Staci was insanely crazy over Brian. They had been “hanging out” for about 8 months now (to Staci and her other college freshman friends, that constitutes a deep relationship). Brian was more than she dreamed, athletic and smart. He seemed to know where he was headed in life, yet he could have fun. They would spend nearly every weekend together: bowling, movies, games with friends. He bought her flowers for Valentine’s Day, a cool birthday gift, and paid for their meal nearly every time they went out. Staci could tell Brian loved her, and since Christmas time was coming up she was anticipating Brian taking the next step in the relationship by making it official. They had never kissed, Staci was not a forward girl at all and it seemed that Brian respected that. Christmas eve came, Brian asked her out to her favorite restaurant. They got in the car and headed off to what she just knew was going to be the most exciting night of her life thus far. She was wondering how he would make it official. He told her to close her eyes as they were heading down the highway – she did and her anticipation grew. A few minutes later he told her she could open them. They were in the middle of nowhere, but she recognized the spot per what she had heard about it. This was not the place people go to maintain a serious relationship, but where shallow flings were carried out. She had to be wrong, maybe he was just going to talk. Then as he began to inch closer to her, the look in his eye made her uncomfortable. She immediately opened the passenger door, and ran for the road as she dialed for a friend to come get her. Brian didn’t go after her, he had been rejected, but no matter to him – there were others. Staci, on the other hand was crushed. For days she didn’t eat. He had done so much, how could he not love her! The food, flowers, time together – it was all for what he could get from her. It was all a front. The actions said, “I love you!” but Brian’s heart was far from loving Staci.
Staci made a mistake – she saw actions that a lover would perform out of love and mistook them for love itself. Many Christians make the same mistake.
You see, loving God and obeying God are NOT the same. Love is the root, obedience is the fruit. Many take Jesus’ word, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” And they flip it to say “To keep my commandments is to love Me.” Although seemingly insignificant, it bears grave danger to those who ascribe to and teach it. It’s legalism in priestly garments – hypocrisy. Like anything else, it produces after its own kind. Love for God will produce obedience to God, but obedience to God is not to be substituted as love for God. Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter’s response was, “LORD, you know I love you!” Jesus didn’t reply “Well then, you must already be doing everything I want you to do.” Rather He gave Peter a command to follow out of the love Peter already had for Him.
When we substitute rules for relationship we may look good outwardly, we may have a form of godliness, but the power behind that obedience is not biblical. The motive, what should be love for God, is really fleshly motives. Some in this group even rely on their obedience as proof to themselves that they love God. I have seen lists such as a daily checklist of things to do to be a 5 star Christian. Whether intended to or not, this tends to come across as saying “do these 5 things daily and you will be a top notch Christian!” It actually bypasses the heart and defines loving God in tangible terms.
This is not to say that if one truly loves God there are not certain things he will do, but rather to emphasize that the performance of those duties are not to be equated with loving God. So, one who attempts to keep God’s commandments does not necessarily love Him. If one says that he loves God, and doesn’t obey God then he proves by his actions that his love is false. But one’s outward obedience to God’s commandments does not prove positively that one does in fact love God. I know some of you are probably raring to cite I John 2:5 to me, “but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him:” I am not denying this truth, rather emphasizing what legalism overlooks – the heart. To keep God’s commands from the heart is what John is speaking of when he talks of obedience. Jesus said, “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ ” (Matthew 15:7-9) It’s not in the keeping of the tasks, but the keeping of them from a heart of love.
To love God is to treasure, exalt, desire, prize God above all else. Obedience will be the fruit of this treasuring God with one’s heart. But the danger today is that pastors and teachers are giving people a list and say, “If you want to love God then do these things.” Or “If you really loved God then you would do this (and proceed to give them some man made mandate).” And the people set out to show themselves and others that they love God. From start to finish it’s all flesh. Some keep the rules out of fear that God will make their life miserable, some out of fear of the preacher, some fear the gossips, some just like to be able to be put in the “righteous” category; but those who live with no real love for God are all guilty of walking according to the flesh. Trying to explain this to them is like arguing with a fence post, as they just point to all they’re doing as proof that you’re obviously wrong.
Motive matters. A good motive doesn’t make a wrong action right, nor does a right action compensate for the wrong motive with which it was performed.
My intent is to encourage those who read to search their heart.
May we be so consumed with a passionate love for The LORD that we can’t help but pursue Him obediently.
I intend to expand on this topic later but thought this would be a good into, untill I have more of an opportunity to write.
It has been said that those who hold to the doctrines of grace are driven by logic or some esoterically intellectual scheme. I have friends who ask me questions, and they do so in the right spirit. As I read this I thought of some who it may help. there is no use re-inventing the wheel, so I will just post a link to the 2 part article. It is lengthy, but well worth the time.
I would urge all who read it, even those who know they will probably agree with what is said, to do so preceeded by prayer, and continue to pray through the article.
For those who do not agree to the doctrines of grace, may The LORD be pleased to use this to open your heart and mind to the verity of them.
For those who do hold to this biblical doctrine, may The LORD be pleased to teach us more of humility and cause us to worship Him the more by His grace.
