Holiness, without which, no man shall see God.
by Reformation Hope Church
March 2, 2014
On February 26, 1844, there was a major naval disaster. On Board the Battleship Princeton, the pride of the US Navy…President of the United States, Gilmore the Secretary of Navy, the Secretary of State and many other dignitaries were assembled on the Battleship. That Battleship had a new gun… A BIG gun nicknamed the Peacekeeper, and of course part of the show was to set that gun off. Senator Thomas Benton was there. He was a man known for his irascibility; a man who couldn’t get along with anybody, and infamously had just had a public fight with Senator Daniel Webster. The fight was a disgrace, and was commented on in the papers. It was a disgrace to the US Senate, but Benton didn’t care. For him life was a fight; a struggle, and one he would dish out to others. He had perhaps the nastiest tongue on Capitol Hill and the sprit that matched it. He was there for the festivities as well. Right before the Peacemaker was set off, a friend of his put his hand on the senators shoulder, and turned to face the man and at the same time the Secretary of the Navy, who had no liking for Benton, pushed him aside to get him out of the way to get a better view of the gun, quite literally pushing Benton out of the way when the gun went off. It didn’t just go off, it exploded and killed quite a few of the dignitaries. It was a disaster, not just for the navy, but quite a few people on Capitol Hill were killed. Thomas Benton, however, was spared. The man who couldn’t get along with anyone, who had a fiery spirit, who picked a fight with everyone under the sun, went to his knees. He was broken hearted. He saw the hand of his friend, as the hand of God’s Providence.
He was grieved and broken hearted for the loss of people there, and perhaps for the first time he said, “God had spared me, and I would have been in plain sight of the gun’s explosion, had not the hand of providence secured me. I first of all therefore want to be at peace with all with whom I have been at variance these past years.” Senator Thomas Benton, realized God had spared him and he believed it, and the first thing that came to his mind was his terrible disposition and orneriness towards other people everywhere. His repentance on the shore of that battered ship was one of seeking to be right with those whom he had been at variance and he recognized in his own heart how deep that orneriness had gone. He immediately patched up his relationship with Senator Daniel Webster, giving him public honor, and taking away from his own public reputation in the process. He publically put a disclaimer on his own bad character. It was his relationship with men that he saw as the cornerstone of a bad heart, and after the explosion, the cornerstone for seeking a good heart. He said “I don’t have such a heart, but I want one and I know from Holy Scripture that the best way for me to learn how to gain a good heart is through my walk with other people.”
What do I do with others?
Hebrews 12: 14 “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” It doesn’t matter how often you sit in church; how often you do devotions; Read it again. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
Let see for ourselves.
Psalm 15 Conduct an experiment and see if this truth bears out. It’s one that kind of slaps us over the cheek a bit and makes us quite literally turn the other one, or at least it should.
Psalm 15:1 “Lord who shall ascend to your tabernacle, and who will dwell in your holy hill?” It’s asking the question… Who will live with the Lord in holiness? Who will be with him? The answer does not say anything like those who pray and are devoted daily or those who are regularly in church or those who have their daily devotions. There is not a word about your attitude toward the Lord. Not a thing. Nothing there about a justifying faith in Jesus Christ. Nothing here about the Gospel or your faith or for that matter worship. But rather we read “He who walks uprightly, works righteousness and speaks the truth in his heart.” He is not a liar. In him there is no guile; you speak to others from the heart. They can trust your word. “He that does not backbite with his tongue”. You may ask… what does that have to do with dwelling in God’s holy hill… I thought grace forgives us and we find mercy in Jesus Christ? So if I back bite and say a little lie, how does that redound to me not being with the Lord and dwelling in His Holy Hill? “He does not do evil against his neighbor, and seeks no reproach with his neighbor”. It’s one thing to do evil and another not to reproach. You’re not a fault finder. You redeem the reputation of your neighbor and learn to live to make good on their gifts and their reputation. You think highly until otherwise proven, and then we see, “in whose eyes a vile person is condemned”. That’s the flip side. We see them for who they are. You don’t escape reality by being so loving that you subsidize wickedness. He honors them that fear the Lord. In other words, you have a special place in your heart for Christians. We read that he swears to his own hurt and changes not. This is so important today in this society where we are inundated with paper. Nobody keeps their word. The only way you can trust someone out there is to write it up and even then, contracts are broken right and left. Give your word and keep it. It is your oath. And yes you should take oaths in court, because there your word is your oath as well, it’s just that the sanction is higher so others can trust your word. But to dwell in God’s Holy Hill…
Faith, Gospel, personal devotions, prayer, and regularity in church. There is nothing here in this Psalm. Why not? Holiness without which you cannot see the Lord. Did you notice though in Hebrews 12, when Paul wrote that, he said “Follow peace with all men and holiness”? He tied holiness to your walk with your neighbor. How you are with your neighbor, and your neighbor is defined as anyone other than you.
