Foundational Thanksgiving

Understanding Our For Fathers Heart 

It is Thanksgiving, not Christmas! The tradition of Thanksgiving in America, our focus on God and His blessing date way back. David Barton of Wall Builders wrote, “The main thrust of celebrating Thanksgiving here in America, is from the familiar story of the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving celebration of 1621.” (David Barton – 11/2008

Today, it appears the Thanksgiving season is open season to make merchandise of the Gospel with the purpose of making money.  To use the Thanksgiving season as a prelude to touching the Holy things of God with unholy hands is an insult to the Lord, for He has given us the blessings we enjoy.

Could it be? Is it time? Does the church today need to follow the example of Christ?  In His dealing with the money changers in the temple when they used the sacrifices found in Scripture to make a fortune for themselves. He aggressively addressed their sin by overturning the tables and reminded them, “God’s house is to be a house of prayer, not a den for thieves.” (Luke 19:45-46)   In a nation where the foundation of the founding fathers was a healthy reverence for God, the church needs to aggressively address the sins of America.

I would propose to you, the Word of God holds the foundational truths for expressing a thankful life. Psalm 107:21, “Let them thank the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind.” Understanding, the heartbeat of the first Thanksgiving lays the foundation for a thanksgiving season that glorifies the Lord.

To whom did the early Pilgrims give thanks to?

The Pilgrims

The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months they braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea.  Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began to build shelters; however, unprepared for such a harsh New England winter, nearly half of them died before spring. (William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), pp. 74, 78, 80, 91.)  After enduring a harsh winter they met an English speaking Indian, Samoset, whom learnt English from fisherman and traders.  One week later Samoset showed up with Squanto, who chose to live with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith.  Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, described Squanto as “A special instrument sent of God for [our] good… and never left [us] till he died.” (William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 95)

As one continues to look at the period of the first Thanksgivings in America – we see in the summer of 1621, the Pilgrims reaped a huge harvest.  Pilgrim Edward Winslow affirmed this by writing, “God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn”; “by the goodness of God, we are… far from want.” (Mourt’s Relation or Journal of the Plantation at Plymouth, Henry Martyn Dexter, editor (Boston: Jim Kimball Wiggin, 1865; reprint of 1622 original), p. 133. See also William S. Russell, Guide to Plymouth and Recollections of the Pilgrims (Boston: George Coolidge, 1846), p. 95, quoting from a letter of Pilgrim Edward Winslow to George Morton of London, written on December 21, 1621)

The pilgrims declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends, whom showed them how to survive in the New England land.  America’s first Thanksgiving Festival involved Ninety Wampanoag Indians and fifty Pilgrims feasting three days.  They ate shellfish, lobster, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods.  The Pilgrims and Indians engaged in races, wrestling matches, and other athletic events and prayer. (David Barton – 11/2008)

In 1623, there was another hardship, a prolonged drought, which if continued would lead to another period of starvation and death, much like they experienced in the winter of 1620.  Governor Bradford, called the Pilgrims to a time of prayer and fasting to seek God’s direct intervention. Significantly, shortly after time of prayer – and to the great amazement of the Indian who witnessed the scene – clouds appeared in the sky giving a gentle steady rain upon the land.  (David Barton – 11/2008)

  • Governor Bradford explained: “It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing.” (William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 142)

The drought had been broken. The fall harvest was one which caused another reason to celebrate Thanksgiving. The Pilgrim’s practice of designating official times of Thanksgiving spread to different colonies which became annual traditions. (DeLoss Love, Jr, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (Boston: Houghton,, Mifflin & Co, 1895), pp. 87-90)

David Barton wrote, “And just as the Pilgrims’ example of calling for days of thanksgiving, with prayer and fasting, so, too, did the all New England Colonies develop a practice of calling for a day of prayer and fasting in the spring, and a day of prayer and thanksgiving in the fall.”

