Archive for April, 2013


Eternal Freedom

 

God's love to peopleFreedom is the song all men long to sing. Yet too often freedom means free from the true God; free from His “constraints.” Sadly many will realize only after it’s too late that Jesus Christ is the only One who offers true, everlasting freedom. Deep down inside we believe we can somehow attain freedom to do what we want, yet this is an unattainable illusion. Too often we believe we can actually attain a level beyond servant hood, yet again this can only be done by deluding ourselves.

We will always be servants. We will always serve someone or something. The question isn’t whether or not we can ever be truly free to do what we want. The question is whether we can ever truly be free enough to follow the One we were designed to pursue. You see we were never designed to live apart from the One who created man. Currently men are shackled by their own selfish desires, yet they foolishly seek heavier irons all in the name of freedom, all the while making them more the slave to sin, self, and Satan.

Jesus came to make men truly free. Free to follow God. Free to leave self and pride behind. Free to love and worship God the way He intended all along. Freedom is the lover’s song and only the sinner saved from his eternal chains by Jesus Christ dying for his sins can know eternal freedom. Only the wretched man who humbles himself before the Almighty God will ever know what it feels like to truly be free, not free to run from God, but finally free to run to Him.

If you seek to be free from God, you already have it. If you seek to be free to follow the true and living  God, His invitation is for you. Perhaps today you would desire to once and for all be freed from the bondage of sin and selfishness. “Jesus answered them, Truly, I say unto you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin. If the Son [Jesus Christ] therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:34,36 OldRuggedCross_B&W

Self Love“Another book, coauthored by Myers and Malcolm Jeeves, states that “the most common error in people’s self images is not unrealistically low self-esteem, but rather self-serving pride; not an inferiority complex, but a superiority complex.”A recent study conducted by Scott Allison et al indicates that people give themselves reasons to think positively about themselves. For instance, they regard themselves more highly than others by remembering unfair actions against themselves instead of their own unfairness to others. There is a definite self-serving bias in all of us. Self-esteem and self-love do not need to be encouraged; they are part of the fallen, sinful nature. In Jeremiah 17:9 we are told, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Man is self-serving, self-affirming, self-loving, and self esteeming because he is self-deceiving. Many of the ways that man serves, affirms, loves, esteems, and deceives himself are found in the research as well as the Bible.”

“The Bible does not present self-esteem, self-worth, self love, self-confidence, or self-fulfillment as needs that must be met to create capable, loving, well-adjusted people. Instead, the direction of Scripture is away from self and toward God and others. Self is not to be enhanced or catered to. Self esteem is not even mentioned. On the other hand, Paul warned that a Christian is “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3). And when it comes to esteem, Paul says, “. . . let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). From the context of Scripture, the fallen nature is already biased in the direction of self. Self-love is already there or Jesus would not have commanded us to love others as we (already) love ourselves(Matthew 22:39).”

“There are those who try to use the Great Commandment to justify self-love. However, the Great Commandment teaches just the opposite: to love God and others. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).”

“Is the commandment to love self a commandment of God or is it a commandment of men? We found no Bible commentary that said that Matthew 22:39 (or parallel verses in Mark and Luke) commands us to love ourselves. However, many people have distorted the meaning of Matthew 22:39 to give credence to their self-love teachings. For instance, humanistic psychologist Erich Fromm says:

“If it is a virtue to love my neighbor as a human being, it must be a virtue—and not a vice—to love myself, since I am a human being too. There is no concept of man in which I myself am not included. A doctrine which proclaims such an exclusion proves itself to be intrinsically contradictory. The idea expressed in the Biblical “Love thy neighbor as thyself!” implies that respect for one’s own integrity and uniqueness, love for and understanding of one’s own self, can not be separated from respect for and love and understanding of another individual. The love for my own self is inseparably connected with the love for any other self.  If an individual is able to love productively, he loves himself too; if he can love only others, he cannot love at all.(Emphasis his.)”

“Fromm was an atheist who argued against the fundamentals of the Christian faith. It is even more disturbing when Christians parrot such misunderstandings of Jesus’ words about loving neighbor as one loves himself. Rather than properly exegeting the passage, they use Scripture to support a pet theory.”

Excerpts from “12 Steps to Destruction” by Martin and Deidre Bobgan (pp. 57-67) http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/e-books/12steps-ebk.pdf

Self-Esteem pill bottleDo People Actually Suffer from Low Self-Esteem and Self-Hatred?