Do you want to be with the Lord in heaven? You have to be holy. Here’s the cornerstone to your holiness.., your neighbor. Not devotions, prayer, or worship. Those are designed to help you get out the door with your neighbor. Your holy walk is defined and measured by the Lord in your relationship with your neighbor. In fact, he will carve out your holiness through your neighbors’ pressures upon you. You cannot be holy without an holy bearing and uprightness to your neighbor. In fact, we just read that in the 62nd Psalm Verse 3. “How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence. They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly.” The key to your holiness is your neighbor. We rather, tend to separate from our neighbor, (that’s the 2nd table of the Law,) and we define our holiness in terms of our devotion, our worship, our prayer, our justifying faith and or our response to the gospel. God is holy, therefore we adore Him and that is our relationship to Him. However, God tests your holiness by the pressure of your neighbor. He is not just there for you to invest in and do good works for, he is there to pressure and to teach you the state of your heart. He doesn’t know how he is testing you, but God uses him, and as you’re about to see, God uses your neighbor to try and test you.
I’m going to go back to a subject you’ll be tempted to believe is a repeat. It is not. We’re back to presupposition. You’ve heard me define it a thousand times. But there is a description I’ve not really emphasized. A presupposition is a special kind of belief in your heart. Pre -before. Suppose- An assumption. You can’t test it scientifically. It’s a belief you have about the world around you. Your presuppositions are important because they are foundational and they are the beliefs in your heart that are granted the highest immunity from revision or change. In your heart, presuppositions are those beliefs you have that you grant the greatest immunity from being changed. You will not allow them to be changed. There are other beliefs out there you will let be changed but the presuppositions are the ones you put a fortress around. When someone has messed with your heart strings; has got into the real presuppositional core, there comes a rage, and offense, and a flame thrower comes from you. Your version of showing offense will be shown, unless God’s grace comes to you.
Your presuppositions are the beliefs you give the greatest authority. Those beliefs you’ve granting not just immunity from revision, but you surround them with a shield. True or not it doesn’t matter. You’ve given them their greatest authority and anyone who challenges those beliefs is going to show an offense, unless God’s grace comes back and changes that.
Enter your neighbor. You have protected a system of beliefs inside you, and your neighbor comes along and does something to you, or give you some opportunity (David looked at Bathsheba). Now your heart is being challenged. Your neighbor comes to you and either grants an offense, or makes a tempting offer, or passes a slight to one of the… you fill in the blanks. That fortress now erupts like that gun on the Princeton. Other beliefs you might have… so what if someone doesn’t believe in the Pythagorean Theorem. It’s not part of my core beliefs. If someone abuses it, who cares? But when it comes to my most cherished beliefs, stay off that turf. I’ve granted them immunity from any revision or any pressure from my neighbor, and the one that comes along, (it doesn’t matter how unwittingly they come, it doesn’t matter they didn’t intend a thing) it only matters they’ve reached inside your soul and touched an area of you core beliefs and then you’ll be tested as to the grace and holiness of God in your heart. Usually a flame thrower erupts. Usually the tongue is the first venom spun out there at the neighbor. In fact sometimes it’s so fast you can’t catch the thing before it gets out of the mouth. It is compared as an asp. The person has come into our lives, innocently perhaps, maybe foolishly so. Maybe that’s the issue. He reached inside your heart and the first thing that struck out was an asp. That viper bit them. You didn’t even know it was coming out. Your core values, your beliefs, struck fast. I know that is a description of every one of us, because the Bible says so.