National Proclamations of Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving celebrations were so common – during the time of the American Revolution, Congress issued eight separate National Thanksgiving Proclamations.  Congress also issued seven separate proclamations for prayer and fasting during the time of the American Revolution. (See the Journals of the Continental Congress (1905) for June 12, 1775; March 16, 1776; December 11, 1776; November 1, 1777; March 7, 1778; November 17, 1778; March 20, 1779; October 20, 1779; March 11, 1780; October 18, 1780; March 20, 1781; October 26, 1781; March 19, 1782; October 11, 1782; October 18, 1783)

Proclamations like:

George Washington, “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor. . . . Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November [1789] . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.” (George Washington, Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor ((Boston: Russell, Odiorne and Metcalf, 1838), Vol. XII, p. 119, Proclamation for a National Thanksgiving on October 3, 1789.)

Abraham Lincoln, in 1863 set aside the last Thursday of that November with this Thanksgiving proclamation which had strong spiritual content and came about at a pivotal point in his life.  Just three months earlier, the Battle of Gettysburg had occurred, resulting in the loss of 60,000 American lives. It was during that walk Mr. Lincoln became a Christian. (Abraham Lincoln, The Lincoln Memorial: Album-Immortelles. Osborn H. Oldroyd, editor (New York: G.W. Carleton & Co, 1882) p. 366, Reply to an Illinois Clergyman.)

During his proclamation he said, “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, Who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy” (Abraham Lincoln, The Works of Abraham Lincoln, John H. Clifford & Marion M. Miller, editors (New York: University Society Inc, 1908), Vol. VI, pp. 160-161, Proclamation for Thanksgiving, October 3, 1863. See also, The American Presidency Project, “Abraham Lincoln: Proclamation – Thanksgiving Day, 1863”)

As we celebrate Thanksgiving with our families, let us remember the heart-beat of our founding fathers and keep God and Christ at the focal point of the remembrance from Whom all blessings flow.  May we be like Samuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee, signers of the Declaration, “[Congress] recommended [a day of] …thanksgiving and praise [so] that… the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and …join.. their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive [our sins] and… [to] enlarge [His] Kingdom with consistent righteousness, peace and enjoy the Holy Ghost.” (Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), Vol. IX, p. 855, November 1, 1777)

Here in America, in our Thanksgiving celebrations and proclamations, we have passed away from understanding the relationship with God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, to religious redirect.  May the Lord return our hearts to Psalm 107:21, “Let them thank the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind.”

You Shall Be Holy!

You Shall Be Holy!

1 Peter 1:14-16 holds truth that gives a child of God knowledge and at the same time sets him on a pathway in this life which enables him to achieve God’s best.  “As obedient children; do not be conformed to the passions of former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16 NAS)

Considering that Hebrews 12:14 says, “Make every effort… to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”  It is a good idea to gain Biblical understanding of holiness. “Holy” (ἅγιος hágios) is a religious awe, something or someone sanctified for the Lord’s use.  Practical application: It is devotion to the service of God, sharing in God’s purity and abstaining from earth’s defilement.

To live a life of holiness is to have Holy Spirit illumination of the truths found in the whole counsel of God’s Word.  It is to live a life that indicates that the sinful nature has been overcome, the influence of this world’s system has been cast off, and the lies of the devil fall on deaf ears.

Most Christians do well at avoiding lifestyles of murder, homosexuality, adultery or thievery.  However, bitterness and a critical spirit keep them from continued fellowship with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit.  The vice-like grip of anger and resentment often comes from nursing bad attitudes towards work, disappointment in friends and family and having wrong expectations of this life.  Surrender to our temper and persistent sin keeps us from enjoying the victorious birthright of holiness that is promised to the children of God.

The worldly view that holiness is shown in plain hairstyles, long skirts and black stockings is not a Biblical precept, nor is someone with a holier than thou attitude necessarily a holy person.  Holiness is very much a Scriptural truth.  The whole book of Leviticus is devoted to the subject.  The word “holy” in various forms appears in the Bible at least 600 times.  Leviticus 11:44 says, “I am the Lord your God, consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.”  In writing about “Living as Children of Light” the Apostle Paul writes, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”  (Ephesians 5:22-24)   

Holy Spirit illuminated Christians understand that their desire to overcome sin is not for themselves, but rather from a longing to avoid breaking the heart of God.  They know that living by faith is both knowing the Word of God and then trusting Him to provide the ability to live out His precepts.  They do not categorize sin as either unacceptable or tolerable.  They see the whole counsel of God’s Word as coming from a holy Lawgiver.  Thus, His children are bound to conform to His will.  They know that there are only two choices, obedience or disobedience to the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Let it be said of you, “That person is hungry for the holiness of God!”

The Grieving of the Lord

Consequences to Breaking God’s Heart

The world view of God is a somewhere out there Deity, whom has no feelings toward our lifestyles down here. There is a One true God, there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:35) He cannot be over thrown, He cannot be bribed, He cannot be deceived, He can be praised by His children, and He can be hurt by those He has created.

In the Bible there is a truth which should awaken our hearts, “it grieved Him to His heart.” (Genesis 6:6) This truth is found in another passage of Scripture which tells us God has emotions which are affected by the actions of mankind. In Psalm 78:40 we read “How often they rebelled against Him…and grieved Him.” To grieve (עָצַב ʿāṣaḇ) the Lord means to hurt Him or to cause Him pain. (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 858). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) Willful disregard of God’s will, purpose and directions pierces the Lord’s heart with mortal anguish. (Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 1, p. 88). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.)

Parents who have sacrificed time, strength, and finances to protect, provided and enable their children to achieve their goals in this life – know this grief when their children are unappreciated of what has been done for them. Just as a husband is grieved to the heart when he sees his wife in the act of adultery, the Lord is grieved when mankind adulterates their lives with a world view which is lied to by the Devil, who entices the flesh. Just as a mother is grieved by a wayward child, the Lord is grieved by a backslidden Christian and an adulterated church.

The Lord is Grieved

John Piper wrote, “…it is not for lack of compassion that men perish, but for lack of heart that delights in the God of compassion because of hard and rebellious hearts.” Mankind is compassionate to fulfill their dreams, to live what they believe and to express their view point. Sinful mankind has no regard for what the Lord wants and no desire to seek out His will. It is this type of heart which grieves the Lord who made “everything in it and gives mankind life.” (Acts 17:24-25)

The Lord is grieved over a stubborn hard heart. We see this in Mark 3:1-6 when the religious leaders were looking to see if Jesus would heel on the Sabbath, so they may attack and tear down His character. Many people today are like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, grieving the Lord as they are looking for reasons to not except Him, reject His love, guidance and despise His authority over them.

The Lord is grieved when a nation sheds the blood of the innocent and is governed by lies and deceits. The Bible says, “There are six things the Lord hates, even seven things that are an abomination to Him.” (Proverbs 6:16) Two of them are: “…a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.” (Proverbs 6:17) 

The Lord is grieved when mankind turns a blind eye to sin. The Bible says, “…they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God…” (Romans 1:28) “…although they know God’s righteous degrees, [they continue to sin] and approve of those who practice [sin].” (Romans 1:32) Just as God sent the Apostle Paul to address sin in the Corinthian church, Christians with the New Testament appointment of apostles and prophets (Ephesians 4:11-12) need to rise up and confront the sins of today.

The Lord is grieved when His ministry is compromised: The author of the Book of Jude “warns Christians to guard against compromise. …He challenges us to keep ourselves faithful in the love of God. For he knows what is healthy for our souls and life.” (Barry, J. D., Mailhot, J., Bomar, D., Ritzema, E., & Sinclair-Wolcott, C. (Eds.). (2014). DIY Bible Study. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press)

In the book of Jude, under the preoccupy, “The Sin of the Ungodly” we read, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men …have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 1:3-4) “…they follow their own desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.” (Jude 1:18) The cancers of denominationalism, legalism, traditionalism, faddism and self-indulgence are killing spiritual growth placing spiritual leaders under the warning found in Malachi, “‘If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor My name,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.’ ‘…For the lips of the priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth.’” (Malachi 2:2; 7)

God is grieved when mankind violates the Marriage Covenant, for marriage is His idea not mankind. (Matthew 19:4-5) When mankind cheapens the pulpit or rewrites the definition of marriage – it grieves God’s heart. There are clear Biblical instructions on marriage. People with no desire to seek His direction, protection and blessings, would be better off to enter a Civil Union, which has the approval of governmental law, rather than touch the holy things of God with unholy hands. Most marriage ceremonies today are about the show with no desire to please the Lord. Some wedding ceremonies have become a license to a drunk feast, others a weak proclamation of vows – thus grieving the Lord – thus the high divorce rate.

