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The Strangest of All Gifts: A Beheading, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
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July 1, 2021 7:05 am

The Strangest of All Gifts: A Beheading, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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July 1, 2021 7:05 am

The King's Ministry: A Study of Matthew 14–20

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Discerning The Times
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Today on Insight for Living from Chuck Swindoll. One final word to you who work in a company where you must do wrong to follow orders.

You're in the wrong company. You who have friends who urge you to do wrong things, you have wrong friends. Stay with them long enough, you will cultivate rationalization.

And you will find you no longer have a moral compass. Earlier this week Chuck Swindoll said this about Herod's family. He said Herod Antipas and his wicked wife Herodias are the Bonnie and Clyde of the New Testament.

He also called them the mafia family of the first century. His point is clear, they were up to no good. And today on Insight for Living, Chuck will support his convictions about this rogue couple by exposing the treachery that fueled their behavior.

In case you need context, we'll begin with helpful highlights from yesterday's program. Chuck titled his message, the strangest of all gifts, a beheading. Now back to Matthew 14. Verse 6, here is where the plot thickens and gets really ugly. At a birthday party for Herod, now before you think of your son or daughter's birthday party, I need to stop you and have you think of a stag party.

One man writes, Roman nobles frequently held stag parties in which gluttony, excessive drinking, erotic dancing, and sexual indulgence were common. Verse 6 tells us about it. And we read, at that party for Herod, Herodias' daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him. He says to her, I vow to give you whatever you want.

Tell me what you want, Mark adds, up to half my kingdom. She didn't know what to say. And notice verse 8 at her mother's urging. If you go to Mark 6, you'll read that she went back to her mother to find out what she should ask for. I believe it was at that moment Salome pieced it all together. Surely in her growing up years, she had heard her mother as she spoke with this enormous grudge against the baptizer.

And she hears her mother make this request, I want the head of John the baptizer. Please observe in verse 9, he regretted what he had said. Well then why didn't he take it back? When you say something stupid, the best thing you can do following it is, that was a stupid statement.

And admit it in front of those around, unless of course you're caught in the peer pressure of what others may think. He would lose face. For after all, it's his party. He's the king.

How could he do that? So Herod, because of the vow he had made, notice how it reads, in front of his guests, he issued the necessary order. As the man is beheaded and his head is brought on a tray, please observe, not given to Herod Anaphas who made the request, but given to the one who was the reason for the request, she took the head on the tray to her mother. And we read at the end of verse 12, they came for the body and buried it, and then they went and told Jesus what had happened.

What a terrible moment for our Lord. Out of the blue, the disciples come quickly and describe to him the scene. They had taken that body of the dear man, buried it, and now they tell the savior of the forerunner's death, the one who had baptized him. And we read words that describe grief.

As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. The morning ends, as we will see next time, as a huge crowd comes and Jesus moves into another scene. We've looked back and we've rehearsed the setting. We have seen this event in all its lewdness and ugliness. Now there are lessons to draw from it. Believe it or not, Herodias, the wife, Herod Antipas, the husband, Salome, the dancer, all teach us something we can take with us from this day on. Even the whole story makes a statement to everyone by way of application.

Listen carefully as we all look within. Herodias, the wife, teaches us how dangerous is revenge, how wrong is holding a grudge. It led to murder, shameless, senseless, needless murder.

She didn't flinch. You nurse a grudge long enough, there is no limit to which you will go to get even or to get back. It's like an aggressive cancer growing within your mind and within your emotions. How much better it is to accept the reproof that someone gave you that you at the time resented. How much better it would have been in your case when that person offended you for you to forgive them even though they may never ask for it.

I mean the alternative is you suffer the consequences. For everything wrong done against you, you must be able to be big enough to get past it. If you do not, read the end of Matthew 18 and you will read that you will be turned over to torturers. The inner torturerings that eat away like an acid on your peace and contentment. Herodias is eaten up with the torturerings of her grudge. She teaches us how dangerous is revenge. Antipas by now must have wondered why on earth that he eloped with her.

But they're in deep, now really deep, because of the power of revenge. Let it go. Let it go.

If you have trouble doing that, remember what our Lord has done for you. He knows everything. No one else does. He knows everything you have done that was wrong. And as far as east is from the west, he removes those transgressions from us. God doesn't carry a grudge.