You’ve just been tested as to the strength of holiness in your heart.
Now, go to the Lord if you can, and say, with that temptation, and instead of a general description, go to someone specific who has done that to you, like Thomas Benton did. He knew he had hurt a lot of people and created a public scandal with Daniel Webster. He had impugned his character publically and wrongfully. After the explosion he made it right. Publically to his own hurt. He identified his own messy soul. Give him credit, he knew he wasn’t holy. There was no profession of faith before that explosion. He had known there was a God; believed in a god but so what? Understand, holiness is tested, tried and taught by your neighbor who doesn’t always wittingly know they are doing so.
Remember, your core beliefs, are the ones most usefully to you in your own eyes. You’ve immunized them, and give them the greatest authority and hold them close to you and how dare that person, albeit unwittingly, come into your life and touch to change those core values. When they do that, they are in grave danger. That, by the way, is the reason the pulpit is invariably in danger. I have that on great authority. I could probably sight 2 to 300 ministers from the past 2000 years for that very reason. Because the pulpit has to reach into the heart. That’s the danger of the ministry. Paul knew that. Note what he has said…”Holiness and following peace with all men, without which you will not see God”. So if you are one who has a problem with third parties… with people…antagonized and irritated by them and you have no problem lashing out from the heart, taking them down, it might be good for you see in your mind’s eye the explosion on board the Princeton, because but for the grace of God, something like that might come your way. Thomas Benton traded all of his influence and his irascibility in his thankfulness to God for being spared and being spared he believed by the providence of God, and vowed to make a change and he did.
Turn to Leviticus 19. Again the holiness Code. This chapter is quite literally filled with your relationship to third parties. The chapter is about other people. It starts with “You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy” and that’s the title for what follows. So to be holy, this is what is required. Verse 3…”Fear every man his mother and his father for I am the Lord your God”. When you see “I am the Lord your God”, he is repeating the title’s admonition. I’m holy, therefore, you be holy. In other words you will be in a relationship with third parties and you better prove yourself by them, remember this is a test of holiness, and I’m the Lord your God. When you stand before me, I’m going to require Holiness of you. Holiness, we think is culturing the next devotion and prayer, which is good, but that is not holiness. That is the preparation, if it has any strength, for how you act from the heart toward third parties. In Psalm 62 they speak nicely but their inward hearts are a raging beast. Their inward parts are evil. If your devotion means anything, you are working on your heart chiseling that out of you.
This is one of the most difficult things, I confess, for me. I go to my knees before the Lord. This is where, by the way 70x7 is needed for we almost never make it the first time around. In our relationships, we usually need some variable like 70x7 to work that out till finally we are forgiven, forgiving, merciful and whatever else. And you’ll see that Paul, by the Holy Spirit, makes it very clear that how you respond to others is in Christ likeness. There is the real issue of holiness. Forgive others. How? Why? As you have been forgiven. So if you are going to be a forgiven man or woman it is because Christ forgave you…you better then show it. Are you forgiving? Are you quarrelsome in heart even if you are nice to the face? How about being peaceable with all men? And that peace of Jesus Christ…you fill in the sentence.
Are you one that has such peace with Christ? And that peace is not an aura of calmness, guru style. But the peace of God in Jesus Christ given to you, is one where enmity is broken down. If you know that breakdown of enmity between you and your Lord, how about turning about to your neighbor and in like manner, breakdown the enmity there. Or is there a quarrelsome relationship with your neighbor? You don’t want God’s quarreling with you, Cain-like. But you turn around and quarrel with the next person that crosses your path and God help them. You argue before the case like you are an attorney in a court of law, as you lash out to justify why you’re going to be quarrelsome with these people who didn’t even know. And even you did know them? Would that matter? If they were evil toward you, what of that?
