Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.”
Thanks for the responses over the past few weeks with regard to these articles/lessons. Writing these lessons challenge me as I walk with the Lord. They force me to take stock of how I love, how I live and how I serve. Thanks for the encouraging emails and for the ones that make me study harder as well.
Over the past few weeks, we have explored the above verse from Proverbs. This verse from Proverbs 29:18, as we have shown, is not a verse about ‘casting a vision,’ or about setting goals, or about anything other than the proper teaching of God’s word. You may say, Sean, you are just repeating this. I am because it has been misused over and over again; it has been taken out of the context that God intended, and that can be dangerous.
People don’t perish because of a lack of goals, or a lack of ambition or lack of something to focus on. They perish because the Word of God is not clearly and skillfully taught. We also live in a time when even in the Lord’s churches there is a lack of disciplined living. In casting off what many feel is the religious legalism of the very conservative churches, we have swung the other way; and now sin is okay. We no longer err on the side of caution, but push the envelope as to what is acceptable.
Let me offer a sad reality of what can happen when people do not have a clear, doctrinally sound and skilled revelation of the word of God. There is a large ‘church’ here in Mississauga, the city where I pastor; it runs in the thousands. Just yesterday, I was saddened to learn from transcripts of the pastor’s own words, both in lectures at seminaries and from sermons at the church, that he deems the blood sacrifice of our Lord Jesus as unnecessary for salvation. He deems that a loving God cannot be loving if death and bloodshed are needed for redemption. He completely denies the substitutionary death of Jesus for our sins.
How many people sit in this church each week, have been there for years, and yet have never heard the true Gospel? They are involved, may be teachers and leaders, but they have never been saved. Why would any seminaries have this man to lecture to their students? It is because of a lack of the proper revelation of God’s word, both on the side of the school and the students. So, let us put this in the light of the truth. It is God himself who performed the first blood sacrifice; He set the example of how our sins are covered. We see this in Genesis 3:21,
“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”
Adam had tried to cover their sinful shame with the leaves of a fig tree, but what was required to cover their shame and nakedness were skins, not leaves. The only way to get skins from an animal is to kill it. Something died to cover our sin (Hebrews 9:22). How many people who attend this ‘church’ will meet Jesus one day and hear the words “I never knew you.”
We paired our look at Proverbs 29:18 with 2 Timothy 3: 16-17,
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
We showed that proper revelation of God’s word contains three very important elements: doctrine (the fundamental and eternal principles of the Scriptures), reproof, and correction. (Reproof is defined as “an expression of blame or disapproval.” Correction is defined as “a change that rectifies an error or an inaccuracy.” Thus, reproof is pointing out sin and wrong; correction is then doing it the right way). And when doctrine and reproof take hold, we are then prepared to do good works.
Today, we will begin to look at the process of how we go about doing good works. We are not doing these good works to be saved, but as evidence that God is actively working in us to make the right choices and be disciplined in the way that we live amongst the lost. To be able to do that, we will need to look carefully at two very familiar verses and apply them, through the power of the Holy Spirit to our lives. Let us look at Romans 12: 1-2:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
The great apostle Paul, in chapter 7 of Romans, tells us of the fight that happens between the Spirit of God in us and the flesh that is in its death throes. He is almost at the point of despair, and he calls out to the Lord for help. In chapter 8 we learn that we are no longer under condemnation (8:1) and that nothing can separate us from God’s love (8:38-39). In chapters 9-10 he takes off on a bit of a tangent, talking about his fellow Israelites; and in chapter 12 he jumps right in all the way along, led by the Holy Spirit; and he is pleading with us, “I beseech you.” What is it that he is beseeching us to do? The answer is found in verse 1, “that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.”
God no longer needs or wants dead offerings anymore. What He wants are people who are dead to self and the cares of this world. People who put Him first above and beyond everything. People who seek His pleasure in all things first and not their own. We are commanded to do this all the way through the Bible.
Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Joshua 24:15, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Psalm 143:10, “Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Mark 8:35, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Matthew 16:24-25, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.'”
Luke 9:23, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
I can go on and on for pages and pages, but the point is this: If you and I are to take the proper teaching of doctrine, if we are to see the fruit of proper reproof and correction in the bearing of ‘good work,’ the first step is to surrender ourselves to the Lord. Lose all sense of self and any purpose other than His. What is God’s purpose for me? No matter what it costs? No matter what I lose, no matter where it goes, no matter who goes with me, I must serve Him and Him alone. I surrender my hopes, dreams, ambitions and desires to one simple goal: what does God want? This decision will frame the way you think about everything that happens after that. Every event will simply be judged by is this God’s will or not? If it is, then it is okay no matter the outcome.
Many churches today have people who come only to see what God can give them: health, wealth and prosperity. But in truth, the path to growth in Jesus, the path to maturity is how much we can give and/or give up for Him, His causes and His Kingdom. Who will be wholly invested like Jesus was? He was wholly invested right down to His beaten body and shed blood. What about you and me? Are we sacrifices for and to Him? If not, what are we doing with the salvation that Jesus bought for us?
Look at what Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20: “The life I now live is by faith in Jesus, who gave Himself up for me.” Go and read once again Matthew 26:36-46 and see that Jesus prayed 3 times to let this cup pass; but not my will, Father, yours be done. Jesus, the man, understood the anguish and the pain He was about to suffer – but not my will, Father, yours be done. As living sacrifices, we must be willing to suffer as needed to self so that Jesus can produce in us the good works that please Him.
These are the last days; and soon, maybe sooner than you think, we will all meet Jesus face to face and give an account of our lives after salvation (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). How will our judgments go, oh Lord? Let me submitted to your will only and not mine. What about you?
“So we aspire to please Him, whether we are here in this body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive his due for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.”