I have been and am continuing to be on hiatus for awhile to dedicate myself to study and what God says to women and specifically to wives of unbelievers, seeking to honor Him and to both demonstrate my love and respect to my “beloved unbeliever” (who professes a type of belief but not genuine saving faith, so prayers please for him) and to win him without a word. Hard lesson, that…I’m a wordy kinda gal. But I am also a determined kind of gal. So prayers for this vacationing blogger as well please. Thanks! Have a blessed Autumn. I hope to return to posting sometime after Thanksgiving. In the meantime there are a few years worth of posts here…feel free to noodle around!
May we all live for the Lord and strive to honor Him in all we think, do and say. Remember, no sacrifice on our part, be it dying to self, speaking the truth aloud, or standing upright for the word of God in the midst of a godless and God hating world even comes close to the price paid to redeem our sorry sinful souls and bring us into the family of the one true and living God. So…buck up pilgrims! The road may be bumpy and frought with traps and dangers, but the One who walks with us and guides us every step is faithful.:-) See you soon! ~AGM ❤
Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself. (DANIEL 1: 8)
In addition to an overall commitment to pursue holiness in every area of life, I find it helpful to make specific commitments in areas where we’re particularly vulnerable to sin. There’s great value in identifying those areas — either in what we do (for example, gossip) or in what we fail to do (such as loving our wives as Christ loved the church) — and then making specific commitments of obedience to God in those areas.
I urge you to list any areas of temptation wherein you need to make this specific commitment. Do you need to make a covenant with your eyes about what you look at (Job 31: 1), or with your mouth about what you say, or with your mind about what you think? Is there a particular temptation or sinful practice that arises in your work environment that needs a commitment to fortify you against it? Write these commitments down on paper, for your eyes only, so you can review them and pray over them daily.
Perhaps there’s a particular area in your marriage or in your relationship with your children, your parents, a friend, or an associate at work where you aren’t demonstrating the Spirit’s fruit of love, patience, or kindness. Do you need to make a commitment that, in dependence on the Holy Spirit to enable you, you’ll seek to display that particular “fruit” toward that individual? If so, I urge you to make such a commitment. You may find the need to make several commitments — sins to put off or avoid and Christlike traits to put on. If you don’t commit yourself to the pursuit of holiness in these specific areas of your life, you’ll find a tendency to vacillate in the face of these temptations.
Lev. 18:20 ‘You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her. 21 ‘You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. 22 ‘You shall not lie with a male as 1one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23 ‘Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.
Lev. 18:24 ‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 25 ‘For the land has become defiled, atherefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. 26 ‘But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you 27 (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled); 28 so that the land will not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you. 29 ‘For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. 30 ‘Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the LORD your God.’”
The Levitical mandate has been often misunderstood in light of what Yahweh commanded concerning homosexuality. Specifically, the case has been made that these commands are archaic, and that Yahweh has relaxed His standards concerning the prohibitions in the text. The case is also made that Yahweh failed to consider cultural and scientific advancements in the modern world, and thus miscalculated the necessities of modern man. Another argument is that the prohibitions were simply for BC Israel and that any consideration of these prohibitions outside of this context is a laughable imposition.
An exegetical and expositional consideration of this passage in its near and larger context must be examined to engage the aforementioned disagreements. First, it must be considered that God is not lacking in knowledge of His creatures (1 Cor. 2:10-11). It is serious folly and blasphemy to suppose that Yahweh lacks the necessary information or ability to understand the depths of His creatures (Gen. 1:26). Can man stand in accusation against Yahweh, when man is beneath his maker? (Job 38:4-7; Isaiah 29:16, 45:9; Romans 9:21) Scripture soundly speaks of God’s sovereign control over all things, even men and their affairs (Psalm 24:1).
Considering the Levitical text, it must be said plainly that this examination will reveal that homosexuality is not a mere afterthought in ancient Israel. It is not a cultural prohibition that has been abandoned in the modern day. In fact, it is a prescription for understanding the holiness of God, not a mythological account. The book of Leviticus is a mandate to the sons of Israel through the Levitical priest concerning the holiness of Israel before Yahweh and the nations. The text also reveals that the prohibitions for Israel were not unique to them. They extended to the nations (Leviticus 18:26). This is key because the argument is often made that certain prohibitions in Leviticus are too outlandish for modern society. Therefore, as the argument goes, since those commands are outlandish in our western context, then the prohibition concerning homosexuality and other moral statutes are equally outlandish. Yahweh could not have imposed these things if He considered at all the 21st century. However, this argument collapses on two levels. First, all considerations for Israel in the Old Testament must be understood as Israel is to pursue ceremonial purity and moral purity (Dr. Michael Grisanti, Israel IBEX notes, unpublished).
Ceremonial purity meant that Yahweh commanded certain acts and prohibitions for Israel, for the purpose of their coming to Him in worship. Moral purity was assumed and required to live in the presence of Yahweh as He dwelled among the people in the Jerusalem Temple. Each of these must be understood as calls for Israel to be a kingdom of priests, not as a pious testimony to themselves. These prohibitions and commands were commands to be distinct from the pagan nations. Also, these distinctions served to draw the pagan, Gentile nations to Yahweh and repent of such moral/ceremonial failures (Isaiah 49:6; Exodus 19:6). Paul will make the same case in Romans 1 when he argues that the wrath of God is upon all ungodliness of men, who are truth suppressors (Romans 1). Second, Israel’s distinction and holiness was not only for a specific moment in time. Instead, this holiness was to bear blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience (Deuteromony 28). By way of reminder, Moses is given the second rendering of law to the Israelites as they are to inherit the promised land (δευτερος =second,νομος =law). The moral premises are still built within the commandments. They are given, primarily for Israel, however they are simultaneously to serve as a demonstration to the Gentile nations. Yahweh’s name is directly attached to His commands and judgments. His prohibitions and commands in Leviticus 18, serve as a witness of Yahweh’s holy expectation, and as an indictment to those who fail to meet those expectations in the Gentile nations. Especially since Israel is supposed to be a ‘light to the Gentiles’. The Leviticus context (chapter 18) reveals that defilement and misrepresentation of the Holy One was at stake if the prohibitions were ignored. The Lord did not deal lightly with those who rebelled against His commands. The question remains, in His eyes has the absolute moral standard been lifted because we are in the modern era? Because God is immutable (never changing) in His divine perfections (attributes), to borrow the language of the apostle Paul, “May it never be!” The mandate in Israel was the death penalty for those who committed acts of sexual immorality, specifically those who committed acts of homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13). While the death mandate of theocratic justice for homosexuality has been lifted (we will come back to this), it is still considered an abominable sin before Yahweh, worthy of death. However it is a sin whereby death is deferred as one plummets down the cycle of this sexual sin. The wages of all sin is death (eternal death), while the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). The Levitical mandates are pertinent when we consider Yahweh’s disposition toward sin specifically. He will judge sin. Because He does not immediately administer a death sentence for some sins committed (exceptions include, in some states, murder), it does not mean that Yahweh has become lax in His judgment (Acts 17:30). Israel, specifically, and the Old Testament in general is not an ancient book with which we give a dismissive glance and mock its use for today. It is an example, as Paul mentioned in New Testament Corinthians, for us to heed and learn from its warnings (1 Corithians 10:11). The Old Testament is written for the dual purpose of informing how all must live before Yahweh, while historically/contextually/grammatically informing us concerning His righteous expectations for Israel. The unified corpus of both the Old and New Testament testifies to us which commands have been abdicated and which commands are pertinent for believers today. God determines this in His word, not modern cultural sensibilities, moral relativism, or supposed scientific findings.
I had decided to make the move to Blogger as a result of this “rainbow” stupidity. However, in giving it much thought, I am staying. Here’s why…You see my issue was that it was imposed. And it was, on Christians who stand for the truth that God created marriage, defines it as one man and one woman, and has given it as an example of Christ and the Church. No one can change that truth and no stupid hijacking of His rainbow can ever change the truth of either God’s covenant rainbow OR His creation of marriage. Nothing ever changes truth. Nothing. (Did you know they are not the first to do it? New Agers did it back in the 60’s and 70’s and the homosexual agenda stole it from them. Who got their britches in an uproar when the proponents of New Age Gnosticism used it? Anyone? Hello??)
So I am rescinding my move. I have decided to stay right where I am. If their agenda is to cause us to leave, it won’t work with this sister. They shall either have to censor my posts or delete my account. This girl shall not be moved.
And so I will still continue to post the truth of God’s word at WordPress, because some stupid rainbow cannot cause me to flee like a little girl with a garden snake being thrust at her….Perhaps some of those lost will read some biblical truth and be saved. Perhaps not. But either way, may God be glorified and may I be found still standing regardless of what wicked people do or do not do. The truth is, it is all about HIM, not about WordPress, the depraved, or anything else. And having a hissy fit about the lost doing what the lost does only serves to make it be about something else. For the one hissying, it is about them, and secondary, it brings too much attention to wickedness when we ought to be speaking truth of God instead. And for the record, God calls homosexuality an abomination, and so do I. And they still need to be saved through the biblical Christ. So keep speaking the truth of it, and never compromise one lost soul for anything or anyone. THAT is biblical love.
1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. 5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Desire to Visit Rome
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
The Just Live by Faith
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,[a] for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”[b]
God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality,[c] wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,[d] unmerciful;32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Marriage will not fix ANY form of sexual sin choice, but it most certainly will be destroyed by it, for to indulge in any sexual sin is adultery, betrayal, serial emotional traumatizing, and always involves lies. Is this how Christ loves the Church? Not at all. And, hard truth here, if Jesus has not “fixed” it either then you REALLY have a problem. An eternal one. Enough fantasy. You need the real biblical Christ. It’s the only place to start. The ONLY place to start.
Like Lazarus’s grave clothes, believers still bear the stench of their former, sinful lives. Through His work of sanctification, the Holy Spirit limits the effect and influence of the sinful flesh we still carry around. But what about professing believers who refuse to deal with the remains of their depravity? Does God intend for His grace to cover our ongoing, unrepentant sin?
by Jeremiah Johnson
In the apostle John’s account of the Lord miraculously raising Lazarus from the dead, there’s a short statement that never fails to make church kids smirk. Always with an eye for practicality and propriety, Lazarus’s sister Martha urgently warned Christ, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days” (John 11:39 KJV).
As we’ve already seen in this series, Lazarus’s resurrection is a vivid depiction of God’s work of salvation in the believer’s life. And even in his revived state, Lazarus—still draped in his foul grave clothes—bears a distinct similarity to the believer’s new life in Christ. As John MacArthur explains,
The story of Lazarus offers a particularly graphic illustration of our predicament as believers. We have been raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). We “joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man” (Romans 7:22). Yet we cannot do what we desire (Galatians 5:17). “The wishing is present in [us], but the doing of the good is not” (Romans 7:18). We are held prisoner by the remnants of the very fallenness from which we have been redeemed (Romans 7:22). It is as if we were still bound in our grave clothes. . . .
There is, however, an important difference between our situation and the raising of Lazarus. His mummy suit came off immediately. It was merely a linen shroud. Fortunately, the corruption of death—such as the awful stench Martha feared—did not follow Lazarus forth from the grave.
Our predicament, however, cannot be resolved so quickly. It is not just a linen shroud that fastens itself to us, but a full-fledged carcass—Paul calls it “the body of this death” (Romans 7:24). It is the fleshly sin-principle that casts its pall over our glorious new lives throughout our earthly pilgrimage. It befouls our spiritual atmosphere, surrounding us with the fetid stink of sin. It no longer can dominate us like a ruthless tyrant, but it will plague us with temptation, torment, and grief until we are finally glorified.
Even though we’ve been transformed through Christ’s redeeming work, we still bear the stains of our sinful past. Last time we considered how the Lord, through the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification, diminishes the effect and influence of our sinful past.
But not all professing believers willingly submit to the refining work of sanctification. In fact, many reject the predicament altogether, instead adopting a cavalier attitude toward their sin and eschewing any rebuke or condemnation for it.
In past generations, defending that position usually meant invoking the idea of “carnal” Christians. Based on a misunderstanding of Paul’s rebuke in 1 Corinthians 2 and 3, many Christians have been led to believe that there are two classes of Christians—carnal and spiritual. Spiritual Christians display the evidence of their status through their godliness—righteous living and mature faith. On the other hand, carnal Christians make professions of faith, but remained mired in the sin and corruption of the world.
Today a similar idea is rapidly growing in popularity. When it comes to dealing with lingering sin in a believer’s life, the trendy solution is not to preach repentance and discipline, but to focus exclusively on the grace of God. Rather than dealing biblically with their sin—“Hacking Agag to Pieces”—they argue that salvation releases us from any expectation of obedience to God’s law, and that God’s grace dissolves guilt and defuses conviction of sin in the believer’s life. It’s not the guilt of our sin, they argue, but the striving for righteousness that leads so many believers to spiritual frustration and despair. In fact, they try to shame other believers out of their pursuit of holiness by mislabeling it as works righteousness, that is, works done to earn God’s favor.
In his book, The Vanishing Conscience, John MacArthur warns against twisting God’s grace into an excuse.
God’s grace does not mean holiness is optional. There have always been people who abuse God’s grace by assuming it grants leeway for sin. Paraphrasing that philosophy, Paul writes, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?” (Romans 6:1). If grace abounds most where sin is worst (Romans 5:20‑21), then doesn’t our sin only magnify the grace of God? Should we continue in sin so that God’s grace can be magnified?
“May it never be!” Paul answers in a phrase so emphatic that the King James Version renders it “God forbid!” The notion that anyone would use such an argument to condone sin was clearly offensive to Paul. “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:3).
Sadly, this corruption of God’s grace isn’t restricted to the fringes of the church. It’s coming from some of the most popular speakers and authors in the evangelical movement today. And it’s a threat to the spiritual growth and godliness of the countless men and women caught up in its deception.
My dearest sister and friend shared this wonderful sermon from her pastor with me, and I am now sharing it with you. If you are like me, you will recognize yourself in some things he has to say. Not the great things, the things that expose the uck still within the heart….so if you do, I hope that you will join me in repenting of what God shows you here, and will be encouraged to have a new resolve to live as our dear Father commands, as well as the courage to confess the things you see to others so that they may be encouraged to do the same. Repentance without change is not repentance. Sure He helps us in being molded into His image, but WE have to do some work too. He is not our servant, we are His. So buck up….hold up that mirror, and show the truth of you to you through this really good sermon….and the word of God it contains. It rightly defines exactly what it speaks of. So we don’t have that “out” either. Hey…sanctification is a hard process, but one we must ALL go through if indeed we belong to Christ. If you wonder why no one can see your fruit…..perhaps one of the reasons is here:
Most of Psalm 131 is holy eavesdropping. We have intimate access to the inner life of someone who has learned to have a calm and quiet soul. This man isn’t noisy inside. He isn’t busy-busy-busy. Not obsessed. Not on edge. The to-do list and pressures to achieve don’t consume him. Failure and despair don’t haunt him. Anxiety isn’t spinning him into free fall. Irritation and dissatisfaction don’t devour him. He’s not stumbling through the minefield of blind longings and fears.
About the Psalm
First, think about who’s talking to us in Psalm 131.
We are listening to the inner conversation of someone whom God called “a man after His own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14).
In other words, this man processes life the way a human being is meant to process.
We know many things about David:
the youngest of eight brothers;
a fierce protector of his flock;
a young man with striking good looks and evident talent;
a skilled musician and poet;
a deadly soldier;
a loyal subject even while a fugitive;
a tender and faithful friend;
a savvy military and political strategist who secured the throne;
the husband of a harem and father of countless children;
an adulterer who murdered by proxy;
a broken-hearted penitent.
But two characteristics stand out.
First, the LORD chose David, anointed him, loved him, and blessed him – God was with David.
Second, David knew this LORD – he walked with God. We are listening in the words of such a man.
A millennium later, someone else lived this psalm even more fully.
Update the heading: A Song of Ascents, of Jesus.
Psalm 131 expresses Jesus’s life experience, the inner workings of His consciousness.
The Father’s chosen, anointed, loved, and blessed Son lets you listen in.
God who became a man thinks out loud for you.
Second, get a clear picture of what Psalm 131 is not.
What it is not.
It does not portray unruffled detachment or stoic indifference.
It’s not about having an easygoing personality or low expectations.
It’s not retreat from the troubles of life or retirement to a life of ease.
It’s not the quieting of inner noise that a bottle of scotch or a daily dose of Prozac produces.
After all, Jesus and David were both kingdom-builders in real life, real time.
They expected—and achieved—huge things in the midst of commotion and trouble.
They experienced pressure, joy, heartache, outrage, affection, courage.
So Psalm 131’s inner quiet comes in the midst of actions, relationships, and problems.
Third, understand rightly what Psalm 131 does describe – this calm and quiet is learned, and it is learned in relationship.
Such purposeful quiet is achieved, not spontaneous.
It is conscious, alert, and chosen.
It is a form of self-mastery by the grace of God: “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul.”
And it happens in living relationship with Someone Else.
1) We are “discipled” into such composure.
2) You learn it from someone.
Can we get to this quieted place, here and now, in our actual life? Yes, we can get there from here.
Psalm 131 aims to become our words as a chosen, anointed, loved, and blessed child.
Deliverance from Noise
Faith delivers us from our biggest problem, a proud self-will.
David says to the LORD, “I am not self-trusting, opinionated, and headstrong. I am not superior to others. I am not attempting the impossible.”
The process through which he was tamed is still implicit (until verse 2).
The reason for such astonishing calm and humility is still implicit (until verse 3).
We see the results first, and are intrigued.
David is quiet.
He has consciously distanced himself from everything that rattles inside us.
To be able to say “I am not something,” we must learn to identify the something.
What makes us so noisy inside? Turn the psalm into its opposite, the anti-psalm:
“Self, my heart is proud (I’m absorbed in myself), and my eyes are haughty (I look down on other people), and I chase after things too great and too difficult for me. So of course I’m noisy and restless inside, it comes naturally, like a hungry infant fussing on his mother’s lap, like a hungry infant, I’m restless with my demands and worries. I scatter my hopes onto anything and everybody all the time. ”
Proud hearts are the source of the noise.
Do you remember Alice in Wonderland, how Alice was either too big or too small?
Because she was never quite the right size, she was continually disoriented.
We all have that problem – we are the wrong size.
We imagine ourselves to be independent and autonomous: proud hearts.
We become engrossed in trivialities of our own devising.
We pursue grandiosities and glories.
We become afraid of our own shadows.
Seventeenth-century English had a great word for how we stir up much ado about nothing: vainglory.
Of course, this doesn’t seem like much of a problem while we busily telemarket our pride both to ourselves and to others.
“I just want a little respect and appreciation. Of course I want the things at home to work and the car mechanic to be honest. That’s pretty normal. I want approval and understanding, to be included. Is that too much to ask? I want the church to thrive, my sermon to go well, the worship to be biblical. It’s for God, after all. I want satisfaction and compensation for the ways others did me wrong. If others would just own up, and then treat me right. I don’t want much. If only I had better health, a little more money, a more meaningful job, nicer clothes, and a restful vacation, then I’d be satisfied. I want a measure of success—just a bit of recognition. I want control. Who doesn’t? Comfort, ease, convenience. Why not? I want to feel good. Doesn’t God want me to feel good? I want to feel good about myself, to have more self-confidence, to believe in myself. I want…well, I want MY WAY. I WANT THE GOODIES. I WANT GLORY. I WANT GOD TO DO MY WILL. I WANT TO BE GOD…Doesn’t everybody?”
Our slavery to selfish desires seems so plausible.
Our restless disorientation seems so natural, so desirable.
But it’s noisy.
Anxiety, irritation, despondency, or ambition makes sense from within the logic of a proud heart.
If you are not proud, then quietness and calm make sense.
It also comes with the territory that we are opinionated, routinely judging and belittling others:arrogant eyes.
Pride is not just about ME.. It’s also about you.
I must look down on you in some way.
I must establish my superiority in some way.
Some people wear their arrogance and superiority openly, and even boast of their boasting.
But our absorption in judgmental opinions runs very deep.
1) Pride says, “I’m right in myself.” Arrogant eyes say, “I’m right compared to you.”
2) Have you ever noticed that even people who feel lousy about themselves are judgmental towards others?
a) When we feel inferior to others, we don’t admire and respect them, or treat them with merciful consideration.
b) Instead, we envy, hate, nitpick, grumble, and criticize.
c) Even self-belittling tendencies—“low self-esteem,” self-pity, self-hatred, timidity, fearfulness, diffidence, fears of failure and rejection—fundamentally express pride failing,pride intimidated, and pride
d) Such pride, even when much battered, still finds someone else to look down on.
e) It is no accident that the church fathers discussed fear of man as a subset of pride when they contemplated the “seven deadly sins” besetting every soul.
I read about a woman’s description of this problem in her life.
She said that she had almost no true peers, people with whom she related eye-to-eye.
Her relationships were not characterized by generosity, openness, or trust.
There were a few “pedestal people” in her life, people she thought walked on water, who could do no wrong.
There were many, many “pit people” in her life, people she looked down on for one reason or other.
The two categories were connected only by an elevator shaft!
1) A person could fall off the pedestal and end up in the pit.
2) But no pit person had ever been rehabilitated.
She had a long history of disappointment in every relationship – family and former friends lodged in her mental dog-house.
Unsurprisingly, she was a woman with a lot of inner noise: fretful, self-preoccupied, easily offended, depressive, competitive.
But as she grew in Christ, she grew in calm and quiet.
As she learned to live in the way of peace, lo and behold, she began to discover peers and to build friendships.
Another way of putting this is to say that she stopped pursuing impossibilities.
That’s the third phrase in Psalm 131:1: not going after things that are beyond you.
Even the small, everyday things that everyone races after are, in fact, “beyond us.”
From our daily bread to our abilities and opportunities, these are gifts from God that we don’t control.
What happens when we attempt to control another person’s attitudes and choices, to bend them to our will?We set ourselves up for despair or rage, anxiety or short-lived euphoria, suspicion or manipulation.
What happens when we attempt to ensure that we will not get sick and die? We become obsessed with diet and exercise, or litigious towards doctors, or plagued with fear that any nagging pain might be the big one that finally gets us.
What happens when we are obsessed with getting people to like you? We become flirtatious or artificial, a coward or a deceiver, a chameleon or a recluse.
But when we pursue what we are called to pursue, calm and quiet in the soul follows.
III. The Process of Peace
To gain calm and quiet in the soul is to go through a weaning process.
Something that once meant everything to you comes to mean nothing.
Notice that you are definitively different at the end of the process.
You aren’t “sort of composed, sort of quiet, sort of weaned.”
You once were noisy, and now you’ve learned quiet.
Dying to your restless, fretful, and irritable ways does not come easily.
There is no technique, automatic formula, or pat answer.
To quiet your soul means literally to level it.
Bulldoze the building site.
To quiet your soul means to silence the noise and tumult, to quiet your desires, fears, opinions, anxieties, agendas, and irritabilities.
In verses 2-3, we see that David had gone about unplugging the noise machines and knocking down the stairways that led to nowhere.
This sort of composure and quietness is not apathy, but alertness.
It is conscious, not unconscious.
It is the poise of self-mastery by grace, not the carelessness of sleepy ease.
How do you purify your heart? How does a proud heart become a humble heart?
We do not wrestle ourselves down by doing penance.
We can beat on ourselves, resolve to mend our ways and still be proud.
We do not destroy the tumult of self-will by sheer will: “I will stop being irritable. I will stop being fretful. I will stop imposing my will on the universe.”
Can the leopard change its spots?
We are not strong enough; We are too strong.
We only wrestle ourselves down by the promises of God’s lovingkindness.
1) We need the invasion of the Redeemer in our lives.
2) We need great help, the way a drowning man needs great help from outside himself to rescue him.
3) Only one thing is strong enough to overpower and slay unruly cravings and a stormy life: what God promises to do in us and through us in Jesus Christ.
a) From God’s side, we escape ourselves by being loved by Jesus Christ through the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit himself.
b) From our side, we escape ourselves by learning a lifestyle of intelligent repentance, genuine faith, and specific obedience.
In the 1700s, Katarina von Schlegel wrote a hymn about wrestling to calm and quiet her soul. It is an extended personalization of Psalm 131:2, presumably written in the context of some great loss.
Be still, my soul. The Lord is on thy side. Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide. In every change, He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul. Thy best, thy heavenly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Think about that, and still yourself. Remember the Lord’s favor, control, faithfulness, and friendship. Remain patient in your sufferings.
Be still, my soul. Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake. All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul. The waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Why does she have to keep reminding herself, “Be still, my soul”? We need to be stilled. Who is strong enough to rule the unruly things that wail, rattle, or shout within us?
1) God is purposively active in His children.
2) He will have final say.
3) Christ ruled the storms, rules them still, and will rule them.
Be still, my soul. When dearest friends depart, and all is darkened in the vale of tears, then shalt thou better know his love, his heart, who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears. Be still, my soul. Thy Jesus can repay from His own fullness all He takes away.
Perhaps irreparable loss is the hardest thing to face.
1) A loved one dies, and will never again walk through the door to greet us.
2) We retire, and can never again return to the work into which we poured our talent, time, and concern.
3) We will never again be young.
4) No second chance to do our college years or that failed marriage over again.
5) Such things devastate us. Can we quiet ourselves? Jesus gives us himself.
Be still, my soul. The hour is hast’ning on when we shall be forever with the Lord, when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul. When change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
Katarina von Schlegel was the ultimate realist.
Most of the noise in our souls is generated by trying to control the uncontrollable.
We grasp after the wind.
We rage, fear, and finally despair.
But this wise sister refocused onto a hope more enduring than fragile, destructible hope-so.
Be still, my soul. All that is hard now will be forgotten amid love’s purest joys.
This slight, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Cor 4:17).
Psalm 131 faith lives with eyes open.
David drives this home with a wonderful metaphor: like a weaned child on his mother, like a weaned child, my soul rests on me.
When a hungry child is placed on his mother’s lap, he is agitated.
He moves around, squirming anxiously.
If he doesn’t get immediate attention and satisfaction, he frets and fusses.
He is frustrated and cranky because he wants something.
He needs something – the mother’s milk means life, health, satisfaction, joy.
If the mother doesn’t deliver right now, he’ll thrash about.
His emotions range over the whole spectrum of noisy, negative emotion.
In this imagery, we witness the childish versions of things that destroy adults: anxiety, depression, anger, jealousy, discontent, and confusion.
But then have you ever seen that same child two weeks later, when he is successfully weaned?
The difference is amazing!
A dramatic change has taken place.
Now when that child is placed in his mother’s lap, he sits quietly, giving his attention in a different direction.
The child rests upon his mother, at peace.
The child has changed.
That’s the picture of learning peace.
The Reason for Peace
The last line gives the reason – The LORD, Jesus Christ, is our hope.
Pride dies as the humility of faith lives.
Pride and arrogance lowers their eyes as the dependency of hope lifts up its eyes.
We stop pursuing impossibilities when we start pursuing certainties.
This simple sentence distills wonders.
Consider the command and invitation you are now receiving.
We are called to hope in the LORD.
Who is this person who topples all the stairways to nowhere and gives us something better?
He is the true God, the only Redeemer from the idols we construct.
Our hope is in “I AM,” who becomes known simply as “the Lord.”
Eventually, he more immediately and personally names Himself: Jesus Christ is Lord.
What exactly are you to hope for? Jesus Christ himself.
1 Tim. 1:1 – Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope…
We are called to such hopes now and forever.
David speaks in a generality, literally, “from now until forever.”
That pretty much covers the territory!
But the time frame of our hope is even more clearly defined than David could have known.
We hope fully on the grace to be given you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:13).
Both now and forever shine with newer, brighter meanings for us who read Psalm 131 in the light of Christ.
(This does not mean you can play make believe and plaster on “grace” and continue in your old ways, or decide that you are already okay and don’t have to address anything here. If you continue in your old ways, even some of them, I would really begin to question the veracity of my profession if I were you. What it DOES mean is that you simply cannot continue in your self centered, haughty, proud, cowardly or “positive self assessing” ways. You belong to the biblical Christ. You have to LIVE it. It’s your choice. Life. Or death. You decide. If you love the Lord He will be everything to you, you will not be your main focus nor will you be constantly trying to get your own way. You will be working in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to live HIS way. You will step up no matter how difficult because it is CHRIST’S reputation that is on the line in that, through you. If you find that you are doing some of or all of the things listed above, you need to repent and stop it. And if you truly repent, then you WILL obey His clear commands found in His word, regardless of how foreign to the flesh they may be or how difficult it may make your “world”, or how hard that self crucifying is. Being in Christ is a matter of dying to self and living FOR Christ alone. No man comes away from a true rebirth and lives even close to the same as he did before the event. As in birth of the flesh, does one come out of the womb and then live in a fetal position, seeking food from an umbilical cord, living in the dark? No. And it is the same in spiritual rebirth. No one continues to live as before except the still dead in flesh, and God says that only leads to what? You got it! Death. Listen…we can be David or we can be Saul….I choose to be David, or the female equivalent. I want to be a woman after God’s own heart. Not a woman who breaks it. How about you? His “well done” or His sorrow at seeing the yuck inside that you want to keep and not give up? And really….if you want to keep it, how can you ever truly have Christ, or THINK you have Christ? Ain’t no room for the “Me Me’s” in the Kingdom. We can only wrestle ourselves down by the promises of God’s lovingkindness and specific obedience. Only through our Redeemer. Think about it. If you wanna talk, I’ll be in the repentance corner….pull up a chair.)
I think that this is such a great gospel tract that I am posting a “commercial” for it….
The world defines “pride” as: “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” Yet the Word of God says a person’s pride is followed by disgrace (Prov. 11:2); pride is arrogance (Prov. 21:24); pride will bring a person low (Prov. 29:23). The Word of God says pride is something evil that comes from a person’s heart (Mark 7:21-23), and that God is opposed to prideful people (James 4:6). God sees pride the same way He sees so many other behaviors—as sinful (2 Tim. 3:1-4). God sees pride as evil because it is contrary to who He is. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, humbled Himself to take on human flesh and then humbled Himself even further when He sacrificed His life in the most humiliating way—death on a cross. What awaits prideful people? What comes after pride? Destruction (Prov. 16:18)—God’s judgment of sin, the punishment for which is eternity in hell. Your only hope is to turn from your sinful pride, turn toward God and, by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ—fully God and fully man, yet without sin, voluntarily shed his innocent blood and died on the cross, taking upon Himself the punishment you rightly deserve for your sins against God. Three days later, He forever defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave. Yes, God is opposed to the proud, but He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Humble yourself. Repent and believe the gospel, today.
Pretty great huh? Hard bottom line truth. So when you continue to “confess” pride and do not a thing about killing it but instead seek to either cover it up by appearing “humble” or you seek to put on a nice guy face to make others think more highly of you than they ought (like you think more highly of yourself than you ought by doing that and proving that you are nothing BUT pride), you gotta know…you have never turned to anyone but yourself. Because you are too prideful to truly submit to the truth of the word of God. God is not fooled. And no doubt the people who are close to you in your “real” life are not either. And if pride goeth before a fall, great indeed will that eventual fall be. And even your pride shall not be able to cover it up. If you REALLY look at your slimy sinful wicked self, what in the world do you have to be prideful of? How much you spit at God, the One who created you and who is perfect, holy, righteous and just? The One who sacrificed His Son because it is the only way prideful self serving people like yourself could EVER be forgiven and granted His presence? Think about that. Think about all the sinful things you continue to indulge in, to embrace, to refuse to give up, and that is AGAINST God in their very essence. If you are prideful, there you will find every kind of wickedness imaginable. Ongoing rampant pride belies any biblical repentance at all. In fact it indicates exactly the opposite. So how often, how many years have you leaned on the crutch of pretending to yourself that you are sad about your pride when it is pride that makes all your decisions for you, every stinkin’ choice you make about anything? That is nothing short of worldliness dressed in psuedo Christian sheep skin, with a wolf hiding underneath. Repent…and throw yourself upon the mercy of God, and let Him really humble you as you seek to honor HIM through obeying HIM, instead of you and how you look to others. In truth, you look only like a fool. One who is still destined for eternal damnation. Am I talking to you? Yes. Repent and be saved.
“He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”