Friday, June 3, 2011

Proverbs 20:24; God's Sovereignty, What You Don't Know, and When Your Service to God is sin.

24 ¶ Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?

This verse brings out a lot of things that must give us pause. You might not agree with me on these points but we have that liberty.

There is no cellular process nor is there any movement or other activity of life that is not initiated and made possible and directed by the sovereign hand of God. Everything you do or can do including all of the invisible things even on a molecular level the Bible indicates are functions made possible by the very hand of God. Even the universe is held together not by the unbelieving scientist’s “dark matter” or “dark energy” or mysterious filaments but by Christ Himself.

Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

All processes of life without the understanding that they are the product of the mind of God become impossible to understand. Scientists who deny the existence of God or His involvement in the operation of the basic functions of life deprive themselves of a great avenue of helpful knowledge of the how and why of life. It’s like trying to understand the origin of and method of function of the written page while all the while denying the existence of the writer holding the pen above it.

The psychologist and psychiatrist do a wonderful job of cataloging and categorizing behavior but have no real understanding of its origins or how it works because they, for the most part, have denied the active influence of God or even the existence of the spiritual world.

Jeremiah 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

Without the Bible we know neither the why nor the who nor the how regarding our thoughts and actions. We think we are in control or that some blind mechanical and purely accidental forces, held together by physical laws of no specific origin, control our movements.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Each moment our efforts are limited to a decision to choose who we will follow; the God of the Bible or Self. All other actions flow from that choice.

We can be used of evil.

Luke 17:1 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!

We can even believe we are serving God but you can’t serve God through Self.

John 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

We can follow Christ.

Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

But it is a sovereign God who either causes us to act by His will or permits us to act by our own: always manipulated by our flesh, the world, or Satan himself.

Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being…

God directs every step either by command or permission. I know this goes against what you were taught in school because they are only aware, like the blind men trying to touch different parts of the elephant and commanded to describe the whole thing by the feel of the individual parts, of the mechanical forces God made and uses to operate things. Your free will is limited to whom you will follow. You really don’t understand your way because you think each action you perform is a direct result of your own decision to act. But, at any given moment you are acting under God’s direct will or by His permission.

Romans 7:14 ¶ For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Now, I don’t have to convince you that once you embark on a path of sin you have no control over how far it will take you, even though you think you’re “all that and a bag o’ chips.” Most Christians, if they are awake, can understand the preacher when he says that “Sin will take you further than you want to go. It will keep you longer than you want to stay, and it will cost you more than you want to pay.”

What we have a hard time being convinced of is even our service to God, our works for Him, can be of the flesh and not pleasing to Him. Our worship can be carnal and Self centered and not Christ centered. Our service to God can be pleasing to the flesh, not in drawing us closer to God but in making us our own gods.

A Christian must submit himself or herself, not to their conscience, but to the word of God. They read it every day and hear it preached regularly. We hear people say, well, that’s fine but you’ve got obey it. No, you can’t obey it unless you submit to it. Read the verses from Paul in Romans 7 again. You have no capacity of your own flesh to obey God. What you must do is to submit to His word and be willing to be used by Him. Let Him change you and direct your steps. Sanctify means to set apart for God’s use.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

My point is, that what we often fail to understand, is that you can pretend to obey God’s commands in the flesh without submitting to Him because some of those commands if used improperly can be pleasing to the flesh. We don’t understand our way or that our goings are of the Lord. For instance, men can embrace doctrines about how women should be submissive not because the men are submitted to God but because those commands appeal to their flesh. You can tell if a person is obeying for the right reasons when he or she is more concerned about what God tells THEM to do rather than others.

Your ministry to Lithuanian circus clowns has failed because it was YOUR ministry to your SELF and not the result of God’s will directing you by your submission to Him through His word. Think about it.

This Proverb is awesome. It can generate untold hours of Bible Study discussion about the sovereignty of God. Think carefully about your goings, your actions and thoughts, even those FOR God. Too many of our fundamentalist churches teach shallow obedience from the flesh and not from submission to the will of God. We spend far too much time judging other people and those within the congregation, attempting to discern motives and thoughts we don’t really know and far too little time judging ourselves. That’s how the wolves get in, worship in the flesh welcomes them. Our Self relishes in the deception, the salesmanship, the guilt trips, and the appeals to the flesh.

John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

It all seems pretty mysterious until you submit to it, until you believe it. Do you realize how many things I have written but erased because I didn’t think they came from God? Even the things I’ve written I can only pray that it is what God has laid on my heart. My fear is that they come from my Self. I realize and admit that’s possible. Read the Bible and pray for understanding. Your goings are of the Lord. You can barely begin to grasp and understand your way.

Remember Paul? In the following verses, let me first point out that “attained” and “attain unto” in this context means to understand. For proof, see verse 16. “Apprehend” means to know. See the last part of verse 12 for that where he says, if I may paraphrase, “if that I can know that for which also I am known by Christ”. In other words, if I can know Him as He knows me. I’ve already pointed out that perfect means complete and does not mean without sin. It refers to the Christian who actually gets it, who understands, and lives by that understanding.

Philippians 3:9 ¶ And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15 ¶ Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Paul even admits that he doesn’t know everything or understand everything. But, after this he just says to the Philipians to follow him as he follows Christ. He is their example, not pretending to know everything, not pretending to be something he isn’t. The greatest Christian in history knows that he’ll never get it completely until he looks Christ again in the face. So, neither should we pretend to know things we don’t. Let us accept that we don’t know many things we’d like to but just keep looking up, expectantly waiting for Christ, and keep living in submission to His word, wanting and desiring with all our hearts to be changed and used by Him. Just run the race and look toward the finish line. You don’t understand everything, you won’t understand everything, and you don’t have to. Just run the race in faith.

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