11) IT ALL WORKED OUT, OR DID IT--- Gen. 12
12) THE NEW PHARISEES
13) OUR MARVELOUS GOD --- ECCLESIASTES 8:17
14) DOCTRINE OF LASCIVIOUSNESS, Grace Corrupted
As we consider some things here, let us point out that this IS NOT intended to be critical of OPERATION RESCUE in any way. We have nothing but respect for those who are willing to go to jail for their stand against murder. We praise God for every unborn child which is delivered from the jaws of death at the hands of the murderers.
What we are doing is attempting to point out a danger which we perceive might come with the Operation Rescue Movement. That danger would be thinking that if we are able to stop abortions, America's ills will be cured or even stopping any of the many evils, for that matter, such as drugs, sodomy, etc.. Is salvation the result of the right set of laws? Laws against murder, drugs, evil of all kinds?
I read an article recently concerning Operation Rescue which brought up some very good points. In this article a point was made which caught my attention and requires a comment or two. The point was, "Israel and Judah were judged primarily for two things..." They went on to use Israel and Judah in their proper sense.
The abortion issue seems to be overlooking something. America is not Israel nor is it Judah. The Church is the Israel of God, Gal. 6:16. To parallel America with Israel can lead to some very dangerous doctrines. British-Israelism (Identity), for one thing. God will bless any nation whose God is the Lord, Ps. 33:12; 9:17. The chosen people of God is not America. The chosen people of God are the elect, the Christian. With this in mind, let's consider a couple of things which may surprise some.
First, the heathen acting like heathen is not new. Nor can we expect them to act any different. We can fully expect them to murder (even their own children), adulterate, lie, steal, fornicate, blaspheme, etc.. Second, as the heathen act like heathen they will bring God's judgment upon themselves. God spued them out of the land for their wickedness and gave the land to His people, Deut. 9:4, 5. God promised all of the possessions of the heathen to be given to His people if His people would be faithful to Him and His every law-word, Deut., chps. 11, 28, etc..
Now, this presents something which we need to take into consideration. The thing which will bring God's judgment upon His people (and their land) is their indifference to the law-word of God, not because the heathen act like heathen and murder each other, Prov. 13:13. The Christians in America have turned over a nation to the ungodly; a nation which their forefathers fought, bled and died for. They have turned the nation over to the ungodly because they have become worldly. The Christian is now controlled by self-sufficiency, pride, covetousness, lust, etc., rather than by the Spirit of God and His Word.
The result of the Christians being controlled by the spirit of the world, lust and covetousness (worldliness) is that the godly heritage left to them is now in the hands of the heathen; given to the heathen by God. If God's people reject Him as King, then He will give them an oppressive king, I Sam. 8.
The heathen now control a once godly and God-given nation because the Christians have turned from God. God's law-word is no longer his every rule of action, II Tim. 3:16. The advancement of the kingdom of God is no longer his goal. A godly society is no longer seen as a requirement. The necessity of doing all things to the glory of God is no longer seen. Civil government is not seen as a necessary arm of the kingdom of God as it once was. The goal of the Christian is no longer to further the kingdom of God, but to enjoy himself in all of his pursuits for happiness. Read the original Charters of these states. Clearly, they were founded to further the cause of Christ. (Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, B. F. Morris.)
Because of their godly goal, God gave them a bountiful land. In fact, God gave them a land where they could pursue this goal to advance His Kingdom, Matt. 6:33. As the goal to glorify God and further His cause into every area has been lost, so has the land. The goal is gone, replaced by the pursuit of pleasure and happiness. The land is gone, and is now controlled by the humanist.
Why? Because Christians turned from the goal of glorifying God in every area (science, music, art, economics, civil government, education, etc.). Christianity has turned from God and now God has turned from them. God has removed the nation which He gave to Christians to accomplish this because the nation was/is being misused for self-gratification.
Now what? The nation is in the hands of the Humanist. The Judicial, the Legislative, the Administrative; the Humanists have it all because Christians have failed to claim every area for God. Indifference toward God and His total law-word has made Him indifferent toward us and has given the heathen rule over His people. Hosea, chp. 4, is very clear on this principle.
As Christians have withdrawn their Christianity into the four walls of their monasteries to become more spiritual, the pagans have taken over. To regain what our fathers won through great sacrifice will require great sacrifice once again which very few of us seem to be willing to make today.
As we have withdrawn to become more spiritual, the heathen have become more open with their paganism. They now worship their Baals, Ashtoreths, and Molechs openly in the streets which they once had to hide. Not only are they now open in their worship of their Baals, but many of God's people (Israelites) have joined them in the open worship of their Molechs. A large portion of the Christian community has fallen down before the gods of this world.
When this was a Christian country (when Christians were salt), the pagans could not openly do these things. Now the Baal worshipers are in charge as they have convinced God's people that they should not be in charge.
What has happened? The child sacrifice which the heathen have always practiced is now done openly which under "salty" Christianity was done secretly. The child sacrifice (in the case of abortion, yet this can go into every area) is calling for God's judgment against the pagans who are doing it. But the reason they are now doing it openly is because God's people have withdrawn and turned society over to the pagans.
God, no doubt, will send judgment against the Moloch and Baal worshipers. He always has. If God's people will return to His law-word for their every rule of action, they can reclaim what has been given over to these Moloch and Baal worshipers. God will give back to His faithful people what He removed for their unfaithfulness.
God will give America back to the Christians if the Christians will lay aside their pride, covetousness, lusts, adulteries, murders, fornications (all of their works of the flesh, including the denial of His authority over them) and return in humility to Him, I Pet. 5:5-8; Ja. 4:6-10. Might we mention that covetousness (idolatry, Col. 3:5) is shown in many ways, not the least of which is the compromise of the principles of God's Word in order to keep from losing material goods. Debt is also a sign of covetousness.
