368. A Modern Problem Of Hatred, Discrimination And Judgmentalism. A Reason and the Answer! God’s Plan For A Peaceful World Where Everybody Matters.

In recent days we have heard and seen a lot of words that were hardly used, if ever, in journals, newspapers, live TV or in general conversations. Sometimes they are uttered with such vehemency that you feel that there must be a whole “narrative” or “agenda” behind the words. Words such as white supremacist, colonialist, misogynist, toxic masculinity are used by some speakers and writers to seemingly refer to the male species as a whole. But females are not spared either, with terms such as hormonal, neurotic, bitchy, cow and baggage and many other terms used in a derogatory fashion. There is also a tendency to discredit others, both male and female as being “racist” or homophobic if they do not agree with the opinions of those who are classifying them.

What is happening it seems to me, is that we are reverting to a form of “tribalism” where we see others as being different from ourselves, and put them into various races, tribes, groups or categories of our making that we look down upon. Instead of seeing people as individuals, we immediately put them into a category we despise and ascribe the worst features of that supposed category to them. We can then go on to discriminate against them because they belong to a despised “category.” However I was a little alarmed recently when reading the Greek New Testament to discover that there is a word [katēgoréō; κατηγορέω which means to speak openly against, to condemn or accuse mainly in a legal sense.] It is the root behind our English word “category.” It was used particularly of the hateful accusations being directed towards Jesus and His followers. In fact Satan is called “the accuser” [A noun. katēgoros; κατήγορος] who “accuses” [A verb. katēgoréō; κατηγορέω] the people of God. Rev 12:10  “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers  has been thrown down,  who accuses them day and night before our God.”

How sad it would be, if we were seen to be, in God’s eyes, doing the work of Satan in putting people into our despised categories by the way we think about them, address them or or even write about them.

We would do well to take seriously the words of Jesus when He warned against putting others down or assigning them to some despised category or other, Mat 5:22 “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Strong language from The One who knows the future! Of every individual! Jesus was warning that present inappropriate attitudes can have eternal consequences.

What Is The Problem With The Human Race? Why Are We Sometimes So Nasty To Each Other?

Someone once said to me, “I don’t think the description of the Fall of humankind in Genesis 3 is relevant for today. Humans are basically good.” I felt like saying, “Brother, what planet have you come from? It’s certainly not planet Earth!” When you have had to deal (as I have done in full-time ministry for almost 45 years) with all the messes humans get into, there can be no other explanation than the truths in Genesis 3. Because of the Fall, humans have an inward bias towards evil. It needs the power of God to stop them going more deeply into even more evil.  So the question is, “Are humans basically good or are they prone to evil?” It’s not just a theoretical question for philosophers to discuss ad nauseam. It hits us in the face every day as we drive our cars. I saw some time ago someone driving irresponsibly and if I had not braked hard to let his speeding car into a narrow space in front of me there may have been a serious head-on collision on a narrow two direction two lane road at a combined speed of close on 200km/h. How selfish can you get to want to be seen as a “skilful driver” (or having a FAST vehicle) passing car after car, but at the same time endangering the lives of many people? [Admittedly I was not purely altruistically driven. There was a huge mass of self-preservation involved as well, as the resulting smash would have wiped out a number of vehicles including mine!]

The dilemma we face. Should I trust people or not? Are they basically good or could they do evil?  The dilemma for one person might be, “Can I leave my child with that man or woman? They seem to be nice. But can I really trust them?” The decision is made to do so. Another child is sexually abused.  Or “Should I go into business with that person? They seem trustworthy enough.” Another business is liquidated as the new partner skips off with the money and/or the clients. Or as one woman sorrowfully told me, “I married this lovely fellow and we went on our honeymoon. He said he would just go downstairs for a drink before we retired. He took some time. Later I discovered that he had met a young woman in the bar and had gone back to her room and had sex with her.” She almost screamed at me as she painfully said, “ON OUR WEDDING NIGHT!” But that was the first of many similar occurrences during her marriage. Apparently a “nice” man in the view of most people who knew him but with a fatal flaw that brought so much hurt and pain to his wife.

Are we humans basically good or basically evil?  We need to know in terms of whether we can implicitly trust people. Jesus didn’t always trust people. We read in The Message version of John 2:23-25, … many people noticed the signs he was displaying and, seeing they pointed straight to God, entrusted their lives to him. (24)  But Jesus didn’t entrust his life to them. He knew them inside and out, knew how untrustworthy they were. (25)  He didn’t need any help in seeing right through them. We may not have the same depth of perception He had. But we do need to have the same caution about relationships, knowing what people are capable of doing.

 Jesus Has The Answer For Our Dilemma. Mark 7:20-23.  In this passage Jesus said that it was not what went into a person that made them unclean. It was what came out of them. He continued, Mar 7:20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.(21)  For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, (a word meaning inner dialogues or reasonings or deliberations, planning what to do. ) He then spoke about the form those evil thoughts took in human behaviour, in the verses that follow.

  1. Sexual immorality. Sexual sins or immoral acts both within and outside of the marriage.
  2. Theft.  Taking or using unlawfully something that belongs to someone else.
  3. Murder.  Begin with thoughts in the mind. The actions stem from the thoughts. Jesus went deeper and said that to have hatred in one’s heart towards someone was to be guilty of murder.
  4. Adultery.  Where a spouse is unfaithful to his or her partner. I tried once to get a man to face up to the fact that he was committing adultery with a friend’s wife.  I said to him, “You didn’t just wake up and suddenly find yourselves in bed together, did you? You thought about it (which was wrong) and made a decision to go further in the relationship. You are accountable for what you have done. It wasn’t accidental.”  Again as Jesus said, for a man to look lustfully at another man’s wife is to make him guilty of adultery even though the action hasn’t happened.  This leads on to the next wrong way of thinking that leads to actions. Coveting.
  5. Coveting.  This is mentioned in the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5:21  “‘And you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife. And you shall not desire your neighbour’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour’s.’” Coveting often leads to further action to take hold, for oneself, of the thing or person coveted.
  6. Wickedness.  All sorts of evil. A similar word is used of the devil as the wicked one. These are the sorts of bad things the devil would deceive us into doing to other people.

Then Jesus added a number of evil attitudes in the same verses

  1. Deceit. It is the outward expression in speaking or acting out what is false.
  2. Sensuality.  Lacking self-control in sexual matters.
  3. Envy.  Wanting what is not ours. Not grateful to God for what we have.
  4. Slander.   The word is blasphemy. Evil speaking = speaking evil of others.
  5. Pride.   Self-focussed attitudes looking down on others.  Thinking and acting as though others were inferior to oneself. Eg., the scribes and the Pharisees.
  6. Foolishness. Sums up all the previous evil attitudes.

