Friday, June 24, 2011

Attributes of Holiness – Control of Appetites

Philippians 4:12 – 13

Attributes of Holiness – Control of Appetites

[B.T. Roberts re-examined]

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. [13] I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” [Philippians 4:12 – 13]

***** “True holiness has its influence on every part of our nature.” *****

I. Holiness is the default control over bodily appetites. (Roberts addresses what we would call addictions: alcohol, tobacco, and opium.)

A. Natural appetites are given to us for a good purpose.

1. They are not sinful when kept in proper boundaries.

2. “They were not intended to be our masters.” [B.T. Roberts]

3. They must be governed and guarded:

a. Reason.

b. Conscience.

c. The Word of God.

[B.T. Roberts suggested those three.]

4. KEY issue is “bondage.”

II. “One who is holy never indulges his appetites in an unlawful manner.” [B.T. Roberts]

A. Choices:

1. Starve or steal?

2. Jesus’ example: temptation…. “turn these stones into bread.”

B. What are the questions and principles involved?

1. “Remember that there is something more to be considered than simply whatever what is presented will assuage hunger, or satisfy thirst.” [B.T. Roberts]

2. Questions:

a. “Have I the right to it?”

b. “Can I obtain the right on conditions with which I may lawfully comply?”

E.g. Esau did not steal… he sold his birthright to gratify his hunger.

3. Principle: “bodily appetites clamor for indulgence.”

a. Satan used them in the Garden to tempt Eve.

b. The holy person will exercise care that they are not being deceived by the appetites.

III. “True holiness will give one such control over his appetites that he will not indulge them in an inordinate degree.”

A. Eat to live or live to eat?

1. Wants vs need… (“easily satisfied”)

2. “He who spends large sums of money to gratify his own pampered tastes, while so many are perishing of want, may be orthodox and polite, but he is not holy.” [B. T. Roberts.

3. Idea: deny luxuries in order to minister to others necessities.

B. Motive: Duty to God or self-gratification?

IV. “True holiness saves those who enjoy it from unnatural, depraved appetites… formed by sinful indulgence.” [B. T. Roberts]

A. The slippery slope:

1. Nobody likes the indulgence at first…. Some make us sick at the beginning.

2. Revolt turns to momentary enjoyment.

3. Enjoyment becomes stimulation towards excitement.

4. Excitement gives way to pleasure.

5. When pleasure wears off, it is replaced by “languor and depression.”

6. This state becomes “insupportable” and drives us to the stimulant at any cost. (Craving)

7. “An appetite is formed that the victims will gratify at the expense of everything which men hold dear.” [B.T. Roberts]

B. “The only safe course is to avoid the beginning!” [B.T. Roberts]

1. Problem: these things brutalize and enslave.

2. Solution: sincerely repent (1 John 1:9)

V. Problem with these appetites:

A. Their characteristic…

1. They are not godly (can’t even pretend they are).

2. They are not indifferent (unless the person is deceived or deluded).

3. They are unrighteous (in effect and nature).

B. One cannot continue in holiness AND unholy habits.

1. At issue: “filthiness of the flesh” or cleansing of holiness.

2. Addictions break down the body and mind.

3. These things destroy the Christian’s credibility and witness.

4. God is not glorified in these things.

C. “No man has the right to spend the Lord’s money in this way.” [B. T. Roberts]

1. God gives us the ability to gain wealth.

2. This should be used to advance God’s cause.

3. “A Christian man cannot spend his money as he wills, but must use it as the Lord wills.”

D. Eventually these things become “idols.”

1. Appetites formed in sin.

2. Indulgences which do no good.

VI. Where to begin?

A. “Seek earnestly to be delivered from bondage to your animal nature, and you will be delivered.”

B. Seek holiness… “It changes us in our appetites.” (Old things pass away, what we once loved we hate.)

C. “Give yourself no rest until this thorough work is wrought in you.” [B.T. Roberts]

A REAL Man

Psalm 1

“A Real Man”

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; [2] but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. [3] He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. [4] The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. [5] Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; [6] for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” [Psalm 1:1 – 6]

We live in a day when our world is very opinionated about men. Men have been told to sit down and shut up by a “politically correct” movement in America. We are told our opinions are not valid (unless they match the overbearing opinion of the minority that is running the country at the moment).

We are told “go for all the gusto” and “you only live once.” The sinful nature in us makes us selfish, our selfish attitudes isolate us, and we have withdrawn from society, the church, and our families.

We are around, but we don’t make a difference.

In Psalm 1, God introduces us to a real man. One that is able to stand on his own feet and think for himself. This is a man the devil is afraid of… it is the one people speak against, society pressures, and Congress writes off.

It is a man who is “blessed.” The word “blessed” literally means “truly happy.” Theologically the one who is “blessed” is “favored by God.” How does this happen? Other than God wanting to favor us, there are certain choices we must make to stay on track.

Let’s start with some basic questions:

I. What is your “moral orientation?” [v 1] (Expression from ESV Study Bible)

*****Notice the moral progression downward and the loss of energy that goes with it. *****

A. “Walks NOT in the counsel of the ungodly.”

1. Here is an image of someone who is losing energy by simply not thinking (being thoughtless).

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” [Hebrews 12:1]

2. The “ungodly” are theologically “worthless.” (ESV Study Bible)

Adam Clarke defines the “ungodly” as “to be unjust; rendering to none his due; withholding from God, society, and himself, what belongs to each. Ungodly - He who has not God in him; who is without God in the world.”

3. Listening to the counsel of those without God means to “act on the principles” of the ungodly. (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown)

B. “Nor stands in the way of sinners.”

1. The next step down is seriously considering the ways of this world as a way to live life. (Standing takes more deliberation.)

2. While the “ungodly” do no good (worthless) the “sinner” does evil. (Clarke)

3. What is happening is that once we begin to thoughtlessly drift from God, we begin to put our attention on the things of this world.

4. We start to cultivate the habits that lead us away from God’s favor.

C. “Nor sit in the seat of scoffers.”

1. The final and probably fatal (hardest to escape) lost energy is to “sit.”

Wesley – (To sit) notes a constant and resolved perseverance in their wicked courses.

2. “Scorners” are showing open content and hostility toward the things of God. They refuse to live in right relationship with God (and possibly others).

3. In a very real sense, they have “shut down” their willingness (possibility ability) to consider the things of God. They have become “simple.” (ESV Study Bible)

The progression:

Run with endurance….

Drifting into not thinking and being uninfluenced by God…

Departing from known right and wrong into a godless moral orientation…

Diving “all in” to sin by holding God and the things of God in contempt.

II. Are you pursuing God? [v 2]

God’s favor comes from moving in God’s direction.

A. Are you pursuing God emotionally?

1. We tend to think of emotions as a “woman’s thing.”

2. The Bible tells us here to engage God’s word with delight!

B. Are you pursuing God intellectually?

1. We tend to think we must accomplish or do something. (Thinking not required.)

2. The Bible tells us here to engage God’s word day and night. (NOT occasionally, NOT casually, NOT lightly) We are to be serious students.

3. Meditate… “Actively ponder and pursue insight for the purpose of pleasing God by knowing and following.” (ESV Study Bible)

III. Are you connected to your purpose? [v 3]

A. Who/What is the living stream in your life?

1. What is it that gives you energy and life?

“Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, [14] but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” [John 4:23 – 24]

2. Jesus is the living water… Jesus is that sustaining “streams of water” in our lives.

3. That water gives you life and makes you resistant to the dry climate. (The world is spiritually dry and would suck the life out of us if we were not connected to Jesus.)

B. Notice the fruit.

1. The fruit was the purpose of a fruit tree… it was expected and natural.

2. Fruit is NEVER for the tree that produces it… it is for others.

a. Fruit feeds others.

b. Fruit reproduces the original tree…

3. “Prospers” means that we will be the kind of person that “makes everyone else better.”

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” [Ephesians 5:25]

a. Theory: the reason God had to tell men to do this is because it does NOT come naturally to the sinful nature. We are not wired to give ourselves up for others. (Women tend to get this right.)

b. We make excuses but find that when we store up things for ourselves rather than invest in others… our life becomes drier and drier.

IV. REALITY: You chose your consequences.

A. If life stinks, that is the consequence of your behavior and attitude that you have chosen.

1. Moral orientation: the determined direction you are moving.

2. Pursuit of God: Your active choice to put effort into knowing and following God rather than dropping out.

3. Connection to purpose: the deliberate focus on making others better.

B. If life is “blessed,” that is the result of your behavior and attitude that you have chosen.

1. Deliberate rejection of the moral orientation of those without God.

2. Deliberate pursuit of God through the Bible.

3. Deliberate connection to Jesus our living streams of water.

4. Deliberate service to producing fruit in others.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Attributes of holiness – unselfishness

Matthew 22:35 -- 36

Attributes of holiness – unselfishness

[B.T. Roberts reexamined]

“And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. [36] “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" [37] And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [38] This is the great and first commandment. [39] And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Matthew 22:35 – 36]

Introduction: Christians are no better than others, grace makes them different.

“The grand distinction is found in what they are saved from.”

“Dispositions and appetites”

They serve “no good purpose.”

They are a result of the Fall.

I. “Holiness implies deliverance from selfishness.” [B. T. Roberts]

A. “A selfish person cannot be… a holy person.”

1. Selfishness – “is that disposition which prompts us to seek our own interests or our own gratification without due regard to the rights or happiness of others.”

(Bishop Krober once explained that “selfishness” was the core/root idea of sin.)

“There is scarcely a crime which a man commits, or a sin of which he is guilt, which does not originate in selfishness.” [B. T. Roberts]

2. This follows the principle of two contradictory things cannot occupy the same space.

B. Question: “What is the greatest commandment?”

1. Notice it was asked by a lawyer!

a. The Talmud recognized 613 commandments. 248 were positive (do) and 365 were negative (do not).

b. The idea was to figure out which ones were “important” so they did not have to track (and keep) every law.

c. They were divided into “heavy” and “light.” Circumcision and sacrifice were considered to be “heavy.”

2. Jesus plays along: the PRINCIPLE is to love God AND love others.

a. Love is the opposite of selfishness.

b. Notice: this does not mean we are NOT to ignore ourselves.

c. It means we are NOT to be self-centered.

II. Selfishness.

A. “Selfishness looks at present interest, and present gratification.” [B.T. Roberts]

1. Philosophical argument that every human action is essentially selfish or self-serving.

2. Difficult to answer…

B. “Selfishness inclines us to seek our own gratification without regard to the duties which we owe, either to God or to our neighbor.” [B. T. Roberts]

1. Duty requires the “sacrifice of immediate self-interest.” [Wikipedia]

2. Cicero thought that duty came from a person’s own moral expectations. (E.g. The follow up question, “Who is my neighbor?)

C. Selfishness vs “self-love”

1. Roberts contrasts “selfishness” with what he calls “self-love.”

2. Today we would call this “self-love” a healthy “self-esteem” or being mentally healthy.

III. The trouble with selfishness

A. It is corrupt and corrupts everything.

1. Motives are no longer pure.

2. Trust becomes a serious question.

3. Ultimately the fruit is poison.

Test: “Are they poison or not?”

1. Lima beans? (Yes, they contain limarin. If eaten raw they can make a person violently sick.)

2. Cassava (Third most consumed starch in the world. It contains cyanide.)

3. Nutmeg (This is a new drug used by teens to get high because it has a chemical, myristicine, that causes hallucinations, and vomiting, dizziness, headaches, etc…)

4. Kidney beans (Contains the toxin phytohaemagglutinin… a few raw kidney beans will put you in a hospital. They have been known to kill people.)

5. Chocolate (Actually this is poisonous to dogs and cats… not humans.

6. Tomato (Leaves and vines contain a toxin. Green tomatoes have been known to kill humans.)

7. Cherries, apricots, peaches and plums (The pits contain a chemical that creates cyanide.)

8. Rhubarb (Contains oxalic acid salts which cause kidney problems, convulsions, and coma. Five pounds is a lethal dose for humans.)

9. Potatoes (If they turn green or sprout contain solanine when exposed to sun. They cause digestive problems.)

10. Apple (The seeds contain the same chemical found in fruit with pits. They are fatal if enough are consumed.)

[Source: www.environmentalgraffiti.com]

B. It is never satisfied.

1. “It grows by what it feeds upon.” [B. T. Roberts]

2. The more it is gratified, the more it wants.

C. “It never dies a natural death.” [B. T. Roberts]

1. It wears people out, grinds us down.

2. It camouflages itself everywhere.

D. Churches sanction and foster it.

1. Selling seats.

2. Fundraisers. (Fairs, Festivals, etc…)