As His people do return and God restores to them what they gave up through covetousness and pride (lust, etc.), the abortions (Baal, Moloch worship) will have to go back underground. Abortion is a heathen practice. We should be against murder of all kinds, especially the sacrifice of the children to Moloch, but the heathen carrying on their heathen practices is not what will cause America to be carried into captivity.
The pagans acting like pagans will turn over the nation to the Christians if God's people will live what they profess and quit partaking in the heathen practices. (One method of offering our children to Moloch would be statist education. See Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. 1, for an excellent treatment of this.) This is much too close to avoid. Statist Education (Sacrificing our children to the king or to the state) is as bad, if not worse, than abortion.
First, we don't view sin as God views sin. As bad as murder (abortion) is, it is not as bad as idolatry. Statist education is idolatry of the worst kind. It is giving our children to the humanist to be trained to hate God. The purpose of state education is to overthrow God, the Bible, Christianity and the family. James Bryant Conanat was quite clear on this. [The Messianic Character of American Education, The Craig Press, R. J. Rushdoony, pg. 311, 318.]
Secondly, it is no secret that the government schools teach a very permissive attitude, not only toward abortion, but toward evils of all kinds. An ungodly attitude toward sin is developed in the government schools. When Christians send the children which God has entrusted to them into this kind of indoctrination we can fully expect God's judgment upon the Christians. The failure to teach our children the ways of the Lord is one of the major things which will bring the judgment of God upon Christians, Deut. 6, etc.. Abortion, even for Christians, is a result of idolatry in the heart. It is a result of the heart turning from God, Rom. 1:21.
Abortion (or other heathen practices) will not bring God's judgment upon Israel, the Church, and the land in which she dwells. God's people acting, living like the heathen and following the heathen practices toward Baal and Moloch will bring God's judgment and captivity, De. 18:9; Jer. 10. The heathen will act like heathen. If God's people will kick out Baal and burn his images, altars, and quit sacrificing to Moloch, God will exalt them over the heathen.
Judgment will come not because the heathen act like heathen, but because God's people act like heathen and won't be consistent with what they believe. Their hearts are controlled by many things other than the Spirit of God. It is so much easier to point our finger at someone else (the heathen) and say, "They are the problem. If they will quite drinkin', cussin', chewin', dopin', shackin' up, and actin' ugly, then our problems in society will be solved." This sure sounds good and makes good preaching. I can take an extremely hard stand against wickedness or inconsistencies in others as long as I don't have to take this stand in me.
We should speak out against the sacrifice of the unborn to the gods of this world (covetousness, lust, education, etc.), yet judgment is coming because Christians are sacrificing their children to the gods of this world: Statist education, money, etc.. How can people who sacrifice their live children to the gods of this world condemn those who sacrifice dead children?
God tells the heathen to repent and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. A failure to do this, and this alone will send them to hell. God tells His children to cast the idols out of the heart. This, and this alone, will deliver their nation from the judgment of God. See Ezek., chps. 8 and 11. The world is going to the devil. The antichrist crowd is taking over because the Christians will not awake unto righteousness, I Cor. 15:34. We cannot blame the loss of a nation on the heathen acting like heathen. How do we expect them to act?
All of this for Operation Rescue. Let us be careful about emphasizing the correction of rotten fruit as the answer to avoid God's judgment. We must try to convince heathens to stop acting like heathens, but the pagans will continue to act like heathens without the change of heart which only the New Birth can accomplish. The violence in the land is the result of the idols in the heart, Ezek. 8:12. The violence in the land and the judgment of God will continue until those idols are cast down. Until Christians will be consistent in their service for God and cast the idols out of the heart, the heathen practices will be open; they will possess the land and oppose God's laws.
The answer lies right here to start with. Cast the idols of covetousness, rebellion, lust, pride, indifference to God's law, unbelief, etc., out of the temple (heart). Quit sacrificing our children to Moloch. Take a consistent stand for Christ everywhere. Be faithful to what we profess. Reclaim every area for Christ. Anything less will result in the continued exaltation of evil and its open practice of murder, sodomy, theft, adultery, fraud, etc.. We might also add, that oppressive leaders and confiscatory taxes will remain in effect until God's people stop rejecting Him as their King.
Abraham, in Gen. 12, gives us an interesting principle which applies all too well in our day. Abraham followed God by faith, even building his altars, vv. 7, 8. But look at what happens in Gen. 12:10. Observe the events leading up to this.
1.) God told Abraham to go to a place He would show him. He went, but when he got there, the Canaanites were there. 2.) God gave the promise that Abraham's seed would inherit this land; a seed which Abraham did not yet have. 3.) Abraham believed God and built an altar, v. 7. We also see in v. 8, he called upon the name of the Lord. The indication here is a public worship; a public preaching or witnessing for the Lord. He publicly identified with the Lord with his actions as well as with his words. 4.) Abraham continued to move on, going South. Down South, away from Bethel, v. 8. And there was a famine in the land, v. 10, when he arrived where God told him to go. a.) The Canaanites were there. b.) There was a famine. We would think that these things would be sure indications that God was not in this. All circumstances pointed to this not being where he was supposed to be.
As we talk to people, they say many times, "Everything has worked out so well, God must be in it". In fact, we hear this phrase very well worn by the tel-evangelist. "Look at how things have fallen together, God is surely in this". They use these "Marvelous workings of God" to prove God is in it and that you should send them your money.