When man does not love His wife as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25; 28) and when wives do not “live dignified, sober-minded and faithful in all things,” (1 Timothy 3:11) this grieves the Lord, because it cheapens the marriage covenant agree between man and woman (Malachi 3:14; Matthew 19:4-6). 1 Peter 3:7 warns husbands to live with their wives in an “understanding way and honor them” or their prayers will be hindered.

Whenever mankind, Christian or not, places their own ideas over seeking the Lord’s guidance, protection and enablement hurts the Lord in some way. God intervention in all things hinges off this truth, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Samuel’s sons did not seek the Lord as Samuel did, (1 Samuel 8:5) thus, tempting Israel to sin. God took His steadfast love away from King Saul because Saul had grieved God for making him king. (2 Samuel 7:15; 1 Samuel 15:11, 35) God took the priesthood away from Eli and gave it to Samuel, because Eli and his sons hurt God in their service at the temple of God. (1 Samuel 2:30-36) In Jesus’ parable of the wicked tenants, our Lord reveals a horrible truth of His people grieving God by rejecting His servants, abusing them and worse yet, they killed His Son.  (Luke 20:9-19)

Our prayer of protection from grieving the Lord is, “Lord, renew a steadfast spirit within me, especially in the mist of living in a sin cursed world blinded by the devil and intoxicated with the sinful flesh. Reveal to me the temptations within my heart, enable me to discern your guidance, teach others of your truths and empower me to walk in step with the Holy Spirit of Christ.”

The Consequences of Grieving the Lord

Hebrews 10:26-31 says, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which He was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

The Bible also says, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if He rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) — if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.”

There comes a time when God has had enough. A continued grieving of the Lord moves Him to action bringing negative consequences. In Genesis we read of God being grieved to His heart. His judgement of unrepentant mankind was to destroy the wicked, the creatures and the earth. (Genesis 6:7) When we grasp the writings of First and Second Kings, we understand the author was not providing historical information, but rather he was setting the account straight on Israel’s spiritual conditions resulting in the chastisements or blessings of God. In the Bible, we see God’s response to an unrepentant hard heart, underscoring the necessity of obedience which enables Christians to have a genuine walk with the Lord.  (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (1 Ki). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.)  God had enough with the priest Eli and replaced him with Samuel, of which the Bible says was, “the man of God; …highly respected.”  (1 Samuel 9:6) God had enough with King Saul and replaced him with King David. (Acts 13:22) – Both Eli and Saul died as the result of a battle. Time and time again we read, “They did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” In the Bible, we read of the sever chastisements of God effecting the sinful kings and the people they ruled over.

Lord Sees the Righteous

Even when the Lord has been grieved to the point where He hands out sever consequences and chastisements, His eye is clear to see the heart of the righteous and He uses them for His redemptive work. God sough Noah was a righteous man.  He used Noah to build the Ark which became the Lord’s salvation for people, the animals and the creatures. (Genesis 6:8-9:29) In the midst of a church which was poorly overseen by a weak priest, the Lord hears the prayer of Samuel’s mother, Hannah, who trusted God to give her a baby and she fulfilled her vow to dedicate him to the service of the Lord. (1 Samuel 1) In the New Testament, among the Pharisees and Sadducee’s, to whom Jesus said their father was the Devil. (John 8:44) God brings Saul, who was a Pharisee, to repentance. Saul received Christ (Acts 9) and become the Apostle Paul, an Apostle for Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 2:6)

God sent His son to die for us, while we were His enemy. The Bible says, For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:10)

God is love (John 5:8), He is merciful (Luke 6:36), He is Sovereign (1 Timothy 6:15), He is all powerful and He can empower his obedient saints (Isaiah 40:27-31), He is long suffering (Exodus 34:6), yet He can be grieved. (Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40) Grieving the Lord has extreme consequences and not having a reverent fear of grieving Him places people under His judgement.