Jesus concluded, (23)  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” The import of what Jesus was teaching was that every person ever born [except for Jesus] is born with that inward disposition or bias towards evil. That’s why He told Nicodemus an outwardly very righteous respected person, [whom most people of the day would have considered an automatic entry to heaven], “You must be born again!” John 3:7. A far deeper degree of righteousness [which only God could provide], was needed for entry into God’s kingdom.

It means from what Jesus said, that it is not a case of some categories of people who are evil who will miss out on heaven, and other categories of people who are good who will be able to enter. ALL will miss out if entry is based on goodness. The people living in most desolated places on earth, all have a bias to evil. The people living in primitive cultures all have that bias towards evil. The wealthy living on harbourfront mansions all have an inner disposition to sin. The greatly admired scholars living in theological colleges or in the Vatican all have an inner bias towards evil. No one is exempt. Every time we point the finger at other people in condemnation, we condemn ourselves because we do the same things to a greater or less degree. As St Paul wrote, Rom 2:1  “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

King David loved and obeyed God and was described “as a man after God’s heart.” Acts 13:22, “After removing him [Saul], God raised up David their king. He testified about him: ʻI have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my heart, who will accomplish everything I want him to do.ʼ” No wonder David cried out to God after he had sinned against God in his sin with Bathsheba, Psalm 51:10  “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  He saw that his heart needed to be recreated lest he do the same again.  He had discovered how capable he was of deliberately doing evil and of trying to conceal it.

What do Anglicans believe?  Anglican belief is found in the 39 Articles of Religion to be found in the back of most Prayer Books. Article 9 is titled, “Of original or Birth sin”.  It has these words. Man … is of his own nature inclined to evil. … This infection of nature doth remain in those who are regenerate (born again). In other words this proneness to do evil is characteristic of all people. All born-again people still possess this old nature with its bias towards evil and can give way to it unless they are careful. That’s why they are to sow to the Spirit and not to the flesh (the old nature). Gal 6:8  “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

A question to consider regarding this. Have you ever wondered why many men and women who have been in active service in wartime hardly ever speak of their experiences? There is one obvious reason. Because they saw man’s inhumanity to their fellow humans in war. They saw and heard despicable things. It had a terrible effect on them. They don’t want to recall the memories. But there may be another far deeper reason for some of them. I discovered this when counselling many men over the years. Many of them have opened up enough to say that during active service they thought about and did some terrible things themselves. Now they find it almost impossible to talk about them.  They were horrified at their thoughts at that time. They were even more horrified at some of the things they did.  They detested the evil they saw in others. They detested even more the evil they saw in themselves. They felt there was no place for them back among the “good people”. I’m sure that there is a whole lot of healing that needs to happen for such men and women. But they need to find people who won’t be shocked at what they hear about the experiences of those veterans.

William Golding. The challenge of the book and the film “The Lord of the Flies”.   The story is of “innocent” schoolboys alone on an island without any adult supervision or presence. Golding shows that the increasing violence in the boys came from within them. It was not due to some external factor. He portrays the characters in the film to show that there is innate evil in humans. He is correct in what he portrayed. Human experience confirms it. The Bible has always taught it. Philosophers and theologians ignore it at their peril. There is no other satisfactory answer to why the world is as it is. God knew what He was doing in giving such a simple explanation in Genesis 3 for why humans function (or malfunction) as they do. As has been said before, We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because by nature we are sinners.

A deeper type of praying for people

It means then for Christians that they need to change their prayers from praying that nice people become even nicer, to something much deeper than that. They need to pray for people that they get soundly converted; be born again, that they get switched on to the Lord; that they are turned around by repenting of all evil and turning to God for forgiveness and His wisdom and strength. They need to be born again of the Spirit of God so that they become new creatures in Christ and can have victories over that old or flesh nature that still resides within them that is attracted to sin. People need it. The world needs it. Every individual needs it.

A New Beginning. A New Creation. A New Humanity. A New Way Of Thinking. A New Way Of Living. St Paul had known a radical change in his life. He saw himself as a new creature in Christ. He saw that other people could know the radical change he had experienced. He expressed that in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” New creatures could become new in character due to the indwelling Spirit who came upon those who believed in Jesus. They would be given a new nature through the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. In fact he described this new nature in Galatians 5 as the spirit nature being opposed to the old nature (flesh) which they had from birth.

That contrast is spelt out in the difference between the “works of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians chapter 5. The “works of the flesh” are those characteristics that are common  to all people because they are like that in a fallen world.  It affects every area of life. It is in the area of sex, (19)  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality. It is in the area of religion, (20)  idolatry, sorcery.  It is in the area of social sins such as enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,(21)  envy. It is in the area of drinking, drunkenness, orgies. It is in everything associated with these things,  and things like these. That pretty well covers most of life’s experiences. The problem with this life-style is that it is self-defeating. It misses out on life with God in heavenas St Paul wrote, “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The New Life In Christ. It is full of opposite characteristics. It is not “works” (frenzied activity) but “fruit” (the quiet outward expression of the life within), the expression of the life of the Holy Spirit within each believer. It is seen to be operative in the area of one’s attitude to God who shares His love, joy and peace with us. (Jesus spoke of His followers are having His love, His joy, His peace.) It is in the area of relationships with others in society, possessing “patience, kindness, goodness.” They are nice thoughtful people to have around! It is in the area of one’s relation to oneself, “faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control.”  They are honourable and trustworthy people.  While they are living according to the Spirit that is!  Paul wrote in Gal 5:25 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” If the Spirit had brought people new life then they had an obligation to continue to live life being continually guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

 If it is true that all humans have a bias towards evil (in St Paul’s terms, a flesh nature) then that explains why there is so much evil in the world. People who are out of touch with God are doing what comes “naturally” to them. In various degrees. How can that change? They need to know and to experience God’s power in their lives. 

The Danger Of Putting People Into Boxes!

There are many dedicated folk who are seeking to serve their fellow humans in various health and mental services, who need to avoid the temptation of putting people into categories such as white supremacists, misogynists etc and getting people they have never met to admit to having “white privilege”, [whom they see as being captives of the cultures they were brought up in.] Rather it is a much more serious situation than that simplistic approach. Some folk may attempt to change the outward structures or cultures as much as they like and may produce great changes. But human nature itself does not change. The change that God wants and that humans long for in a world where love, not hate,  abounds and where peace, not anxiety or chaos, reigns can only come when individuals discover the transforming power of God in their lives as they are inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit of God and grow into His likeness. As St Paul wrote, when people know God they can know the power of the Holy Spirit to give them victory over their fallen nature, Gal 5:16  “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Victory is possible for those who are strong enough to know they need the power of God in their lives!

This is how I sometimes pray for everyone I know, those who are my friends and the same prayer for those who aren’t interested in being my friend.