Let’s take a look at some of these passages.
Remember you heard me say in past weeks, that the quality of your claim to faith, of what’s in your heart, is shown by the quality of your good works. “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James 2:18
We didn’t really define how that would play out. Now we are getting the agents that are going to test that; your Neighbor. He is going to step on center stage of your life and he is going to test you concerning that quality of good works which goes back to show the quality of faith, or lack thereof in your heart. So now we’ve put another piece in the puzzle. The one who pressures is not you. We will build a fortress around our heart, pushing the world so we are not testing and we’ll cultivate that inward glory we call a relationship with Jesus Christ, and then the neighbor comes along and torpedoes it. So what happens? The asp in the mouth flies out so fast… let’s put it this way… you may have controlled the tongue, but maybe the heart is the asp and it’s ready. You just might look around and say, this isn’t the right time. But all too often, the asp, as Paul describes, shoots out; the sting is there and you have a relationship that is poor the rest of your lives together, or one that takes a lot of rebuilding “Holiness, without which no man shall see God”.
You see, the Lord already knows the state of our hearts. What He does in His mercy, is showing us our hearts and the test gets harder and harder. Jonah was one of the great prophets of the Lord. He is called that. I think it’s Ezekiel where the Lord says if Jonah, or Samuel or even Daniel would call upon me, I would not hear. These men are separated out as great prophets. Jonah was one of the great, yet he has a book that finds him sitting petulant at the outskirts of Nineveh, angry at the Lord because he spared those people, and he would not bring them relief. He would not instruct them. He brought them the word; they were spared and that’s it. They should like it. That’s the best they are going to get from me. The gourd was wilted over him and the Lord brought him distress. He hated the people of Assyria he had just preached the gospel to. He despised them. Now he has, perhaps greater cause to hate them then generally you or I do to hate or be quarrelsome in heart all too often. It’s the quarrel I’m quarreling with. At least give Jonah credit. He was wrong. He hated the Assyrians who you might say for good cause. They were kidnappers of people; boys and girls, helpless women in the countryside. The Assyrians had merchants who would hunt down and track people on farms, and take them. This is a modern phenomenon that is a great discouragement in Africa. Muslims do the same things. So farm life becomes very dangerous. You have to carry several weapons with you and if you go too far, they’ll attack the house where your wife and children are. And if they can’t get you out that way, they’ll set a bomb in the road on which you travel… or picking up “toys” that were really bombs. How’s that for life in South Africa? Give Jonah credit. The Assyrians were just like that. He wasn’t quarreling with them. He despised them. They Lord said in essence, “look Jonah. I sent you to these people. Look at the change in them”. But he wouldn’t lift a finger from that point on.
As you’ve heard me say before, there was no fifth chapter of Jonah. There was nothing like calling the Levites or others from Judea to come help him in a ministry that was so big he couldn’t handle it himself. No instruction for young; no counseling for young couples; no counsellor for the king whom Jonah would not talk to. At least Jonah had a good excuse for a very very bad ethic. Yet, he was not holy before the Lord.
Turn to Leviticus 19:10 Here we read that we should not glean the entire vineyard. I am the Lord your God. Leave some for the poor, which goes to the whole idea of “every buck becomes yours” We just talked of this last night about a hospital. Imagine a businessman taking over the hospital and you watch them wipe out many of the amenities of the waiting room. The amenities were there for those who wait for loved ones whose very lives are in jeopardy. These people are in distress and this hospital wipes it out, to the point where the nurses dig into their own pockets and bring coffee to those in distress.
Now is that the worst possible sin? I bet that viper is just as violent in those investor’s hearts who want every nickel and dime they can glean from those who are broken. That seems to be the way our society is going. Grab every nickel, and that is precisely what the Lord is saying here. Leave some for the poor and immigrant. I am the Lord.