The flesh will take anything and revel in it. Oh, how wicked we are that we would take such a self humiliating truth ad God’s sovereign grace, and exhalt self in it! May God keep us humble as He manfest His grace to our hearts.
Watching this is like looking in a mirror more often than I would like to admit.
This shows me my ever present need for the grace of God in my life. Even as one of His Children there is absolutely nothing in me that merits His love – apart from Himself being within me.
May God be gracious to us and forgive us of our hypocrisy.
Ephesians 1:4 “ According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: ”
Holy. A word we use all throughout religion. We have the Holy Bible, there are holy men of God, we sing of holiness, we are told to be holy, and here in Ephesians 1, we are told that we are chosen to the blessing of holiness. In defining the meaning of this term it is helpful to note that it is also translated as
“saint” throughout the same book. In some religions, sainthood is something that is aquired after men proove themselves worthy of it by performing certain deeds, or having some miraculous work attributed to them. But Scripture tells us that we are His chosen saints – every one who is a child of God is a saint. We tend to not think of ourselves as saints, as we have fallen into the fallacy of reserving that term for men who have some outward form of special connection with God that the “regular” children of God do not have. But we are His saints, even the most immature Christian among us are His saints just the same. Sainthood is not a thing gotten, it is a thing given – meaning we have been made holy, or sanctified. We are the elect who have been set appart from the world. This setting appart is not according to our meeting some prerequisite, it is solely upon the choice of The Almighty.
A thing that is holy is a thing that is separate from all else. The vessels in the tabernacle were holy, sanctified to The LORD and His service. God is The thrice holy God – He is completely other than anything in the entire universe. There is nothing comparable to Him. And here in Ephesianse, we are told that we have been chosen to be holy! We have been singled out by the God of heaven to be His! We are those for whom Christ prayed in John 17 “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” (John 17:6-9) This separation brigs us the prayers, protection and power of Christ, and so much more, for we are God’s.
God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings! All these flow from His Sovereign choice; and among them is that we have been made holy – separated unto Him. We are His sheep; holy to be led of Him for His glory. We have been given the honor to be counted as lambs for the slaughter, to be hated by this world due to our association with The One who has saved us by His grace! Set apart as those who will gather around the throne and sing priases to the Lamb for all eternity.
He has chosen us before the foundation of the world to be His! Oh, may this truth thrill our hearts with humble joy!
Oh, LORD! Make us to understand the truth (and not just intellectually) that You have separated us to Yourself. May we be humbled by it, not passing through this world as if we are better because of the things we don’t indulge in, but to humbly abstain from the pleasures of this world because You have made us Yours by the purchase of Your blood. Not boasting because the world is not worthy of us, but completely broken because we are not worthy of You. May we praise you for the persecution from those who hate you, as it signifies we are holy unto You. Amen.
“And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baal-peor. And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand. And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel. Now the name of the Israelite that was slain even that was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites. And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian. And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, Vex the Midianites, and smite them: For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor’s sake.”
“…because he was zealous for his God” These words ring out in my ears. I recently heard a man of God take this phrase as his text in a sermon. As He was speaking, The LORD began to burn in my heart. It is my prayer that God make me zealous for Him! As I was sitting there, praying Him to do so within me, He began to show me things that were in the life of Phinehas.
If you are one of God’s children, you are probably thinking, as I, “Oh, how I long to burn with seal for my LORD!” And this what we should all long for. But before Phinehas could battle sin, he had to be broken over it. Look @ verses 6-7., “And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;” Before we see Phinehas the warrior, we see him weeping. He was sitting among the congregation of weepers who were broken over the sin of the nation. His brokenness was not so much that God would judge Israel, but rather that Israel had sinned against God; for he was zealous for his God.
So often, we fail to see sin as it is – nothing short of atheism. When we sin, we sin against The Holy God. We clinch our fist at God and yell with every fibre of our being, “NO!” We have all done this, for we are all sinners. We are the fools of which David speaks in Psalm 14!. Just as we see Israel in verse one, abiding in Shittim; disobedient, and comfortable in their sin; so are we. We have each become more than comfortable in our sin. Job understood a bit of humanity when he said that we drink down iniquity as if it were water. (Job 15:16) We are a wicked people, a vile lot, and every one of us is from birth joined unto “Baal-peor” for we all walk according to Satan, the prince of this world. (Eph. 2:1-3) These people were weeping over sin. They were broken.
Although the glory of God is the primary motive behind our weeping over the sinfulness of ourselves and others, Scripture does not exclude the truth of the wrath of God that is abiding upon the sinner; and nor should we. Verse 4 says, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.” God was angry with the people. He wasn’t just angry at their sin, but at the sinners themselves. The LORD says in Ez. 18:4, 20, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die…” Where are the tears?
Lost sinner, your soul is damned under God’s wrath! Have you no concern? Have you no tears?
Church, you are the bride of Christ. The world is daily reviling our God and King! Have you no tears? Do you care nothing for God’s glory. Is it of no consequence to you, as long as you don’t burn? Where are our tears?
Before we can ever be zealous warriors, we must first be made weepers. We must be broken! I am not broken as I ought to be. May God break me!
May we seek God to break us. May it please God to break us.