“Lord, I ask that you might work in (so and so’s) life to bring them to yourself. Open their eyes to see that they need You and may turn to You to receive forgiveness for all their sins and to receive a new life in Jesus. Set them free from the power of the evil one who had blinded their eyes and who holds them captive to do his will. I pray that they may be born again of Your Spirit and be released to be the people of God You want them to be. Fill them with Your Spirit so that they might know and experience Your wisdom and Your power to live in Your way. May they show forth the fruit of the Spirit in their lives day by day. Please protect them and bless them that they might be a blessing in the lives of other people. AMEN

Your prayer for people doesn’t have to be the same. But it does have to take into account that what is required for people is that they become new creatures in Christ and not become just slightly nicer people in the world.

Blog No.368 posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Thursday 08th October 2020

Posted in Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing, Holy Spirit, Judgement, Justification, Mental Health, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, Sexuality, spiritual warfare, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

367. Reflecting On The Changes In The World In The Light Of The Truth Of Romans Chapter 1.

Over seven years ago [2013] I posted a blog which summarised a previous large number of articles based on Romans chapter 1. At that time, I had been concerned about what was happening in the world and I looked to see what answers we could find from Romans chapter 1 to explain such changes. There were, in my mind, many answers in Romans 1 to the problems I was witnessing.

Since that time many of the “bad” things that I thought might happen, have indeed happened. [Unexpected were the steepness of the “slippery slope,” the stunning reversal of values and the accelerated restriction of freedom of speech and religion.] I recently thought I should do an update to see how the world has changed since then and to do another analysis of how these changes are explained by the truths in Romans chapter 1. Especially how the powers of darkness opposed to God and to His people have taken a tighter grip on the world. This was through people whose anti-God attitudes demonstrated the acrid bitterness and burning hatred that have poisoned the minds of other people who were unaware of spiritual realities.  I hope to do another such article in the future. However I decided it might be helpful, for the moment, to republish the original article to remind us of the magnitude and rapidity of those changes since 2013. 

[REMEMBER All the following words were written in 2013. Blog number 129 summarising article numbers 124 to 128 all posted in 2013.] 

What has got into some of the world leaders in recent months? Some have taken gigantic strides in directions that were not expected. Some seem intent on changing the world as we know it, into an image they have created in their own minds. Now they want to see this vision reproduced in their own countries and even in other nations. Are we looking at world-changing visionaries in our midst? Or are we seeing the results of human wisdom gone mad? Humans out of control?

Once again chapter 1 of St Paul’s letter to the Romans has some answers for us. Recently I wrote some material on this chapter where I showed that three of the major factors in today’s world can be explained from its message. It is a description of human rebellion against God in three main facets of life.

1).  In Rom 1:17-23, we saw that human rebellion against God leads to idolatry in which God is replaced by aspects of His creation. It means that Jesus, His agent in creation, is also not accorded His God-given position as Creator and Lord of His universe.  One of the factors I noted in the articles was this. If folk reject God, they also reject His declaration that humans are made in His image. If people are merely different bits of this world structure then they (particularly the foetus or near-born or newly-born) can be disposed of at will because they are expendable “bits” with little present significance. There are many national leaders actively supporting almost unlimited abortion on demand. But some of them are not content with that. Now they want to have that particular concept of abortion on demand extended to other countries as well. There is talk that some of these leaders might want to make the acceptance of wide-spread abortion a qualification for receiving aid from the “richer” country! To stop “populution”? Or to extend their longed-for “power”?

God (YHWH) doesn’t see this “option” as wise management of human resources. He has a name for abortion done purely for the convenience of the person or the family or the nation. It’s called “murder”. Jesus once warned about putting stumbling blocks in the way of the young, Luke 17:1 “He said to His disciples, “Offenses will certainly come, but woe to the one they come through! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” If causing the young to stumble brings such condemnation, then what does the supporting of the extinguishing of the young, merit?

We need to wake up! Humans in rebellion against God are destroying fellow humans who are made in the image of God. He says they are! As such the vulnerable are to be protected and valued! Not destroyed!

 2). In Rom 1:23-25 we read that this rebellion takes on a sinister turn. Humans created by God reject their Creator AND begin to worship and serve “something created”. This is what false religion is all about, when humans begin to take their eyes off God as the pre-eminent One in the universe and begin to exchange the truth about Him for a lie. The lie is this; that something or someone can take His place. Such people put their focus onto something or someone else, a part of God’s creation.  Instead of following God’s commandments and His revelation of His will in the Scriptures, they place their allegiance in things or people.

We noted in a previous article that Jesus as the Creator-Redeemer of humans was called “the truth” and that His teaching is to be followed and not rejected nor added to. He was called also the “wisdom of God” for His words were the Father’s words.  His wisdom was obvious to all who heard Him. We read in Mat 13:54, He went to His hometown and began to teach them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “How did this wisdom and these miracles come to Him? Paul called Him the “wisdom of God” in 1Cor 1:23-24,   but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Similarly in 1Cor 1:30  And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption

True religion is based on the wisdom of God rather than the wisdom of the world.  One way of assessing all the present day religious movements is to look at how they operate and what are the ideologies and the motivations behind their actions. The wisdom of God (YHWH) in James 3:17 is described like this, …the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favouritism and hypocrisy. What a wonderful peaceful world it would be if we lived by the wisdom of God! As we examine all the current religious movements are they marked by these qualities? If they are, then they appear to be elements of true religion operating with God’s wisdom especially when they exhibit true love knowing “God is love” (1John 4:16  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.) 

If the religious bodies today are not characterised by these qualities, they may not be of God. Religions or ideologies operating from a human source of wisdom rather than a divine source have these features seen in James 3:14-16, bitter envy, selfish ambition, bragging, defying the truth. James writes here that this “wisdom” it is not from above, from God. It has to do only with the dimension of the human senses. It may be demonic, influenced by the powers of darkness. The outward expression of worldly wisdom is disorder and every kind of evil. A quick glance at our daily papers sees the evidence throughout the world of disorder, murder, the absence of love and utter evil in some of the religious movements. It would seem that false religion is alive and expanding on planet earth. It is false religion that brooks no rivals. True religion looks to God for wisdom on how to behave and to live in the peace of God that passes human understanding.

We need to wake up! Humans in rebellion against God are worshipping and serving the lie that you can replace Him with something or someone! He brooks no rivals. However He offers all people a relationship of peace with Himself through His Son Jesus Christ.

3).  In Romans 1:26-27. We saw in the previous article that this passage speaks quite openly about same sex activity and God’s attitude to it.  In Leviticus chapters 18 and 20 He declared His repugnance. “Abomination” and “detestable” are never pretty words. How much more when they come from the mind of God Himself! If He used such words to describe these activities, it is sad that His people today are being labelled as homophobic for simply expressing what He said. But people in rebellion against God will reject His words especially when they come through fellow humans.

