechariah's prophecy in this book. The prophet's goal was not to urge the people to build the temple at any cost ("The end justifies the means"), but to call the people to Repentance and Faith, a people right with God (R. and F.). Let's define faith as doing ALL THINGS according to His principles regardless of how we feel about it or what the result might be.
He shows us (v. 4) that zeal in the work of God will not hide from his sword of judgment against sin. There is absolutely no place man can go to hide from the roll (Word of God), Ps. 139:7-12.
The flying roll has the same dimensions which the porch on the temple had, I Ki. 6:3. The altar was built before the porch and the priests were called on to approach past the altar toward the porch as they sought to intercede for a sinful people, Joel 2:17.
Whether or not the flying roll and the porch are inner-related in judgment is really not important. What is important is that the roll consistently, throughout Scriptures, represents the law-word of God (cf. Ezek. 3:1-3, etc.).
The principle presented here in this prophecy (5:1-4) is clear-cut. (1.) The flying roll represents the law-word of God. (2.) The violation of this law-word is twofold. (a.) the thief--. This covers man's relationship to man. (b.) sweareth falsely--. This covers man's relationship to his God. these two being representative of the whole duty of man, Mk. 12:28-34. (3.) The violation of the law- word of God in either area or both areas will result in the curse. (4.) The violation, therefore the curse, covers the face of the whole earth. It covers the law-breaker whether inside or outside of the covenant. The main message here in Zechariah is to those inside of the covenant. (5.) There will be no hiding from this curse. The curse will consume everything for all time.
Remember, one of the major or purposes of this prophecy is to call those who are zealously involved in God's work to Faith and Repentance. The judgment threatened here is not against a failure to be involved in the hard labor but a failure to have the two points right within the heart. The judgment is for the zeal apart from F. and R.. If the situation is not dealt with, the curse (law-word of God which moves as a curse against the ungodly of heart) will consume even the stones and timbers of the temple which they are working so hard to rebuild. It will consume their own homes as well as their nation, and it doesn't stop here. The curse will consume the ungodly world-wide. Physical location does not restrict the principles of God's word.
In these we see that the law-word of God will seek out the ungodly in heart regardless of where they may be. They cannot hide behind their zeal for God's work, nor behind their closed doors at home, nor even in their darkness, Ps. 139:11. If their zeal for God's work is not a outflow of godliness, purity of heart (R. and F.), then judgment will follow.
A "spiritual" leader who would attempt to build zeal (for whatever reason, personal glory or even godly reasons) apart from R. and F. is bringing judgment upon himself and those he is "motivating". On the other hand, as with Zechariah, if the leader is calling for R. and F., yet the people refuse and continue in their ungodly zeal, the leader has delivered his own self. In addition, God can use even the unholy zeal for his praise, Ps. 76:10.
Another thing, anyone who has worked with people for any length of time has met those who have an ungodly "spirit" which they refuse to repent of and give up. They then use zeal to hide behind. Others look at them and say, "My, look at how spiritual they are. Every time I see them they are doing something for the cause of Christ." Yet behind closed doors apart from the public view they are ungodly. Maybe they have their "Playboy" well hidden, yet within their reach, they have their dirty movies cabled right into their house (or sneak around and rent them), they abuse their families with their words as their tempers overflow. (I have moved into houses and as the need arose, had to go into the attic. There were the dirty books left by the former tenants.)
Probably one of the best measures of the godliness (R. and F.) behind the outward zeal would be the personal, private, dedication to the law-word of God. How dedicated are they to their private Bible study and prayer, Ps. 119? Beyond any doubt, zeal apart from this personal dedication (R. and F.) is nothing but hypocrisy. Zechariah clearly shows us that the judgment will overtake such a one and consume all they have (although it is quite possible to have both, personal dedication and zeal without being godly, pure of heart).
We should take note here with Zechariah. Both types of zeal (one with R. and F., the other apart from R. and F.) may produce appealing results. Even though the people did not heed Zechariah's warning the temple was built. Yet one work (both of which are built with zeal) is built on R. and F., holiness, while the other is built on ungodliness. Matt. 7:24-29 clearly presents the curse against he ungodly zeal used to build "God's work".
Let us mention that the zeal apart from holiness (R. and F.) will draw a larger following as well as attract more funds. Human nature enjoys a message which permits them to feel accepted by the Father apart from personal holiness. The main thrust of the modern Charismatic Movement was this very thing. Direct access to God apart from holiness. (See our work, Tongues - a Biblical View.) But, let us hasten to add, we Baptist cannot point a accusing finger at any group. From what I have been involved in in the past as well as what I know of today, this very thing is prevalent in our movement. Only with us, we have attempted to approach the Holy Father through zeal, hard work and dedication to his task, all apart from R. and F.. Anything which permits approach to the Holy Father apart from Holiness will gain wide support, as well as the curse. (Obviously, we are not referring to salvation.)