The church’s lack of understanding of the serious consequences of grieving the Lord is seen in this story of R.C Sproul teaching 250 Bible college students.

“On the first day of class, the great Bible teacher R.C Sproul told his students there would be a term paper due on the last day of September, October, and November. At the end of September 225 students handed in a term paper, 25 did not – all 25 presenting a remorseful sorry. Applying our modern day understanding of grace, professor Sproul gave them an extension, but warned them not to be late for October’s term paper date.

The end of October rolled around, and 200 students handed in their term paper, 50 did not. Of which all 50 begged for mercy, of which Professor Sproul gave them an extension, giving them a stern warning, there will no more grace, they will get an ‘F’ if they do not get the November term paper in on time.

The end of November came, and only 100 students turned in their term papers, the other 150 students did not saying, ‘We will get it done soon.’ Upon which consequences came. Professor Sproul said, ‘you get an F’.

The students all complained, thus falling into the sin of resting upon God’s grace as a license to sin (Galatians 5:13), sin (ἁμαρτία hamartía) meaning to miss the mark of seeking perfection (Matthew 5:48).”

The grieving of the Lord has its serious consequences. Christians who have a reverent fear of the Lord do not fall under God’s judgement, like the people we read about in the Genesis flood account or like Eli and King Saul did. Christians, who seek and trust in the Lord strive to be like Samuel, “a man of God, …highly respected.” They are used of God like Noah, Samuel and King David, becoming instruments of righteousness for His redemptive work.

A Changed Lordship

A Changed Lordship

Most Christians have a desire to live their lives for the Lord.  However, many find themselves agonizing in prayer, seemingly without getting victory over sin and without enjoying the promise of Romans 6:6-7, “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

Scores of books have been written on how to live a victorious life.  Many church attendees are reading books that teach, “just stop trying and start trusting” or “let go and let God.”  Sadly, most Christian books are like eating your favorite candy, satisfying the taste buds but only clogging the arteries.  Even after digesting the best selling Christian books, most Christians are living with the frustrations that come with pride, jealousy, materialism, impatience and lust. Most Christians eat too much, waste their time, criticize each other, shade the truth just a little, and indulge in a dozen other sins, all the time robbing themselves of an intimate relationship with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Jerry Bridges wrote, “Years ago, a Christian friend warned me, ‘Satan will confuse the issue of what God has done and what the Christian’s priorities are.”  Lack of Biblical understanding on the truth of pursuing the holiness of God is what is keeping the children of God from enjoying God’s holiness.

The whole of Scripture teaches that dominion of sin has been broken for those who have Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord.  Christians have been set free from the realm of sin, so they can choose to live a life of righteousness. (Romans 6:18) The Bible teaches that people not under the Lordship of Christ are dead in their transgressions and sins, because they follow the ways of the world and the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 2:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:26)

Our modern day style of presenting the Christian life has given the children of God a wrong perspective.  Before Christians can grasp the need of total surrender to Christ, they must believe that Jesus won the battle for them. (Romans 6:18; Colossians 1:13-14) However, there is still an enemy who wants to devour their relationship with God. (John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8)

The Christian battle on earth is like warfare.  In any nation any two competing factions can be fighting for control of a country.  Eventually, often with the help of an outside army, one side assumes control.  Rather than giving up, the losing side changes their tactics, sometimes adopting guerilla warfare.  Guerilla warfare is so aggressive that the country supplying the outside help cannot withdraw its troops.  Galatians 5:17 describes the Christian’s constant warfare, “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

In this realm where bad things happen, and sin so easily ensnares there is only one solution, choose not to say as Christ’s enemies, “We do not want this man to be our King.” (Luke 19:14) Christians who say “No” to lord sin and “Yes” to Lord Jesus turn lust into healthy natural desires, indulgence into natural appetites, immorality into healthy sexual desires, materialism into practical clothing and shelter.  Let Christ have Lordship of your entire life!