Of course, this is not restricted to just the tel-evangelist. It covers every spectrum of Christianity. Folks who are not even concerned about serving God will use this well worn phrase, "everything is working out, so God is in it." BUT IS HE? They will say, "We have been able to borrow this money. God worked it out". Did He? Can we lay that before the throne of God? Can we say that God worked it out so we could become even more of a slave to the lender, Pro. 22:7?
What is the principle here? If we remain true to the presumption that all the pieces falling together prove God is in it, then the conclusion must be that Abraham was not where God wanted him to be. Why? First, because the Canaanites possessed and, secondly, there was a famine in the land.
Let's follow the principle through the Scriptures with just a few high points. Joseph is the next one we could call to mind. If we remain consistent to, "It's all 'falling together', therefore, God is in it", then we must say that Joseph's slavery and prison experience proved God was not in it. Another one would be Moses. According to our theory, "It's all working out, therefore, God is in it", Moses should have ascended to the throne of Egypt if God was in it. Rather, all his plans which would seem to indicate that God was in it fell apart as he did what he felt was right to do (killed the Egyptian).
As we pursue this principle on through the Scriptures, another one we would come to would be the children of Israel and their taking of Canaan. To remain true to this principle of, "It's all working out, therefore, God is in it", we would have to say that because the Canaanites did not flee from the land as Israel moved in, God was not in it. For if He had been in it, they would have not had to fight so hard. There would have been no resistance. Another instance would be David. To remain true to this principle of, "It's all going good and this shows God is in it", would place him in trouble. This principle would have, of necessity, said that if God was in him becoming king, then as soon as he was anointed Saul would have turned the throne over to him. Of course, we cannot fail to mention the preachers of the OT, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and all of the others. If we remain consistent to our principle which we are considering, then these men would have all been outside of the will of God.
The list of illustrations would be quite long and we must say as the apostle said in Heb. 11:32, "And what shall we more say? For the time would fail us to tell of these many men who seemed to be a failure in their attempt to serve God." We could think of many more illustrations from the OT, yet let's move on into the NT. Just a couple will suffice here.
We can start with the apostles. As these men preached the Good News, the Jews did not like it at all. In fact, they arrested them, beat them, and commanded that they not preach and teach the Lord Jesus Christ. Probably the most obvious of the NT illustrations of the fallacy of this principle would be Paul. After his conversion he immediately started to preach. Right away, he had some folks hostile and seeking to kill him, Acts 9:29.
Just before this, though, would be Acts 9:16. The Lord told Ananias to go to Saul (Paul) and tell him how great things he must suffer for His name's sake. Today we would say, "Suffer! You must be crazy. Suffering for right means that God isn't in it. If God was in it, it would all work out".
There are a great many inconsistencies such as this recorded in the book of Acts. Let's look at just one more. This would be found in Acts 16:9, 10. Paul had a vision in which the man from Macedonia asked him to come over into Macedonia, and help us. We read that immediately Paul endeavored to go into Macedonia. They arrived in Philippi and started preaching the following Sabbath after they got there. As we follow Paul and Silas in chp. 16, we find that they weren't there very long before things "fell apart", and they ended up being beaten and thrown in jail. After their release from jail, they were "asked" to leave the city and they did.
Now, let's examine this in the light of the principle, "Everything is working out, therefore, God is in it". If we remain true to this, then Paul was deceived when he answered the call in Acts 16:10. Why? Because nothing worked out. Sure, there were a couple of people saved; Lydia and the jailer that we have record of. But there was far more trouble than "goodness". They stirred up the established religion, vv. 16-19. They stirred up the civil authority and were beaten and jailed, vv. 20-24. Then, to top it all off, they were thrown out of town, v. 39. With these things in view, in order for "our principle" to be correct, we will have to say, "Because things did not work out for them, God was not with them", and we know that this is absolutely ludicrous.
What do we have here? We hear people (Christians, as well as non-Christians) say, "Everything is falling together and working out, therefore, God is in it". This conclusion CANNOT BE SUPPORTED SCRIPTURALLY. As a friend of ours says, "That old dog won't hunt". The Scripture is abundantly clear. If there would be a principle here, it would be that if the short term results "work out" that is a good indication that God isn't in it. Things "falling apart" as we step out by faith is more of an indication that God is in it. Because there is a warfare; because there is opposition; because things do seem to come apart as we do what He wants us to do is even more of an indication He is in it.
Isn't this what faith is all about? Doing what He would demand of us regardless of the trials which arise? Compromise which ends conflict is NOT of GOD. We hear of folks who brag that God is in it because the conflict stopped as they "struck a deal" or compromised. This is not scriptural. It would seem that the conflict, warfare, "Things falling apart", is more of an indication of God being in it than would be "everything working out".
What does the Word of God say? Prov. 28:4, They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them. Obeying God's Word will bring contention with the wicked which brings us to these points. 1. The wicked will get right and conform to the law of God and the contention will stop. 2. The righteous will compromise with the wicked and the contention will stop. One or the other (righteous or wicked) will have to compromise because the law (of God) DOES NOT CHANGE. 3. The contention goes on if neither will compromise.
Our Lord reinforced this. Jn. 7:7, The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the work's thereof are evil. If there is no contention between the child of God and the world, then one or the other has compromised.
Standing on God's Word and the total crown rights of King Jesus WILL BRING CONTENTION sooner or later. It will bring trials. Things will fall apart. Everything will seem to go wrong. Everyone will seem to be against us. Our Lord Himself told us that the world would hate us if we would stand for right. So we can safely say, "If the world's crowd (The Canaanites) is not mocking and ridiculing, then there is something wrong with our testimony."
As with Abraham: 1. The heathen will be in possession, and they will not want to give up what they have. 2. There will be famines.
