Grasping God’s New Year’s Revelation
The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Another translation says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint but blessed is he who keeps the law.” This translation tells us, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.” (Proverbs 29:18)
Make time to seek out the truths to two words: 1.) “Prophetic Vision” (חָזוֹן ḥāzôn) means “divine communication from God to His people, which are to be communicated to others and if disregarded leads to certain doom.” (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 325). 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.; Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (p. 269). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.) 2.) “Law (תּוֹרָה tôrāh),” in Proverbs 29:18 is a noun meaning instructions from God regarding the general way of living which pleases Him. (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 1220). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.; Holladay, W. L., & Köhler, L. (2000). A concise Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament (p. 388). Leiden: Brill.)
God’s revelation for us all year is to carefully digest well-spoken or well-written slogans for inspiration because they may only intrigue the human flesh, are birthed from the world view which could be a lie from the devil. The best resolution is to be able to say, “…we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) This is accomplished by praying, “What do you desire of me this year Lord?”
His New Year Revelation for You this Year Is
1.) “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8) This is not a light New Year’s resolutions made with a half-hearted approach, it is a command. Repentance is a changed life turning from that which is sinful to all that is pleasing to the Lord. Repentance is not feeling sorry for something you have done. God’s revelation is, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:7) Repentance is ceasing to commit the same sins and seeking the power of God to overcome the sins which hold you in bondage.
2.) Mature in your walk with the Lord. The Bible says you are to be, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2-3) The author of the Book of Hebrews tells us, “..solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14) Christians who feed upon the Word of God are skilled in living for the Lord in ways that cause others to consider their relationship with Jesus Christ. Prayerfully consider studying God’s Word seriously for your New Year’s resolution.
3.) Spiritually feed on the Word of God. Jesus said, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) People can become so focused on meeting physical needs they forget there is food for the soul which needs to be fed as well. This passage of Scripture reveals the truth, God’s Word of promise, protection and direction is for every part of our lives. Every key need in life has truths which can be discovered in God’s Word, but it must be sought out like our need for physical food. Like our body’s nourishment is met by preparing food to eat, our souls are only fed when we prepare to read, study and allow the Holy Spirit to give us revelation of God’s truths. For the best result of physical nourishment, we should eat several times daily, we need to make time to fill our minds the Word of God daily, meditate on it throughout the day and ask Him to enable us to live out what has been revealed to us. When Jesus was dealing with Satan’s attacks, He did not use miraculous powers to reject Satan’s lures. He used the same resource which is available to us every day, the written Word of God.
Praying the Lord, through His Word and revelation through the Holy Spirit will make your vision clear this year as you seek Him with all “your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) Will you make it your resolution to seek God’s truths to live by this year? Will you diligently search the Word of God for a heart check?
Who Do You Partner With
The word of God holds a simple truth in the midst of Scripture which can protect us from life’s trap and snares. It seems like as long as the internet is the key tool used to communicate and there is world-wide awareness of tragic events, there will be that continued threat of ministries and outreaches taking advantage of people who have generous hearts. The King James Bible holds a simple truth which is a solid guide to follow, “know those who labor among you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) To “know” (aida) generally means to know instinctively, to have intimate or close relationship with or have knowledge of the work someone is doing for the Lord. (The Complete Word Study of the New Testament; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament)
This brief passage of Scripture is in the midst of several brief exhortations. Each one is quite capable of standing on its own, just like many of the Apostle Paul’s instructions and benedictions of which holds truths for all who read them. (Martin, D. M. (1995). 1, 2 Thessalonians (Vol. 33, p. 170). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) Although the context deals with how people are to respect and esteem those who are over them “in the Lord,” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) the King James Bible uses, “to know” (aida) is a key truth to focus on.
If you look at this passage of Scripture in the other translations, it could appear we are simply to show respect and esteem “those who work hard, care for us in the Lord and admonish us” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) just because someone holds a position in the church structure. Not knowing the application of this one key truth which is wonderfully interpreted by the King James Bible, “to know” (aida) has opened the door to people holding religious position who are not appointed by the Lord nor do they have the Holy Spirit’s anointing. Thus, people have been sexually assaulted, the spiritually blind lead the blind and the innocent have been scammed out of their hard-earned money.
All mature outreaches which deserve your prayers, participation and financial support will be upfront with their vision, their call and be fully accountable. We see this truth in the Biblical account of Peter’s work with the Lord.
The Biblical accounts of the Apostle Peter’s outreach lays out the foundational truths to “[knowing]” those who labor among us. The Bible says, “The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the Word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him… Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened… When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God.” (Acts 11:1-4, 18)
A successful outreach of any kind begins with a desire to be a “devout” person, one who wants to please God. (Acts 10:1-2) A “devout” (eusebes) person is respectful to God and the things regarding to worship and honoring Him. (Complete Word Study of the Bible; Vines Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words; Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament) A successful outreach that meets the needs of others and brings praise to the Lord must be birthed from a heart that is “God-fearing” (phobeo) meaning to have a reverential obedience toward God. (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon)
In determining what work for the Lord, you participate in begins with determining if the outreach is center around pleasing God and pointing the people you help to the Lord’s blessing and intervening for them. This is the foundation for receiving revelation from God. Cornelius and the Apostle Peter were God-fearing and devout servants of the Lord, thus God gave them the same revelation. (Acts 10:1-22)
Ministries or outreaches must be clear in their vision, and they must be able to substantiate their work. (Acts 10:23-48) A ministry worth your participation and financial support must have witnesses who are known to be able to give a trustworthy account. (Act 10:45; 11:12) The Bible says, “…these six brothers were with me.” (Acts 11:12) These brothers were Christians who were able to determine what a real work of God was. It should be noted that Peter took double the number of witness needed to substantiate a testimony. (1 Timothy 5:19) No doubt Peter expected trouble and criticism – he wisely and correctly did what it took to get people to accept, understand and prove his work was genuine.
When you are considering participating in a work which helps those who have needs, consider learning from a quality ministry which can walk you through the process of determining a genuine work. Make sure you partner with ministries or outreaches which look for overseers who will hold them accountable as Peter was in his work with the Lord.
Overcoming the Intimidation to Be Silenced
There are many passages of Scripture people use to stop all discussion on truth and morality. The one at the top of the list are the very words of Jesus Christ, “Do not Judge” (Matthew 7:1; Luke 6:37) which is only a portion of what He said and used out of context for of what He is teaching. Most of the time, those referring to this passage have not, “[done] their best to present [themselves] to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
The full text says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. He also told them this parable: Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:37-42; Matthew 7:1-5)
Grasping the whole truth of God’s Word we understand all people are sinners, no one is worthy to condemn another along with the enlightenment, the degree we judge others is the degree other people and God will judge us. For Christians, it is a reminder to ask God to look into their hearts, they know the teaching of Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10) Humble Christians are in continued prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting! (Psalm 139:23)
Jesus also said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24) The Greek for this passage of Scripture is imperative, “μὴ κρίνετε κατ’ ὄψιν, ἀλλὰ τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν κρίνετε which is, ‘do not judge according to appearance, but pronounce a righteous judgment’ or ‘… deliver a righteous judgment.’ It may also be possible to translate ἀλλὰ τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν κρίνετε as ‘judge in a righteous manner’ or ‘judge according to true standards.’” (Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 363). New York: United Bible Societies.) The King James Bible says, “judge righteous judgements” (τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν) meaning “to make right judgements appropriate to the case in hand.” (Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 160). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.)
1.) Christians do not declare judgement on lifestyles or teachings which intrigue others to sin. They are in agreement with God’s Word. Jesus said, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:1-4) He also said, “…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
2.) Christians do not make decisions on what sin is, they are in agreement with what the Bible says is sin. The writer of the New Testament teaches us, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21) Paul’s warning to the Corinthian Church, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
3.) Christians do not declare what marriage is, they simply marry in accordance with the whole counsel of God’s Word. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife…” (Genesis 2:24) The Hebrew word for “wife” (אִשָּׁה ʾiššāh) “is a feminine noun meaning woman, wife or female.” (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 104). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers)
Jesus taught about marriage, “Have you not read that He [God] who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife’” (Matthew 19:4-5; Mark 10:6-7) The Greek word Jesus used, “male” (ἄρσην ársēn) has a Greek synonym (anḗr) meaning “male, husband.” The Greek word Jesus used, “female” (θήλυς thḗlus) has a Greek synonym (gunḗ) meaning female, wife.” The Greek word Jesus used for “wife” (γυνή gunḗ) means “woman, wife.” (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.)
The three applications we have just looked at are just a few of the truths God’s word holds which keeps from condemning people and make wrong judgements about life and morals. Anyone who really cares about how people are being judged will do the hard work to make sure they are in agreement with God’s Word. Paul writes, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but himself to be judged by no one. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)
Let the Holy Spirit of Christ examine your heart, where are you on the platform, judging? Does is it fit in line with the whole counsel of the written of God?
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
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!
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)