Godly Sorrow

The Necessity of a Sin Exposed Church

From the time God raised up what we would recognize as the church structure to now, there has been sin in the camp which is eventually exposed. When Moses went up Mt. Sinai (Exodus 32) Aaron was appointed as the Lord’s representation to watch over the people of God. The people God rescued out of Egypt forced Aaron to build them a Golden Calf of which he made and then lied about. (Exodus 32:3-4; 32:34) The Bible says Aaron led them into great sin. (Exodus 32:21)  There is also the account of Eli’s wicked sons. The Bible says “Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord.” (1 Samuel 2:1) “This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, they were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.” (1 Samuel 2: 17) The Bible says, “…They slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” (1 Samuel 2:22) The priest Eli’s oversight was so poor, the Bible says, “…a man of God” (1 Samuel 2:27) went to pronounce judgement. The Hebrew for “A man of God” here is likely an appellation or rather an indicator of a prophet of God. (Judges; Samuel; Kings; Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). 1 Samuel (p. 55). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.)

Their sin was so great in the sight of the Lord, Israel “lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. The Ark of God was captured and the [two wicked sons of Eli] died.” (1 Samuel 4:10-11) God’s chastisement was so heavy, Eli dies from hearing the news of the capture of the Ark of God, and that his two sons were dead. (1 Samuel 4:18) So horrific was the consequences of sin in the church the daughter-in-law of Eli – went into labor, she was overcome and died, her new born son lived and was named “Ichabod” meaning glory. (Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 416). San Francisco: Harper & Row.)

The last words from Eli’s daughter-in-law lips were “…the Glory has departed from Israel.”  (1 Samuel 4:22)  The Hebrew word “Glory” (כָּבוֹד kāḇôḏ) means the majesty or glorious presence of God. (Exodus 29:34;  Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 493). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.;  Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)

Bibles which translate the word Glory as capitalized have the correct revelation, “the presence of God Himself in Israel was no longer there.” (Merrill, E. H. (1985). 1 Samuel. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 436). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.; Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.; Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.)

The Old Testament holds the account of King David, his sin with Bathsheba. Just as God sent a man of God to address the sin of Eli’s poor overseeing the church. God sends the Prophet Nathan to deal with King David. Nathan’s rebuke sets the truth before us, “by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt…” (2 Samuel 12:13 NIV) 

In the New Testament we see sin in the camp of the Corinthian church. In his first letter the Apostle Paul dealt with serious doctrinal errors, moral sins and irregularities of Christian living including disorderly conduct in worship. In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church he lays out the antidote for the church which was overcome with self-indulgence, a world view and the deception of the devil. In 2 Corinthians we read, “Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while — yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:8-11)

The truth is, as we look at the Old and New Testaments, there comes a time when rebuke is necessary. When the church allows sin in the camp to go unchallenged so they can find favor with the crowd, trouble escalates, God continues to be hurt and His work is publicly mocked. Sin in the church breeds a desire to be seen in leadership position with no hunger for a relationship with the Lord. Thus the pulpit is cheapened and God’s genuine presence is gone, “Ichabod” might as well be the sign over the door of that church. Sin is like a disease, if it is dealt with at the right time it can be eradicated, if not it can become an incurable growth with effects which scare the lives of many for years and years.

Paul says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance…”  True repentance is demonstrated by a life that now lives for the Lord. A person actually sees their sin as God sees their sins. A person who has true Godly sorrow can be molded, equipped and empowered for the work of the Lord.  (Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1975). The letters to the Corinthians (p. 227). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.; Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (2 Co 7:10). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.; Garland, D. E. (1999). 2 Corinthians (Vol. 29, p. 357). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)

Paul writes, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.” The Psalmist, David gives us this understanding from the truth he reveals in Psalms 51. “Against you [God] I have sinned.” (Psalm 51:4) “Create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. …grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:11-12)

This truth is an ongoing active heart which desires to walk in step with the Holy Spirit of Christ which glorifies God and Christ. This intrigues others to trust in God. Godly sorrow puts us in a right heart by:

  • Realizing our sins in the past and present hurts the Lord and then causes people to question God’s ability to save sinners from the sins which holds them in bondage.
  • Realizing our sins past and present had and continues to have negative consequences which hurt all of God’s creation in some way.
  • Realizing only God knows what is deep within mankind’s spiritual heart. (Jeremiah 17:9-10) Thus we should pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts. And see if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

An unknown author wrote, “There is a radical distinction between natural regret and God-given repentance. The flesh can feel remorse, acknowledge its evil deeds, and be ashamed of itself. However, this sort of disgust with past actions can be quickly shrugged off, and the individual can soon go back to his old wicked ways. Out of a list of ten men in the Bible who said ‘I have sinned.’ Scripture teaches only five produced the fruit of repentance. They were David (2 Sam. 12:13), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:6), Job (Job 42:5, 6), Micah (Micah 7:9), and the prodigal son (Luke 15:18).” – H.G.B. (Galaxie Software. (2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.;)

King Saul was sorry for the consequences of sin he found himself in, King David was sorry he broke the heart of God, knew his sin was keeping him from God’s presence and the consequences of his sins brought contempt on the Lord’s work. (Psalm 51)

Just like in the Bible sin in the camp opens the doors to the judgement of God – there has been and there are times in the modern day church, God has exposed and judge sin. Today, as you read the so called “I have sinned” confessions, it is clear, regret from consequence is the motivator of such pronouncements. What is missing is Godly sorrow. There needs to be the fruit of repentance which is careful not break the heart of God, protects His good name, and invites the Lord to continue to do a good work in us.

Godly sorrow is reflected in the prayer of Nehemiah, “…When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. [You] keep [your] covenant of love with those who love [you] and obey your commands. …I confess the sins we Israelite’s, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We acted wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws [of the Lord]. …O Lord, let your ears be attentive of this, your servant [is praying], your servants who delight in revering your name.” (Nehemiah 1:1-11)    

The truth to catch in this passage of Scripture is “servants who delight in revering your name.” “Revering (יָרֵא yārēʾ) is to respect, to have a reverent fear of the Lord. People who fear the Lord become faithful, are trustworthy because healthy Biblical fear of God constrains Christians to live morally. (Exodus 18:21; Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 470). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.)

The fear of the Lord is tied closely with revering God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7) The Bible says, “Love the Lord your God with your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)  

In the time of Samuel, when sin in the church was not Biblically repented of, there was a change in the leadership and the Lord dealt with the unrepentant. Just as Samuel’s mother, Hannah, “asked of the Lord for him.” (1 Samuel 1:20)  The church needs to ask God to raise up prophets like Samuel. Unlike the Priest Eli and his wicked sons, Hophni and Phineas, who had no regard for the Lord. Samuel, “served as judge, priest and prophet, keeping the good name of the Lord before the people he served. Samuel was God’s chosen instrument” (Who’s Who in the Bible, “Samuel, page 580-581) to replace the poor leadership which had no Godly sorrow. Samuel did not cheapen the pulpit, even though he was often exposed to the “lewd behavior of Eli’s sons. Samuel remained steadfast in his love for the Lord.” (Who’s Who in the Bible, “Samuel, page 581)  The Bible says Samuel was known as “the man of God; …highly respected…” (1 Samuel 9:6)

In the time of sin in the camp, God raised up the prophet Samuel, to replace a ministry which had no desire to have Godly sorrow. In the time of King Saul, who had no reverence for Lord, God raised up King David to reign over Israel. In the time of the Corinth Church, God raised up the Apostle Paul to write a letter to a sin cursed church, pointing them to Godly sorrow. When sin is exposed in the church, a modern day true teacher of God’s Word must teach on Godly sorrow.

Does your relationship, life and ministry, reflect a Biblical understanding of Godly sorrow? Is God’s heart first on your mind? Is it on your heart to protect His good name? Are we inviting Him to continue to do a work in us? (Philippians 1:6)