Verse 14. “You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind. You shall fear thy God. I am the Lord”. In the ancient world the handicapped were a loss cause. The god’s had simply decided… they rolled the dice and you came up losers. The explanation wasn’t far from that. We judge religion from the standpoint of Christianity. We expect there to be graciousness and kindness. But there, you paid the priest for a sacrifice and he could care less about you, offering the sacrifice and that’s it. Talking about it? In Roman theology, the gods rolled the dice and you lost. Zeus was a thief and a murderer… Not so in God’s economy.
We are in the age where it kidnapping of children is on the increase worldwide. Christianity is in for its next great mission AGAIN… We’ve had to break this lousy slave trade over and over again in these last 2000 years, and now we have to do it again because we had a generation of us that didn’t care. So now we have the same monstrous mission to undo. I can still see the image of the young 7 year old boy, sold by his parents in Roman times to the sulfur mines where you go in to a little hole and you crawl up inside it, and a little bucket comes on a line, you scrape out sulfur with a little hand tool, and if you break it, you better scrape it out with your fingers. You put the sulfur on a cart and send it out. It goes down a half mile… they’ll put a little bread and water on the cart. Life expectancy isn’t very long, until finally this little 7 year old put his thumb in his mouth, curled up and died. He lost hope.
Christianity broke that filthy slave trade because there was a time when Christians loved deeply enough and holiness means you change that. You get a world where Christ’s glory is not yet seen… where a neighbor labors in deep trial and your heart cares enough to be holy and helping your neighbor. There is a devotion to loving your neighbor. The 2nd table flows from the 1st in the Law of God. The first tells you all about your relationship to God, the 2nd tell you how to love your Lord and your neighbor is the way you do it.
Colossians 3:8 Remember your presuppositions are the belief system around which you put a fortress and grant the greatest immunity to change or challenge. It’s the one in the core of you granted the highest authority. They are beliefs you grant the highest authority and when they are challenged it is like challenging God, in fact, let me be more specific, it is challenging God. You, the humanist within us… we shall be as gods. We are there at the tree as Eve was, and she simply decided she was going to eat that fruit. It was that simple. So are we. It’s the same spirit that puts us on the throne, instead of Christ.
Look what Paul says at verse 8. “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” Put off ALL these. Isn’t it interesting in dealing with holiness in this chapter, he is putting off those sins in this listing that deal with your relationship with someone else. Anger, wrath, malice. That’s a state of heart. Blasphemy which goes in two directions. One toward God where you mock God and it’s taking the name of the Lord in vain and we all know the use of that in society. Besides the “F” word, the 2nd in line is the Lord’s name. And it’s said right at the time when someone is really angry and they can’t believe a thing and they say it loud and long around someone else. That’s blasphemy. The “F” bomb as it’s called, goes to wrath. That’s an expression of anger. I hate, therefore I swear. I’m exasperated, therefore I swear.
Filthy communicating out of your mouth. Look at verse 9. “Lie not one to another, seeing that you put off the old man with his deeds”. So if you’re a liar, you still have the old man that dominates you. But if you are a new man in Jesus Christ, which is what holiness requires, verse 10 “ put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him”.. Renewed in knowledge. A liar is one that does not want truth, and doesn’t like the world as it now is so I am going to create an artificial world around me and make it conform. If I have to drive a square peg through a round peg I’m going to do it. And lying is the way to do it. The new man, renewed in knowledge, sees the wisdom of God in the affairs around him and bends the knee, cries unto the Lord and says Thy will be done. He doesn’t try to change what God has sovereignly put around him to test his heart.
Lying is the creation of an artificial order of things, which is another reason I hate Socialism. It has nothing to do with economics. I hate it because it is a lying spirit. Nothing more than someone trying to create an artificial order and jam it down everybody’s throats. It’s first and foremost a hate thy neighbor theology and it hates the Lord. A liar is one that must try to monopolize the circumstances around him to create an artificially induced…as per how he wants it… world around him. The new man is renewed in knowledge taking what God gives him, seeing the operational will of God in holy precept, bends the knee in heart, takes God’s Word and uses that tool to fashion the world around him instead of lying. It’s an entirely different state of heart. It doesn’t stop there.
