Friday, May 2, 2014

Sincerely Wrong vs. Willfully Ignorant

A brother called recently to talk to me about the story of Job.  He shared how - at the end of the matter - God never told Job why he was allowed to suffer.  His three friends insisted that his suffering must be the result of either his sin or his children's sin.  They claimed that this was a judgment against Job because he really didn't serve the Lord at all.  Yet, each of these friends were wrong (Job 42:7-8).

God starts off stating that Job was a perfect & upright man (Job 1:8) and He ends by justifying Job and blessing him anew (Job 42:10-17).  Yet here is the kicker: There were still things God needed to work out in Job.  Job needed to learn that God is sovereign (Job 38:1 - 41:34).  God does what He wants to do and He owes us no explanation...even while His hand of protection remains upon us.

The point here is that - through this process of suffering - Job was convicted and brought to repentance over having spiritual pride (Job 40:3-5, 42:1-6).  Job was a righteous man, but there were still things in his heart that God wanted to reveal so that Job could be further purged and cleansed (Job 33:14-29).

God is not primarily concerned with the things that are wrong within us; these are no surprise to Him.  He knows there are things in us that are are not in alignment with His will & His ways.  That is why He sent Jesus to be a sacrifice for our sin and the Holy Spirit to be a sanctifier of our hearts.  Perfecting God's people is something only the Lord can do, and He is faithful to complete the work He has started in us (Philippians 1:6).  However, in order to be perfected, we must stay sincere before Him.  Our job is to yield to Him as He does His work.

This is how we are able to live blamelessly before God, even with there still being things which need to be set right within us (Luke 1:6; I Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 2:15, 3:6; I Thessalonians 5:23; I Timothy 3:2-10, 5:7; Titus 1:6-7; II Peter 3:14).  Being upright is not about having no sin, but about not being in covenant with sin...and that is a big difference.

"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins." Hebrews 10:1-2

Whether Christian or not, most people are trying to make continual sacrifices for their sin.  There is the erroneous belief that if the amount of "good" I do outweighs the "bad" (in my own eyes), then I am okay.  If I curse someone out on my job on Monday, then I can just give some money to the poor on Tuesday.  If I lie on Wednesday, then I will give food to the hungry on Friday.  If I fornicate on Saturday, then I can just go to church on Sunday.

Much of what the world would call "good works" are really just efforts by a sin-filled people trying to soothe their own consciences.  Such works are never received by God (I Samuel 15:22; Proverbs 15:8; Matthew 7:21-23).  We cannot game God.  He is after our hearts, and not just our lip service (Psalm 51:17).

The very need to soothe one's conscience is due to the awareness of sin.  Yet, one of the blessings of the new covenant is that our very consciences can be purged. We don't have to try and convince ourselves that we are alright with God, pretending that the sin we are ever conscious of is not a problem.  The Holy Spirit of God cannot only give us the power to resist sin, He change our hearts so that we no longer desire nor pursue the things which offend God.  Thereby we break covenant with sin (Romans Chapter 6).

When we are truly walking before the Lord in sincerity, there is no awareness of sin because we are not trying to hide anything from God.  We can actually stand before God with a clear conscience.  As such, He considers us upright before Him, even while we are still being perfected by Him.

"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." James 4:17

The Time For Ignorance Has Passed

"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" II Corinthians 13:5 

God knows our hearts (Jeremiah 17:10; Psalm 44:21; Luke 16:15; Acts 15:8; Romans 8:27).  He knows when we are truly ignorant of something vs. when we want to remain stiff-necked against the truth.  Part of being sincere before God (and thus, being perfected) includes having an earnest desire to seek and walk in the truths of God (I Peter 1:22; I John 2:26-28).

What are some of the signs that one is avoiding the truth?
  • Religious debates - Approaching God's word as a mental exercise in theological gymnastics as opposed to it being a truth to be obeyed.  Such persons will talk all around it and philosophize about it, but never submit to it.
  • Non-essential Doctrines - While I understand the principle behind laying out what is necessary for salvation, we must realize that every truth of God is truth.  Which of God's truths would you presume it is okay for us to reject?  Our goal should not be to merely "believe what is essential", but to know the truth of God wherewith we may be set free.   
  • No Personal Study of Scripture - God commands us to study His word to show ourselves approved (II Timothy 2:15). Yet people do not study to know the truth because they do not want to be accountable to it.
  • Exalting "personal revelation" - Some will heed "another spirit" sooner than the Holy Spirit, in an attempt to deny the truth (II Corinthians 11:4).  However, the Holy Spirit will never contradict God's word because both the written and spoken word are inspired by the same Spirit (II Thessalonians 2:15; II Peter 1:21).
  • Ad Hominem -As with Jesus, if a person cannot dispute the truth being spoken, then they will attack the character of the messenger bringing truth (Matthew 10:24-25).
Why do people avoid the truths of God?  Because they are still in covenant with sin. Why did Adam & Eve try to hide when Truth was walking in the Garden?  Sin (Genesis 3:8).   Sin is always the culprit when we are running from truth.  When we forsake God's truths, no matter how religious we are, we are forsaking Christ (John 15:6; II Thessalonians 2:7-12; 2 John 1:1-11; 3 John 1:1-12).

Why am I writing about this?  Because the time for playing church is over.  The time for drinking down any word just because someone has told it to us must cease.  The deception of being "ever-learning" but never coming to the knowledge of truth must end (II Timothy 3:7).

According to the world's definition of Christianity, anyone can be considered a Christian.  This is how a popular and renowned "Christian" artist, minister, and church founder can put forth:
I don't know if there is a God. He could be just a figment of our imaginations. The Bible could just be a collection of people's stories about their ideas of God. Jesus Christ may not even have been a real person. Our beliefs about God may be more important than who God really is...if He really is.
When we claim ambiguity about the things which are expressly laid out in Scripture, we are fooling ourselves into believing that God will accept our excuses.  He will not.  It is admirable to search the Scriptures for truth; it is evil to assert that truth is not found within them (Acts 17:11; Hebrews 3:12).  This is why we must be born again (John 3:7).  You cannot just approach Scripture as a religious book.  We need the Holy Spirit to bring to life the words of truth and thereby change us into the image of Christ.  Unless this happens, it will remain as dead letter, and the most you will be able to do is talk about a God you do not know and a Savior whom you have yet to receive.

I am not singling out this individual, because unfortunately he represents the majority of the so-called churchworld.  Whether one publicly doubts God or not, every time we place anything above the truth of God, we are denying Christ for He is Truth (Psalm 19:9-11; Proverbs 8:10-11, 16:16; Job 23:12).

We cannot hide from God behind religion...even a religion called Christianity.  Instead of glorying in, and finding camaraderie around, our unbelief, doubt, and uncertainty, we had better seek God like never before to have truth revealed to - and in - us.  We cannot just sit back, lackadaisical about the things of God, labeling ourselves a Christian as if our mere profession makes it so.  Only those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled (Matthew 5:6).  God desires to give us His wisdom; all we have to do is ask (James 1:5).  Shame on us if we don't.

Any person can call himself a Christian, but Jesus only receives those who are called, chosen, and faithful (Revelation 17:14).  Are you one of those in that number? 

"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent." Acts 17:30





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