Recently we have seen that some national leaders are not only in favour of same sex practice, but are pushing for same-sex marriage. One leader even wants to send expert teams out to other countries to help facilitate the acceptance and legalisation of same-sex marriage in those countries. Foreign aid with a twist! Again is it a case of such leaders being world-leading-visionaries who are taking the world into whole new expressions of freedom and liberty? Or something quite different!

But what if? What if there is a God who has revealed Himself in the Bible and through Jesus, and whose revelation we have in the Holy Bible, the Scriptures?  What if He told us almost 2000 years ago that He had dealt with people in rebellion against Him and delivered them over to “do their own thing.” What if people presume He doesn’t exist or isn’t concerned when they do things He had forbidden,  and are not struck down dead as a result? What if the words of 2Peter 3:9 are true, “The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” What if His apparent failure to deal with human sin is not a sign of His pathetic weakness, but of His incredible patience and amazing grace and astonishing love in giving them time to turn from their rebellion against Him, to seek His forgiveness and to find true peace with Him as the true God?

We need to wake up! Humans in rebellion against God are encouraging practices that God has strongly condemned in unmistakeable terms! He isn’t going to change His mind! He isn’t going to adapt to cultural changes! He isn’t going to water down His word to gain more acceptance or to elicit a greater following! He has spoken! Clearly! Definitively!

A realistic appraisal of the whole human situation. Romans 1:29-32 

God’s appraisal! We have seen in a previous article that these verses apply to every human ever born who has been rebellious against God. That’s all of us except for Jesus. We may look at these verses and pat ourselves on the back that we are pretty good in comparison with some notorious sinners in this world. But when we come to words such as greed, envy, disputes, deceit, gossips arrogant, proud, boastful, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful, we realise that we ourselves have failed to get a perfect score in those areas of life.  It means that we are sinners just like the ones we have judged as being guilty of sin.

Only one way for all of us

There is only one way out of our predicament for all of us because we are all sinners in the sight of God. And that is by accepting His offer of forgiveness and salvation in Christ. It is a free gift to us in Him. It is an offer coming from His grace and love. But it is not cheap grace! It meant that Jesus the Son of God, the Messiah, had to die for the sins of all the peoples of the world throughout the ages. His death brought the possibility of forgiveness and new life for every person who would receive them in Christ. But “receive them” is the operative phrase. What is happening in today’s world is that people are making their choice. To seek truth in the God of truth, or to turn their backs on Him and to continue on in their rebellion.

Perhaps when St Paul wrote Romans chapter 1 at the inspiration of the Spirit of God he did not envisage a world as rebellious as it is now. But God did!  In His love He has warned us through St Paul in this chapter that human rebellion would always take the form of idolatry, false religion and sexual inappropriateness. In His love He has warned those rebelling against Him in this way. However He also warns each and every one of us in the latter verses of the same chapter that we can’t criticise others, for we too are guilty before Him. The fact that we seem to be free to do whatever we wish without punishment may be an indication that the words of 2 Peter 3:9 are true, “The Lord … is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Repentance from all of us! No exceptions!

A Prayer for someone to pray who feels they are not right with God, in order to get right with God.

Dear Lord. You have shown us so clearly in Your word that none of us can stand before You, trusting in who we are or in what we have done. We have all rebelled against You in many and various ways. I confess that I am guilty before You and I need Your forgiveness and love. 

I have learned that Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross so that I might have forgiveness. I have learned too that He rose from the dead and is alive today.

I invite You Lord Jesus to be my Saviour from sin and to be the Lord and Master of my life. Come into my life to make me a new creature and to guide and strengthen me to live as I should, from this day forward. 

I thank You by faith for the victories I shall experience in life with Your help. Please accept my thanks in Your precious name of Jesus. AMEN

Blog No.367 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Saturday 03 October 2020.

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366. THE EXTREMELY URGENT NEED FOR PEOPLE TO SEEK FORGIVENESS FROM GOD AND TO FORGIVE ALL THOSE WHO HURT THEM. OR ELSE!

A quick look at TV and you see a world out of control. Especially scenes from American television at the moment. Fancy any community screaming obscenities at their police force, physically attacking them and wanting them defunded and disbanded. Fancy others belittling their duly elected President and some even threatening to bring chaos across the USA if he wins the next election. Those who have never accepted the results of the 2016 election can never forgive him for standing for office and have tried in many ways to bring his presidency to an end. One sees in various reports that assassination attempts on him are being considered in some quarters if he were to win the next election. Such an attempt would be seen by many disgruntled folk as a virtuous act. Such is the degradation that comes from harbouring hate and resentment and an unwillingness to forgive those whom we think have harmed us in any way.

But before we begin our “Tutt! tutts!” can we honestly say that we ourselves are prepared to forgive everyone of every sin they may have committed against us.  If we cannot say “Yes” we ourselves are part of the problem. The writer of Psalm 73 expressed what happened to him as he became bitter and lost a true perspective on life, Psa 73:21 “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22  I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” Bitterness twists the mind so that one almost ceases to be human and acts without any due regard for a fellow or fellow humans. 

I have written previously that the NT Greek word for bitterness [pikria] is the origin of our English word [‘picric’] as in picric acid. This is one of the most bitter substances you can find and is highly unstable and explosive. In fact it was used in explosives in the First World War. Have we not all seen folk so filled with bitterness and unforgiveness that they were a walking emotional time-bomb. But good news! Some of us have had the privilege of seeing some of these burdened folk become convicted of their sin by the Holy Spirit and turn to God for forgiveness, often with great physical and emotional healing taking place at the same time. Not only that but they became willing to forgive those who had harmed them in any way. Going even further into the unbelievable, they became willing to pray a blessing upon those they had previously been bitter against. Adding another dimension to their forgiving, they expressed an openness to be reconciled [where possible] to their former enemies! Some were! Some weren’t, but the latter remained open to the possibility by keeping the door open to any possible future reconciliation.

This is the sort of thing we need to see happening in the USA and in Australia and throughout the world. For example, can anyone in their right mind ever become aggressive towards those who prefer to say, “All lives matter” and mean it, rather than being coerced into saying only that ”Black lives matter!?” It just illustrates that Satan has blinded the minds of those who refuse to believe so that they cannot recognise the dangers of the pernicious anti-God Marxist philosophy that they think will bring about a new Utopia. It never has! It never can! It never will!

So writing this article is part of my tiny miniscule attempt to save the world from possible chaos, violence and destruction in the coming days. I am hoping that people, all of us, may learn how to be forgiven by God and then learn by His grace and love, how to forgive everyone of everything. It is utterly necessary! It is entirely possible! But only by the gracious help of God and a willingness on the part of humans to humble themselves to receive His help!

What is being offered in this blog article number 366. 

I thought the number 366 was an easy number to remember, being the days in a Leap Year. It is a blog people can keep coming back to, to learn about forgiveness. There are over 30 articles I have written in previous blogs and I made a summary of the links to them in blog number 219. A more recent blog is number 258 which is a You Tube recording of a Skype teaching given from Australia to The Healing Ministry at All Saints Episcopal church at Winter Park in Florida some years ago.

For convenience I am summarizing all these links them in this article by providing the following links. Just click on the numbers 219 and 258 below to be taken to those articles.

Article 219 which has 30 plus articles to click on

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/jimholbeck.blog/4942

Article 258 2https://jimholbeck.blog/2018/02/02/258-what-is-involved-in-forgiveness-a-you-tube-skype-teaching-by-jim-holbeck-recorded-by-the-healing-ministry-at-all-saints-episcopal-church-winter-park-florida/58 has the link to the You Tube video recording on forgiveness

NOTE:] Just in case the above procedure has difficulties you can simply go to www.jimholbeck.blog and type “forgiveness” in the Search box  and the list of articles will be displayed for you. 

Or type 216 or 258 in the search box and you will be taken to those articles

If you find the articles helpful, please share them with others because I think the world is in a very difficult and very dangerous place at the moment, and forgiveness rather than hate needs to flow between humans of all races and skin colours. The truths in these articles can help if read and acted on! The truths have helped many folk in the past and I am sure that read humbly, could help many folk around the world in the present and in the future. That is my hope and my prayer.

Blog No.366 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Wednesday 16th September 2020.

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365. Conformation To The World Or Transformation To The Likeness Of Christ? That Is The Question! What Is Your Answer? Romans 12:1-2

Like most of us, I like looking at YouTube to find things that might be encouraging in this increasingly difficult world. I am blessed as I come across some gifted Bible teachers and preachers and encouraged in my Christian walk as I hear or read their expositions of God’s word. In my search I recently came across a sermon I had preached five years ago [about the time of my 80th birthday] in the historic 1824-1828 convict built church of St Thomas in Port Macquarie . So I steeled myself to listen to my own sermon from way back then. 

I realised as I listened that I would probably not change any word of what I said back then. To my surprise I found it encouraging. [Jim, “Self-praise is no recommendation!” True but I was just making an observation that the truths preached were a renewed blessing to me 5 years later. ]  The passage has so much relevance for today’s world situation, and to me offers some clues as to how we can cope [and even have victories] as we seek to live for the Lord in today’s depressing political climate. 

I was encouraged as I thought about going into full-time service some 60 years ago that the Lord can use ordinary people like me through whom to speak. After all He once spoke through the mouth of an ass, so there was obviously hope for someone like me [Numbers 22:28]. In the 20 minute sermon I attempted to summarise in a few minutes the 11 chapters leading up to Romans 12, by looking at the theme of “belonging to God.” Following that I looked at the challenge of verses 1 and 2, will it be for us, conformation or transformation? My challenge to my readers is this? Would you be willing to risk listening to a retired 80 year preacher as he shared what he found helpful for himself in the Book of Romans?

The challenge is issued and you can find the sermon on this You Tube site. 

If you have any difficulties using this link you can just type jim holbeck into You Tube and you will find it among considerable other material in my name.

I might have some limited opportunity to respond to anyone who wanted to contact me at jimholbeck@gmail.com

 Blog No. 365 posted on jimholbeck.blog on Saturday 12th September 2020.

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364. Memories That Bring Tears To Your Eyes And Praise To Your Lips. A Personal Reflection. 2Corinthians 12:9

We humans are funny creatures and we are all so very different. I was reflecting on this a few days ago when I was thinking of how certain dates can become so significant in our lives as individuals. Significant things happened on a certain date and the memories, good or bad, will remain with us forever. The date that became so significant to me was the 22nd day of the month. That date became special to me way back on 22nd August 1964 when my very best friend Carole and I were driving back from seeing my sister’s family in the Qld country. We pulled up outside a small town called Esk before we drove the last stage of our trip back to our homes in Ipswich. As we admired the beauty of the hills around the township we began to talk about how wonderful it was to be able to spend some time together at last. I had said farewell to Carole in late January to go to theological college in Melbourne [1700km away] and we had not seen each other until this time in August. We shared how we had missed seeing each other even though frequent letters had kept us in touch. 

The conversation deepened as we shared about what the future held for both of us.  Carole had another 18 months to finish her bond with the Qld Education Department as a trained teacher and I had at least another 2 years to study in Melbourne. I had only a short time before I was due to leave her again to return to Melbourne until December. I was going to miss her terribly as I realised how kind she had been to my parents, visiting them often and sharing with me how they were going, in the many letters she faithfully wrote to me every week. I realised that my love for her had deepened during our time apart. I wondered whether this beautiful, attractive, gorgeous, highly intelligent creature sitting next to me could ever get to love and marry an ordinary guy like me. Somehow I plucked up the courage and said something like, “Carole, what would you say if, some day, I asked you to marry me?” Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long for an answer as she replied immediately, “I would say ‘Yes’.” How much easier it was then to say, “Will you marry me?” and how blessed to hear the answer, “Yes!” What a joy to drive home and delight both sets of parents with the news. Just a week later our engagement was announced publicly in the papers.

I booked my return train trip back to Melbourne but shortly after my father became ill and was taken to hospital in Ipswich and transferred to Brisbane. He died of a brain tumour soon after. Carole was magnificent in helping us cope in such sad unexpected circumstances. I realised afresh that I was going to marry a real gem.  Before I left by car for Melbourne taking my grieving mother with me, Carole and I had worked out that the earliest time for our wedding would be another 22nd of the month, the 22nd January 1966 just after she would complete her teaching bond and would be free to come back with me to Melbourne until I finished my external degree from the University of London. 

By the grace of God Carole and I were able to share almost 54 years of a wonderful loving married life together, always celebrating with a real sense of praise to God on the 22nd of January and the 22nd of August every year. They were joyful memories etched in our minds as we praised God for bringing us together and enriching our marriage and family life over all those years. I think we were both amazed at the number of people over those 53 years who would say to us, “You two were obviously meant for each other.” We certainly believed that God in His infinite wisdom and love had brought us together from thousands of miles from each other, Carole coming as a 4 year old with her parents from Kharagpur near Calcutta in India and me from Gympie in Qld to meet in Ipswich, fall in love and serve Him together for over 50 years. What an incredible privilege for both of us. We both saw each other as being God’s gift to us individually.