What about people who claim to hate themselves? Do they actually hate themselves or are they trying to gain sympathy and support? If they tell someone they hate themselves, the common response is to rescue them from that idea. In the process they receive sympathy and support not normally given. It is a predictable transaction that once begun can become a habitual way of relating to others and receiving support. There are also those who are unhappy about themselves and their circumstances and generalize them into some kind of self-revulsion, all the while loving themselves.

On the other hand, there are some who do experience personal revulsion because of their sin. In fact, unconfessed known sin, such as resentment, bitterness, hatred, and self pity, may make the person feel guilty and therefore uncomfortable. The actual guilt may then be transformed into feelings of self-hatred and worthlessness. In that case, the person does not need more self-love, self-acceptance, or self-esteem.

The person needs to repent and confess and be cleansed. We are not saying that there are no individuals who genuinely think they hate themselves. But, what they generally hate is something about themselves or their circumstances. They exhibit actual love for themselves in that they continue to spend most of their time concerned about themselves, even if it is with unhappy thoughts. They generally get to the point where they are unhappy about themselves because a discrepancy exists between their aspirations or desires and their performance or condition. This intensive hatred is evidence of high self-interest.

Thus a woman who aspires to be thin and beautiful rather than fat and ugly by cultural standards could end up hating her condition and thereby think that she hates herself, because her desire for a perfect figure is discrepant from the reality of being fat and “ugly.” She is reacting to the discrepancy, but the root of the problem is self-love and even pride. She does not actually hate herself. She hates the discrepancy. If she truly hated herself she would be happy, or at least satisfied, to be fat and ugly. But, her self-love in tandem with the discrepancy makes her miserable.

Dr. David Myers, in his book The Inflated Self, discusses research having to do with how people view themselves and others. The research demonstrates that there is definitely a self-serving bias at work in individuals. Myers says: Time and again, experiments have revealed that people tend to attribute positive behaviors to themselves and negative behaviors to external factors, enabling them to take credit for their good acts and to deny responsibility for their bad acts.

Numerous research studies contradict the common notion having to do with self-image. In his book, Myers presents research to support his statement that: Preachers who deliver ego-boosting pep talks to audiences who are supposedly plagued with miserable self images are preaching to a problem that seldom exists.

Excerpts from “12 Steps to Destruction” by Martin and Deidre Bobgan (pp. 57-67) http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/e-books/12steps-ebk.pdf

Who is the Real Enemy?

Self LoveSo often people speak of Satan as being the enemy, which he clearly is. (1 Peter 5:8) However, there is almost no mention today of the enemy that follows us around everywhere we go. It wasn’t Satan that caused Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden and it surely isn’t Satan that forces men to sin today. Yes, he is the tempter, but we are personally responsible for our decisions. “…But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” James 1:13-14

We sin because our flesh has chosen to place self, instead of God, upon the throne. Self is as much the enemy as Satan. The old man, cast in the image of his father the devil, doesn’t just vanish upon being born again. The old man, the self life, along with all its affections and desires, MUST be crucified daily by the power of Christ who lives in every born again believer. (Luke 9:23)

All the talk today from popular psychologists, authors, and preachers of self acceptance, self love, self worth, etc. is foolishness to the cross and the cross foolishness to their false teachings. Although unbiblical and destructive to the soul, sadly many professing believers have rallied around the idea of self love as if it is the saving Gospel of mankind. After all how can someone actually feel worthy to accept God’s forgiveness until they learn to love themselves?

How far we have come from the truth of Paul… “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing… O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:18a, Romans 7:24  Even popular, professing Christian singers have begun injecting self love into their lyrics. May the day never come when we sing, “I lift me up! Oh yeah and Jesus too.”

“I lay me down and lift Jesus up!” ought always be my love song to the One who died for a sinner such as I.

Three Legged StoolThe Threefold Strategy

Yes, the sword is the principal offensive weapon, yet in any war a good strategy is arguably just as important as the chosen weapon. If an attack is poorly planned, even the best of weaponry may render the assault useless. Praise God this is only true for the physical realm! God’s Word will always accomplish what He desires no matter our poor planning. Nevertheless, our desire should always be to properly prepare our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The spiritual strategies vary throughout our walk with the Lord. There are times to move forward offensively in the power of the Spirit and other times to wait patiently on our Lord’s direction. However, in general, there is a threefold plan that should be taught to and demonstrated by every believer, one that will serve as the framework for every chapter in our walk with Lord. This strategy is much like a three-legged stool. If only one or two of the legs are employed, the believer will not have as firm a foundation as intended, leaving him and those he disciples at best anemic and at worst open to deceptive doctrines.