No doubt a large percentage of the "temples" being built today are built apart from R. and F.. We could call these the Zig Zigler churches as the world's means of motivation is used to create zeal in the people to work. Everything is used to motivate which the world would use. Many of these works would be more at home selling insurance because of the secular (i.e. without God) methods of building zeal. On the surface they look exciting and successful. But one day the truth will be revealed, Heb. 12:27-29. The roll will consume them, Heb. 12:27-29. (Just observe some of the speakers which these churches and "Christian" colleges have in. Check out their suggested and in some cases, required reading list. Rather than emphasizing R. and F. (godliness, holiness), worldly motivation is used.
Then on the other hand, we have "temples" (works) built on R. and F.. These do not seem to be in the majority because many folks do not like to be confronted with sin. This ungodly zeal would be any kind of excitement which is built up toward God's work (I Cor. 10:31 identifies what is God's work) apart from R. and F.. Folks are much easier to get excited over all kinds of things as long as it doesn't involved confronting personal sin, turning from that sin and walking by faith. Yet any other kind of work will fail. It is very tempting to tailor the message to an outline which involves no personal responsibility toward God or toward society.
Protest meetings will draw a crowd but we won't build the temple with protests. We really don't find our Lord forming protests. He called people to himself, the result was an outflow which turned the world up-side down.
We know from history that Zechariah's warnings fell on deaf ears. The "germ" of zeal without R. and F. (unholy zeal) remained, the curse came and all was consumed.
Human nature has not changed and it demands that ungodliness be covered over or ignored rather than Repented of and Forsaken, Prov. 28:13, 14. It is so much easier to blame others for the difficulties which we face. "Let's make them responsible so I won't have to be." We see a tremendous amount of zeal around us, yet very little, if any, R. and F. (call to godliness and holiness) behind it. Of course, this cannot be a blanket statement as there is some very godly zeal at work today. But it would seem to be the exception.
By far, the prevalent thought of our day is "Any means to win some. Whatever compromise as long as I can continue to preach the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection." This is no better than Billy Graham as he goes behind the iron curtain. It is for sure that he does not preach another King, one Jesus. Therefore he has compromised the gospel as well as the great commission which DEMANDS another King. Whatsoever I have commanded you. This clearly places the command of the word of God far above any earthly power or authority. This is ANOTHER KING.
The "germ" of ungodliness here which Zechariah is dealing with remained. It is dealt with in chapter eleven as those who have this ungodly zeal reject the good shepherd. The ungodliness (zeal apart from R. and F.) does the same today, it denies the Good Shepherd. A person does not have to be outside of the covenant to make this denial, Rom. 1:21.
This denial would be zealous toward the work of the Lord, yet that zeal is not based upon Biblical principles. Paul addressed this in Rom. 10:2, they have a zeal of God but not according to knowledge. Here we are looking for a principle. The context is clearly talking of the Jewish people depending upon their works to qualify them to stand before God as righteous. This is LEGALISM and it is not dead in our day. Only through Christ's righteousness can any person stand before God.
In the light of Zechariah let's observe a couple of things from Rom. 10:2. First, would be zeal of God. This is an excitement of mind or fervor of spirit. From Jn. 2:17, (Ps. 69:9) we see that this excitement or fervor is for the work of God. This is a zeal in behalf of the work of God, even his house. Yet here in Romans (and Zechariah) it is a wrong kind of zeal. Second, would be knowledge. We see from Col. 1:9, 2:2; that this is a correct knowledge and use of the Scriptures in all things. This would be Repentance of sin and Faith, doing all things in accord with his holy word. This correct use is missing in unholy zeal. Third, would be ignorant. Not knowing the proper way to do the work for God (see Acts 13:27; 17:23). Fourth would be righteousness. This is speaking of being right before God for salvation. (Rom. 1:17; 3:21; 10:3; --That divine arrangement by which God leads men to a state acceptable to him, Rom. 10:4---.) Then finally we have submitted to subject one's self, to obey.
Now, to use Rom. 10:2 in the light of Zechariah's prophecy. In doing so we will use Rom. 10:2 as speaking to the situation within the covenant people, the saved. (Context is referring to those outside the covenant of Christ and refusing to enter in through faith in His finished work.)
Here we have folks very zealous for the work of God, yet that zeal is built apart from the principles of God's word. Either they do not know the requirements of God's word concerning the area they are zealous in or they are willingly ignorant of them. Either way, they are going about in their zeal, maybe even exciting others to follow them, yet that zeal is not in accord with Biblical Repentance and Faith.
Included in the unholy zeal would be a couple of thing. (1.) Working folks up by use of secular means (Zig Zigler motivation works) to go do "spiritual work." (See Zec. 4:6, etc..) (2.) Another thing included here would be exciting people to think that the answer for a problem would be anything except individual responsibility and repentance over sin and faith (obedience to every word which proceeds from God's mouth. Summing up this personal obedience would be soul-winning, baptizing, and teaching the total law-word of God for the total man. Applying that law of God to every area of society).
The total of this would be zeal which is excited or worked up apart from the basic requirement of R. and F. is to try to establish our own standards apart from his word; it is to refuse to submit to the standards of God's law and as we see in Zechariah, it has God's judgment against it.
God help us to examine our own hearts and make sure that the zeal we have for God's work is based in obedience to his word, a clean heart and pure motives to glorify God in all that we do.