Look at verse 12. “Put on therefore as the elect of God, bowels of mercies”. If you are the elect, holy and beloved of God there are bowels within you. Paul is reaching for your gut here. There is something that so powerfully moves you from within because you are holy, that you are thereby merciful and kind and you have deep affection for your neighbor. You see that in Paul’s letters, He has a deep affection for those to whom he writes. He’ll be striking at times with those who attack the Word of God, and those who are vile. He will condemn a vile person, but look how affectionate he is with those who are in the church of Christ.
Verse 13. “Forbearing and forgiving one another”. That is not a positive think admonition. He says, if any has a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do you. Now if you have a quarrel against someone else, you can show that in a couple of different ways.
1. Treat him nicely, with honor and respect and inside….there is something that fires the arrow at just the right place
2. Or just stridently oppose them. At least that is more honorable. At least you’re honestly going to pick the fight. Like Senator Thomas Benton
3. Or your quarrel with someone… and you realize the danger you are in and you bend the knee
This is entirely between you and your High Priest Jesus Christ. We don’t have confessional booths. No third party should have to dictate the terms of your heart, except you and the Lord. I can explain the mind of God and share with you what I know is the sewer of my own hear…hence I know the subject very well… I have a sewer there like anyone else does and it makes me afraid that maybe just maybe I’ll show up someday, having been so deceived that I thought I knew the Lord. What a terrible thought. To die … expecting heaven, and he points out that what was inside you was a snake. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” Philippians 2:12. Paul says, don’t try to create and artificial order around and bend the world God has placed around you. But obey his Word. There is plenty on the plate there for active involvement in the lives of others as per the admonition of Christ. Note what he says though in verse 13. If you have a quarrel, you forgive as Christ forgave you. When speaking of being at peace, ruling and governing your relationship with third parties, look at verse 15. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Now there is an admonition against schism within the body. Do not rend the Body of the Church of Christ. Be at peace. Seek to solidify the bonds of union in the church, not the ripping apart.
He goes on 16…”Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord”. One of the reason you sing together is out of your love for each other. We think of singing, and rightfully, as our response to our King. He thinks of it as working with others to praise Him with one accord. He looks at our relationship in song as a form of bonding and union where with one voice we speak the same praise. Is that the truth? Is that how you worship? Who thinks of worship as a union as opposed to a lot of individuals? Paul says so right here. Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17.. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”… Notice how the ethic keep coming back? You have a relationships with your neighbored because Christ has done such and such…You forgive because he forgave, you are at peace and let It govern your heart because Christ has been at peace with you therefore you are at peace and not quarrelsome with others.. If that doesn’t chisel the heart, and help you work on you walk with Christ, there are no more words to say. You can’t speak more. The problem with your neighbor is, you can’t control your neighbor. He is going to step into your life and make a mess of things. Now that is the definition we usually, or can accord our neighbor who will walk in and disorder this orderly world we’ve put together, because he is going to challenge what was said was immune. He is going to say wait a minute brother, you’re in trouble, when you think things are well and good. He will disturb the peace of your tranquility when you have decided he is not allowed to do so. Your neighbor will become that rough Sea of Galilee, and you won’t be able to walk it well. And you’ll resent. That is the test of the Christian in their holiness before God.