It is a very serious error to believe that because everything is working out, God is in it. More often than not in the Scriptures, everything fell apart when God was in it. Then it required faith to remain true to Him and His principles of life and action. It was usually several generations before it all worked out. THE ONLY THING THAT DETERMINES IF GOD IS IN IT OR NOT IS HIS HOLY WORD. Anything else is presumption and can lead to an open door for our enemy to do a very devastating work in our lives and in our churches.
Is it built on a close personal relationship with the Lord and a daily walk with Him in His Word and in prayer? Is it built on faithful obedience to His every law-word? Is it built on faithfulness to the basic doctrine of salvation? Is it built on the total authority of the Lord Jesus Christ over everything?
Faithfulness to these basic principles (and other principles of His Word) alone would be what shows whether God is in it or not--not the circumstances which develop. Abraham found this out. As he moved in obedience, nothing seemed to work out for him. What did he do? Like most of us, he moved on into Egypt instead of patiently waiting upon the Lord to fulfill His promise.
The Word of God surely indicates that conflict is the result of following Him. His Word points to confrontations with "famine" and "Canaanites" as we step out on faith. It calls more for jail, as folks obey, than for peace and prosperity and praise from the wicked. The only thing which will avoid that conflict is compromise. Either the world's crowd compromises or God's people will.
The scriptures teach that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose". We are inclined to read it, "All of the things which prove God is in it are good", then we define what is good. Abraham went into Egypt and returned with great material wealth. All things seemed to work out in Egypt for him. To be consistent with our principle, "Things are working out, therefore, God is in it," we must say that because things worked together for "great good" for Abraham, God was in it; God was in his going down into Egypt; God was in his lying about his wife. These assumptions are just that, assumptions that are contrary to God's Word.
We need to remove from our theology the idea that, "Because all of these things are working out, God is in it". It is one of the many false doctrines in effect in Christianity today.
EVERYTHING MUST BE VIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF GOD'S WORD. Have we bought this well-dressed and nice sounding lie? "Well, all things are working together so I must be saved". "All things are working together, therefore, I must be right in my decisions". "Look at all the people being influenced, therefore, it must be God in it".
No, a thousand times no. What does God's Word say? Only His Word determines if we are doing it His way or not, regardless of the conflict or the peace which may follow.
As we have talked with other pastors, quite often the subject of worldiness and carnality comes up. The question is asked (both by them and myself), "Why are my people so worldly and carnal"?
No doubt there are several reasons, not the least of which would be the tremendous pressure from the world. Everywhere we look, sex is used to sell everything from soap to soup. Christianity is attacked on every side by every means possible. We most certainly live in a world given over to wickedness.
But, this is no excuse. I Pet. 1:18-20 tells us the power of the redemptive work of Christ is to enable us to live above this worldiness, I Jn. 4:3; 5:4. The power of Christ is to live above circumstances, family background, environment, and the many other excuses we hear today to justify not living for Christ. Therefore, no doubt there is another reason. And, as usual, it comes back to the teachers. When the message of outward purity and holiness is compromised, what can we expect?
We hear messages by the hundreds on how to make the inside pure, yet very few on the necessity of that inward purity being reflected on the outside. The doctrine, "God looks on the heart" has been grossly misused to allow God's people to live, look and act like the world. Has inward purity superseded outward holiness?
As we look at the heart service required in the NT, we see that Christ required nothing that was not already required under the law. The OT abounds with passages which: 1. Require the circumcised heart, the heart to love God's law; the heart to meditate in His law; the heart changed as the result of God's law and this heart change reflected in purity of life, Ps. 119, etc.. 2. Condemns and speaks of wrath against those who do not serve God from the heart. Judgment was called for over and over against God's people because they did not serve Him from the renewed heart, Zec. 1:1-6, etc.. The inward purity of heart was never separated from holiness of life, nor was outward holiness ever separated from inward purity. THE TWO HAVE ALWAYS BEEN REQUIRED FROM GOD'S PEOPLE.
This pure heart had been completely ignored by the time Christ came. True religion had been reduced from a pure heart to mere outward actions which conformed to rules, regulations and traditions. Christ came placing the emphasis on the law as He originally meant for it to be when He gave it to Moses. He changed nothing and introduced no new thing. He called men back to proper service to God, service from a pure heart and holy life.
Now, let's consider what happened here. The Pharisees of Christ's day had corrupted the law of God to an outward formality. They prided themselves in their outward obedience to the law; rites, rituals and traditions. Their outward holiness was to impress others, Matt. 23:28. Our Lord condemned them for this separation of outward holiness from inward purity. Christ came to re-emphasize the proper heart attitude, never doing away with the outward appearance, obedience to His law. Nor did He do away with the rites, rituals, holy days and new moons. Rather, He fulfilled all of these for His people, the Church. We now keep these through His finished work, Col. 2:14. We are freed from these observances.
The result was/is that the NT emphasizes inward purity of heart, yet this does not replace the OT emphasis on outward holiness of life.
A perverted result of this emphasis is a new generation of Pharisees. This new generation teaches that the heart is what counts. Their fathers (the Pharisees which Christ confronted) taught that the outside is what counted. Both the fathers (of Christ's day) and their children (of our day) have separated inward purity from outward holiness; this holiness shown in obedience to every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God.
God's Word is as harsh against the present day Pharisees as it was against their fathers. Matt. 23 condemns the ones who sought to make the outside clean without making the inside clean. Of course, He made it clear, if the inside is corrupt so is the outside, calling them hypocrites who tried to separate the two. The Pharisees of our day have sought to make "religion" an inward matter. "If the heart is right and spiritual, then we are pleasing to God." "God looks upon the heart and I am sincere in my heart". This new generation of Pharisees have done exactly what their fathers did, only in the opposite extreme.