The years since then have flown but the 22nd of August last year brought up the 55th anniversary of the day I proposed and Carole accepted. We did not know it at the time, but that day last year would turn out to be the last trip to another town we would have in our car together. Within a few weeks Carole would be hospitalised with fluid on the lung as her cancer increased. She was released after treatment but was readmitted back into Port Macquarie hospital on the 19th October and was transferred to Palliative care in Wauchope a couple of days later. Then came another memorable 22nd of the month. The specialist came into Carole’s room with a group of student doctors on that day and said to her, “Carole, we will try to get you home as soon as possible and we will arrange for palliative care nurses to visit you at home.” Carole thanked her and then suggested to her in her own gracious way, how the palliative care could be improved even further. But it was only a week later that the same specialist returned with another group of student doctors and said to Carole, “Carole you won’t be going home. You will die in a few days.” It appeared that Carole’s lungs were filling with fluid and draining them would not be possible. My beloved Carole did die just 2 days later. 

I write this just a few hours before what would have been the 56th anniversary of the day we became engaged. It probably will mean that every 22nd of every month will be filled with memories for me as I remember our engagement and our wedding and the joys of our married life together. They will be happy memories as I praise God for giving me such a perfect [for me] life partner. But when you face a personal bereavement you remember what you once had, but then you go on to remember what you no longer have. The tears of joy turn to joys of sorrow as you know you will no longer see that loving smile or feel that loving touch or hear that beautiful eisteddfod winning voice saying softly, “Darling, I love you so much! Thank you for loving me!” And over the last year adding, “And thank you for caring for me.”

Why have I as a very private person written so personally? Simply because I wanted to and felt I had to. It is never easy to face grief when someone you love is taken from you when you had hoped you might have had perhaps another 10 or more years together. I am glad that when I began ministry and had to minister to those going through bereavement, I would tell them that there is no set pattern to follow when going through a grief process. We all have to find our own way of coping whilst being open to the well-meaning advice that our friends pass on to us. So sharing in this way is my way of coping at the moment. I hope it doesn’t embarrass anyone but I just love to praise God for His incredible goodness in allowing Carole and I to meet, fall deeply in love and have an extremely happy fulfilling life together in Him. 

Many of you who read this article, may also be going through grief. I can humbly say that I find it helpful personally to reflect with thanksgiving and praise on all the good that God has brought into my life, especially the gifts of being born into a loving family, and His gracious gifts of a loving and beloved wife, dearly loved children and grandchildren. And on the days when I do feel a little bereft and a deep sense of loss chokes me up, I am finding this promise of the Lord to be wonderfully true as I seek to keep close to Him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Blog No.364 posted on Friday 21st August 2020

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363. Liberating News! Freed From Destructive Comparisons! What Is The True Basis For Making Comparisons?

I love the phrase “comparisons are odious.” Why? Because it seemed that I always finished up on the wrong side of every comparison. So it raised the question for me, “What should be the basis of our comparisons?” I know from my own experience and from ministering to thousands of people in three different countries over 50 plus years, that to compare ourselves with other people, can be very destructive.

If we compare ourselves with other people, it can lead to pride and arrogance on our part. We can imagine ourselves to be vastly superior in looks, charm, attractiveness and intelligence, but we wonder why other people don’t recognise it as they should, when it must be so obvious!  We might think! Wrongly!

OR, when comparing ourselves with others we can see ourselves as being vastly inferior in every way. They are better looking, more charming, more attractive and more intelligent. We think that everyone sees us in all our patheticness. The result is that because we think we don’t compare favourably with other people, we think we have nothing to offer! We are nobodies! We are just extras in the ongoing scenes of life while those “superior others” are playing all the main and supporting roles! We are just “also-rans!” In our opinion!

What is the answer? What is the true comparison we should make in life? I’ll try to put it in a simple sentence.

The only valid comparison I can make in life is how I compare now [by the grace of God], with how I should be now [by the grace of God] if I had loved and obeyed Him perfectly for every moment of my life!

 That is enough to humble me for the rest of my life. But praise God, He can forgive all my past failures as I put my trust in what Christ did for me on the cross. Not only that, but He can transform me into the unique person He wants me to be, as I keep looking to Him for His grace and power. As St Paul wrote, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:18. Becoming uniquely more and more like Him, the object of our adoration and love!

This true comparison makes me humble, knowing that I will never be as good as I could have been. But it also makes me expectant, knowing that as I yield myself to Him, the Lord will help me to become closer to the unique individual He wants me to be.

Blog 363 posted on Wednesday 29th July 2020.

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362. The Future Is In God’s Hands, Not Man’s. [The Message Of The Letter To The Ephesians.]

Something is happening in the world today even though many people do not realise it. In the words of a well-known hymn, “God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year.” It may seem to many people in our world today, when many appear to be drifting away from organised religion, that God is losing control of His world. However, God has a purpose for His world and He has already set this purpose in action. What He has begun, He will bring to completion. No human can stop it. It is inevitable. In His time!

What exactly then is this purpose that He has set in place? Saint Paul described it in His letter to the Ephesians. There are different ways of describing the message in Ephesians. One of my favourite descriptions was that found in a book by Watchman Nee entitled, “Sit. Walk. Stand.” The “Sit” stood for the fact that as believers we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. That is our status in the eyes of God. The “Walk” represented our Christian walk as believers. The “Stand” came from our need to stand against the powers of darkness in spiritual warfare whilst clothed in the armour of God. It was an accurate description of the contents of the epistle.

The same truths are expressed in a different way in the following description. It is based on what Paul described as the purpose of God for His world, which is a mystery that was revealed by God to His people. The mystery is that in building a new humanity He would bring them together in Christ and through this new humanity [the church] He would make that message of the mystery known to the whole world, “as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Eph 1:10.

Some human thinking influenced by totalitarian Marxist philosophy so prevalent in our world. sees unity as the result of the process of division and the breaking down of all existing structures and forcing human thinking to submit to its godless materialistic philosophy. God’s process in bringing unity to the world is quite different. His process is that of reconciliation. He has made it possible for individuals to be reconciled to God through the death of His Son. He has made reconciliation to one another as humans possible by that same death of Jesus on the cross. Then these reconciled believers [who have been reconciled to God and to one another] described as the body of Christ and the church, are to take that message of reconciliation to the wider world to enable this uniting of all things in Jesus in God’s time.  The process began with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, was spread through the ministry of missionaries sharing the mystery of God’s purpose and redeeming love around the world throughout the ages, and is progressing day by day.

As a later verse puts it,

“From utmost east to utmost west,

wherever feet have trod,

by the mouth of many messengers

goes forth the voice of God,

‘Give ear to me, ye continents,

ye isles, give ear to me,

that the earth may be filled with the glory of God

as the waters cover the sea.”

 

When will that fulness of time come? Only God knows! But as the hymn goes on to suggest, we need to be ready. Why?

“yet nearer and nearer draws the time,

the time that shall surely be,

when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God

as the waters cover the sea.”

 

Every time we introduce other people to Jesus we are being used as part of the eternal purpose of God in uniting all things in Himself and hastening the day when He returns and when indeed, “the earth shall be filled with the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea.”

Blog No.362. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Sunday 12th July 2020.

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361. A Prayer That Needs To Be Prayed For A World In Turmoil. The Prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola.