Being in Church is designed to equip you. Giving and preaching the word of God is not the end of Holiness. If you are going camping, I’ll ask, what do you have to take with you? You’ll have in the corner all the equipment that you need for camping. If you’re going to war, they’ll give 50/60 pounds of equipment to carry. Paul says the church is equipping you. You haven’t gone on the trip yet. You’re being prepared for the calling, whatever that may be. The Lord says, you cannot be equipped in solitary. Your heart is too powerful. Church is as much needed as food. We’re not used to thinking of church that way… We think of it as a place to worship and cultivate our devotion to God. Yes, but it’s one of those truths you say yes to and hasten a no right after. You’re being equipped for your trip into the next week, month, actually the rest of your life. If these truths are what we are calling them, God will embed them in the soul, and they then take over and become your new set of presuppositions. You become a new creation. The reason I know you can’t do that on your own, is because it takes the third person of the Trinity. His powerful presence is absolutely necessary for you to create a new life. You cannot do it yourself. I can’t do it myself. In fact, in God’s wisdom, he will make you to know how rough it is to try and go it alone without Him. You cannot govern your sins by yourself. .. So do you just give up?? That is not exactly the response. The spirit of God will disturb you. He will make life miserable for you because He cannot be tempted with un-holiness. So if you are quarrelsome in heart, if you have a lying spirit in a matter. You are deceiver, whatever the sin might be, we all have them, the Spirit of God is not going to remain comfortable and peaceable in your soul until, you have jettisoned… either he is gone, or it. Being active, he will not coexist with your sin… “Holiness without which no man will see God”
Barnabas Shaw was forbidden to preach in South Africa. He was offended by the injustice of the supposed Christian nation. So he sold everything he had and he and his wife went into the interior of Africa. Trusting the closed door here, and the burden of the heart there, toward that one thing we all struggle with…the Lack of God’s glory … would open. Remember if you are like the woman of Proverbs 31, you will be grieved by the fact that God’s great glory is not shown out there in men’s behavior.
God will show his Glory at the end of time. He is not thwarted, but if you are a Christian you are pained in heart that God’s glory is not resident, clearly seen and visible, among men, and so you have a burden like Barnabas Shaw did. And you’ll go off, as he did. On the way, he stopped at a camp and they met the Hottentots (a tribe in Africa) coming to Cape Town trying to find a missionary to come back to their people. He became that missionary. The burden on his heart was so great, even the preaching of the gospel has behind it the burden of heart that is pained that God’s glory…let me turn it around. The world has a quarrel with Jesus Christ and you and I are called to solve it. We step in the middle of that quarrel we are called to settle. We won’t settle it for everybody. Barnabas Shaw solved it for the Hottentots. They knew they had a quarrel with Jesus Christ and wanted to end that quarrel- wanting a missionary. And he was there faithfully for years, teaching them about the Lord. If ever there was a tribe, a Nation at that time that was so impressed with their own sinfulness, it was the Hottentots. There were piles of idolatrous figurines burned; clothing put back on; No more defecating in the streets of the village; Hygiene, and education of youth. If you wanted to be a Tribal Chief, you had one wife. If you currently have several wives, you step down. You don’t put away the wives. Church became a place where they were honored for character and faithfulness. A whole new way of life came to the Hottentots. They knew they had a quarrel and had to reconcile it. They knew the verse… “Holiness without which no man will see God”, but Holiness is not merely being equipped for the trip. So you don your equipment here in church. What good is it if you don’t walk into the next day, week, and month using it? Equipping the saints is what the church is to do. If you are equipped you then take the equipment in. The usage is military. More like armor and weaponry.
The church is the place where God shows up to be supernatural. He doesn’t show himself supernatural in the trees and snow. He shows himself brilliant, but in church he shows up supernaturally working in your hearts. That’s where he is supernatural. Because he has to change this thing in your soul called the heart, the viper that snaps so fast sometimes you can’t catch the thing before it’s already struck someone else. You know what I’m talking about. The tongue goes out so fast you can’t pull it back fast enough. It means you’ve lost hold upon Godliness and a sound mind, which means you can’t be holy. So you go to the Lord and ask him for that supernatural presence of grace to superintend your heart.
4:1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” So employers, bosses, and masters, if you have a master in heaven and you in fact will be holy, then you better be a good one as he is toward you.
What about prayer? Seems I’ve knocked prayer around a bit today. Verse 2 and verse 3 “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 3 withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds.” Even in your prayer life you love your neighbor. Paul is instructing them to pray for him. He is asking the Colossians for their love to pray for him. So their prayer life isn’t consumed with “gimmie”… but rather…please help them out of love for your neighbor. Your reaction to your neighbor is a reflection of God’s strength and holiness in your soul. How you reach out and help them; their burden becomes yours and becomes your walk with Jesus Christ. You are doing it in His name according to His will by His precepts.
Note what it says in verse 5. “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” We have no excuse, you and I are to redeem our neighbor… PERIOD.
You are to exercise genius in virtue and wisdom toward the plight of your neighbor. Anything short of that is not holy. I don’t care how you’ve been baptized, or your profession of faith. If you are not redeeming the next person, or redeeming those whose plight is in front of you, like Barnabas Shaw and the Hottentots, you don’t have the claim to holiness and you ought to fear the Lord to get it. Have a heart to those… your neighbor. Barnabas Shaw did.
Now that goes to one last issue.
You can see and we’ve heard it thousand times, “Wives submit yourselves unto your husband as unto the Lord”. Ephesians 5:22. The ethic of submission of a wife is for the Lord’s sake. My wife does not submit to me because I’m such a great guy. Hopefully I am. She submits to me because Jesus Christ is her obedience. Her love for me is kind of a bounce off of Him. I ‘m not her ultimate master by any means, and my love for her is to be a studied art. Her submission to me is a studied art in the governance of her soul. I can’t take that for granted, in fact I better treat it as… what’s the word? Gentlemen, how do you treat your wife who is submissive to you? How do you handle her in a holy manner? It’s her offering of sacrifice to the Lord as you and I are tough to get along with. And I’m not being facetious. Being called to submit to a man is being called to submit to a sinner and to love your wife is a studied art. You don’t just get it. It doesn’t just happen and submission doesn’t just happen. It is a studied art. You don’ get it in a moment because some preacher told you to. These are Calculus III in ethics and they are hard to come by and usually they are 70x 7 forgiveness acts for mercy necessary to get the one step in it, and usually it’s accompanied by some version of the latest flame thrower or asp out of the heart that we have to repent of. That is usually the ethic and it is not holy unto the Lord. That dangerous viper in our soul that snaps from the tongue that we reach out but we can’t grab it. It’s already there. We’ve already hurt. That has to be changed and this is the reason. That means the person on the receiving end has to learn the patience of Jesus Christ. They have to learn to be patient because they too have this responsibility to be holy unto the Lord, if they want to be in heaven.
That place will hold no quarrel; you don’t enter heaven’s gates quarrelsome whether you are Senator Thomas Benton or just plain you or me.
I’ll leave you with this truth before we close. The Law of the Lord is like a library. It’s like that zip file that opens upon use. In Proverbs 16:3 it says “Commit your works unto the Lord so that your thoughts may be established.” I’ve been talking about this, the whole time. Your mind. This entire message has been about your mind. Your good works are simply the end result of what you’ve already thought through. If you want your mind to come unto the control of God’s spirit understand this about his Law. Commit your works unto him and your thoughts will be rooted and matured. You will learn to study God’s precepts. Do yourself a favor, when you go home, go to the 119th Psalm and look for grace in the different passages. The first 50 verses will do it for you, because out of those verses you’re going to see God’s grace is in some way needed to keep those statutes and precepts. The Law of the Lord; each precept is a library, and as you begin to use it, your heart starts to meditate as it says in Psalm 1; meditate therein day and night. The problem is, when you use God’s law, it was made for someone else. They step into your life as your neighbor and you study its use. Now I understand what the precept means because now the library is opened up because your neighbor stepped in and opened that door. And so you learn the precept Genius in the inner play with somebody whom you cannot control. That person will challenge your dearest beliefs. That person will not leave you immunized, with the precepts that you want to create an artificial world around you, which is the blindness of this current world. That person will not allow you to give such high authority to things that are wrong, because at some point a neighbor will point out it is wrong. And so your citadel will be stormed. Maybe by one, maybe by 100 neighbors who will step into your life and if you are governed by Gods’ grace you will take his Word and read what’s happening in the ‘relationship’ ( we like that word in our generation) through the lens of those holy precepts and therein you mediate day and night. You study your neighbor to find your walk with God.
March 2, 2014.