To this new generation no doubt our Lord would say (Matt. 23:28), Even so ye also inwardly appear righteous unto God, but without ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Why would He say this? Because the average Christian says, "My heart is pure, my motives are sincere, and God sees the heart. It really doesn't matter what people think as long as God knows my heart". Then they compromise God's Word. They look just like the world's crowd in their dress. They act just like the world's crowd in their recreational activities or on their job. The justification is, "God looks on the heart, therefore my actions aren't important". This allows compromise of all kinds because the "heart is pure".
The Pharisees had reduced the law of God to mere outward formal obedience. Read Matt. 23 for Christ's indictment against this wickedness. Their children (THE NEW PHARISEES) have reduced the law of God to mere inward formal obedience with, "God looks on the heart". This is used to justify their failure to obey the NT command, BE YE HOLY; FOR I AM HOLY, I Pet. 1:13, 16. The NT Church Pharisees reduce this to, "Make the heart clean and if anyone says your actions aren't holy, they are judging". The enemy of our souls then leads them down the way to destruction.
The law of Moses called for outward holiness as well as inward heart purity; both of these (outward-inward) in conformity to His total law-word. The law of Christ calls for inward heart purity as well as outward holiness. All manner of conversation is to be conformed to God's standard of holiness, I Thess. 2:13.
The children of the Pharisees are alive and well on the planet earth. They did not die out in 70 A.D.. The spirit lives on and will until Christ returns. The indictment in Matt. 23 still holds against this attitude. Israel of Christ's day had its Pharisees. Israel (the Church) of our day has its Pharisees. We can hear them speak as they seek to justify their lack of outward holiness. They seek to justify their immodest, tight fitting and revealing clothing with, "Well, God looks on the heart, and He knows my heart is pure". --No, the outward reflects the inward. Clothing which intentionally creates lust in the heart of others means the wearer has an uncontrolled, unsubmissive heart.
(Boys, men: the tight, revealing clothing goes for us also. If we wear [or don't wear] clothing to get the attention of women, we are just as guilty. Immodest, revealing clothing on men is the same principle. God does not have a double standard. [What would we wear if Christ were present?])
These NT Pharisees seek to justify their worldly activities with, "God sees the heart". (Would we take Christ with us and do the same thing as we do when He is not bodily with us?) They seek to justify their compromise of God's principle of separation from the ungodly, unsaved with, "I don't know that person's heart, only God does. Maybe they are right with God down deep inside". Yet, those people they seek to fellowship and run with make no profession of being saved. (Or, "Maybe I can get them saved". We use "pure" motives to justify disobedience to God's Word. There is no such thing as missionary dating in the Scriptures, II Cor. 6:14,)
They seek to justify their denial of the Lord's authority over them and the Church with, "God knows we are sincere and doing it for Him and His cause". They seek to justify their lack of holiness with, "God is concerned about the heart and He knows that my heart loves Him". These NT Church Pharisees seek to justify their involvement in the appearance of evil with, "I feel this is all right. If others have a problem with my actions or my dress, that is their fault. My heart is pure". Their standard of holiness is how they feel about something. It is what they consider right or wrong. They have become a law unto themselves.
I Pet. 1:14-15 has been replaced with I Sam. 16:7, For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart, all the time forgetting that David's outward appearance cost him three sons and a sword against his kingdom. (The son born to him and Bathsheba, Absalom, Amnon and even the daughter which Amnon seduced.)
This doctrine of THE NEW PHARISEES has perverted the Scriptural principle. They have SEPARATED PURITY AND HOLINESS OF LIFE FROM INWARD PURITY OF HEART. Paul is exceptionally clear on this in I Cor. 15:34. The righteous outward life is what will convict the sinner. As Christians justify their carnal, worldly outward actions, dress and words with, "My heart is pure", the world is going to the devil. No one has ever been saved because their neighbors heart was pure. It is the holy manner of life that brings conviction. It is the holiness in every action which brings conviction.
Yet, these NEW PHARISEES will claim to be descendants of the early Church fathers. They will build tombs to them and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, yet those godly fathers would point their finger to the worldiness of these Pharisees and tell them to separate from the world and clean up their lives. They would preach holiness and outward purity, and these New Pharisees would stone them or flee from their presence. More than likely, flee to a preacher who would allow them to feel comfortable in their carnality and worldiness. This is probably a reason many preachers won't preach on outward holiness.
Any effort whatsoever which attempts to separate inward heart holiness and purity from outward holiness and purity is wicked. Our Lord clearly established this principle in His confrontation with the Pharisees of His day. These New Pharisees which claim that because the inside is clean, the outside is clean, are the ones our Lord is speaking to in Matt. 23:24-33. According to Paul's words in I Cor. 15:34, these who refuse to live a righteous, holy and outwardly pure life would fit within our Lord's words of Matt. 23:13. Their outward lack of holiness shuts up the kingdom of God against those unsaved who are watching them.
What has happened to holiness and purity of life? Where are the people that cringe at the thought of even appearing to be in the wrong place or involved in a wrong action? Is it any wonder that this nation is going down the tubes to the devil's crowd when you cannot even tell the difference between the world's crowd and the Lord's people? A Christian should not have to tell others that they are a Christian. They should be able to tell by looking. The mark of a Christian is not a cross on their lapel or on a chain. It is a holy, pure life in dress, actions and attitudes.
The world is going to hell because God's people don't see the need of outward purity and holiness. They don't see the need to act and dress different. They don't see the need to obey God's principles of life and they justify it with, "I feel this is okay, and my heart is pure. God sees my heart".
Notice Matt. 23:34-35. The Lord sent His men to this people. These prophets preached inward purity and outward holiness. The people did not like it at all; they were satisfied with what they had. The new Pharisees like it no better today when inward purity and outward holiness is preached. They hate the doctrine of I Thess. 5:22, abstain from all appearance of evil. Their excuse is, "But my heart is pure and God looks on the heart". They abhor the doctrine of I Pet. 2:11. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: That, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
The call is for an honest conversation among the unsaved world. This is another way to say, Come out from among them and be ye separate. We say we have a pure heart, let's prove it by holy actions and appearance. The Pharisees of Christ's day said, "Who are you to judge us? Our actions are right". The NEW PHARISEES also say, "Who are you to judge us? God sees the heart and our heart is right. That is what counts". And they go on in their manner of life, the way they feel is best. They have no concern about the appearance of evil. They don't care if they look like, act like and are identified with the world's crowd.
"So, what if it doesn't appear exactly right. If others have a problem with it, that is their problem. My heart is right". The Pharisees of Christ's day had many children: children who separate inward purity from outward holiness and cover it all with a cloak of righteousness. "Well, I don't agree. If others have a problem with my actions, that is their fault". The command is to abstain from all appearance of evil. To avoid this command with, "God sees my heart," is to do the exact same things as did the Pharisees of Christ's day.
THE PHARISEE IS THE ONE WHO SEPARATES INWARD PURITY FROM OUTWARD HOLINESS. The modern day Pharisee would be condemned by our Lord for attempting to make the inside clean apart from the outward appearance of holiness. Inward purity will result in outward holiness. The two cannot be separated any more than faith from works. Faith cannot be seen except by works, therefore faith will result in works. Inward heart purity cannot be seen except by outward holy appearance. If a person has a problem with outward appearances of holiness, then this is a clear indication that the heart is not pure and needs to be brought under control to the Word of God.
13) OUR MARVELOUS GOD --- ECCLESIASTES 8:17
Just a little short note on this verse, Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.
The author here in Ecclesiastes has set out to know. He had set his heart to search out all things which were done under heaven. This man is using his wisdom to search out the actions of God, 1:13. His conclusion here is that in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow, 1:18. In other words, his search didn't work.
Then he tries to use his riches to find meaning in the things around him as he set out just to enjoy and find pleasure in all of these things. Neither did this work, 2:1. He gives many things as he proceeds on in this book. He looks into many things and leaves us with many good observations, such as 8:11, 12. The reason the evil man continues in his evil ways is because he thinks he has escaped judgment.
I like his observation in 8:14. The just man does his best to be righteous and he "reaps what the wicked man should reap". The wicked goes his merry way in his wickedness and "he reaps what the just man should have reaped". He gives many more observations which he notices in his wisdom. It isn't hard to pick them out as he applies his wisdom to see what is going on around him. Remember, he is using human means as he searches for the meaning of all things under heaven, 1:13.
Now, here is all of human wisdom combined applied to the many things taking place. Yet, the more he examines these things in his wisdom the more confusing they become. These things which he sees just don't "add up" with his wisdom. Again, 8:14 is a good example. Wisdom says the righteous should reap the reward and the wicked should reap just recompense for his wickedness, yet this is not what he sees taking place.
8:16-17 is stuck in here as the author's explanation of why he sees what he does. This explanation is the observation of all of this wisdom. When he applied all of his wisdom to find out what was going on and why, here is what he found out.
THE WORK OF GOD IS MARVELOUS. MAN, IN ALL OF HIS WISDOM, WILL NEVER FIGURE IT OUT NO MATTER HOW HARD HE TRIES. THE MORE MAN TRIES TO UNDERSTAND THE WORKS OF GOD, THE MORE DIFFICULTIES HE WILL ENCOUNTER.
I'm afraid we spend far too much time trying to figure out the workings of God among man. There are many things which would fit in here. Election, predestination, things of the future (prophecy), God's workings in history, etc.. We are given many things here in Ecc. as he tells us what he, in all of his wisdom, sees. When he tried to find the answer of WHY, v. 16 and 17 was the only answer he could come up with. The more he searched for the reason why (behind things such as v. 14), the more he saw the folly, foolishness and vanity of such searching. The more he searched for the reason behind these things, the more discouraging he sounds.
We face the same problem today. Far too much "wisdom" is used to try to find out the "mechanics" of God's dealings with men. Far too much wisdom is expended to find out the hows and whys of God's dealings. Yet, all such searching is nothing but vanity. Man will not figure out the "mechanics" of such things as election.
There are some things given which he does know for sure. One is that man can find joy and accomplishment in hard work, 2:24; 3:22; 9:10. Another thing he can speak firmly on is the husband, wife relationship, 9:9. He has also found that the heart of every man is deceitful and wicked. I'm certain he had many men and women around him which he could study, 7:28; 9:3. Another thing he found out was the sure judgment which would come upon all men, 11:9.
This man set out to use all of his wisdom to find out what was behind all that was going on around him. Then he set out to use all of his riches to find out the purpose of it all as he sought pleasure. In both, he only found vanity, 12:8. Three times in this search he points out that man cannot know the workings of God. Man cannot know what God is doing here on this earth, 3:11; 8:17; 11:5.
He ends with the conclusion which he found to the whole matter. At the end of all of his searching, using his wisdom and wealth, here is what he found, 12:13, 14. Fear God and keep His commandments because there is a judgment coming. When it seems the just man receives the reward of the wicked and the wicked the reward of the just, just keep on being just. When it seems all of our best efforts are less than nothing and resulting in nothing but loss (when it seems there should be gain), just keep on with our best efforts according to God's Word.
This man, in all of his wisdom, found that things seem to be reversed. When we do right according to God's Word, yet the one who is in violation of God's Word seems to be making all of the gain, keep on in accordance with God's Word. The judgment hasn't come yet, but we can rest assured that it will. The more we try to figure out the ways of God and His workings, the more confused we will become. Natural wisdom cannot know God. Only faith can. Faith in His Word as the only rule of action. Not results, emotions or even reason. Only His Word.
Paul addresses this in Rom. 11:33-36. His conclusion there is 12:1. Let us present ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him, to do with as He sees fit. We do our best with what He has provided us with, and He will bring it to pass according to His will. Rom. 8:28-29 hits the nail. Paul sums up the result of this man's search and the vanity which he found. Paul tells us in Heb. 11:3a, By faith we understand... This is where, we as God's people, must leave it. The secret things belong to our Lord. To search for these things will only create problems. Let us leave the secret, hidden workings of God in His hands and emphasize the things which we know to do, Deut. 29:29.
This man tried to find them out and he failed. Let us reach his conclusion without having to go through the process. The WHOLE DUTY of man is to please God. Why? Because every work will be brought into judgment, II Cor. 5:10.
I get accused sometimes of only having one answer, "Obey God." Notice what the WHOLE DUTY of man is here. ECC 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. Do we have any other message?
We freely use the word grace, yet, I don't think we really understand what we are using. I know I was taught a definition of grace in school which seems to be greatly misused today. The way the doctrine of grace is used today, it can readily lead to lasciviousness.
Jude saw this problem even in his day and spoke of it (v. 4). It was a common problem, one that Paul faced in II Cor. 12:21 and identified as a work of the flesh in Gal. 5:19. Paul also uses this word, lasciviousness, as he warns the new Christians not to go back to their former ways, Eph. 4:17-20. The same warning is found in Rom. 13:13 where the word wantonness is used.
Not only Jude and Paul, but Peter also gives us the same warnings, I Pet. 4:3; II Pet. 2:7, filthy, 18, wantonness. The margin reads "lascivious ways" for pernicious ways in II Pet. 2:2, which would fit the context with no problem at all because II Pet. 2:2 corresponds to Jude 4. Pernicious ways speaks of destruction of v. 1. The word lascivious speaks of lack of restraint, indecent, unchaste, lustful desires or acts. Thayer goes on (pg. 79) with "-- excess, shamelessness, insolence." He goes further with "wanton (acts or) manners, as filthy words, indecent body movements, unchaste handling of males, and females, etc." We could sum it all up with one word, "CARNALITY", whether in thoughts or actions.
What we need to notice in the above is that a Christian can be involved in this lasciviousness and is warned away from it.
Jude makes the contrast between ..the grace of God, and lasciviousness. Men have crept into the church unawares and they have substituted lasciviousness for the grace of God. Jude's warning goes on to v. 5. Here he points out that even though God redeemed His people out of Egypt, this redemptive work did not release them from obeying Him. Disobedience still cost them and brought God's wrath upon His people, Heb. 3:17-19; 4:11. (Margin for unbelief in 4:11 is "obeyed not".) Peter carries on the same illustrations that Jude used, II Pet. 2:6. The overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah is an example unto (all) those that after should live ungodly, or contrary to God.
We are given a total of four examples from Jude and II Pet. 2; 1) God's people who were redeemed from Egypt did not escape God's judgment; 2) Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed as an example to all who would live contrary to God's will; 3) The old world which perished in the days of Noah, and; 4) The angels that sinned and kept not their first estate. All of these only confirm Rom. 1:18. ..The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,.. No one will avoid this wrath against unrighteousness, whether they are "God's people" or the heathens. Sure, Lot escaped God's judgment against Sodom, yet look at what happened to him. Noah's righteousness saw him through the judgment against sin in his day. Jude uses these examples to remind us of the result of turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let's consider a moment these false prophets of II Pet. 2 and Jude 4. They have crept in and brought their false doctrine which turned the grace of God into lasciviousness. Unawares could speak of both the teachers unaware that they are teaching a false doctrine and/or the hearers unaware they are receiving a false doctrine.
This DOCTRINE OF LASCIVIOUSNESS appeals to the flesh, being a work of the flesh. This doctrine will lead to being able to serve the desires of the flesh even though the person is saved. It will lead to the belief that God's people are no longer responsible to keep the total law-word of God. This doctrine is just as pleasing to the flesh today as it was to Eve in Gen. 3:5. Yea, hath God said... "Eve, you don't really have to obey God's Word in order to live, for you won't surely die."
How has this crept in to where Christians feel they are able to live after the desires of the flesh (lasciviousness) and still fully expect God to bless them? The definition of grace which I was taught is "GOD'S UNMERITED FAVOR." Let us consider where this kind of a definition of grace can lead to. We need to think through to the logical conclusion of many of these things which we have been taught. I really don't know where this definition came from, but I do know that the way it sounds on the surface doesn't line up with the Scriptural definition of grace as found in Ph. 2:13; Jos.1:8. We will come back to this, but first, let's think this through.
"God's unmerited favor." The logical conclusion of this is that no matter what a child of God does he still has the favor of God. In this we see that even with lustful desires a person can expect to still have God's favor. He can still expect God's favor even though he denies the Lord's authority over him, over God's work, over society, or any other area which we could name. He can still expect God's favor even though he lives after the flesh. In fact, he can be involved in the lasciviousness as mentioned above and because grace is defined as "God's unmerited favor", he still expects God's favor.
The individual is now controlled by the "inwrought divine will," rather than the revealed written will of God. He claims to be a Christian with the indwelling Holy Spirit, therefore, if the Spirit doesn't "convict" him then it must be all right. Besides, God's favor is unmerited now. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that God's favor is not based upon any condition. It is unmerited or unconditional. --I can now go my own way, controlled by what I feel is best and by what I am convicted about and still expect God's favor--. I'm sure every pastor has been answered with "I'm just not convicted about that," even though the person was confronted with the clear plain principle from God's Word. I have had other pastors say this to me as we try to confront them with some things from God's Word.
Let's examine the Scriptures. The Scriptural definition of grace is found in Ph. 2:13. Here we see that grace is both the desire and power to please God. This is freely given by a Sovereign God and, of course, this is also based in Rom. 3:10-18, man's total inability to even desire to please God; the total, absolute depravity of man as the result of the fall. The immediate result was man's hiding from God, Gen. 3:8. The fallen man has been hiding every since and God must place within his breast the desire to come out of his hiding place and please Him. As we see from Jos. 1:8, this power from God enables us to obey Him, thereby inheriting His blessings. Of course, this can easly fit within "God's unmerited favor" in the sense that no man ever did anything to deserve the Sovereign God placing that desire within his heart, Titus 3:5-7.
Let's put these two definitions side by side, grace: 1.) "God's unmerited favor". 2.) "God working in us to give the desire and the power to please Him." One speaks of the freedom to do our own thing and still inherit God's favor. The other speaks of doing HIS THING, thereby inheriting God's favor. This one fits far better in the context of Scripture, Ps. 119:57-64; Prov. 3:4; 14:9. Prov. 14:9 is worth considering here. Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favor. Here we see sin and righteousness contrasted. I Jn. 3:4 clearly identifies sin as the transgression of the law of God.
"God's unmerited favor" gives the impression that a person can live after the flesh and still claim the favor of God because it fails to identify God's favor with a righteous life. Of course, there are two righteousnesses spoken of in Scripture. Paul addresses them both in Ph. 3. One is, To 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, v. 9.
The second righteousness would be "right action" and that action according to God's law-word. This would have His favor attached to it. This is not only having the mind of Christ, v. 15, but also the walk of Christ as He walked in obedience to the Father, v. 16. Peter called His people to a holy life, I Pet. 1:13-25, and he reached back into the law for his definition of holiness, Ex. 19:6; Lev. 11:44. Verse 22, he speaks of purifying the soul through obeying the truth. Follow Peter through in his first book. This doctrine is quite clear.
On the other hand, Ph. 2:13 points out that the purpose of God's grace is to have the desire to please Him and then the power to do that. The Sovereign God freely gives His grace that we might understand His law-word and then have His power to apply His Word. As we apply His Word by faith to the situation at hand, His favor will be bestowed upon that action. God's favor and blessings are upon the FAITHFUL lives of His saints, Jos 1:8.
All of this to lay a foundation for a very misused verse in our day. This would be Rom. 6:14. For ye are not under the law but under grace. This verse is misused to condone lasciviousness of all kinds. Folks will flee to this when we might try to use the word of God to correct a sin. "That's law, I'm under grace." This is the logical result of "God's unmerited favor." Paul's context here in Rom. 6 is very clear on this. He is talking of being free from the power of sin over us. Grace frees us from having to obey the desires of the flesh, lasciviousness. Grace frees us from all of the old hangups from our past and present that we might be able to serve God with purity of heart.
Grace DOES NOT permit the violation of the law of God and still have God's favor. Follow Paul's doctrine of grace on through. ..sin unto death. The power of God's grace enables us to live above this sin unto death in accordance to His law. It enables us to live a life pleasing to Him, in His favor. It is God's power freely given to His people so they might be able to please Him. The natural man cannot please God, Rom. 8:8. First, salvation is required, then only the walk of faith can please Him, Heb. 11:6. His spirit showing from HIS Word what to do, then He giving the strength to do it.
We are living in a day which seems to be controlled by these certain men who have crept in unawares. These false teachers have turned the grace of our God into lasciviousness. They are even denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
I heard of a pastor being confronted by one of his people about the compromise of the Lord's authority in an area. The pastor told the man that it wasn't all that important, and besides, it was buying them time so that they could continue to preach and teach the Word of God. This sure sounds like the grace of God has been turned into lasciviousness as they compromised (denied) the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ over the church.
A great many pastors and teachers are teaching that a Christian or a church (or a society) can live contrary to the clear plain principle of God's law-word and still have the favor of God. Jude said these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Many follow after them because it appeals to the flesh. We all love a doctrine which permits living after the desires of the flesh and after what we feel is best. We love a doctrine which permits covetousness, yet still promises God's favor. They bring upon themselves swift destruction. The judgment of God against the angels that sinned, against the old world which lived ungodly, against Sodom and Gomorrah and against His people whom He redeemed out of Egypt, prove what the result will be. The result of walking after the desires of the flesh rather than under the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ in accordance to HIS EVERY WORD will be the same as the destruction mentioned in II Pet. 2; Jude 4-8.
The marvelous doctrine of the freely given grace of a Sovereign God. "THE DESIRE TO PLEASE HIM, AS WELL AS THE POWER TO FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THAT DESIRE." The Sovereign God placing this desire in the heart of a sinful, rebellious man. A man at war with his Creator. A man with nothing at all to offer God. Nothing which would give a Sovereign God a reason to freely give His grace. The result is that this one time enemy of God is now working in that power of God to please his Creator, Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21. This former enemy now has the favor rather than the anger of his God upon him. What a wonderful God we have.
Let us not fall into the trap of using grace as an excuse for not pleasing God with every fiber of our being and in every area of life, Matt. 23:34-40; Deut.6:5; Lev.19:18. Let us not be found turning the grace of God into lasciviousness nor following those who do.