How foolish of us to do so. Herodias teaches how dangerous is revenge. Herod Antipas teaches us something else. How powerful is peer pressure.

How powerful is peer pressure. You know why he didn't go back and correct his statement? You know why he didn't stop so long before she left the room? The people around him, fearing what they would think or say.

Not realizing that folks respect you more when you acknowledge a foolish statement or a wrong act. And you know who loses in it? Herod Antipas himself. John's eternity is secure.

As soon as he stopped breathing on this earth, he took up residence in the presence of the Father. Same with us when we die. Herod Antipas teaches us how powerful is peer pressure. Before I move on, I have to ask, are you living under the intimidation of peer pressure? What others may say or think at school that's coming from your classmates? What someone or others may say about your decision regarding your own faith in Christ? So you've decided the best way to continue here is just to take a vow of silence.

Wrong. You're bowing to peer pressure. Peer pressure keeping you from telling the truth to someone else.

Why would you yield to that? Truth sets people free. Doesn't mean you become more popular, but it does mean that you're rewarded for doing what is right. Without being afraid of that. Herod Antipas teaches us how powerful is peer pressure. Salome even teaches us something. How treacherous is rationalization.

Rationalization. That's how she got involved in all this. She didn't carry the grudge. Her mother did. But when she heard the mother's request, she put the pieces together. She's smart enough to know what this is all about. How could she be involved in rationalization?

Check the word in the dictionary. It means to devise self satisfying but incorrect reasons for one's behavior. Again, to devise self satisfying but incorrect reasons for one's behavior. It's been called the Adolf Eichmann syndrome. One of the books I read this past summer during my time away was Hunting Eichmann. Fascinating book about the man who played such a vital part in the extermination of millions of Jews.

Horrible, horrible creature to the core. He took orders from Himmler who took his orders from Hitler. And he orchestrated much of it. He choreographed some of it.

Even photographic sessions of such horrible atrocities. What is interesting is that when they finally caught him in Buenos Aires and secretly flew him back to the state of Israel to stand trial. He was as calm as he could have been.

They were shocked to see how calm. And the reason was five words. I was only following orders.

That's called rationalization. How could Adolf Eichmann do such a thing? Why would he say when they were ready to hang and don't put a hood on my face? I'll not grimace.

And he stood calmly as that trap door opened and his neck snapped without a hood. I was only following orders. But this isn't a lesson about Eichmann.

This is about Salome and you and me. The power of rationalization is shocking. You can, by rationalizing, talk yourself into the worst kind of acts.

And if you get good enough at it, your pulse will not even rise. You will remain calm as you can be because you've rationalized your way out of any responsibility. I was only following orders. One final word to you who work in a company where you must do wrong to follow orders. You're in the wrong company. You who have friends who urge you to do wrong things, you have wrong friends.

Stay with them long enough. You will cultivate rationalization and you will find you no longer have a moral compass. There is no line between right and wrong. It's all rationalized. Salome teaches us how treacherous is rationalization. The whole story, the whole sordid story, teaches us this. How addictive is sin? How addictive is sin? I won't do it, but if we were to go back to the original mafia family, can you imagine this dysfunction in that family, beginning with the godfather of the family? Can you imagine the piling up of sin upon sin, sin upon sin, and the addiction of it as it wraps its way around the sons, the daughters, the marriage partners, the children? The story is captivating while also treacherous as it unfolds the extensive addiction of growing sin. I don't have many little sayings in my study at home.

After a while, they all sort of run together, but I do have one that I have written and put on my printer, my copier, right by my computer, and I see it every day. I look at it every day. I'm reminded of it every day. It says three things. Sin will take you farther than you want to go. Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay. Sin will cost you more than you want to pay. Why would I have that in front of me because I want to finish my life well? I don't want the end of my life to be a reproach on the name of Christ or on this fine congregation. Because I know I have a nature just as wicked and just as evil as anyone you could name if I were to give in and begin the process that I've described, why it's only a matter of time that I'd be covering up those things that would be exposed after my death. And so I remember how addictive sin is. And if I cultivate a taste for it, where it becomes to me secretly delicious, which can easily happen at a computer or in the imaginations of my mind or even in the quietness of my own study where no one is around, I'm a goner. I'm finished.

No thanks. My constant prayer is, Lord, Lord God, keep me clean. Remind me to keep short accounts.

Show me over and over how weak I am so that I will lean hard on you and not bring shame to the Swindoll family or to the people to whom I now minister and who have such a vital part in my life. Sin will take you farther than you want to go. It'll keep you longer than you want to stay. It'll cost you more than you want to pay.

Change the pronoun and it becomes very personal. It'll take me farther. It'll keep me longer.

It'll cost me much more. You see, that's the reason that when we come to the Lord's table, the instructions are so clear, let each one examine himself and then let him or her take of the bread and drink from the cup. It's a time of self-examination before you worship the one who paid the price for our sins and dying in our place.

Let's take care of that right now. Bow with me, will you? Sitting right where you are is a perfect place to do your own self-search. Are you certain you know the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you absolutely certain he is your Savior? That you have trusted him, the one who has cleansed you from all unrighteousness?

Go there first. Otherwise, you really should not partake in the Lord's table. These elements are for those who know Christ. Secondly, let's say you know Christ. Are there things going on that you have not made right?

Made right with the Lord and made right with others? Has the addiction begun to travel so long that you've begun to rationalize around it? Now's the time to stop. First, let him examine himself and then eat the bread and drink from the cup.

That's for you right now. Thank you, our Father, that you love us with an infinite amount of love. And that's the reason you tell us the truth.

That's the reason you preserve stories like this. You don't hide from us the reality of life. And you've not done so today. Make this time extremely meaningful because we have washed our hearts before we have eaten this bread and drunk from this cup. In the name of Jesus, whom we worship and adore.

Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living. Chuck Swindoll titled today's message, The Strangest of All Gifts, a Beheading. To learn more about this ministry, please visit us online at When Chuck concluded this message, originally delivered at Stonebriar Community Church, the congregation had been gathered around the Lord's table for a time of worship. What followed was a quiet time of reflection, confession, and praise. Well, few things are more meaningful than allowing God's Spirit to speak to us when we sit in His presence and listen. And if you're looking for a devotional book to guide you in these moments, we highly recommend Perfect Trust by Chuck Swindoll.

It's specifically written to instill confidence in God when we feel like our circumstances are completely out of control. Perfect Trust is well suited for our post-pandemic times. Even though our world appears to be making a comeback in terms of the virus that swept across the globe, the hardship and damage it's caused is far from over.

And most of us have stories to tell that illustrate the way in which COVID has undermined our sense of security. Well, we believe Chuck's devotional book, Perfect Trust, will restore your confidence in the One who has the whole world in His hands. And you can purchase a copy right now by going to slash offer.

Again, it's called Perfect Trust. In closing, let me take a moment to thank all those who gave generously before the deadline at midnight last night. June 30th marked the close of our financial year, and we're deeply grateful for the outpouring of support. It's still too early to calculate the outcome, but we're profoundly grateful to those who went out of their way to respond. In the event you missed the deadline, it's never too late to support nonprofit Bible teaching ministries. We welcome your support today. To give a donation, call us.

If you're listening in the U.S., dial 1-800-772-8888, or give online at Travelers who want to take a tour to Israel have lots of choices, but few measure up to the thoughtful journey prepared by Insight for Living Ministries. With a proper mix of historical information and biblical context, we provide ample opportunities to pause and let the wonder in.

Our goal is to create special moments when you deepen your love for the Bible and draw closer to your Lord. Experience an unforgettable 12-day tour to Israel with Chuck Swindoll of the Insight for Living Ministries, March 6-17, 2022. To help you grasp the significance of each site, you'll be accompanied by hand-picked Israeli guides, and we choose the best, along with seminary-trained pastors and professors to enhance your spiritual journey. No organization I know of offers this level of exceptional, in-depth instruction and personal care for Holy Land travelers.

To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. Just imagine walking along sacred sites and watching the Bible come to life. Make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444, or go to slash events. Insight for Living Ministries' tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. Join us again Friday when Chuck Swindoll presents a message called Eating a Miracle for Dinner on Insight for Living. The preceding message, The Strangest of All Gifts, A Beheading, was copyrighted in 2016 and 2021, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-25 16:22:10 / 2023-09-25 16:30:23 / 8

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