This has been one of the most contentious election seasons I can remember. Good people have been dragged into the mud with lies and character slander for the sole purpose of trying to win an election. Which raises a few questions for the Christian.
How does a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, who is also a citizen of the United States of America, reconcile their responsibility as citizens to both? Especially in this election.
What is the purpose of human government? And what is our duty towards that government? But what if that government is oppressive? Are we to obey a government that commands us to sin? Then what are we to do as Christians when we are appalled by the corruption in our own government?
Have you ever asked yourself these questions? I have. To find the answers from Scripture, keep listening
The following is a study on the Kingdom of God and human government.
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In Colossians 3 we find the hands-on practical teaching of Paul that hits us right where it hurts: in our job, our profession, and in our sense of value and self-worth. No area of our life is more open to hurt and confusion for a man that what he does for a living. In fact, most men identify themselves by their jobs and not by their families or heritage or faith.
Colossians 3:22 reads:
Bondservants (doulos – a slave, one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will being altogether consumed in the will of the other), obey (or, to listen, to be obedient, to submit, to conform) in (what) all things (who) your masters (defined as) according to the flesh, (in what way) not with eyeservice (or, service performed only under the master’s eyes, for appearance sake), as men-pleasers, but in sincerity (or, singleness, faithfulness, purity) of heart, fearing (or, being terrified or frightened) God.
Intrigued? Want to find out more? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on Colossians 3:22-4:1.
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Some truths for today from Proverbs 21.
Proverbs 21:2 – Every way (or, path, journey, pattern of life) of a man is right (or, just, straight, upright, correct, ethically or morally pleasing) in his own eyes, but (contrast) the LORD weighs (or, measures, ponders, tests, or prove. It describes God’s weighing action as a process of moral evaluation) the hearts.
Regarding sacrifices (or our outward acts of worship):
Proverbs 21:3 – To do righteousness (or, blameless conduct, integrity, right actions and attitudes) and justice (or, making a right, correct judgment) is more acceptable (or, to choose, elect, decide. It denotes a choice which is based on a thorough examination and not on a knee-jerk, arbitrary whim) to the LORD than sacrifice (or, that given to God).
In other words, God’s choice is for us to act and live like Him rather than trying to buy Him off with our gifts and sacrifices.
Proverbs 21:27 – The sacrifice (or, that given to God) of the wicked (or, guilty, wrong, transgressor, criminal) is an abomination (or, worthless, unclean, disgusting, offensive); how much more when he brings it with wicked intent (or, mind, plan, device, mischievous purpose, lewdness)!
And one more, that seems to sum up the entire chapter:
Proverbs 21:30 – There is no wisdom (or, experience, skill, shrewdness) or understanding (or, insight, intelligence) or counsel (or, advice, plan, purpose, plot) against the LORD.
And why is that? Remember the rhetorical questions of 1 Corinthians 1:20: Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
Yes He has. And do you know why? It’s because, as Psalm 115:3 clearly states: “Our God is in His heavens, and He does what He pleases.” Did you catch that last phrase? It says, He (God) does what He (God) pleases. He is God. And the pseudo wise and self-inflated of our age are not.
And it shows.
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”
Independence is one of the hallmarks of our society. It is literally woven into the fabric of our nation and is part of our DNA as free Americans. We fought the War of Independence to gain our freedom from England and one of our Nation’s most sacred treasures is the Declaration of Independence.
As a capitalistic society we value and honor independence in the form of entrepreneurialism. We throw phrases of praise around like: “He’s a self-made man.” Or, “He picked himself up by his own bootstraps.” Or, “He started with nothing and look how far he has come with hard work and ingenuity.” We admire and want to be like those who have succeeded beyond anyone else, those with vision and commitment to do the impossible, those who refused to be defined, or labeled, or boxed in. We want to emulate those who made their own way by not working for “the man.” We idolize the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and others who rejected the conventional and safe career paths, doubled-down on their dreams, charted new waters, and changed their world. These are the ones that are seen as true American heroes, our independent icons, our own American Idols… well, at least to some. And why? Because as a people and as a nation: We crave independence.
And the church is not immune to this insatiable craving. We choose pastors that will preach only what we want to hear, we demand only the worship music that we enjoy, and we will fight to the death to control all aspects of the church in order to make sure it remains a comfortable haven for us even as our lives drift further from the Truth. After all, we give our money, we bought our ticket, and we expect a good show.
Independence. Valued by our society and promoted by our culture as the key to success, but independence is exactly the opposite of what the Scriptures say leads to success in the Christian life. The Christian life is a life of surrender, of yielding one’s supposed “unalienable rights” for the sake of others. It’s a life of total dependence, helpless dependence— like that of a little child. Remember the words of Jesus: “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:4). And later, Jesus states that you cannot even enter into the Kingdom of God or receive the Kingdom unless you come dependent, like that of a little child (Mark 10:15).
Knowing how our carnal, prideful nature would balk at the thought of humility and dependence and self-sacrifice, Jesus modeled that dependent relationship while with us on earth with none other than His own Father— the first person of the Trinity.
Think about it, Jesus Christ, Incarnate Son of God, Second Person of the Trinity, Co-equal with God the Father, chose to place Himself in a dependent relationship with God the Father in order to show us what is expected of you and me. He not only “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” but He also “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8-9). He became our example, the prototype of how the Christian life was to be lived.
Let me give you just a few examples.
First, when the Pharisees, the religious snobs of His day, put out a contract, a hit, on Jesus because He said that God was His Father and He was equal with God, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He (the Father) does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19). In other words, Jesus is not living independent of the Father but in a totally dependent relationship with Him. How much of a dependent relationship? According to Jesus, He didn’t do anything on His own initiative but only did or copied what He saw the Father doing. He was imitating the Father while with us on earth. He had, in effect, the mind of the Father and walked like the Father walked. And we are commanded to have the same type of relationship with Him, to have the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) and to “walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).
Next, when the religious snobs, the Pharisees, marveled at His teaching and questioned where Jesus received His theological training, the “What degree do you have and from what Seminary did you graduate” preacher prodding, He responded by saying, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7:16). Did you get that? Jesus said the very teaching we read in RED in our Bibles did not originate from Him but was given Him by His Father. He was in such a dependent relationship that the Father gave Jesus, for example, the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and Jesus simply relayed the Father’s words to us. Same with the Kingdom Parables or the Vine and Branches in John 15 or the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24. Jesus received His teaching from the Father and expects us to do the same. After all, He modeled that type of dependent relationship for us as an example.
Finally, after stinging the religious snobs for their ruthlessness and rescuing a woman caught in the very act of adultery, Jesus is accused and assaulted with the question: “Who are You?” (John 8:25). The Pharisees were hoping that Jesus would condemn Himself by saying what He had been saying to them all along, that He was the Son of God. Jesus responded to their question with this: “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). In essence Jesus was saying that when He is crucified they will know that He is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ, and that He is so dependent on the Father that all He does and everything He says was taught Him by God the Father. He was, in effect, the Father’s mouthpiece and herald come to proclaim the Father’s words to the Father’s creation. He was what He commands us to be.
As the time for Jesus’ return approaches, it would do well for each of us to consider the ways we have defined our relationship with Jesus as that of a servant— 40 hour work week, time and a half overtime, 2 weeks paid vacation and an incredible benefit package— and not that of a slave. Because a slave, a voluntary slave, a bondslave, a doulos, is exactly what the Scriptures declare we are. We are ones that have been “bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20) and now belong to our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
How ’bout we try living dependent on Him and not independent of His Word. What do you say? Don’t we owe that to the One who gave His all for us? I think we do— and much, much more.
The following are a few nuggets of truth that the Lord spoke to me about while reading Proverbs 28. I hope they prove to be a blessing to you.
One man, one person can change the world:
By the transgression of a land many are its princes, but by (who) a man of (what) understanding and knowledge, so it endures. (28:2)
Note: God, in His sovereignty, often uses changes in the leadership of a country to bring about His divine chastening, judgment and punishment. Remember the history of the northern kingdom of Israel? When the land is plunged into apostasy, sin and transgression, often new heads of state emerge who, by law, decree and dictate, drive that society towards destruction— morally, economically, militarily, spiritually, or all combined. But the Word says that by the wisdom of a man of understanding and knowledge… presumably understanding and knowledge of the Lord, the land will endure and stability will be ensured. Remember Joseph to Pharaoh; Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar; Isaiah to Hezekiah. Remember what happened to the northern kingdom of Israel when the voices of Elijah and Elisha could be heard no longer? And remember that it doesn’t say, men, or committee or council or government, but, man. Singular. One man. You. Me. Just one man.
Why? Why will the land of evil and transgression endure because of the understanding and knowledge of one man? Part of the answer is found in verse 5:
Evil men do not understand justice, but those who (what) seek the LORD understand (what) all things. (28:5)
And by the way, when the Scriptures say, “all“— it means, “all.” This is known as the wisdom and knowledge of God.
But sometimes the evil princes of the land refuse to hear from those who possess the understanding and knowledge of the Lord. They become angry, arrogant and belligerent to the words of wisdom from those who place the Lord as their King. “Who are you to speak to me about sin or transgression in my life,” they utter to the Godly with great disdain. “Look what I have created with my own hands. Look at the riches I have under my control. Look at the power I have over life and death… even over you. Who are you to even speak to me, let alone bring a rebuke.”
The Lord has something to say to them in this chapter.
The Godly will always be at odds with the unrighteous:
Those who (what) forsake the law praise (who) the wicked, but those who keep the law strive with them (the wicked, those who forsake the law). (28:4)
Even when the unrighteous try to do right, it is of no avail. Why? Because their heart is bent on rebellion and disobedience:
He who turns away his ear from listening to the law (rebellion and disobedience), even his prayer (righteous act) is an abomination. (28:9)
Sin loves company. But the one who leads the upright astray will suffer the consequences of his own sin and rebellion:
He who leads the upright astray (how) in an evil way will himself fall into his own pit, but the blameless will inherit good. (28:10)
“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever (what) causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matthew 18:4-7)
See also Romans 1:21-32
You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve God and money:
The rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor who has understanding (which allows him to) sees through him. (28:11)
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24)
Once you understand your sin, you must confess and repent of it. If not, your heart will become cold, hard and calloused and you will fail to fear (or revere) the Lord:
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who (1) confesses and (2) forsakes them will find compassion (or mercy, forgiveness). How blessed is the man who fears always, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity. (28:13-14)
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)
When rough times come to all, it is the man who trusts in the Lord and not in his riches that will be delivered:
He who walks blamelessly (what) will be delivered, but he who is crooked will fall all at once. He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished. To show partiality is not good, (why) because for a piece of bread a man will transgress. A man with an evil eye (what) hastens after wealth and does not know that want will come upon him. (28:18-22)
Finally, the arrogant and unrighteous continually strive to stir up strife so they can use their own human wisdom to solve the problem. Buy those who have the understanding, wisdom and knowledge of God, and trust in them!— will prosper and be delivered:
An arrogant man stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper. He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered. (28:25-26)
From Oswald Chambers:
We look for visions from heaven, for earthquakes and thunders of God’s power (the fact that we are dejected proves that we do), and we never dream that all the time God is in the commonplace things and people around us. If we will do the duty that lies nearest, we shall see Him. One of the most amazing revelations of God comes when we learn that it is in the commonplace things that the Deity of Jesus Christ is realized.