This overarching, threefold plan is essential to every believer’s growth and effectiveness in Christ and is revealed to us in Colossians 1. Here Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, instructs born again believers in the mysteries of Jesus, specifically Christ in us, the hope of glory. How fitting that this ever important strategy is found in one of Scriptures most beautiful passages regarding the amazing mystery of Christ, our great God and Savior, literally indwelling the hearts and minds of His children! In Colossians 1:27-28, the Lord wrote through Paul, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus…” Colossians 1:27-28

The threefold strategy for every believer is clear: preach, warn, and teach every man. Over the last several decades, many believers around the world have grown weak, choosing to embrace a man-centered, psychological, and social gospel instead of simply preaching and teaching Christ from the Word of God. Thankfully there are a few fellowships that have stood firm on the God’s Word. They do a good job of preaching and teaching Jesus, but unfortunately even many of these have chosen to ignore the other leg of the stool, not warning the flock of God in all wisdom. All three areas must be exercised for each individual believer and the body of Christ as a whole to be as healthy as possible.

  • Preaching Jesus: Truly our preaching should not simply be for doctrine’s sake. Doctrine is essential, but serves a higher purpose than itself. Doctrine is the framework of truth.  It serves as the proper paving stones that pave the godly road, ultimately leading its hearers to the Lord of true doctrine, Jesus Christ, the living Word of God! A person or fellowship that does not point men to Jesus is pointing them to men. To grow in Christ we must preach Jesus! “But you have not so learned Christ; if so be that you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus…” Ephesians 4:20-21
  • Teaching in all wisdom: Too often there is a temptation to embrace the world’s methods and patterns in teaching the flock of God. Sadly, there seems to be more and more pressure for the saints of God to regurgitate the pabulum of this sinful world. God’s wisdom is so far above man’s philosophies! Why should we feel such a need to apologies for the unadulterated Word of God?  We are called not only to preach Jesus, but lovingly and truthfully teach others the Word of God, being led by and leading others to eat from the hand of God, not this world’s feeding trough. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” 1 Corinthians 1:27
  • Warning every man in all wisdom: “Wisdom cries aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.” Proverbs 1:20-22. Even solid, Bible teaching churches too often seem to fall into the error of not warning the flock of the dangers of false teachers and heretical teachings. Some argue that we must simply focus on the truth, not worrying about the false teachers within the body of Christ. But Peter warned the saints of Satan’s desire to devour as many as possible (1 Peter 5:8), and Paul warned the Ephesian elders that grievous wolves would enter even among them, drawing away disciples after themselves, not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29). Many times the Treasury Department analogy is used to reinforce the importance of  focusing on the truth. While it’s true that those working for the Treasury Department must carefully study real US currency in order to detect counterfeits, it’s just as true that the same workers must know how the counterfeiters operate, i.e. make their bills, circulate them, etc. As believers we must study, know, love, preach, and teach the truth of God’s Word, but we are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11) According to Colossians 1, we must warn the flock of God in all wisdom. Interestingly, many faithful followers of Christ are very concerned about warning the world of the Hell they are heading towards. Why is it that somehow we lose so much of that concern when it comes to the body of Christ? Should we not be more concerned for the body of the One who delivered us from death to life? Speaking of the body, consider a physical body that is unable to fight off infection properly. Certain cells in the blood spend all of their time identifying, mapping, and destroying enemies of the body, all to the goal of keeping it healthy. Why should it be any different in the body of Christ?

The Ultimate Goal: No Christian is called to preach, teach, and warn simply for the sake of preaching, teaching, and warning. Colossians 1:28 makes that clear. Learning how to utilizing all three of these facets is an essential strategy, requiring diligent dedication.  We are called to employ all three with the purpose of presenting every man perfect, that is to say, thoroughly furnished and mature in Christ Jesus. In reality when we only choose to employ one or two of the strategies revealed in Colossians 1:27-28, both we and the hearers lose out on growing in maturity as quickly as we should. We lose out on a closer and more intimate walk with our loving King! God wants His children growing to have a healthy and utter dependence (not independence) on our Lord and Savior, the Head of the body, Jesus Christ. Regardless of what’s popular in today’s professing churches, may we seek to faithfully feed the flock of God; preaching Jesus, teaching, and warning every man all because of our love for Jesus and a true love for His body!

%d bloggers like this: