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012416 - I Timothy 6d - Stand Firm
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January 30, 2016 06:36 AM PST
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I Timothy 6:11&12, Pastor Scott Keller

Last week we saw that there are people within the Christian community who intentionally, unwittingly or most often, carelessly, harm the church.

It is always false teaching, but sometimes it is overtly false and sometimes it is just an argumentative character that pushes ideas too far…

Either way the church is corrupted and so God’s name is disrespected and the Gospel is maligned.

The overtly false is much easier to combat… most people recognize a serious deviation.

What is more damaging, is the stuff that is subtle.
A false teaching that is buried under a bunch of good sounding words…
A false teaching that is complicated and confusing, difficult to pin down…
A false teaching that works a seemingly positive outcome – it shows great results even though it achieves them the wrong way.

I could go on, BUT we can already see, it is difficult to keep the Gospel pure. It requires knowing the difference and caring enough to stand firm for the Truth.

That’s where it becomes tricky… no two people completely agree on every detail. IF I think highly enough of myself and my opinion I will voice it even though it causes tension, friction, arguing, fighting, dividing, hating and even killing.

When we as Christians dispute and debate over important, BUT ultimately non-salvific issues, we are actually preaching a false Gospel of DIVISIVENESS.

The key to NOT being a disrupter and destroyer of God’s Holy church is to follow the command given to Timothy in our verses for today…

I TIMOTHY 6:11&12 ~ 11But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

We start with the contrasting conjunction, “But.” It is striking to me how frequently the Bible uses those contrasting words and phrases…

In the preceding section, Paul talked about what was false, evil and destructive… then he says, “But.” In other words, they are like this… But, rather, instead… you be the opposite.

Then the actual substance of what he says is juxtaposed… “FLEE” these things… But, rather, instead… “PURSUE” these opposite things.

Fleeing is used as the foil or opposite to pursuing… It is metaphorical. I think that should make it obvious that to flee from evil doesn’t actually mean to physically run away in the face of evil… the idea is to SHUN, NOT RUN.

God is NOT asking Timothy to be a coward. As we will see, Timothy is supposed to stay and fight. What God, through Paul, is commanding Timothy to do is to run away from, “These things,” as fast and as far as he possibly can in his personal conduct and life.

The things must be repudiated… they must be despised… they must be disavowed at all costs… FLEE! “Flee from these things.”

Flee in your own conduct and practice, BUT do so by standing in the midst of it all and “Fighting the good fight of faith.”

I don’t want to wear you out on this, BUT I want to make it clear… The charge is to shun evil and stand for good personally. He was NOT commanded to force others to shun evil… he was commanded to keep himself pure, be a good example, preach and teach the Truth, BUT nowhere was he ordered to make others comply.

I think that’s where so many Christians go wrong… I believe I am supposed to do things this particular way and therefore it is incumbent on me to make everyone else do the same.

You, Christian person, shun evil in your life and stand for the Gospel, teaching Truth when and where there is opportunity, BUT let others freely choose their own path.

Well let’s dig in. The charge is a command specifically to Timothy… all the way through the end of the letter Timothy is personally addressed.

It brings up an important principle of Biblical interpretation. We cannot automatically assume that every idea, comment, description, suggestion or command applies to us.

These verses here were specifically written to Timothy in Ephesus nearly 2,000 years ago and so before assuming they apply equally to you and me in Montana, today… I need to carefully investigate.

With everything in the Bible, there will always be some applicability to you and me, or it wouldn’t be in the Bible. BUT it may simply be background information to better understand something else.

An example, Genesis 6:13&14, “Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood…”

God is NOT telling us today to physically build an ark out of gopher wood.

This command to Noah does have applicability for us today, BUT NOT in the literal sense of building a big boat.

We need to be careful about how we apply God’s Word to our lives… Fortunately, in this case, while the command is to Timothy, it is to him as a Christian leader.

All Christian leaders are to lead by example and so that means we are to be like our leader in so far as he is like Christ, who in turn, is precisely like the Father.

What that means is that in our section today there is applicability to Christian leaders and so to every Christian person.

What should Timothy and all other Christians “Flee from”?

Corrupting of the Gospel… adding to, subtracting from, twisting and warping, BUT also emphasizing and deemphasizing.

I feel like in the Evangelical community – we would fit within that community – the primary corruption as I alluded to earlier, comes not so much in overt false teaching as in the emphasizing and deemphasizing of Biblical principles.

One person feels strongly about “A,” but is unconcerned about “B.” Another person is just the opposite and the friction between them escalates.

“Flee from” that… Have nothing to do with tension, friction, arguing, fighting, dividing, hating and killing.

As I said last week, “Divisiveness occurs when we think highly enough of ourselves and our opinions… that we argue, dispute, and debate with others.”

So, what are we to do Instead of that? We are to actively PURSUE…

We don’t need to guess at what we are to pursue. On the one hand, FLEE this and on the other hand PURSUE that… it is the opposite of what we’ve been talking about for three Sundays in a row…

To make it all even easier though, we are immediately given a list of 6 qualities that accompany a “Man, or woman, of God.”

The list, like all of the lists in the Bible, is a sampling in order to give the gist, the flavor or the essence.

The positive lists like this one called “Virtue Lists” can be dissected for better understanding, BUT are to be combined together to give an overall sense of what God wants in his people.

In other words, it is NOT okay to pursue godliness and ignore gentleness… or vice versa.

Contrary to legalism, no two Virtue Lists are identical.

“Righteousness” is δικαιοσύνη (dē-kī-ŏ-sü-nā), means the acceptable standard. You say you are a Christian, well the acceptable standard is…

What is the acceptable standard for Christians?

Absolute, complete, PERFECTION.

When we understand it that way, doesn’t it seem a little foolish to compare yourself with others?

I mean, some would take that to mean a legalistic holiness that is so narrow in its focus that it would inevitably exclude almost everyone else.

When the end result is mentioned to such people they retort, “The way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14).

Right, BUT I’m pretty sure it isn’t our job to make it even more difficult.

That is precisely what Jesus condemned the Scribes and Pharisees for doing… “Woe to you…” For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers” (Luke 11:46).

“I must work myself as hard as possible to get everything right and I must SHUN everyone who gets in my way…”

Does that make you perfect?

I hope everyone fully understands that Christians are absolutely, completely, perfect IN Christ Jesus and IN Him alone… there is no other way.

Righteousness, then is standing, living, breathing, having our being, IN Christ.
It is a connection.

It comes down to an integrity of being… A genuineness of fundamental reality… I accept Jesus…

I accept the Holy Spirit into myself to have free reign to change whatever needs to be changed.

I accept my adoption by the Father and the Lordship of Jesus in my life…

I accept RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with Almighty God.

I hope you can see that righteousness is ultimately right relationship with God because I meet the standard… I meet the standard when I am honestly connected to Him through Jesus…

As Paul said in Philippians 3:9 it’s NOT about, “Having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law (PERFORMING), but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”

It is what I call, “Faith Integrity.” That which is actually true in my innermost being.

Notice that nowhere in that process is it about me messing with other people… I work out my “Salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) and allow you room to do the same.

That’s how “Righteousness” can be inclusive rather than exclusive.

The Righteousness the Christian must pursue is the conformity to the Spirit of God that is supposed to animate us… supposed to mold us into Christlikeness so that we reflect the Father to the world.

“Godliness” is εὐσέβεια (ü-sĕ-bā-ä), is a genuine worshipper… A person who truly, from the heart worships God.

They are Godly, in the sense that they are focused on and preoccupied with God.

We would say it is a person dedicated to God in real love and devotion to Him.

It isn’t the doing of certain things and the abstaining from others in order to be Godly… It is being so concerned about what God wants and about being in right relationship with Him that one, does or abstains.

“Faith” is πίστις (pēs-tēs) meaning faith, faithfulness, reliability, proof or assurance. I sometimes mention hapax legomena, words occurring only once in the Bible… well πίστις and its related family, occur well over 500 times in the New Testament alone.

In this context it means, TRUST.

It is the Christian’s TRUST in God. In this case, it isn’t our faithfulness to God or as Christians… it is our unwavering trust in His faithfulness to us.

Faithfulness in providing here and now, BUT far more importantly, faithfulness in saving us eternally.

How can I be so certain that I will spend eternity in Heaven? Because I Trust in Him… I have FAITH.

“Love” is ἀγάπη (ä-gä-pā), meaning an intellectual choice to accept, select, choose, elect, honor… love.

Four Greek word families occur in the Bible that we translate as “Love,” each with its own nuance of meaning.

ἀγάπη is NOT a love based upon feelings, duty or honor, it is NOT based on the lovability or performance of the loved, it is NOT based upon family or cultural connections.

ἀγάπη a love based upon the decision of the lover to love the loved.

When you see your future spouse for the first time at the wedding ceremony… He’s standing next to the pastor or she’s walking down the aisle… I, hopefully, don’t have to tell you to PURSUE love. You feel it well up inside.

When you see your newborn baby for the first time… once again I don’t need to tell you to pursue love… you just do.

ἀγάπη, on the other hand, is a love that must be chosen and actively PURSUED.

“Perseverance” is ὑπομονή (hü-pŏ-mŏ-nā), literally meaning to remain under. The soldiers facing the onslaught of the enemy, remain together in tight formation, under tremendous pressure to run for their lives.

It is sometimes translated as “Patience,” but there is nothing at all passive about ὑπομονή. It isn’t simply waiting; it is the active choice to remain steadfast against all odds…

It is the dynamic and vigorous resistance to hostile aggression.

“Gentleness” is πραϋπαθία (pȑä-ü-pä-thē-ä) sounds like I’m lisping doesn’t it… Ethel Thayer.

Unlike faith and love this is a hapax legomenon only occurring here, πραϋπαθία, is an unusual formation of two other common words πραΰτης (pȑä-ü-tās), meaning a gentleness born out of humbleness, along with, πάσχω (päs-kʰō), meaning to suffer.

This combined word means to humbly suffer a loss of pride, status, being right… in order to be gentle…

It is the opposite of demanding your own way, insisting on making your point and contending with others to prove you are right or better or more important.

It is a humble gentleness willing to suffer loss that is born out of desiring the greater good. A willingness to lose the battle in order to win the war.

Have you ever been in a large group… maybe family and friends at Thanksgiving, maybe over at the in-law’s house for Christmas, maybe a church social, a wedding or even a funeral… and overlooked a rude comment so as not to ruin the event?

What’s more important than God’s Church?

Let’s understand all these things and others like them as the normative way a Christian behaves…

Let us PURSUE these things… it is like Paul said in Philippians 4:8&9, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Don’t ask, “Is this a hill I am willing to die on?” Instead ask, “Is this something I’m willing to destroy unity over?”

“Fight the good fight,” is a very popular verse because it is so easy to completely misconstrue and then then misapply.

What it is really all about is suffering for the Gospel.

The word fight is the verb ἀγωνίζομαι (ä-gō-nē-dzŏ-mī), followed by the noun ἀγών (ä-gōn), it is to labor or strive in training and performing as an athlete or as a warrior….

IF you know anything at all about either endeavor, it is all about suffering. It is all about taking the pain in order to achieve something.

Imagine the amount of pain Hans and Atticus have suffered to be Marines or the amount of suffering the professional athletes playing in today’s Championship football games have endured to have a shot at the Super Bowl.

The fight is to endure pain and suffering for a purpose. In this case, the purpose is the “Good fight of Faith.”

It is a present imperative letting us know that the struggle – the striving, the suffering is continuous… until the day you meet Jesus face-to-face there will be pain… that is, IF you are a Christian.

The fight is to protect the Gospel from false teaching and also from using it as a source for endless debate.

It is the suffering endured just for identifying with Christ.

It is the struggle encountered when preaching the Gospel.

More than everything, it is the overall suffering that takes place as we minimize ourselves and our desires, in order to ensure God’s Will is done and that His name is glorified.

The point is, that IF you are a Christian, it should be obvious. Christians are supposed to unabashedly, unashamedly, unambiguously be Christians. We are to always share the Truth… with and without words.

IF you act like a Christian and IF you share the Truth… you are going to suffer as a result… and that’s inevitable… that’s normal… that’s okay …

Why? because that’s what Jesus did… that’s the way it goes… Jesus and His true followers love people so much they are willing to show it by suffering.

Jesus told us in Mark 13:13, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”

As a minister of the Gospel… which again, every Christian is called by God to be… you will suffer… at least IF you do it right.

How crazy? Any reasonable person might expect that you will suffer IF you FAIL to do it correctly, and that by doing it right… you WON’T suffer…

Ah, NOT so in God’s upside down economy. Of course we know it is really our human economy that is upside down. In God’s economy, IF you minister the way He wants you to minister you will have to suffer.

We’re not talking about the suffering that is common to all man… we are talking about suffering for the Gospel and what that means is that there will be opposition and we must bear up and stand firm.

What is sad is that the majority of the opposition comes from Christians.

If we can stay the course, we can, “Take hold of the eternal life to which we were called.” It is depicted here as a done deal from God’s perspective… He is the one Who called us… we must simply possess it by finishing.

Timothy “Made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Specifically, this hearkens back to his ordination as an Overseer and so carries the nuance of Christian leadership, BUT the overall sense is the same for people who have “Made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses,” as Christians usually at Baptism.

We make a public confession that Jesus Christ is our only Lord and only Savior and that confession remains public for the remainder of our lives.

Doing so allows us to enter into eternal life.

Because doing so will bring a struggle that must be endured for the sake of Christ thereby proving we are His.

What’s interesting to me is that Hebrews verse has a Greek word that is left untranslated because it makes the English too clumsy… the untranslated word is translated in our verses today as “Fight.”

011716 - I Timothy 6c - Divisiveness
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January 28, 2016 09:38 AM PST
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I Timothy 6:3-10, Pastor Scott Keller

Last week we saw that as Christians, we are already accepted, loved, and appreciated as much as we ever will be, accepted, loved and appreciated. You cannot make God love you more than He does.

Therefore, from that understanding – that place of trust in God’s salvation and assurance of His love, we can flip the HUMAN paradigm.

Instead of doing things in order to be accepted, loved and appreciated by God and by other people… We could do things for God and other people because we love them.

We do, because we LOVE, rather than in order to be loved, it is a selfless, self-sacrificing love, solely to benefit another… it is a God love called true Agapê.

It is possible because the Author of All Things already loves us… and has already provided the greatest reward possible and has already filled us with His supernatural love…

So, when we act that out, it is proof that we are Christians who are filled with God’s Holy Spirit.

I TIMOTHY 6:3-5 ~ 3If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

In verses 3 through 5, we see that one of the things that accompanies false Christianity is divisiveness. “God is not a God of disorder, confusion, disharmony… He is a God of order and peace” (I Corinthians 14:33, James 3:16&17).

Divisiveness occurs when we think highly enough of ourselves and our opinions… that we argue, dispute, and debate with others.

Some people love it, BUT it causes tension and according to God it is actually a love of self… always trying to show others where they’re wrong and you’re right…

It is the grown up version of “My dogs better than your dog… I am better than you.” It is literally a “Know it all” attitude and according to God, it has no place in HIS church.

Verse 3 begins, “If anyone,” and it means anyone, so everyone in that boat. Just because an idea is popular, it doesn’t make it true…

IF everyone on the planet disagrees with God then everyone on the planet is absolutely wrong, as it says in Romans 3:4, “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”

“Advocates a different doctrine,” is a single Greek word, ἑτεροδιδασκαλέω (hĕ-tĕ-ȑŏ-dē-däs-kä-lĕ-ō), the backwards apostrophe is called a “Rough Breather” and gives an initial “H” sound.

ἕτερος, is another of a different kind… add an orange to an orange, and it is ἄλλος, add an apple to the orange, and it is ἕτερος (heterosexual) The middle is διδάσκω, the verb to teach (didactic). We end with καλέω, to call someone to join, to summon them or to invite with authority.

Our word is better translated in the NASB than any other version I looked at, because while the concept of teaching is central to the word, it is a teaching with force, and so “Advocates,” is better than teaches… “Advocates a different doctrine.”

The word, ἑτεροδιδασκαλέω, is used only twice in the entire Bible. Once here and once at the beginning of this letter in chapter 1, verse 3, tying this point back to that point.

In chapter 1, it is “Teach strange doctrines,” and in chapter 6, it is “Advocates a different doctrine.” That’s a translator’s choice based on context, but the underlying word is the same in both places.

There are other reasons that this thought ties directly back to chapter one, like the reuse of the word ὑγιαίνω (hü-gē-ī-nō), translated as, “Sound,” as in “Sound words” in chapter 6, verse 3, and as in, “Sound teaching” in chapter 1, verse 10.

I won’t bore you with more, but since I brought up ὑγιαίνω, let me just say that it actually means “Healthy,” and it gives us our word, “Hygiene.”

My point is that to really understand these verses in chapter 6, we must understand the section in chapter 1. It starts there, with Paul “Urging” Timothy to, “Instruct certain men not to…” ἑτεροδιδασκαλέω, not to teach, or better yet, not to “advocate strange doctrines.”

It ends with, what “Is contrary to SOUND or HEALTHY teaching…” ὑγιαίνω.

What comes in-between… is the double-edged sword, that we talked about, last week.

On the one side, we don’t want to any distortion of the Gospel… because, by very definition, once it is changed, it ceases to be the Gospel at all and therefore anything derived from it can only become a false Christianity… well we can’t have that…

But, just as importantly though, on the other side, we don’t want argumentative, divisive, Holier-than-thou types to destroy the unity of the Body that was built on the TRUE Gospel… Otherwise there is no functional church… the TRUE Gospel has no power.

In the first case, Christianity is false… in the second case… Christianity is false…

A community that has a false doctrine is no different than a community that denies the true doctrine by their actions. It is ALL about God and His Message… His power manifested in His church.

Jesus could not possibly have been clearer in His requirement that true belief must be borne out by true behavior… true family of God unity, “Love one another” He said repeatedly… (John 13:34&35, 15:12ff, Romans 12:10, 13:8, Galatians 5:13, Ephesians 4:2, I Thessalonians 3:12, 4:9, II Thessalonians 1:3, Hebrews 10:24, I Peter 1:22, 4:8, I John 3:11, 3:23, 4:7, 4:11&12, II John 5, etc.).

It could be said that the COMMAND to “Love one another,” is the single most important mandate in Christianity…

It is the most important thing of all the things.

What? What about loving God, what about accepting Jesus?

I said it COULD be said, because the Bible DID say it… Romans 13:8-10 tells us that “Love for others is the fulfillment of the Law.” The infilling of the Holy Spirit is the necessary prerequisite to truly love one another… Love for one another is therefore proof that you love God and have accepted Jesus.

The Bible says, love IS “The perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14). Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:22&23, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

Again, I’m NOT talking about a behavior to get something for yourself, BUT a behavior because of something you’ve already received.

A saved Christian is a beloved child of God who is filled with His Holy Spirit… SINCE, that is true, there must be evidence of that reality.

Recognize WHO you are IN Christ and then BE that person.

It is vital that we get along with each other because God’s reputation and the validity of His Gospel Message are at stake.

Who, in their right mind, would believe the Gospel IF they see no power in it? That is the biggest hindrance to people accepting Jesus… Because of the way Christians behave, non-Christians see no power in it.

If those who have accepted and now proclaim the Gospel are just as messed up as were to start, why in the world would anyone want to sign up for that?

IF the transformative power of God’s Holy Spirit only puts a hypocritical varnish on the same old sinner it would be no different than any self-help program devised by humans.

The power of the Gospel Message is the actual transformation of human lives… it enables a whole new status inside, that must become evident outside.

There is a corruption of Christianity that has come from emphasizing the idea that Christians are merely forgiven sinners…

While it is true, the danger in emphasizing it, is that some folks will be satisfied with being no different than they were, no different than anyone else… “Denying the power” of the Cross of Christ in this reality… Christianity becomes ONLY about the afterlife.

Christianity at its very core is about a RADICAL transformation… Jesus said a person must be “Born again.” Elsewhere the Bible talks in terms of the old self being dead and buried, while a Christian is a new creation.

Since you cannot have a person completely transformed spiritually without any evidence of that fact physically… it is, as Paul states in his second letter to Timothy, “Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (II Timothy 3:5).

A popular verse… some have interpreted “Power,” as correct doctrine and others as supernatural Charismatic gifts. The actual meaning incorporates elements of both of those things, but the true “Power” that is denied, is the transformative power of the Holy Spirit changing human lives.

It is to claim Christianity, BUT refuse to change… there is no power in that and since the Holy Spirit is power… there is no true salvation in that.

Yes, Christians are no better than anyone else and yes we are all saved only by the Grace given to us, BUT, all Christians better be getting better than they were!

It is far more than merely avoiding the things we think of as sinful… it is accomplishing the things that glorify God… it is surrendering and sacrificing and suffering and humbly serving Christ and His church.

It is very difficult for Christians to get along with each other because we allow ourselves to be “Puffed up” with pride.

Think of those amazing verses that open Romans chapter 12, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Actively surrender to the Holy Spirit renewing your mind in order to no longer be conformed to who you once were, BUT instead to be transformed into who you actually are in Christ!

Wouldn’t it be insane if this beautiful Butterfly continued to act like a caterpillar? If it never flew, but only crawled everywhere it went?

The opening of Romans 12, an amazing, amazing 2 verses and can it be any wonder at all that it is immediately followed in verse 3, by, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think.”

You want to be “Acceptable to God,” to be “Transformed by the renewing of your mind,” to be able to discern “The Will of God”?

Swallow your pride… Romans 12, goes on to talk about the church and how we are all different, BUT that we must all work together and that will REQUIRE putting our own ideas, desires and agendas aside for the good of the group.

Why? Because the reality of the Gospel Message depends on it!

Verse 10 in that same passage says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”

Pray that God will show you your human pride and eradicate it, because pride is actually a key ingredient to both distorting the Gospel and being divisive… which, at the end of the day are really the very same thing.

The biggest question then becomes what constitutes the true Gospel we take our stand on and what constitutes the issues and ideas about which we should relax and have a cream soda?

Well I had a whole huge section covering that question that would have taken up the remainder of our time today and probably most of next Sunday.

I’ll save it for Sunday school and move on, BUT I will sum it up this way… I mentioned how Romans 12 talks about getting along with Christians who see things differently and two chapters later in Romans 14:5 the Bible is still talking about it when it says, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”

Continuing in that chapter, down in verse 22, it says, “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God.”

The point is that no two people will ever agree on everything and so what you must do is know what you believe and why you believe it. Because you also know what comes in between those two verses… that all of us, you and I, will stand before God and give an account – that’s what verse 12 says.

Be convinced, work out your own faith, But grant grace to others and let them work out their own faith.
“Where do I draw the line?” The answer lies in another question… “What am I trying to achieve?”

Back to our text today… The goal of chapter 1, and of chapter 6, and of the whole Letter, is to enable a healthy church…

Our foundation must be sound and at the same time our love for Christ must be real enough that our love for one another is obvious to the most casual observer.

That means not only NOT throwing each other under the bus, BUT actually standing up for one another and having each other’s back.

We do not need to completely agree on every detail, because we NEVER will!

Think about God’s glory and quit nitpicking everything we notice in others. God is the opposite of strife, tension, stress and vitriol.

Verse 3, continues with the idea that HEALTHY doctrine is the Message Jesus proclaimed as revealed to us in the Bible through His human agents.

The problem with the Pharisees was a religious holier-than-thou pride that devolved into an endless argument over the minutia and a complete obliviousness to the big picture…

Jesus said in Matthew 23:24, “You… strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:24). They missed the Messiah!

Let’s NOT follow their example. If we do, it demonstrates that we are, “Conceited and understand nothing,” and that we have, “A morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words.”

These things always lead to man-made religiosity birthing “Envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction.”

God’s reputation and Christianity itself are maligned by the heathen because of it…

At the end of verse 5, it says such people, “Suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” To address that let’s read…

I TIMOTHY 6:6-10 ~ 6But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Paul uses a little wordplay with the notion concerning “Gain” from “Godliness.”

The word used twice here, once in verse 5 and again in verse 6, is found only here in the Bible.

It is πορισμός (pŏ-ȑĭs-mŏs), which means a method of acquisition, a way to acquire, a means of gaining something you didn’t have before…

It isn’t really money… we are a money-based society where everything comes down to the Benjamins or the coins and so we automatically think in those terms.

The idea though is the things of life, food, water, shelter, goods and services and yes, even money, BUT also ACCEPTANCE, honor, love, etc.

It is what the Cuba Gooding character in the movie Jerry Maguire called the, “Quan.” The entire package of what makes life good.

Of course, we’re talking physical, temporary, here today, gone tomorrow, life that… while it means everything to the pagan, should mean very little to the person looking toward eternity.

The people distorting the Gospel content or denying the Gospel power think their religious activities will make life better NOW. They are focused on NOW.

Even if it were true, what does it matter in comparison to eternity?

The more a person focuses on their present life, the less they focus on their eternal life… Paul would say, “That’s dumb.”

True Godliness actually IS a means of “Great gain,” gain where it matters most.

In verse 9, “Rich” is πλουτέω (plü-tĕ-ō), meaning an abundance or to be plentifully supplied… we again think in terms of money, but it is to be wealthy as in well provisioned… not lacking…

Verses 6-8, make it clear what I already said about the kind of riches – the kind of gain – that is actually important.

You came to this world with nothing and you will leave it in the same boat… so it makes no sense to jeopardize eternity for a fleeting comfort… instead, happily endure the hardships of this life with genuine contentment as you focus on the big picture.

Are we Christians to then abandon all work except that which provides our most basic needs?

It is actually a great question. How much time do I spend on myself, making money to be more comfortable in this life?

What if I worked less at that and devoted more time to seeking God and ministering to others?

Those are questions I encourage each individual to wrestle with God about…

This passage isn’t specifically about that though.

Here God is making the point that the next life is far more important than this one and so nothing in this life should jeopardize your character or integrity as a Christian.

Focus fully on being a Christian in every sense of the word and be content with your lot in life… even if you are a slave… focus on your actual position in Christ.

“The love of money,” is φιλαργυρία (fē-läȑ-gü-ȑē-ä) is φίλος (fē-lŏs) love and ἄργυρος (äȑ-gü-ȑos) silver – a love of silver, but with the general meaning of covetousness… which is being overly concerned about the things of this life. It “Is a root of all sorts of evil,” which is a cancer infecting your true life.

Being overly concerned about earthly success, or in the case of America, excess… can very easily lead to compromise…

Jesus has much to say on the matter and it really comes down to a person’s motive…

Because our motive is directly tied to our trust in God’s providence and in our faith in His eternal salvation.

If I know without any doubt whatsoever that God will take care of me and that no matter what happens in this life I have eternity in perfect bliss… I won’t be unduly concerned about the material things of this world.

If, on the other hand, I am not certain about God’s provision and unsure about my eternal life, I will do what I can to feather my physical nest.

So my friends, work with great integrity and character because you represent God and His Gospel… IF doing so provides you with little… BE Content knowing better things are in your future.

IF doing so provides you with a lot… BE Generous knowing that better things are in your future.

120615 - I Timothy 4d - "Stay with it, Pastor"
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December 14, 2015 03:51 PM PST
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I Timothy 4:12-16, Pastor Scott Keller

Last week we saw how there is a trinity of true religion… How Christianity is supposed to be triune. Just like God is a perfect harmony of three in one, so is our life in Christ.

1) First and foremost we must have correct principles – we must cerebrally, intellectually comprehend the Truth – the Gospel of Jesus. This is knowing Who God is.

2) Secondly, we must allow that accepted Truth to permeate our entire being… we must fully embrace the principles and from that understanding we must feel the grace, joy and peace of God, we must experience the emotion of His love and we must emotionally fall in love with Him. This is being in intimate relationship with God.

3) Thirdly, is Godliness, εὐσέβεια, which is putting legs to our faith. This is the doing outwardly, externally, physically what is true. This is introducing God to the world around us.

Will we understand that and know God…

Will we embrace that and love God…

Will we live that and share God…

I TIMOTHY 4:12-16 ~ 12Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 13Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

Paul had just finished telling Timothy to, “Prescribe and teach these things.” “Prescribe” means to instruct with authority – to command acceptance of the teaching – to lead people towards obedience with gravitas.

The preacher is supposed to teach, guide, instruct, encourage, exhort and “Prescribe” just like a doctor prescribes… this is what you need to do, “Take two of these and call me in the morning.”

Both a preacher and a doctor can prescribe with gentleness, but there is power behind it that comes from assurance… position, responsibility, education, training, and in the case of the preacher, the Holy Spirit.

Preaching is a prescription delivered with authority and power… that is given by God.

Paul tells ministers in Titus 2:15, “Speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

Frequently the Bible talks about how the people were amazed that Jesus taught with authority (Matthew 7:28&29, Mark 1:27, Luke 4:32ff, John 7:46).

We hate that as Americans… we don’t want anyone to have any authority over us – we never want anyone to tell us what to do…

I see Christians chafe at the very notion that their pastor might have some authority over them.

When the subject comes up they have an excuse or rationalization why they only have to listen to what resonates with them – what they agree with – what their ears want to hear…

I’ll confess I get irritated when I see Christians who love, honor and fawn over preachers who are wimps.

It seems we are so much happier when the pastor is weepy, weak and vulnerable… a fragile milquetoast.

I think we tell ourselves that Jesus was gentle, kind and loving… BUT the real reason is that a preacher who is a namby-pamby has no power over anyone. His message carries no weight… he and it are both easy to dismiss.

God’s ministers are supposed to lead, and leaders must have the authority to lead, or it is all a joke.

I’ll never push my God-given authority on anyone because Christian submission to authority is always the responsibility of the one submitting.

I’ve talked about this before. No Christian is to ever coerce, manipulate or dominate another… Christian leaders in the home, and in the church, are to simply lead as well as they are able…

Whether a person follows, or not, or how well, is on them.

If a leader should not be followed for some reason then not following them is good.
But if they should be followed… then not following them is bad.
How do you know?
Choose wisely, because you’ll explain that decision to Jesus one day… Choose wisely.

Jesus and His Apostles spent a lot more time speaking and acting with authority than they did weeping and hugging.

That’s why Paul follows up, “Prescribe and teach these things,” with, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness.”

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t say right here… be very careful how you look down on anyone, but be especially careful how you denigrate, demean, and disparage men called by God as ministers of His Gospel.

Read how David treated the man who was trying to kill him because he was once the anointed of God in I Samuel 24. Read what David did to those who killed Saul in II Samuel.

Well, the implication in our passage today is that some people had been LOOKING DOWN on Timothy… further, as we piece things together, the implication is that Timothy was backing away because of the resistance.

What we have is the command to preach God’s Word with power and authority… well you can’t do that if you allow people to kill your confidence and enthusiasm.

I must say, in talking to my minister friends, we have all had many people over the years overtly and covertly attack us. There are frontal attacks, to be sure, BUT far more common, is the passive aggressive stabs in the back that truly wear you down.

The more a minister pours out the more vulnerable he is afterward. IF you really want to discourage a preacher, wait until he really expends himself mentally and emotionally in delivering a sermon and then go up and start with a little praise…
“Wow, pastor, I just want to encourage you. That was such a great impassioned sermon… then add the word, BUT…”

IF as a minister, you let such people get to you, you won’t be a minister very long… at least not one who inspires faith in anyone else.

I was honored with a plaque by my fellow aviators when I left the service… I love the plaque… It has a militarized Latin phrase that essentially means… “Don’t let others grind you down.”

Much is made today about Timothy’s age as a way to excuse our western practice of making people in their 20’s senior pastors.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the first descriptor of a pastor is that he be an Elder… No guy in his 20’s or even early 30’s has the life experience or Christian maturity to be an Elder.

There are young men who are wonderfully gifted preachers and who bring incredible ideas and energy, but they should not be senior pastors.

According to church tradition, Timothy was murdered by a mob in the city of Ephesus in 97 A.D. at the age of 80.

That puts his birth in 17 A.D.

This letter was written in about 63 A.D. when Timothy was in his mid-forties.

Let’s say tradition is wrong… What the Bible actually states is that Paul enlisted Timothy as his missionary associate in about 49 A.D. when Timothy was already an established Christian who was well known and well respected throughout the area at that time. (Acts 16:1&2).

As a Christian in his own right and being so well esteemed by others in the surrounding communities, and as an actual ministry worker with Paul… it is inconceivable that Timothy was younger than his 20s at that time, 14 years earlier.

Timothy was at the very least in his mid-thirties and at the most in his mid-forties.

Word Study Greek Dictionary defines “Youthfulness” as: “Spoken of young men in the prime and vigor of manhood up to the age of forty years or more.”
Analytical Lexicon defines it as: “Used of a man in the prime of life, between twenty-four and forty years old.”

The Early church Father Irenaeus reckoned youth to 40 and the Roman Gellius to 46.

That’s crazy, you say… well even back then an elder was typically seen as a man over 50.

Philo and Solon say a man becomes an Elder at age 49. Hippocrates wrote that it was at age 50. Homer said it was people in the older generation.

Timothy may have looked younger than he was, BUT what I now know for certain is that when I was 35, I was old… Now, 35 seems very young. Can I get an Amen?!?!?!? The point is that Timothy wasn’t that young, but he was young enough that people used it against him.

So, what Paul is saying is do not let anyone get to you… do not buy what they are selling, do not allow people to dismiss you… to derail you from your God-appointed purpose.

If it isn’t insults and rejection about your youthfulness, it will be about how you dress, how you talk, how you eat, how your wife looks, how your children act… Trust me, there will always be people who will diminish, demean and try to destroy you, no matter what you do…

Today, 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years. Half of all ministers won’t make it five years. Only 1, out of every 10, ministers will actually retire as a minister… that means 90% of ministers will quit or die before they retire.

And if, right now, you’re thinking, “So what?” You’re probably one of the reasons for those statistics.

So HOW, pray tell, is Timothy then, and every minister since, going to continue in ministry? How can Timothy or anyone else stay the course without letting people discourage them to the point of quitting or perhaps even worse… defeat them to the point of no longer caring?

Paul tells Timothy, “Show yourself an example of those who believe.”

The scoffers and troublemakers can pound the nails in their own coffins… you, Timothy, worry about the believers.

There will always be people who refuse… that’s their problem. Be an example by word and by deed, in love, in faith and in purity. So that those who are willing to be Godly Believers will be able to accept your leadership.

One of the toughest lessons in ministry is learning how to do the best you can and leave the results in God’s hands.

It seems easy – it is not. God puts a supernatural love in a pastor’s heart for those in his care…

It is extremely difficult to truly care about a person’s spiritual well-being and not be affected when they fail, or when they hurt, or when they lash out at others or when they attack you as their pastor.

It is depressing to see people you love refuse to grow, refuse to get along, refuse to get involved and refuse to give…

It is discouraging to see people you pray for treat the church like it is just another thing tailored to fit their consumer lifestyle… partaking of only what they like and only when they like it.

Complaining when it doesn’t suit them… Leaving when it there’s something they perceive as better.

It is actually impossible for anyone to choose to leave a church without the pastor taking that personally… because, my friends, it is personal.

There are no exceptions. When someone chooses, for whatever reason to leave, it hurts.

Some situations are easier than others, BUT understand… people CHOOSE to leave a church because they are Dissatisfied with the church… they think that there is something better to do on Sunday morning that spending it with you. The Pastor will always, ultimately, be responsible for that and he knows it.

How can a pastor survive the constant pain and problems in people’s lives along with all the attacks and anger directed his way?

It is in realizing, “I just work here.” I don’t have to convince anyone – I don’t have to save anyone – I don’t have to make anyone listen to me or heed what I say… I don’t have to make anyone attend, or make anyone give, or make anyone stay… All I have to do is my best in word and deed… in love, in faith and in purity.

It is to speak and act from a motivation of love for others… from a deep and abiding personal faith in Christ while maintaining the purity of His Gospel.

What people make of that is between them and God. Focus on the ones who BELIEVE.

Based on that, Paul commands Timothy to do what we Christians have been doing in church for 2,000 years and what our Jewish predecessors did for centuries before that…

We are to have a God appointed Elder read the Scripture and then explain what was read in an understandable way while encouraging the listeners to embrace and incorporate that teaching in their lives.

That’s what we do… We read the Bible and then explain what it means and exhort people to act upon the explanation… it is preaching and teaching.

That’s what I do – that’s my job, and as God strengthens me and gives me His light to see… I will do my best and I will hope the best, BUT I know everyone gets to make their own choices even IF they are hard for me to take.

How do we get the guy who ministers in that way? Such a person must be encouraged to NOT “Neglect the spiritual gift within.”

A gift recognized by people hearing God’s voice – that’s what prophetic utterance is all about. God’s people being in tune with the Holy Spirit enough to understand His will, to realize, in this case, His call on a man’s life…

Then for other Elders through prayer and discussion to fully recognize that reality and to ordain him by “The laying on of hands.”

It is to commission and set aside a man for pastoral ministry and it is serious business… far more serious than we typically think.

We baptize people too easily – we marry people too casually – we ordain people too quickly.

These are important covenants and if we were more careful in hearing God’s voice on these matters there would be fewer people “Falling away” after baptism, fewer couples getting divorced and fewer ministers leading people astray.

We will see that importance in the next chapter… “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others” (I Timothy 5:22).

In verse 15 and the first half of 16, Paul again exhorts Timothy to be diligent – to work hard – to do his best – to take his responsibilities seriously – to devote himself to Pastoral Ministry.

In America we have all sorts of different ideas about what makes a good pastor – what we think is the role of a pastor.

Sometimes people think a pastor must be poor – single – married – young & energetic – old and experienced – bearded – clean shaven – a guy always visiting everyone – a gregarious glad hander – a manual laborer – an academic recluse – a flawless speaker – an engaging entertainer – a superstar celebrity…

All kinds of ideas, BUT the Bible is crystal clear… the primary responsibility of the Pastor is the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” It is teaching and preaching God’s Word.

Oh, there are other things to be sure, BUT if a pastor cannot teach and preach what God’s Word actually means, he is NOT a pastor.

Now two things should be noted…

1) To be a true teacher and preacher a man must spend a lot of time in prayer and in the Word.

2) He must believe what he’s selling.

That’s what, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching,” means.

You cannot teach and preach unless you are filled with the Holy Spirit and in tune with Christ through prayer and study. It requires daily diligence.

Anyone can pray and study, and I highly encourage everyone to do just that, so there is more… such as gifting, education and experience…

But it always starts with, and must always come back to, genuinely praying and working towards delivering what God wants the Message to be for His people.

What I want to talk about or think you need to hear is completely irrelevant to this task… the ONLY thing that matters is what God wants you to hear. I’m only interested in delivering to you what God desires you to receive.

And… we’re only going to get there by praying for that through the entire process of sermon preparation through sermon impact on your life.

And of course teaching and preaching, no matter how good, becomes hollow and ineffective, IF the preacher doesn’t heed the same message for himself.

All Christians, and especially pastors, must practice what we preach.

It all goes hand-in-hand… we need to practice what we preach in order to be people who truly want God’s Words proclaimed in the first place. So a pastor must be a person who is truly saved as evidenced by his perseverance.

Such perseverance ensures salvation for the minister and also for those who heed the message – meaning for those who likewise persevere.

That’s what it means to say that by persevering “In these things,” “You will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

Salvation comes by faith – and faith comes from hearing (Romans 10).

That’s the entire point of supporting preachers… to speak the words of God so that people will believe and once they believe that they will persevere to the end and ensure their salvation.

112215 - I Timothy 4b - "Endure to the end"
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November 25, 2015 04:51 AM PST
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I Timothy 4:1-6, Pastor Scott Keller

Last week I said…
Act like you actually believe… Be a Christian… Be RADICAL in your devotion to Jesus…

I said that, “Anyone can be a Christian IF it doesn’t cost anything.” IF there is no risk… IF it’s completely SAFE… How can God prove Himself faithful if you never NEED Him to be faithful?

I want us to be people who, for God, are willing to DO… what is Ridiculous, what is Ludicrous, what is Absurd, what is Preposterous and what is Outlandish…

We are going to begin a new ministry outreach to our community in the new year and it will require more of all of us… more money sure, BUT also a commitment for more of your time and energy… Keep praying that it would be God’s doing and that you would dive in for the long haul no matter what HE has in store for us…

We started chapter 4, last week looking at verses 1&2… I’m adding the first half of verse 3 here…

I TIMOTHY 4:1-3a, 1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3amen who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods…

We laid the groundwork and what we discovered is that God allows us our heart’s desire.

Think about that. The God who created the universe will allow you and every other person to pursue their OWN hopes and dreams…

How great, and at the same time how horrifying.

IF it is your heart’s desire to love and serve yourself, at the expense of seeking God’s will… He will honor that decision for all eternity. That’s scary.

However, IF it is the desire of your heart, to love and serve God, at the expense of seeking your will… He will honor that decision for all eternity as well. That’s amazing.

Life is a Revealer of the Heart’s desire.

If you love God and want an ever increasing relationship with Him, it will become obvious to the most casual observer.

If, on the other hand, you play at Christianity, BUT really want your own will done rather than God’s will done… that also will become apparent.

It may take a while for people to catch on, BUT you can’t fool God for even a moment.

I would like us all to think about why we are here in this church this morning. Be honest with yourself. Think of what it is that motivated you to be right here, right now.

Just keep it to yourself – I’m not taking a poll. I just want us all to figure out WHY we are here.

As you hold on to that. Let me say, I don’t get why any person would play at Christianity IF they are NOT totally sold out to the idea of truly being a Christian… I don’t get it, BUT, I do understand it… I recognize that it is true.

Christianity is full of, and always has been full of, people who are in it for themselves.

Some are in Christianity, i.e. the church, to appease the wife, to put their kids on a more conservative footing, basically, get the church to do some parenting for them, to make business connections, to feel better about themselves…

some are in it to take advantage of the kindness or politeness of the church… it is a way to get attention and have friends without being a friend, because Christians are too nice to call them on their bad behavior…

Christians are too gentle to tell them that they are rude, pushy, inconsiderate, mean-spirited and have bad breath.

Some are in it to abuse the Generosity of the church. They do the Christian thing and especially get involved in ministry as a dodge… as a way to rip people off… They are constantly taking…

Some are in the church because they are actually agents of Satan… They prey on Christians, actively teaching them things that weigh them down, and doing things that cause some to stumble, by means of, “The hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.”

The church always has people who do not really belong to Jesus… many of them eventually fall away in this life… all of them will fall away in the next life.

AND that’s why, while I understand it, I just don’t get it… Jesus rhetorically asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:36, Luke 9:25)

Here’s what is true… Going back to my question as to why you are here… whatever your answer it is the same answer for why you are a Christian… for how you view God.

The beauty of it is if your answer was because you love Jesus you know you’re in the right place.

In addition, IF your answer was anything other than that… You can fix it today and then know you are in the right place…

Thank God for revealing your own heart to you and repent… press in to Jesus… fall upon the grace of the Lord.

For those of us who are really here… who really love God and desire to love Him more, the question is how do I ensure that I am not part of the “Some” who “Will fall away”?

How do I love and serve God and how do I find His will?

If you are NOT a Christian… FIX that! You may become a Christian right now where you sit. Regardless of who you are or what you have done… you can be right with God, right now!

IF I can be a Christian… Trust me, ANYONE can be a Christian!

What you must do is genuinely throw yourself upon the mercy of God… you must fully accept the Word of God made flesh – Jesus the Messiah – the Christ – as your Lord and Savior.

True belief is a belief that produces change. If a non-Christian becomes a Christian they have exchanged one worldview for a completely different worldview… that new perspective, in and of itself, would necessarily generate changed behavior.

If I think I’m a Libertarian and I have an epiphany where I completely change my mind and now I think I’m a Socialist… how long before my friends notice?

You cannot be a Christian without evidence of that fact and we haven’t even begun to talk about the in-filling of God’s Holy Spirit!

True salvation is always TRANSFORMATIVE!

When you truly surrender your physical AND eternal life to God and receive the Holy Spirit deposit you are a Christian and you will notice a different attitude and desire within you.

IF a person goes to an altar call in the throes of emotion and asks Jesus to come into his heart and then leaves and resumes his former life with nary a difference… that person was NEVER actually a Christian at all.

Jesus changes who we are because as Christians we die in Christ to be, “Born again.” As Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

It says of Christians in Colossians 3:3, We “Have died and our life is hidden with Christ in God.”

The change in our behavior is born out of a change in perspective, which in-turn is born out of a change in the very core of our true being, as it says in Romans 8:16, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.”

It is the Holy Spirit transformation in you that give you assurance… 1 John 3:18&19 says, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him.”

Be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Work diligently to actively surrender to God through Christ and to righteousness through the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s true salvation…

Now, IF you are already a Christian what you must do is essentially the same thing… SURRENDER…

Yeah, Scott, I’ve done that… and then my gentle question is, “Really?”

If you have surrendered everything to the Lord and you are ready, willing and able to say YES to whatever He has for you… then don’t standby for what comes next…

Actively pursue His strength to stand firm when the test comes… Press in to Him all the more. Pray for His Truth and His strength and His love to fill you to overflowing.

I read II Peter 1:1-11 last week. That passage and many others in your Bible spell it out… Keep on keeping on!

Forget what lies behind and press forward… (Philippians 3:13) So long as you are truly seeking Jesus, He will never let you fail.

That is a repeated promise in God’s own Word… No matter what happens keep pressing on into Christ and you will be saved. He will save you – you cannot save yourself – salvation is in Jesus alone – press into Him.

Jesus repeatedly tells us, “It is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved” (Matthew 10:22). Both Paul and Peter quote Joel in saying, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:14-21, Romans 10:13, Joel 2:32). To CALL is an ongoing, continuous thing… CALL.

God will save you into right relationship with Him for all eternity, so long as that is your heart’s desire.

What was it those who fall away do? They “Pay attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…”

They listen to things that tickle their ears… The things are additions and subtractions from the True Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Whether it is legalism or licentiousness… anything that diminishes the completed work of Christ is blasphemy against Christ.

How many Christians forbid things not forbidden by God? How many Christians allow things not allowed by God?

How many people make salvation Jesus PLUS something else?

Jesus plus water baptism by immersion. Jesus plus membership in the correct denomination. Jesus plus obedience to various rules. Jesus plus living a good life. Jesus plus abstinence from something. Jesus plus perfect doctrine. The list is endless.

Someone asked me what I thought was, “God's highest priority is for the church?” I don’t think, I know what God’s highest priority for the church is…

The church is not only the Bride for Jesus… it is His actual Body in physical form and it is made alive by the Spirit or Breath of the Living God to accomplish the Father’s Will.

The highest priority for the church is to glorify Christ Jesus… to point to His all-sufficient sacrifice… to love, honor and adore Him as any bride would… to actively serve His interests on planet earth in His stead.

The highest priority for the church is identical to the highest priority of the Holy Spirit leading the church… it is to point to Jesus.

We make it about what we do for Him, we make it about preaching and teaching and evangelism and helping the poor and sending out missionaries and building the Body and equipping the saints and fighting abortion and railing against same-sex marriage…

It is NEVER about what WE do for Him… It must always be about what He has done for us.

We must get our priorities straight, because no matter how much good we do it is nothing more than “A noisy gong or a clanging cymbal…” it is filthy rag before a holy God (I Corinthians 13:1, Isaiah 64:6).

Our mission is to glorify Jesus because we “Get it.”

We are captivated with God’s love for us… His mercy, forgiveness and grace to us, that we in no way deserve, or will ever deserve.

That’s what must drive us… an all-consuming love for God because He first loved us (I John 4:19).

Then when we act… it honors Him.

We’ve talked about becoming a Christian and we’ve talked about being a Christian and now we’ve talked about the priority of the Church.

Here’s a test we can all administer to ourselves.

Do you find it easy to forgive people who wrong you? Don’t you hope that Jesus will forgive you when you wrong someone?

Do you find it easy to be patient with people who derail your plans? Don’t you want God to be patient with you?

Do you find it easy to be compassionate toward other people who make dumb mistakes? Don’t you desire God to be compassionate towards you when you fail?

My friends, there are only two possible reasons we do not find it easy to be like Jesus…

The first is that we are not Christians. We know how to fix that.

The second is that as Christians we do not understand, at a core level, the gift God has given us, in relation to our deservedness.

The gap between what we think we deserve and what we have actually received is far too small…

We simultaneously think too highly of our worth and too lowly of the cost and value of the Gift of Salvation.

The more I do for God, the more I think I deserve God’s favor… and the less I owe God for that favor. His grace becomes a wage I earn.

The less I think God has given me as extra, the less gratitude and love I feel… because instead, I feel entitled.

Probably the worst thing about Americans is our entitlement mentality… I deserve good stuff because I’m me.

It has no place in Christianity.

No matter who I am or what I do, I can never earn even the tiniest degree of what God has given me… I must be overwhelmed by His love and overcome by His grace and I must act from that place… or it is just human effort.

Abraham trusted God so much he was about to murder his beloved son Isaac. That is the epitome of saying YES, to whatever God asks!

The Bible says of Abraham that he BELIEVED God and it was CREDITED to him as righteousness.

Romans 4, reminds us that no one credits someone with what they have earned!

Anything good in God’s economy comes from God through us and so God gets all the glory.

When we allow God to use us in ministry we don’t earn grace… we become more indebted to grace. I owe God more now than I owed Him the day He saved me.

I TIMOTHY 4:3b-5, 3bwhich God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. 6In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.

Okay, the bad guys were anti-marriage and anti-certain foods. The Bible says both marriage and previously banned foods are not just okay, but good.

We might think that was those false teachers back then, BUT you can do a quick internet search and you will find all sorts of so-called Christians doing exactly the same thing today!

God created marriage as we saw in Genesis as an integral part of His created order and plan… One male joining together with one female to become one flesh… that’s God’s idea of how it should go. One flesh means that we are handcuffed together for better or worse.

The other thing that is good in relation to intimate relations… is singleness.

One is not better than the other, both have their pluses and minuses… the big plus for singleness is as Paul said in I Corinthians 7:32-34, “One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.”

Here’s an example where God wanted to make certain we understood singleness was good for both men and women.

God has the full capability of making things clear in His Holy Word when He wants to make them clear.

Anyway, there are only two states acceptable to Almighty God… Biblical marriage between one man and one woman or singleness which, I shouldn’t have to say, means NO sexual intimacy with another.

According to God, IF you are single and you cannot control your sexual appetite then find a spouse (I Corinthians 7:9).

That brings us to an obvious question in our society today… What about the person who has an uncontrollable lust for the same gender?

While, “It is better to marry than to burn with passion,” it is better to burn with passion than to give in to sin that will bar you from heaven.

We cannot mock God… we cannot pretend… we must take Him at His Word… in I Corinthians 6:9, Paul incredulously asks, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” He goes on to say, “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals.”

Effeminate is a lousy translation and does NOT mean a guy with a high voice or a more dainty demeanor… it means the female role in homosexual sin. The next word is also poorly translated because it is specifically the male role in that debaucherous arrangement.

Again, God is specific… Homosexual sex is a sin that will keep a person from heaven.

Look, though, look… fornicators… that’s sexual intimacy outside of marriage along with adultery… that’s a married person betraying their spouse by engaging in sexual intimacy with another.

All sexual intimacy with another is a heinous sin outside of Biblical marriage…

Let’s not be smug, because he goes on to say in the next verse that, “Thieves,” “Covetous” people, folks who get “Drunk,” etc. are in the exact same boat as those engaging in homosexual acts as NONE of them “Will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:10).

Here’s what’s of paramount importance… the verse that comes next says, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

It isn’t about being perfect… it is about being perfected by Jesus.

What that means is we must truly from our heart, do our very best in every area of our life to obey God and please Him and bring glory and honor to His name because we genuinely trust Him and love Him and are filled with a desire for intimacy with Him that can only come when we are striving to do right.

Of course homosexual sin is not the only sin… BUT it is sin and we need to call it what it is. No one is trying to say God made me a thief and so I want everyone to not only accept me, BUT to honor and cherish my behavior. We need to fight against all sin in all forms in ourselves.

So anyway, marriage is good and should not be seen as less than singleness… that was a problem then. I think the problem today is more the other way around. While marriage is good, it is no better than singleness.

We ought to honor our people who are chaste singles – it is not easy to be on your own and remain faithful to God in all things.

Likewise, we ought to honor our married couples because it also, in a different way, is not easy to remain faithful to God in all things.

Each has its own challenges, so what is important is that we forge ahead in Christ doing our very best in devotion to Him.

Don’t judge one another – PRAY for one another.

The other thing they were forbidding was certain food. This is part of the reason we say a blessing for meals… We must have a clear conscience about what we eat and that is between us and God, NOT the whims of some other person.

We don’t approve of some behavior and so we work it until we are able to “prove” it is a sin and then we work that until we are able to “prove” that the person can’t possibly be a Christian at all.

I am going to point these things out just as Paul did and just as he told Timothy to do… Be wise in your relationships and wise in what you eat and wise in all you do…

Be grateful to God for everything and through prayer offer yourself to Him wholeheartedly because one day soon, none of this will matter, BUT your heart will.

111515 - I Timothy 4a - "Some will fall away"
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November 16, 2015 07:53 AM PST
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I Timothy 4:1&2, Pastor Scott Keller

Alêtheia ~ I Timothy 4a ~ 111515

Act like you actually believe… Be a Christian… Be RADICAL in your devotion to Jesus…

My dad used to say that, “Anyone can fly on a nice day.” Well, I say that, “Anyone can be a Christian IF it doesn’t cost anything.” IF there is no risk… IF it is completely SAFE… How can God prove Himself faithful, if we never NEED Him to be faithful?

Be… and therefore, DO… what is Ridiculous, what is Ludicrous, what is Absurd, what is Preposterous and what is Outlandish… for God…

Are we those people who say to God, “I surrender all to You… all, that is, except for my comfort”?

Or are we those people who really believe, what we say we believe. Those people who have enough faith, to actually Trust God, so that no matter what He asks of us… we simply say, “Yes Lord”?

Isaiah 6:8, is one of my favorite verses… “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”

God is still asking that same question… and you don’t need to be an Isaiah to answer… Who will go for the Lord now? It’s NOT rhetorical. God really wants to know, right now, among us in this room, who will go?

We can start with this… Be the Church… We’ve been talking about what “CHURCH” is… and not all of us get it… at least some of us don’t get it enough to actually do it…

My dear friends, we are so INFECTED with the DISEASE of our culture… We are such a DISPOSABLE society. I mentioned the old saying how we breathe in the air around us only to inevitably exhale it out onto everyone around us.

To us… Everything is disposable, from our diapers to our interpersonal relationships. We fill the land and the oceans and even space with our wonton wastefulness… we throw our one-time co-workers, neighbors and church family, along with our one-time friends and even our one-time spouses… all of them on the garbage heap along with the used diapers and all the other discarded rubbish… we feel is disposable… and it is a sin.

In any relationship the other one will fail to meet your expectations… God will fail to meet your expectations… will you discard Him when He does? No, well how many times will God have to disappoint you before you’ve had enough and want to move on?

Can you see how foolish it is to divorce God because He isn’t living up to your expectation?

It is absolutely no different for the Church. The Church is about interrelatedness… We are family committed to each other as we are all committed to Christ… that is COMMUNITY and that is what COMMUNION represents.
IF the church is NOT working for you – look no further than YOU.
What are YOU doing to BE the church?
What are YOU doing to encourage and support the people that make up God’s family right here?

Alêtheia Christian Fellowship is NOT a club like the Elks you decide to leave for membership in the Moose Lodge. It is NOT a political party you leave because your views become more liberal. It is NOT a spiritual gym you leave for the new gym that has better exercise equipment. It is NOT a service organization designed to meet your needs and wants.

Alêtheia Christian Fellowship is a family and so, by definition, there will be friction between the members and disappointment with the leadership. Of course, it will be difficult to get along with everyone all the time… that’s actually God’s point!

Anyone can remain faithful to God, to a church, to a spouse, to a friend when everything is going well… that takes no character… that grows no maturity…

She hurt my feelings, he’s too obnoxious, she wears inappropriate clothes, he talks with food in his mouth, the church doesn’t meet my needs, the pastor knows my secrets.
Whatever the issue… we are to work it out in God’s love, NOT bail out in self-love.

Get involved. You owe it to yourself, you owe it to your family, you owe it to the church and you certainly owe it to God.

We have seen how the church was established, why it was established and how it should be operated in a practical way… NOW we get back to the purpose of all that… the purpose of writing in the first place…

I TIMOTHY 4:1&2, 1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron…

Satan distracts us… we fuss and fight, argue and demean, repudiate and destroy… EACH OTHER!

As the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 5:15, “If you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.” You know what the Bible says immediately before that? Galatians 5:14, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Yet we don’t care… we continue to attack other Christians because they don’t look at things precisely the way we do…

How many times does the Bible teach that animosity, strife, jealousy, anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envy and gossip are the indications that a person is destined for eternity in the Lake of Fire and yet we Christians continue to fully engage in such practices towards our brothers and sisters in Christ?

The Bible says that those, “Who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:16ff et al.).

I know a guy who says we are to be “Fruit inspectors.” Well, if that is true the fruit we are supposed to be inspecting is the Fruit of the Spirit.

First and foremost in ourselves… “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22&23).

The opposite of that Fruit is a contentious person… When you have the whole Fruit of the Holy Spirit fully operating in your life you will then be qualified to be critical of others, BUT of course then you won’t be…

The CHURCH is one single cohesive organism called the Body of Christ and called the Bride for our Lord Jesus and in our world we do everything in our power to fracture and tear apart that Body for the sake of our own pompous opinions.

The distraction the Devil uses is the old bait and switch… we think we are talking about important CHRISTIAN issues… we think we are trying diligently to make the church DOCTRINALLY pure… BUT what we are really doing is fighting over things that grieve God and destroy the unity of Christ’s Body.

Last week, someone said to me, “Please do not sacrifice truth on the altar of unity.”

Let me tell you what God says repeatedly in His Word… “Please do not sacrifice UNITY on the altar of SELF.”

We are so full of ourselves it is insane… No one who has ever walked the earth, except for the Lord Jesus Christ, has ever had PERFECT theology.

If you think perfect theology is what is required to enter Heaven, you overestimate your intellect and underestimate God’s grace.

We must all do the best we can with what we’ve got to work with and prepare ourselves to stand before the true Judge.

So, on the other hand, we have these verses before us today… The whole purpose of this Bible Book was to combat “Doctrines of Demons.”

It seems the two things are at odds, BUT I hope to show you that they are NOT.

I think the primary reason we have trouble reconciling UNITY and PURITY is that we don’t know how to rationally discuss IDEAS.

Our society as evidenced by the political process is a culture that does not understand the difference between opposing IDEAS and PURE EVIL.

Anytime a person has a different way of looking at something – anything… instead of a respectful exchange… we villainize the person and attack their very being as though they are minions from hell that are trying to ruin our world and must be destroyed at all costs.

Each person is made in the Image of Almighty God and should be respected as such.
Each human being is allowed their opinion by Almighty God and should be allowed the same by us. Every man, woman and child has a perspective that is unique and while we can absolutely disagree with their IDEAS we must never hate them for those IDEAS.
Stand firm and do it respectfully and gently and you may win your brother. As it says in II Timothy 2:25… “With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition…”

Let’s break it down… Verse 1, starts with the word “But,” or in some versions, “Now,” or as in the NIV, sometimes the word is discarded altogether for smoother English.

I bring it up because there is a connection between this and what just preceded… This may be the start of a new chapter to us, BUT, it is the same flow to God.

As an example, in that explanation… I just used the word, “But,” to connect, “This may be the start of a new chapter to us, BUT, it is the same flow to God.” “But” connects things in such a way that we ignore the connection at our peril. Friends never, ever, forget the CONTEXT…

What came before chapter 4, verse 1? The manner in which the Christian community should behave and the manner in which the Christian community should be led, then culminating with one of the greatest Biblical portraits of that community that we call the church…

The church is, “The household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”

It is the Truth of the Father’s salvation through Christ our Lord as revealed by the Holy Spirit of God.

BUT… “Some will fall away” from that Truth.

The Holy Spirit has already, in the past, explicitly made it known that, “Some will fall away from the faith.”

When will that happen? It will happen, in ladder, or is it, “In later times.” Are we presently “In later times”? When do “Later times” begin?

Here’s what some people miss entirely… Paul was saying that they were “In later times,” then! Nearly 2,000 years ago were the “Later times”! The “Later times,” have been rolling along for 20 centuries.

The letter goes on for two verses talking about the kind of thing that was destroying the faith of people in Ephesus at the time of its writing.

People were, “Paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, (THAT WERE BEING TAUGHT) by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, (THESE WERE) men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods…”

This letter opened with that same concern, “Instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines… such men have turned aside to fruitless discussion wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand…” (I Timothy 13b & 6b-7a).

The letter continued talking about how to correct such problems for more than two chapters and now has come full circle back to the main topic again… False teachers leading people astray.

The primary purpose of the letter is to prevent such deception from entering the church and derailing the faith of the people.

So, the “Later times,” Paul talks about had already begun back then… The times will get worse as the apostasy grows and grows, until the Great Tribulation of Revelation concludes with the final return of Jesus.

For our part, it is not necessary or wise to try to determine where we stand in the sweep of time.

What is both necessary and wise, however, is for us to be ready to remain faithful through unimaginable hardship and simultaneously to be ready to meet Jesus face-to-face at any time!

Notice that God did not tell Timothy to rally the Church and fight the non-believers… God’s concern for the health and welfare of the Church was a disease that destroys from within.

We must be ever vigilant to stand for God and His Holy Word… we must teach people the difference between falsehood and Truth.

That seems to be the polar opposite of what I was talking about earlier…

It is always more difficult to do things relationally as opposed to legalistically. It is about our heart motivation… it is about our attitude and our demeanor… it is about our humble submission and it is about being filled with God’s perfect love for Him and those around us.

Do you genuinely love the Church?

You might be able to say yes to that because it is somewhat undefined… let me fix that. Do you genuinely love this church?

Do you truly love the people in this room right now?

Do you love each one at least as much as you love yourself?

The only acceptable answer to Almighty God is YES. Yes, I love everyone here as I love myself.

When we truly see people as God sees them, when we genuinely care about others, when we are operating in the Fruit of the Spirit… then and only then can we teach and correct others.

Someone in every church needs to be in that place… a place, God has called them to… a place, where Truth can be dispensed in order to combat false doctrine.

Every Christian must find such a church.

I know very mature, intelligent, educated Christians who cannot tell the difference between a great sermon and a great speech.
Febrile pyretic
It is the content of the preaching/teaching that is of paramount importance, NOT the charisma and magnetism of the speaker.

It isn’t enough to be mature, intelligent and educated… we must discern who teaches “Sound doctrine.” We must also be like the Bereans.

Acts 17:11-12a ~ 11Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12aTherefore many of them believed.

The Bereans were not open to just any new idea to come along, nor did they prejudge things. The Bereans were highly complimented in the Bible because they…

1) EAGERLY sought to understand… they wanted to learn… they knew they didn’t know everything, but they DESPERATELY wanted to know more… they were teachable.

My friends, let us please, always, be teachable. Proverbs 12:1 tells us, “Whoever loves instruction; loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction… is stupid.”

I encounter so many Christians who cannot let go of some bit of teaching they learned regardless of the evidence that it is wrong. We must be humble enough to learn… and re-learn.

Do not be afraid of having your beliefs challenged… If they are true, they will only be reinforced.

2) After we hear the information we must carefully examine it. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica to “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good and discard the evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

The Bereans studied, “The Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so…”

We must be diligent enough to examine. People say, “I heard a wonderful sermon the other day.” “Yeah, what was it about?” I ask. Inevitably the reply is, “I don’t remember.”

Good grief, what a waste. A wonderful sermon forgotten because we just listen to be entertained rather than to be enlightened and inspired.

Examine what you hear.

3) The Bereans then made a decision about what they had discovered… they didn’t simply file it away as nice to know information… they made a decision.

We must be serious enough to decide if it is true and good… CHOOSE WELL.

4) Finally, they put their decision into action. They not only believed intellectually… They believed wholeheartedly as evidenced by their action to become actual Christians.

I could give numerous examples of people who hear and evaluate and decide that something is true and good, but when push comes to shove they ignore that good truth in favor of self-satisfaction.

We must believe enough in our decision to put that decision into action.

1Humbleness is required to take in the teaching, 2diligence is required to examine it, 3seriousness is required to make a decision and 4true belief is required to make it real…

That’s when teaching becomes learning and when Truth wins over falsehood.

The duty and primary purpose of the Overseer in Titus 1:9, is a pastor… “Holding fast to the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it.”

That’s what this letter in the Bible is all about… teaching Truth and simultaneously, combating false doctrine in the Bride of Christ.

What does, “Some will fall away from the faith,” mean?

The thing Satan would want us to get stuck on is an endless discussion and ultimately an endless fight about whether people who “Fall away,” are Christians or merely “Seekers.”

I’ll be honest… the reason half of Christendom believes they are Christians who lose their salvation and the other half of Christendom believes that they were not truly saved to begin with, is because God did not make it clear.

God had the words, trust me. Why do we insist on absolutes when God didn’t think it was important enough to make it absolute in His Holy Word?

This passage says nothing about the status of the people or their ultimate outcome… what it does say is that there are people who were in church then and are in churches now, who will fall away from Christian belief BECAUSE they pay attention to false ideas.

First, there is an intentionality to it… You might say it is SELECTIVE HEARING.

Please understand that such people are fully culpable in their own falling away… they pay attention to what they want to hear at the expense of what God actually says.

That manifestation is identical on both sides of the aisle. It isn’t just making the Bible less clear and less restrictive leading to licentiousness… it is also making the Bible more certain and more restrictive leading to legalism. Both directions are a corrupting of what the Bible actually says.

It can be active or passive. Active is seeking out teaching that tickles the ear… seeking the prosperity gospel because you want earthy success… seeking the liberal gospel because you don’t want to give up your lifestyle… seeking the legalistic gospel because you want to earn God’s favor.

Whatever it is that blows your hair back that is NOT God’s true Gospel.

Passively, it can be because people are too lazy to figure it out. It is because they are ignorant… ignorant comes from Latin and literally means a lack of knowledge due to IGNORING the information available.

It is stupidity on purpose.

These people listen to and absorb falsehood that is promoted by Satan and the rest of the fallen angels… these are “Doctrines of demons” because they “Deceitfully” derail people from God’s Truth.

In Paul’s next letter to Timothy and the Christians in Ephesus he led it says, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (II Timothy 3:1-4).

Who does Satan and his friends use to spread their evil?

People in the CHURCH!

Specifically, in this case it is people who put requirements on Christianity that Jesus did not put on them.

We could say it was Judaizers – those who wanted the Gentiles to become Jewish before they could live as Christians.

We could say it was Greco-Roman ascetics who taught a complete debasement of the flesh in order to free the spirit.

Here’s what’s important my friends… it is adding to or subtracting from the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and we do it in America every day.

God is pointing a finger of warning at us this morning.

Will we take Him at His Word, or will we PAY ATTENTION to things that ultimately distract and divide… to the “Deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons that cause “Some” to “Fall away”?

Can’t God’s Holy Word stand as His Holy Word for us?

IF there is nothing to worry about, why would God warn us?

II PETER 1:1-11, 1Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

Make certain you are fully in the faith and that you are striving to know the Truth so that you are NOT a person who will “Fall away.”

How, Scott, how do I make certain? You do precisely what Jude tells us… through prayer ask your Heavenly Father for His love to fill you to overflowing first for God and then for your fellow Christians and then for the fallen world… pray. Pray for LOVE.

Jude verses 20&21, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.”

In that love of God you will find an assurance that He will never let you go because He is able to save you as Jude goes on in verses 24&25, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

062815 - Genesis 6a (Part Two) - "Sullied and Unusual"
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July 08, 2015 06:11 AM PDT
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Genesis 6:1-4, The second half of the sermon by Scott Keller on June 28, 2015. Pastor Scott also talked about the Supreme Court decision concerning marriage.

Verse one is straightforward… when הָֽאָדָ֔ם (hä-ä-däm), man, as in mankind, we humans, when people procreated, daughters were born, as well as the sons already mentioned.

That is the meaning… when man, male and female had children some of them were female… obviously.

That was the easy part. While we are on the easy part, let me address the landmark decision of the Supreme Court.

Marriage was defined by God in the opening chapter of Genesis… we looked at it carefully, Genesis 1:27&28, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’”

Jesus said, essentially quoting Himself from Genesis chapter two, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7, Ephesians 5:31, I Corinthians 6:16

Many people, both Christian and non-Christian believe that the Christian faith can evolve over time and be every bit as valid, or even more valid, than it was in the past.

Nothing could be further from the truth… God does not change, God’s Word does not change and therefore Christianity does not change.

It is a matter of adapting our thinking and lifestyle to the Bible OR adapting the Bible to our thinking and lifestyle.

The choice between the two paths is becoming far more obvious in America and this is only the beginning.

Prepare now for how you will respond.

Christians are told to obey the laws of the land up to the point that those laws violate God’s laws. “Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

I have three choices…

1) I can cease marrying people altogether and throw out a vital part of ministry joining two people… One man and one woman in the sight of God.

2) I can marry homosexual couples in the same way I now marry heterosexual couples, trampling over everything the Bible has to say on the matter.

3) Or I can continue on my present course, violating the civil rights of homosexuals and await my arrest for a hate crime.

We must choose now because the stakes are only going to get higher. Jesus said, “Count the cost,” before you follow Him – it is an all or nothing proposition my friends.

How long before it is a federal hate crime and I’m arrested while preaching in the church for proclaiming the Biblical fact that homosexual activity is a sin in the sight of God?

So many churches want to throw in the towel and acquiesce saying that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness…

Yes, my friends that is true, but no one is saying that gossip or drunkenness or living together out of wedlock or lying, stealing and cheating are NOT sins, NOT to be curtailed, BUT rather, civil rights that must be embraced and celebrated by all.

The line is NOT being drawn in this church today.

The line was drawn 11 ½ years ago when we plastered the name Alêtheia Christian Fellowship on the door,

We will love homosexuals as much as any other sinful person, Christian or otherwise. We will pray for them, bless them, share Jesus with them, but we will NOT, in this church, say that their behavior is acceptable to God.

Verse two.

So verse one is human daughters we born, now verse two talks about the “Sons of God.” That’s the first issue, what does the “Sons of God” mean?

It is, בְנֵי־הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ (və-nā-hä-ē-lō-hēm) the first bit is Ben, meaning; “Son of,” then the word Hah, meaning; “The,” followed by Elohim, meaning; “God”. Put altogether, it is, בְנֵי־הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ (və-nā-hä-ē-lō-hēm).

This construction is found five times in the Bible… here in verse two, again in verse four with the same meaning, and then three times in the Book of Job.

In Job, it is, 1:6, “Now the day came when the SONS OF GOD came to present themselves before the Lord—and Satan also arrived among them.” Then, in Job 2:1, “Again the day came when the SONS OF GOD came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also arrived among them to present himself before the Lord.” And finally, Job 38:4–7, God asks Job where he was when God created all things as well as, “Where were you when the morning stars sang together and all the SONS OF GOD shouted for joy?”

All three references in Job are obviously dealing with angelic beings both good and evil.

The NIV and several other versions translate “Sons of God” as “Angels” all three times in Job, but then go with the more literal “Sons of God” in Genesis.

They do that because a majority of scholars see a problem in Genesis that they attempt to fix by making “Sons of God” natural human men, instead of supernatural angels or demons.

First, let me say that if you were reading or hearing these verses for the first time, without a knowledge of Bible Books not yet written, you would think “Sons of God” referred to supernatural beings.

The Jews along with early Christians saw it that way… Going back to as far as we know until about 400 A.D. that was the interpretation.

The Book of I Enoch is a Jewish work that talks in detail about this very thing. That portion of the book was written earlier than 300 years before Jesus was born.

The Bible itself quotes I Enoch and it was a favorite among the Qumran Community of Essenes as well as many early Christian Fathers.

In it, Angels, specifically the ones called “Watchers,” who were assigned to “Watch over” the human race, fell into sin when they were tempted by the beauty of human women and married them, settling down with them as couples and raising families together.

Their children are described with three titles the first is Nephilim or in Hebrew, נְפִלִים (nə-phĭ-lēm).

The word is obscure – its meaning is uncertain and it is only found elsewhere in Numbers chapter 13. The LXX translated it into Greek as γίγαντες (gē-gän-tĕs), i.e. “Giants.”

The other two titles add weight to the idea that it was now fallen angels and human women because the, “Daughters of men,” is the daughters of, הָֽאָדָ֔ם (hä-ä-däm), as in verse one…

No reason to change the meaning in the context… so it is the natural human daughters of natural human beings getting together with the “Sons of the Elohim, the sons of the God.”

A sharp distinction is made between something natural and something unusual.

Conversely, when it says their children were the, “Mighty men who were of old, men of renown,” the other two descriptors…

The term, הָֽאָדָ֔ם (hä-ä-däm), is NOT used at all. In fact the double use of “Men,” in, “Mighty men,” and “Men of renown,” is an interpretative assumption on the part of the translators. The actual word for “Men,” הָֽאָדָ֔ם (hä-ä-däm), is NOT present in either term.

The first is גִּבּוֹר (gĭ-bōȑ), which usually means a mighty one, not necessarily a man. The man part in the translation is again, an assumption.

The second use of men in the description of these children is literally a named male – like a household name, a well-known male of renown or fame.

All three descriptors for the children of these unions can (by stretching things a bit) be talking about human men, BUT it is far more likely that something a little different is being described.

I prefer to think of the “Sons of God” as fallen angels and their children as something not quite angel or human. That’s my opinion. I hold that personal opinion for many reasons… all are interesting, but also technical and therefore a bit tedious for this setting.

I will be happy to discuss it at length in Sunday school, but for today I like the interpretation held for so many centuries until Augustine in about 400 A.D. saw it differently.

He and most of the Reformers and so most denominations today go with the less bizarre and less supernatural idea they say squares better with Jesus’ words where He says in the Resurrection we will be like angels, neither marrying nor given in marriage (Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25).

The modern view is that the “Sons of God” are men from Seth’s Godly line of descent who married the “Daughters of Men,” meaning the ungodly women of Cain’s line of descent.

Their children, raised by ungodly mothers became violent tyrants.

Either way you go… or if you go with some of the other variations on the theme… it all boils down to this… The human race became completely and utterly evil.

We see evil all around us today… ISIS, Christian martyrs, AME Church in SC, Abortion and euthanasia, crime and violence, hate and discontent and now nationwide homosexual marriage…

But God is on His throne my friends…

062815 - Genesis 6a - "Sullied and Unusual"
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July 07, 2015 02:12 PM PDT
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Genesis 6:1-4 (First Half), Pastor Scott Keller.

Pastor Keller split this sermon into two sections. In the first half Scott Keller talked about faith.

Last week we covered two family genealogies graphically demonstrating the two very different paths available to people.

Every individual is just that – individual. Everyone is different and so there are as many paths in life as there are people to live them, but in the Biblical sense, every possible course lies within the narrow boundaries of an overall path its specific destination.

It is really important to get that. So many people actually think that there are a variety of overall paths, leading to a variety of destinations. BUT there are only two.

We are all here in this room right now, but we started out this morning from several different rooms – we took different routes, encountered different scenery, events and obstacles to get here, but we all got here.

Spiritually, there are as many paths as there are people, but there are only two possible outcomes – only two destinations.

You either love God, wanting to be His child, actively working with His Spirit to be conformed to His character, OR you don’t.

It is that simple.

That is what the two very different genealogies showed us last week.

I tried a whole wormhole, gravity well, Einstein-Rosen Bridge analogy a while back and I won’t go there again, but how about this…

Imagine the little boy knocks over the bucket of balls… half fall into the purple incline and the other half onto the red top.

No matter what precise course each ball in the purple well takes they will all inexorably be drawn to the same destination.

The balls that roll on the red top, as the one hiding in the upper right part, can also take many different paths, but none will ever end up with the ones in the well.

The difference in a Biblical sense is not that the balls appear to be all that different from one another or that certain balls roll any better than others… what’s important is where they are rolling in the big picture.

You can struggle mightily with sin and failure, but be in the purple well, OR you can be a goody two-shoe perfect hairdo person, but be rolling around on the red top.

The key is Jesus… the key is only ever Jesus. You are either accepting & embracing Jesus for your salvation, OR you are trusting in yourself… that’s the difference.

We may judge fruit… BUT, what we may never do is judge a person’s heart relationship with Jesus.

SLIDE: GENESIS 6:1-5, 1Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. 3Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

We are in for a ride today…

These are some of the most difficult to interpret verses in the Bible.

I’m just going to give you the facts along with a few of my opinions and hopefully make it very clear which is which and let you take it from there.

Whatever it is that these verses actually mean it doesn’t change the point they are making.

The point is that people chose their own desire, over God’s perfect will, and everything became, as Jack Sparrow said, “Sullied and unusual.”

When you interpret the Bible, NEVER lose track of the context or the point.

NEVER, add to, or subtract from, what the Bible actually says and always remember God’s Word is NOT a history book, or a science book, or a rule book… God’s Word is a relation book revealing everything God determined you and I needed to know to love, accept and trust Him.

Part of trust, is trusting when the other person says, “You don’t need to know right now, will you trust me simply because I’m asking you to trust me?”

Adam and Eve said, “NO.” So many people, keeping with that family tradition, say, “No, I won’t, I can’t, I need to know.”

Please be humble, trusting people who say, “Lord, because it is you, I will trust.”

You see, everything we do is to drive home a fundamental reality my friends…

Jesus. Jesus is everything. The genuine accepting and embracing of Jesus through the Holy Spirit… Be filled with the Spirit of Christ. Be filled.

We held a memorial service for Andy’s brother last week. It is in the face of death that we get real. At a funeral, perhaps more than any other time, we see the absurdity of thinking that somehow if we don’t acknowledge death, we won’t die.

Your path, no matter how cautious, no matter how long, no matter how circuitous… will end. That, incidentally is NOT my opinion, it is a fact.

And at that end, the reality is, as Jaroslav Pelikan said, “If Christ is raised, nothing else matters. If Christ is not raised NOTHING matters.”

What path are you on? Do you know for sure? Are you utterly convinced? What is the basis for your assurance?

Because, here’s a reality check for all of us… How obvious is it to others that we are on the path leading to eternal salvation in Christ Jesus?

Evil Cain sarcastically asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God’s answer found throughout His Word is, “Yes, yes you are.”

Do you love your brothers and sisters right here in this church? The Bible says plainly, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” (I John 4:20).

What about our neighbors outside the church what are we doing for our neighbors who are merrily rolling along on the red table top, on the path that only leads to destruction?

Romans 10:13&14 (NLT) states, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”

There comes a time, when time runs out… there comes a time when the judge, Who is always standing at the door, calls the court to order.

What will we say on that day?

Jesus is the answer – genuine heart changing relationship with the Father, through the agency of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. can we worship Him in that way?

Do we really believe as it says in Hebrews 11:6 that, “It is impossible to please God without faith.”? And that, “Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”?

Do we really accept, as Jesus taught, in John 4:23, that, “True worshipers worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”

Can we here and now, worship our great God, unashamedly, unabashedly, in spirit and truth?

052415 - Genesis 3d - Thorns and Thistles
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June 04, 2015 09:33 AM PDT
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Genesis 3:17-19, Pastor Scott Keller

SLIDE: GENESIS 3:17-19 ~ 17Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18“Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; 19By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

SLIDE: OBEY YOUR WIFE OR OBEY GOD ~

The first thing is God gives the reason for Adam’s rebuke and associated curse… “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’…”

I’ve probably already said too many times that while Eve was deceived; Adam knew what he was doing.

Adam made a choice between obeying his wife and obeying God.

It is quite honestly that simple in the text… the “Because,” is causal – it is the reason for the problem and it is emphatic.

“Because,” or, “For this reason,” or, “Due to the fact”… that you did, “A” the direct result is, “B.” Because you obeyed your wife, instead of Me – the direct result is the Ground is cursed.

The word translated here as “Listened to” is the verb שָׁמַע (shä-mä), like the corresponding Greek word ἀκούω (ä-kü-ō), it means to listen with the idea of comprehension. It is to recognize or understand something heard. Honestly, our word “Listen” is the same, because like the Hebrew and Greek words it has a range of meaning from merely understanding a speaker, “listen,” to intentionally trying to hear a sound, “listen,” to agreeing with and obeying a command… “Listen.” It depends on context.

As a very common Hebrew word in the Bible it is translated in a variety of ways because of context. It is oftentimes translated as hearken to, or simply obey… In this case, as a Jewish idiom or figure of speech, “Listened to the voice of,” means to follow or obey what you heard.

Because translators don’t like the idea that Adam obeyed his wife, they use the gentler, “Listened to,” but it means the same thing.

Older translations like the Darby Bible, or Young’s Literal Translation or the KJV translate as Adam “Hearkened to her voice.”

The NKJV changes it to “Heeded the voice of your wife,” and the fairly new and very scholarly NET Bible just cuts to the chase and actually has, “Because you obeyed your wife,” which is what’s going on.

For whatever reason, Adam made a conscience decision to follow his wife rather than God and he knew it was the wrong direction – he knew it would be bad…

But, to him, at that precise moment in time, the path of least resistance, was to go along with her. Trouble is usually not too far away when we acquiesce to avoid a confrontation.

SLIDE: PROPOSE EVERYDAY ~ REASSURANCE ~

His wife put him in what seemed to be a no win position.

I think underlying it, her question was “Do you love me,” and her challenge was, show me how much. I think women do that subconsciously in order to gage the status of the relationship…

“Honey, does this dress make me look fat?” Is a classic example. Through that question she can determine where you are at in your love for her.

The correct answer is a heartfelt and sincere, “You look fantastic to me and I love you more today than I did on the day I proposed.”

Similarly, the answer to the question, “Do you think that supermodel is prettier than me?” Is, “Dear, to me, you are the most beautiful woman on earth.”

Women are far more relational than men. That’s why I could boldly say that if not for women there wouldn’t be any proper relationships in the sense of mutually supportive, edifying and nurturing connections.

Guys, I will let you in on a secret. Because of that, women spell love, “security.” Nothing makes a woman feel more loved than to know that her family is safe and secure…and all is well with their interconnected, interpersonal relationships.

That’s why women seek reassurance. Husbands reassure your wife that you are her man no matter what. Propose everyday.

She asked him to eat and he had to make a decision.

Please her at the expense of disobeying God or please God at the expense of displeasing his mate by proving to her that he didn’t love her.

The correct answer would have been, “I love you, and while I will not disobey God, I will beg your forgiveness as well as God’s (we will get to that bit…) I will stick by you and whatever the outcome, WE will work through it together.”

SLIDE: CONFUSED DUDE ??? ~

Based upon his first response that it was God who gave him the woman in the first place, it’s obvious that he thought that it would at least mitigate God’s wrath.

The thinking would go, “God, You gave her to me, and so I rightly assumed I should keep her happy in order to maintain the relationship.”

That is precisely the attitude of many men today.

They say to themselves, I know this may not be right, I know that it probably isn’t the best thing for my wife, I’m sure it isn’t the best for me, but I will go along with what she wants to keep her happy… I will obey her, to keep the peace.

Getting your way is NOT the same as being loved.

Peace today, often comes at the expense of completely losing the war, tomorrow.

Here’s the important question… “Why?” Why did she engage and eat, why did he go along. “Why?”

To understand, we need to understand…
Some people think that because Eve had not eaten from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil before that she was completely innocent and then they extrapolate that to mean that she was completely sinless and then they extrapolate that to mean that she was completely incapable of sinning of her own will.

They say that the Serpent deceived her and therefore none of it was her fault at all – she had no choice at all – she was predestined by God to do what she did.

My proposition was that she was fundamentally DIS-satisfied, which, by definition, means that she was not fully-satisfied.

Some objected because they say dissatisfaction is, in itself, a sin, and she could not have sinned before she ate.

There are significant problems with this view including that Adam is blamed as a responsible agent and he would have been just as innocent before he ate.

And, if she was an innocent bystander there isn’t any application for us today… Except, hope that God doesn’t have damaging plans for you.

I could go on, but what I hope you can see, is that this view was originally based upon reading back into Scripture, what is known today as a strict Calvinistic view that humans are merely automatons, predestined to fail or succeed, regardless of our efforts, or our desires, and that human free will does not exist at all.

No one chooses good or evil because God has already chosen for us and He will bless and He will curse as He chooses… period.

We humans become nothing more than a foil for God instead of a beloved creation that He actually wants to have fellowship with…

I am NOT a five-point Calvinist, NOT because I am NOT a Presbyterian, BUT because I am convinced that the Bible teaches otherwise.

I am uninterested in human arguments – I am interested in God’s Word.

It is an utter impossibility to be a five-point Calvinist unless you amplify certain verses while simultaneously diminishing others. The opposite position called Arminianism (which is a type of extreme free will) is just as unbiblical for the same reason. It’s just taking the same verses, but reversing the amplification and diminishing process.

I know God-fearing, Jesus loving, Holy Spirit filled, Bible believing people on both ends and I am NOT saying you must believe what I believe to be saved… What I am saying is that with the full contextual counsel of God’s Word and nothing else – no denominational doctrinal additions… the Bible teaches a mixture of both positions.

Philippians chapter two says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Arminianism); for it is God who is at work in you (Calvinism)” Philippians 2:12&13.

The Biblical Truth is neither extreme. The Bible teaches eternal security in Christ and it teaches that we must choose Christ every day.

As I said before, the SERPENT is IN the GARDEN. God said to Cain in the next chapter, “Sin is crouching at the door; and it’s desire is for you, but you must master it” Genesis 4:7. That means evil – the temptation to sin is ever-present. The Bible says in James 4:7, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” That means he’s next to you. It means you and I as well as Adam and Eve have a choice.

It is true that dissatisfaction can be a sin, but only IF we allow it to grow into sin.

Personal sin is always a personal choice.

I said this view of Eve’s deception was originally, a free will versus predestination issue, but there is another agenda promoting the view today… that is a feminism that denies any headship of Adam… Adam was responsible, NOT because he was in charge, BUT because Eve was innocent.

Sin, by definition, is disobeying God. My concern is why we disobey God. It seems to me that IF we can get a handle on that, we have a better chance of avoiding sin in the first place.

The Bible is chock full of stories, parables, examples, and direct teaching from cover-to-cover explaining that sin starts with a fundamental distrust of God’s provision. What He gives and When He gives it…

Distrust in God is always preceded by dissatisfaction with the program.

SLIDE: MAN TRYING TO CARE FOR WIFE ~

A while back I said that part of the correct response to his wife’s request included an apology to her for letting her down.

Everyone is ultimately responsible for their own actions, but the primary reason she was dissatisfied was almost certainly because Adam did not love her enough to help her feel satisfied.

I’m sure she made it difficult for him to be as engaged as he should have been… men and women really do have a communication problem.

I can’t count the number of times my wife has come to me complaining about something and I tell her how to fix the underlying problem.

My brilliant assessment and expertise at cutting to the heart of the matter leaves my wife speechless… but NOT because she is amazed at my acumen… No, she’s speechless because she can’t believe I don’t just listen and support her.

The job of the husband is to push through the difficulties and let his wife know that he is there for her and that he will continue to be there, no matter what… “For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.”

Husbands do everything in your power, regardless of the obstacles, to make your wife feel loved, safe and secure and then you can stand before God with a clear conscience INSTEAD of a hogwash excuse.

Do what is difficult, fight for what is right with diligence, patience, gentleness and integrity.

“Do not grow weary of doing good” II Thessalonians 3:13. And… “Let us not lose heart in doing good” Galatians 6:9. And… “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14Let all that you do be done in love” I Corinthians 16:13&14.

So back to the important question… Why did she engage and eat, why did he go along. “Why?”

Adam allowed her to feel dissatisfied, because while the Bible says he was with her – he wasn’t WITH her…

They both acted as independent agents. She independently talked the serpent. He independently did his thing, whatever that was. Neither acted as the team God designed them to be.

She sinned by giving in to temptation, which seems like a choice to me. Then she gave Adam a choice.

Adam saw that the situation was dire and evidently he did not trust that God would work it out. At least not in a way that was acceptable from his perspective.

That’s what we do. We look at a situation and fear that God will not work it out how we think it should go… We are arrogant in our judgment of the situation and arrogant in our belief that we deserve it to work out for us.

I don’t know if he thought obeying God would result in him losing the woman and being alone, or whether he thought their relationship would continue, but now with a cloud of mutual distrust.

I am fairly certain Adam knew he was already in trouble with God once Eve ate.

In for a penny, in for a pound…

As we’ve already discussed, I think her fundamental dissatisfaction was at least partly due to Adam’s failure to love Eve enough to make her feel loved.

Because making your wife feel like she is loved requires attention and selfless giving… it requires time and effort… it requires meeting her needs… it requires ACTUALLY loving her.

SLIDE: MAN PRAYING ~

For most guys, it isn’t going to happen naturally… Press in to God, pray for the Spirit of Christ to empower you to do the little, more difficult things.

It is possible for a woman to become dissatisfied even with a husband who is truly devoted and it is true that every woman is responsible for her own attitudes and actions, but how much easier would it have been for Eve to have done the right thing had Adam been a truly loving husband to her.

Adam was probably like most guys… he was probably mystified by his female counterpart.

I am sure some of his efforts to please his wife were rebuffed. Being a man, it is so much easier to simply disengage, which of course only exacerbates the problem.

I’m sure Adam was spending a lot of time in the garage. It probably became easier to simply go through the motions, go with the flow, and keep the peace as much as possible as to actually figure out how he could please his wife.

Men, you need to put your pride, selfishness and fear on a shelf far below the shelf you put your wife’s emotional welfare on.

Most guys get the physical welfare thing – they will work to provide and to protect physically, but most guys hardly ever work to provide and to protect the emotional

Adam probably knew he had fallen down on the job as a husband and may have even thought that eating with her would be a step in the right direction.

We’ll go down in flames together…

That’s never the right thing when it comes to God, because again, it is a distrust of God’s goodness and mercy.

When your wife goes off the deep end it won’t help anyone to follow her.

It especially won’t do her any good. Love your wife truly. Love her as Christ loves His church. Love her enough to die for her in the little things that make her know she is loved and that she is your highest earthly priority.

Do that, and she will probably feel, loved and satisfied.

If she gets herself wound up about something act as her stabilizing force.

Do not be condescending or abrupt, but through gentleness deescalate her negative emotions.

Love her enough to fight for her even though you are likely to get singed in the process.

If she goes too far, pray for her, help her, but do not follow her into her folly. You must trust God.

What life is the most important life on a passenger jet? I can’t help anyone if I’m dead.

Trust God.

Because Adam failed to trust God and instead, chose to obey his wife, he ate.

The fruit was forbidden and that prohibition was in no way nebulous… black and white… “Do NOT.”

Because he disobeyed he reaped a consequence just as Eve had.

The curse was not actually on Adam, but on the earth because of Adam’s sin.

SLIDE: FARMER ADAM ON HIS TRACTOR ~

The curse was NOT that Adam had to work – Adam was already employed as a farmer in the Garden of Eden.

Work is a blessing from God – it is good to work, so it isn’t about working for a living – it’s about having your labor frustrated.

A farmer planting in good soil with no rocks or roots… no briars or weeds… no bugs or plant diseases… a field that gets plenty of water, but not too much, little or no wind and just the right amount of sunshine…

A crop that grows up without any threat of rabbits, ravens or rhinos and then a smooth harvest at the peak of ripeness without any mechanical or other complications…

Such a farmer still worked hard, but his work was blessed at every turn, such a farmer reaps a bountiful harvest and is proud of his efforts.

It is good to work to produce something useful and necessary – to see your efforts met with success.

The curse is the frustrating of our work.

It is the thorns and thistles of life that oppose the effort – that turn it from work to drudgery… that’s the curse.

The universe and all that it contains is dying because of this original sin… that dying of course applies to Adam and his wife as promised.

Verse 19, says that, in drudgery, you will till the dirt you were made from until you return to it in death.

Death and despair on a spiritual and physical level – why even go on – what hope can there possibly be – what future is there.

SLIDE: THE CROSS OF CHRIST ~

Praise God because He will provide… Salvation belongs to the Lord and He DID provide…

That is the Tree of Life…

051715 - Genesis 3c - Cursed
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May 18, 2015 05:26 PM PDT
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Genesis 3:14-16, Pastor Scott Keller

GENESIS 3:14&15 ~
Fear NOT, the serpent is fake – it’s an artificial model at the Creation Museum… 14The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

God says, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field.” Satan is the serpent, but he’s neither “Cattle,” nor a “Beast of the field.”

Anyone reading this passage without a preconceived idea would understand that God is talking to the physical animal identified as the serpent.

Since that is so, and since there is no reason to think otherwise in Scripture, we must take this as God cursing the actual physical animal who was used by Satan as the basic and primary meaning. That’s our starting point.

The serpent was a real animal, perhaps a talking dragon with some ability to choose – it was after all the, “Most crafty,” signifying some level of reason. Perhaps the dragon was the man’s best friend.

After the Fall, it became the dog, because a snake is hard to take on walks and fetches only slightly worse than Vivian’s dog.

Maybe the talking dragon who had more reason than the rest of the animals became jealous of the woman taking Adam away. Maybe the dragon was dissatisfied…

There is a reasonable basis for thinking that the serpent allowed itself to be used by Satan and therefore bore some responsibility for that choice… Now, of course, at the same time, it may be that the serpent had no independent will and was only an unwitting tool.

The serpent who had been the, “Most crafty,” of the animals, is now the, “Most cursed,” of the animals.

So, if it was culpable, we understand the curse, if an unwitting victim of Satan, we might ask why God would curse the serpent. If that’s the case, it could be as simple as God creating a reminder of the event… every time a person sees a snake they would think about the original sin.

The curse has three parts.

1) The first is to crawl on its belly. Going from a likely very exalted status to the most humble status.

2) The second is to eat dust. Whereas the serpent enticed Eve to eat, God will force the serpent to eat.

3) Finally, the serpent will continue through its progeny as will the woman and there will be an open war between them.

Depending on the source, snakes kill between 20,000 and 100,000 people every year. People kill a lot more snakes than that. There is enmity.

In the text the human side will emerge victorious over the serpent side and I think that is obviously true.

While the human death toll is high elsewhere, in America snakes kill about 5 people a year… we’re winning.

The serpent wanted to destroy the woman, but ultimately only destroyed itself.

Now, let’s look at the deeper reality.

Whatever the serpent’s actual culpability, we know with absolute certainty that Satan was pulling the strings.

Satan was influencing the serpent, the woman and the man.

God is speaking to Satan as well as the animal we’ve been discussing. It is apparent because the enmity in verse 15, is not merely a human apprehension and uneasiness with snakes.

It is certain because the New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus is that ultimate descendant of the woman who through a fatal attack by the Serpent of Old, “You shall bruise him on the heel,” conquered death, to utterly destroy the Great Dragon. “He shall bruise you on the head.”

It is finished, and soon we will catch up to the completed reality in time… the outcome cannot be in doubt because it is already done. Mars rover 11 light-minutes away… destroyed, can’t change it, but don’t see it for 11 minutes.

In the meantime… Revelation 12:17 states, “So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”

But, in Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

Nearly 19 centuries ago, Irenaeus, the disciple of Polycarp, who was, in turn, the disciple of the Apostle John wrote, (Adv, Haer. 3.23.7)
God put enmity between the serpent and the woman and her seed, they keeping it up mutually until He, whose foot should be bitten, came at the appointed time to tread down his head. Born of Mary, of whom the prophet speaks: “You will tread upon the asp and the basilisk; you will trample down the lion and the dragon;” (Psalm 91:12&13)—indicating that sin, which was set up and spread out against man, and which rendered him subject to death, should be deprived of its power, along with death, which rules over men; and that the antichrist, in the latter days, should be trampled down by Him; and that He should bind “the dragon, that serpent of old,” (Revelation 20:2) Therefore, when man has been liberated, “what is written shall come to pass, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your sting?” (I Corinthians 15:54&55).

Jesus was the son of Eve in that she was His maternal, many times, great grandmother, and He foiled the plans of Satan to destroy humanity.

Jesus and Jesus alone brings life to the dead – accept Him fully as your Savior and live!

We can be like our natural ancestors and die or with the infilling of the Holy Spirit we can be like our Savior Jesus and live.

The Gospel is all about life… let us be people who live and who bring life to others.

GENESIS 3:16 ~
16To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”

We closed with this last week and as I said then, it is just amazing what an awesome privilege woman have been given by God.

As a guy who has participated in the operation a few times I can readily attest to the fact that it is NOT easy.

It sure seems like a curse in so many ways… the discomfort of pregnancy, the crazy hormones and of course the intense pain of delivery.

Couple that with sleepless nights, postpartum depression and a body that will never really be the same and it is tough… BUT woman are more than conquerors and my hat is off to all the moms and to women in general.

Now, I said, “It sure seems like a curse,” and it has been known for centuries as, “The Woman’s Curse.” Yet, if you will notice, God never calls it a curse. As we have seen God cursed the serpent and later we will see God cursing the ground, but God does not actually curse the woman or her husband.

It really isn’t a curse and it isn’t even a punishment. The difficulty for the woman is a consequence of sin – a result of NOT living in right relationship to God and her husband.

Those two relationships will never be completely right again on this side of heaven… and there is an effect of that Truth.

So much of what we suffer in this life is simply the consequences of our choices.

One of the very best ways to discipline a child is to allow them to suffer through the consequences brought about by their misbehavior.

God mentions, matter-of-factly, two consequences she and her daughters will endure.

1) The first is actually tied to a blessing… the blessing of salvation that I alluded to in talking about the Serpent’s curse.

Additionally, unlike the serpent and the man, God never rebukes the woman with a “Because you have done this,” reprimand.

Instead, God indicates that salvation will come to the human race as a result of the woman giving birth.

It is the woman’s SEED, her offspring, who will crush Satan, sin and death. As the Angel of the Lord said in Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a Son; now this is talking about Mary, but as the Bible makes clear she is directly descended from Eve – “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

I Timothy 2:15, “But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”

It is through the woman that fallen mankind will be saved.

Childbearing actually includes childrearing and it is the single-most important job on earth – everything else pales in comparison to that…

It is so vital that women will demonstrate their love for God and their obedience to His plan by fulfilling their God-given role to the best of their ability with a Godly attitude and demeanor.

Children are a joy to women in a special and unique way and it is beautiful. From it we see a bit of God’s love, care and concern.

We get a better glimpse of unconditional love, forgiveness, mercy and grace. We catch a peek of what God is like and at what heaven will be like… BUT, oh how sad, the BUT…

Some of a woman’s greatest pain comes from the bearing of children.

Of course the physical things we talked about, but far more than that, the fear and worry for them. The sadness when they are hurt and the pain when they lash out. The depression when they detach and the emptiness when they leave.

2) The second thing is less well understood by folks and I don’t know why, because it is fairly straightforward. Please listen carefully so we understand…

“Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” The, “And he will rule over you,” part is no more a command to men, than the, “Yet your desire will be for your husband,” part is…

Anyone who uses this verse to justify men dominating woman is a misogynist (that means someone who hates women) and a Bible abuser.

God is talking to her, NOT him. It is a statement of reality, of consequence, NOT a command or even a suggestion, and certainly NOT, and get this, certainly NOT a justification!

It is simply how things will be.

The easiest way to understand it is that women will by nature desire a family – desire to build a nest, to be loved by a good man to have children with him… that’s the general desire.

Yet, it will NOT be that easy. There will be a struggle for control… men will generally be overt in their manipulation and women will generally be more subtle and secretive, but both will attempt to control the other and it will NOT work well.

What are we to do?

Children – no matter how old you are – be considerate to your mother. Make it more joy and less trouble for her.

Husbands, instead of taking this as a proof that treating your wife poorly is just part of the Fall… Act like a real man – behave like a Christian – and treat your wife as Jesus treats His church.

If you are not certain about what that means then don’t miss next week.

Women… thank God every day that He made you female and proudly embrace your role. Your gender make the world worth living in and shows us the most enjoyable aspects of God’s character.

Do what you know to be right.

Focus on the good, pray earnestly, trust God and do your best and then forget the rest.

051015 - Genesis 3b - Mother's Day
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May 16, 2015 08:43 AM PDT
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Genesis 3:7-15, Pastor Scott Keller

God’s crowning achievement was the creation of the nuclear family, one woman, one man, united together as one flesh in the sight of God, naked and unashamed, producing and nurturing children to go out and do likewise.

The woman was dissatisfied because she was focused on the tiny restriction God imposed on her, rather than on all the generous abundance He had given her. Women have been given so much abundance, including the sole and unique privilege of forming, growing and nurturing new humans… the ability to be moms and it seems that for many in America… all they can think of is what they don’t have.

Dissatisfaction always stems from a focus on the negative… what’s not working my way… so it is always an arrogance of judging and entitlement.

It is taking on the mantle of God – to be your own god.

It is the source of grumbling, complaining, manipulating and controlling…

It is a fundamental lack of trust in God… in His concern, His power, His ability, His timing.

It is LISTENING to Satan in the guise of others… whether real serpents or well meaning friends.

Airline pilots have it made and you will not find a more disgruntled bunch of people on the planet (or above the planet). The union constantly sows discontent.

How do you know Satan is manipulating you to eat the forbidden fruit – to sinning against God?

1) Is your attitude one of thankfulness for what God has given, contentment with what He has withheld and trust in His character and timing? I Thessalonians 5:18, Philippians 4:11-13, Isaiah 40:27-31, et al.

2) Is the person you are engaged with causing you to become more dissatisfied with your situation or less dissatisfied? Proverbs 26:21, Colossians 3:17, et al.

Look friends, Satan is a murderer and a liar who is always subtly seeking to divide and destroy…

What, specifically, does Satan seek to divide and destroy? What, is it he ceaselessly works to ruin?

It has always been and will always be… relationship.

That’s what was lost in the Garden… right relationship with God certainly, but also right relationship between the man and the woman.

As we go further in our study we will see right relationship ruined for their children as well… one of their sons will brutally murder another of their sons.

Satan is constantly, slyly, cunningly, craftily, subtly trying to wreck the family, the church, and the whole gamut of good relations starting with our relationship with God and then with all others.

He wants us all irritated at each other, focused on the negative, not trusting God or each other.

The way to defeat Satan is to resist his manipulation to be grumpy.

James 4:7 is an often quoted verse, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Do you know the context?

NLT, James 4:1&2, 1What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.
Skipping down to verse 6, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
NASB, James continues in verse 11, 11Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; so who are you who judge your neighbor?

If you want to do the work of Satan, be ungrateful and dissatisfied, find fault with all manner of things and people.

LISTEN to those who highlight what is NOT working and who heighten your dissatisfaction and you will see yourself more and more isolated from God and the people around you.

Today is for the opposite!

Today is Mother’s Day… Today is for women. Women, who generally speaking, are easily moved by dissatisfaction, but who are also the ones who seek out and cherish relationship. Women are the glue that holds relationships together.

People say the glue is encouragement, or forgiveness, or trust, or communication, or love, or patience, or vulnerability and on it goes…

The real glue is God, but God has put that glue ability into women in a unique way.

If it wasn’t for women there wouldn’t be such a priority on relationship with God or family or each other.

Rightly guided men can lend stability to relationships, but the impetus for relationships comes from women… from moms.

We have all kinds of moms here today… moms indeed and moms IN DEED.

Everyone who has ever been a mom to a person needing a mom – Thank you and God bless you.

I ask each of us to quit focusing on what we didn’t get from our mom… what wasn’t right, what didn’t work, all the wrongs, all the disappointments and all the pain.

Instead focus on what is good and noble and give that woman a word of encouragement and love, TODAY! Before it’s too late.

The Bible teaches in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Anyone can be a grumbling complainer – that requires no talent, effort or character at all. Let’s be better than that – let’s NOT do Satan’s work for him.

GENESIS 3:7&8 ~ 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. 8They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Innocence lost…

We do that don’t we? It’s like little kids who think that if they can’t see you, you can’t see them.

Of course we can see them and trust me God saw Adam and his wife and God sees you and me.

There is nowhere we can go to escape God’s notice so when we run and hide from Him it truly makes no sense.

There was a movie line about a plumber asking for a deposit and the home owner said, “I’m not trying to tell you your business, but you haven’t even looked at my pipes.” The plumber responded, “I looked at them three years ago – you think they have improved with age?” We make a mess and it isn’t like time is actually going to make the mess better.

The reason we run and hide from God is we are ashamed, but probably mostly we are afraid.

We are avoiding the full impact of our sin by isolating ourselves until time has mitigated the severity of our transgression.

Obviously, we are not really hidden – He sees us. Obviously, time has no true effect on minimizing any crime in reality – God won’t forget the original impact.

We have a statute of limitations because over time the seriousness of a wrong lessens as the collective memory fades.

I was in Manhattan the day before and again 6 days after 9-11. I assure you the emotion of the event near ground zero today is not even a blip compared to the emotion then.

We even have a saying that “Time heals all wounds.” Rose Kennedy was married to a man who cheated on her and was associated with the Mafia, she had a prescription drug addiction. She was the mother of nine children…
Joe who was killed in WW II,
John who was assassinated in Dallas,
Rosemary who was given a frontal lobotomy,
Kathleen who was killed in an airplane crash,
Bobby who was assassinated in Los Angeles,
Ted who was plagued by scandal…
Things didn’t work out any better for her grandkids… Rose once stated…“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

She was probably right, but whether it is the memory that fades or some kind of scar tissue covering it – the bottom line is that time does help… us… and so we…

Foolishly we think God operates the same way… He doesn’t. No amount of hiding and no amount of time changes God’s perspective.

Since it is Mother’s Day and I shared a quote from Rose Kennedy, here’s another one, “I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and a duty, but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best I could bring to it..... What greater aspiration and challenge is there for a mother than the hope of raising a great son or daughter?”
She endured a lot of tragedy, but…
Joe was a war hero awarded the Navy Cross the nation’s second highest medal for valor.
John was President of the United States.
Kathleen was the Marchioness of Hartington.
Eunice founded the Special Olympics.
Bobby was the U.S. Attorney General and a Senator
Jean was Ambassador to Ireland.
Ted was a Senator for so long (47 years) most people forgot about Chappaquiddick.

When we hide, we just add insult to injury… A guy forgets his wife’s birthday and because he is embarrassed and scared… very, very scared… he stays away from her becoming distant which only serves to punish her by further hurting their relationship.

It is the same with God. When you sin, run to Him, acknowledge the severity of the transgression, sincerely apologize, ask for the strength to do better in the future and accept the discipline, love and forgiveness of your Heavenly Father.

Get the relationship back on course as quickly as possible.

Running, hiding and waiting is childish, selfish and stupid.

The eyes open bit is a colloquialism meaning they became aware of something they were blissfully ignorant of previously.

Many ideas circulate concerning the exact nature of their new awareness.

Most people focus on the nakedness business. While that is certainly true, I think the main thing is the metaphorical nakedness they became aware of…

The very thing granting them insight was a crime against God and the true nakedness was the recognition of that sin – the embarrassment that they were guilty.

They desperately wanted to clothe themselves NOT just with fig leafs, but with total hiding.

They wanted the thickest protective layer possible because they no knew what it was to do EVIL.

They were confronted by a God who was pure GOOD and they could not stand in His presence.

Job was a righteous dude even though I doubt he surfed. Anyhow, Job was tested and as he got to understand God better he realized that as good as he was as a human it was nothing compared to God… recognizing God’s Holy presence Job told God, “Therefore I despise myself, and I repent in dust and ashes!” (NET Job 42:6).

The great prophet Isaiah when in the presence of the Lord said, “Woe to me,” or as the NLT has it, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips… (NLT Isaiah 6:5).

And just like the Apostle Peter when he first realized that Jesus was the Lord. Peter, “Fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!’” (Luke 5:8).

Darkness cannot stand in the light… they hid.

GENESIS 3:9-12 ~ 9Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”

Thrown under the bus big time… Adam tries to protect himself by blaming the woman and by turning the tables on God and putting Him on the defensive.

What a great start to male, female relations, not to mention God, human relations.

Evidently, we come by it honestly because people do the same thing today.

A guy will cheat on his wife and not only blame the other woman, but will turn the tables on his wife, putting her on the defensive by making the whole thing her fault.

Adam refused to take responsibility for his choice.

The Bible is very clear that Adam knew what he was doing and willfully disobeyed God’s one command.

Adam might have refused to accept responsibility, but as we will see God will judge him regardless.

God does not need our permission, our acceptance, or our cooperation, in order to rightly judge us.

GENESIS 3:13-15 ~ 13Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

The woman was a quick study. She uses the same tactic and while she doesn’t directly implicate God the charge is still there because God created both the serpent and Satan who possessed it.

Ultimately, they both refuse to take responsibility for their own actions and they certainly fail to stand up for or protect each other… as I said, the human race is off to a fine start.

The serpent is cursed along with Satan. It is difficult to tell where the physical and metaphysical begin and end, but they are both in for a rough future.

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