It is marvelous how seemingly small things in our lives leave a massive impact. I was thinking recently about a prayer I learned when I first became a Christian in 1958. Many of the phrases in the prayer, even now, keep popping back into my mind some 62 years later. In a sense, the biblical truths behind the prayer have helped shape my life over all those years. The prayer implies that Christians are meant to have a servant heart in all their relationships, no matter what success [humanly speaking] they have achieved in life. The prayer composed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola may have been influenced by the words of Jesus as He told his disciples “For the Son of Man [Jesus] came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mk 10:45. Certainly as the founder of the Jesuits, he and his followers attempted to live in accordance with the concepts in the prayer and many nations throughout the world and over numerous generations have been richly blessed as a result of the ministry of the Jesuits.

In a world increasingly being marked by rebellion, riots, looting, destruction and even physical violence and murder it is a prayer that many young and older folk could learn and live by, for their own benefit and for the future prosperity of the world. Otherwise the soul and life destroying concepts of atheistic Marxist philosophy so prevalent in all our educational systems, in which there are no moral absolutes [except what they insist on] will continue to prevail to the detriment of the peoples of the whole world.

Could I imagine the young and older folk engaged in the riotous aggression we witness now on TV, ever humbling themselves to pray such a prayer? Humanly speaking, Never! But Ignatius as a young man was not to be admired, until he met the Lord in a life-changing encounter. He was never the same afterwards. Neither is anyone who encounters the living Jesus! So it is possible that some of these riotous folk we see today, may some day come to realise the demonic background to their present thinking and antisocial behaviour when they have an encounter with the truth [Jesus Himself]. Then and only then can they begin to make a positive contribution to the world as St Ignatius eventually did. I pray so! So here is the prayer as I learnt it, with my comments on the side.

Prayer of Saint Ignatius Loyola

Teach us, Good Lord,

My comments

He is good, for He died for us

He is the Lord over the whole creation as its creator and sustainer.

We need Him to open our eyes in order to understand spiritual realities.

 

To Serve Thee as Thou deservest; He died for us so that we might live for Him
To give and not to count the cost; No one can out-give God! God loves a generous giver especially when they give themselves to Him and to His purposes.
To fight and not to heed the wounds; It is the fight of faith to trust in the victory already won on the cross for us.
To labor and not to ask for any reward, Reward is not the motivation for labour, but is the undeserved result of faithful labour for the Lord
save that of knowing that we do Thy will. To know we are in the will of God is the greatest blessing on earth
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen. “For from Him, and through Him and to Him are all things.” Rom 11:36.

Why not pray the prayer and see what the Lord can do in and through you, to His glory?

Blog No.361. A Prayer That Needs To Be Prayed For A World In Turmoil. The Prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola. Posted on Sunday 28th  June 2020.

 

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360. The Unholy Triumvirate. Adding Entitlement To The Dangerous Cocktail Of Victim Mentality And Bitterness. Why The World Is In Such A Mess!

In my previous article number  359  I wrote about the dangerous cocktail that results when bitterness is added to victim mentality. I also mentioned that if another particular element was added, it would form a dangerous triumvirate that could influence the thinking and consequent behaviour of many in our world today. We can now look at what that third element is. It is the Sense of Entitlement that so many people in the world today seem to have adopted as an ongoing pattern of thinking. It is bad enough of itself but when added to the other two elements it can become a mixture that is quite explosive in human relationships.

First of all what is a sense of entitlement? On the Psychology Today website it was described as being an enduring personality trait, characterized by the belief that one deserves preferences and resources that others do not. It may appear sometimes that some folk are certainly “entitled” to have a sense of entitlement, because they have sacrificed a lot in becoming more learned or more skilled or have become more committed than others in their desire to make a greater personal contribution to the world.

Unfortunately however, others with a sense of entitlement expect to receive more recognition or rewards than they appear [humanly speaking] to be “entitled” to. Especially when they see themselves as victims of some external factor or factors, eg.,when they say something like, “Because of my background, I missed out on that, so I am entitled to  have it now.” If they have harboured resentment about having missed out on something and have become bitter about it, then the added sense of entitlement creates a deadly mixture or a negatively powerful triumvirate. That was seen recently in the USA where one activist virtually advocated looting with her reasoning something like this, “You don’t have it because of your impoverished background compared with others, who can simply walk in and buy it. You can’t do that, so go and take what you want.” Some folk would see that advice as encouraging envy leading to the theft of what is not rightfully theirs. But if there are no absolutes, no rules, no guidelines, then anything goes.

Such things appear to be happening throughout the world at the moment. It is anarchy being promoted as a means of achieving a more equitable society. Just think about all the protests that are going on in the world today. Many of them have leaders with an apparently good motivation and are seeking to bring about desirable change to correct known injustices. But not all. Many of them seem to be led by people who are targeting  groups who believe themselves to be disadvantaged, and trying to bring about change by force rather than by reason and peaceful means. Where is the wisdom in all this?

Fortunately the Lord has shown us in His word what is true wisdom and what is not. The following table show us what is God’s wisdom for how the world and its peoples should operate, contrasted with so-called wisdom that is entirely different and counterproductive for humankind. It is found in the Epistle of James chapter 3, verses 13 to 18. [Reading across from left to right.]

GOD’S WISDOM HUMAN WISDOM
Jas 3:13  Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.

[True wisdom is meek because it depends on the mind of Another, God Himself.  James had already written about that in James 1:21, “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Any revelation from God has to be received with humility for we cannot obtain that truth of ourselves.

 

On this side we have the characteristics of human wisdom.

14  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.

·      Bitter jealousy. “Bitter” is pikron, πικρὸν which I have shown elsewhere  is the root of picric acid, one of the most bitter, unstable and explosive compounds in chemistry.

Jealousy [zēlos; ζῆλος] is bad enough of itself but when bitterness is added to it, it becomes a deadly mixture destroying human relationships and rational thinking.

·      Selfish ambition. [eritheia; ἐριθείαν] means putting ourselves and our own desires and interests ahead of the interests of others. It can mean pursuing our own agenda to the detriment of other people. In Gal 5:20, it is seen as one of the works of the flesh [fallen human nature] together with jealousy.

·      boasting. katakauchaomai; κατακαυχᾶσθε means to exaggerate our exploits or character above that of others. Putting down others by unduly exalting ourselves.

·      false to the truth. pseudomai; ψεύδεσθε To deceive by telling untruths.

What a contrast this is to the peaceful uplifting wisdom of God.

17  But the wisdom from above

·      from above. [anothen; ἄνωθεν] It’s origin is in God.

·      is first pure,

·      then peaceable,

·      gentle,

·      open to reason,

·      full of mercy and

·      good fruits,

·      impartial and

·      sincere.

The above is a picture of what the world would be like if we all operated according to God’s wisdom

15  This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

·      Earthly. [epigeios; ἐπίγειος from the earth or the world. Its origin is from fallen human thinking and not from God’s revealed wisdom in His word.

·      unspiritual. [psychikos; ψυχική means soulish, lacking any spiritual origin.

·      demonic. [daimoniōdēs; δαιμονιώδης].

What a shock to discover that some so-called human wisdom may actually be demonic, having its origin in Satan rather than in the Lord. As such it is counter-productive to human welfare. As Jesus said of Satan, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Jn 10:10. Justifying looting, stealing, killing and destruction in the name of justice or in the pursuit of equality could be seen by some to be supporting what is of demonic origin. It certainly is not of God!

Jesus by contrast, operated by divine wisdom to enable people by His death and resurrection, to bring real life, abundant life, to those who would humble themselves to receive Him as Saviour and Lord, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jn 10:10. Abundant, satisfying life even while living in an imperfect world.

 

Outward Expression. It is what happens when God’s wisdom is in operation in the world.

18  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

 

PEACE. A deep abiding peace. As Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. “ Jn 14:27.

And a peace beyond human understanding as St Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God 7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Php 4:6-7.

Outward Expression. It is what happens when humans turn away from God’s wisdom and try to operate by their own fallen human wisdom.

16  For where jealousy and selfish ambition [see verse 14]  exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

·      Disorder. [akatastasia; ἀκαταστασία] It can mean commotion, confusion, instability, riots, uprisings. Paul and others endured it, 2Co 6:4  Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5  in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;

It will be one of the signs of the end of the times, Luk 21:9  When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.

·      Vile. [phaulos; phaulos meaning wicked or evil.

·      Practice. [pragma; πρᾶγμα; a deed; matter, thing, work. It is the outward expression of what we believe. True belief leads to true behaviour. Wrong belief leads to wrong behaviour. As Jesus indicated in Jn 10:10, stealing, killing and destroying is demonic behaviour. Justifying it in the name of correcting injustice is human wisdom and has nothing to do with God’s wisdom.

As you look at what is happening in the world today which form of wisdom do you think is most observable, God’s wisdom on the left or human wisdom on the right?

Above we have the Unholy Alliance or the Negatively Powerful Triumvirate.  Bitterness being added to a Victim Mentality and then crowned with a Sense of Entitlement. In brief, “I’m bitter because I’m a victim as I don’t have what you have. As a victim I am entitled to what you have and so I will take what is rightfully mine, in my opinion, from what you have. In my case, force and theft are justified as I attempt to right this wrong!”

 There are many other forms this triumvirate can take, but common to all of them is that they are all based on human wisdom, human ways of looking at situations and human ways of acting to deal with perceived inequalities and perceived unjust situations.  The danger is that in seeking to do something about them, we can be tempted to act in ways that are contrary to the character of God and opposed to His purposes for His world.

 Is There Another Way? Yes! God’s Way! It Is Not Only Better, But It Is The Only Way!

Jesus as the Messiah came to earth to be a victim. It had been prophesied centuries before that this would be His role as the Messiah. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?” Isaiah 53:3-7.

 He was the willing victim, as the sins of the world were laid on Him and He bore the punishment for those sins on behalf of sinners. But He didn’t remain the victim, as He rose from the dead, the victor over sin, death and over the powers of darkness and evil.  St Paul referred to this as he encouraged his readers to be humble like Christ was in His ministry on earth, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves, 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Php 2:3-4.

 St Paul highlighted Christ’s example on how to live for others

People were to have the same attitude to others as Jesus had. Was His life characterised by the powerful triumvirate of Bitterness mixed with a victim mentality and crowned with a sense of entitlement? No! Quite the opposite! Php 2:5 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

  • He was a victim, but a willing victim to offer Himself for others as an atoning sacrifice for sin as part of God’s plan to save the world. Heb 9:14 ”how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
  • He was not bitter but joyful as the writer to the Hebrews commented, “Jesus, … who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2.
  • He had no sense of entitlement. The whole world was His as its Creator, yet He emptied Himself of all to which He was entitled, all the privileges that were His as the Son of God, and He became a servant to others, for their betterment and for their salvation. He had said of His ministry, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mk 10:45.

 The power to change the world is not given by God to those who rely on the Unholy Triumvirate of Bitterness + Victim Mentality + A Sense of Entitlement based on human wisdom and which leads to inappropriate words and actions, often violent in nature.  It is given to those who trust in Jesus to whom all authority is given and who has become entitled to receive the adoration, praise and obedience of every living creature, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Php 2:9-11. Only when Jesus is confessed as one’s Saviour, and submitted to as one’s Lord, is one in a position to be part of the healing processes that God sees as necessary for His world. For as James put it, “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:20.

Blog No.360. Posted on Thursday 25th June 2020  

 

 

 

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359. THE CURSE OF VICTIMHOOD [And Other Factors] ON THE HUMAN RACE

In early 2019 I posted an article number 311 on this site with the title, ‘“Hey! I’m The Victim Here!” The Curse Of “Victimhood” In Today’s World.’ Little did I realise that a very deep sense of victimhood would become so quickly imbedded in so many people groups around the world. I pointed out in that article that all of us are victims in life in varying degrees, but one does not have to adopt or maintain a victim mentality as an ongoing attitude of mind throughout life. One can have a much more positive attitude to life even in the midst of challenging situations.

In the next article number312 I wrote about a dangerous cocktail that comes from adding bitterness to a victim mentality. Part of the article contained these words, “Bitterness contaminates individuals, groups and even many in political parties. That is obvious as we look at our TV screens and see there those who have drunk the toxic cocktail of bitterness mixed in with their victim mentality. Many who have done so have lost any sense of proportion. They no longer think rationally. Their faces are twisted with bitterness and they fail to see any good in people or even good policies in another political party. They play asinine infantile political games while ordinary people [for whom they seem to have no compassion, concern or respect] suffer terribly. The trouble is that corrupt leaders corrupt others and many beautiful precious “run of the mill” folk [in the eyes of such people] are ignored and badly disadvantaged as a result! Only the “enlightened elite” like themselves matter!” That is becoming even more obvious every day.

A Modern Triumvirate

I thought that when I came to write article No. 360 that I should take a 360 degree look at what is happening in the world today and comment on a modern triumvirate. There is a third element in the triumvirate, joining Victim Mentality and Bitterness, and together they are exercising a powerful influence in the world, causing it to cease to think rationally and binding the peoples of the world to their damaging ways of thinking [and behaving.] It is a difficult element to come to grips with but when I address it in the next article, you may recognise how dangerous it can become, when blended in with the other two elements of Victim Mentality and Bitterness. 

Till next time!

Blog No.359 posted on Thursday 18th June 2020.

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Forgiveness, Healing, Mental Health, Politics, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, spiritual warfare, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment