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Who Has the Final Word, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
October 30, 2020 8:00 am

Who Has the Final Word, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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You can obey the sign. You can ignore the sign. You can defy the sign.

But you do not change the way God has created us. So Paul is writing to the church in Rome at chapter 13, and he says, Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the daylight. In other words, act as if you wouldn't be ashamed to be seen with all the lights on. I'm sure you've noticed that you and everyone else tends to act differently in the presence of an authority figure.

When you're driving, do you instantly check your speed and maybe slow down when you see a police cruiser? People will turn on a porch light at night because the presence of light is a deterrent, and people are more prone to behave badly in the dark. As Christians, we recognize that our ultimate authority is God. He's always watching and always shining the light in our hearts and on our deeds. We need to live each day under the authority of God's word, and we're going to learn more about that in Stephen Davies lesson today called Who Has the Final Word? Well, take your Bible and turn right to 2 Peter.

If you run into Revelation, you've gone too far. 2 Peter 1, and look at verse 20. But know this, first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will. In other words, this book was not conceived by human minds.

And a human will that said, you know, I really like this point, I think I'll throw that in there. No, not by human will, but notice, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. That informs us that the Spirit of God superintended the movement of men's hearts so that what they wrote was his truth. This is the word from God.

So what do we do about it? Well, if it's if it's God's word, look up at verse 19. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place.

In other words, this book is all the more important, the more darkened your culture becomes around you. Do you have the lamp of the word? As David wrote in Psalm 119, 105, thy word is a lamp into my feet, a light into my pathway. The word is the lamp, the word is pointing the direction forward. The word is telling you it's out of bounds.

The word helps you be trained and equipped for life. The word of God is the final authority. Follow this then, and it will lead you by its light into light, dismantle it, discard it, ignore it, debate it, redefine it, and you will effectively abandon yourself to darkness and confusion like our culture around us. Has it ever occurred to you that the Christian is never asked to vote on matters God has made clear? God has never said, you know, I'm not really sure about this, so let's just take a poll.

What do you think? Let's take a vote. No, his word is the final vote.

In fact, it's the only vote. I'm amazed, frankly, in our culture these days of the audacity of churches and denominations. Never mind culture, I expect it from them, but churches, that really bothers me, and denominations. I've watched them over the recent years establishing committees to study issues of sexual ethics and relationships in light of, quote, changing times. I don't know how many times I've seen some church or school or organization appoint a committee to take another look, to take another look. One denomination said recently that they were going to appoint a committee to study the issues of sexuality and that they would engage in a, quote, time of listening.

I don't know who they're listening to. Now, that's another way of saying we've heard from God, we really don't like his message, so we're going to listen for some other message. Look, even if all the other churches and denominations and nonprofits got together in our community and voted to redefine, as an example, marriage, that was one man and another man, or one man, and this is coming down the pike next, and several women, or one man and one woman for an arrangement of time called a lease wedding, which is being proposed for one year, three years, five years.

It doesn't really matter, does it? Because the vote of the people does not overrule the word of God. In a group of pastors, if they decide, or priests or professors or politicians decide that culture is evolving and that now something is politically correct, that doesn't really mean anything. In fact, mark it down, things that are politically correct are typically biblically corrupt. I often recall a woman a few years ago visited our church and then wrote me a note telling me she would never be back because we, quote, take the Bible way too seriously, end quote.

Wanted to send her a thank you note, she didn't leave her address for me to do that. Yes, we do. It's the difference between darkness and light. And we make this promise as members that God's word, when God speaks, will be our authority as we correctly interpret it. We are now living in progressive revelation in these letters of the apostles to the church. We find in there our marching orders. We find timeless principles in all of scripture. And whenever God speaks, it's always true. Now, how do we act as a church?

How do we live as a Christian in this dispensation of grace, this church age? We're committed that when God speaks, no one else has to. That's promise number one. I got 20 more to go.

Here's number two. We promise to pursue holiness in all aspects of life as a joyful act of worship to our triune God. We promise to pursue holiness in all aspects of life as a joyful act of worship to the triune God. Paul is writing to the believers. You might want to turn to Romans chapter 12. I'll just drop down there very quickly, Romans 12 and verse 1, where he urges these believers living in Italy. He says, listen, I want to urge you, I want to beg you, I want to plead with you to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship.

It is worship when you offer to him your body, your mind and heart, your will. And Paul was saying, I beg you, and by the way, keep in mind, he's not writing to unbelievers. You don't ask an unbeliever what you need to do is present your body to God. You don't ask an unbeliever to do that. They have sin that has to be dealt with. They have a state of death that must be brought to life by means of the Spirit of God as they place their faith in Jesus Christ. He's writing to Christians. He's begging us to consider our bodies as living sacrifices, living, not dead ones, live ones, which presents the dilemma, doesn't it?

As one man wrote, since I'm alive, I'm always wanting to climb down off the altar. So we make an ongoing presentation of our lives, our bodies, every aspect. Nothing is reserved. Nothing is compartmentalized. Nothing is closeted.

Nothing is managed. Now that doesn't mean we're not going to try to crawl down off the altar and need confrontation and conviction and repentance and rededication and get back up there. Absolutely. But this promise means that we are not debating it. We're not debating it.

We've decided it. I had the pleasure a couple of days ago talking to a college student who was out here on the sidewalk and I stopped and got brought up on what God's been doing in his life. He was raised in a godly family, walked away from the Lord and the gospel that he knew and had never really committed his life to it anyway and now he finds himself sitting in jail. The series of events he would be released, but he said in there, effectively, God arrested, God arrested him and he's now following with great passion the Lord.

And we talked together for a few minutes about how wonderful it is because I was just a year younger than him when I gave my life to Christ as a 17-year-old and how wonderful it was to get up in the morning, no longer a double-minded young man, to get up in the morning and not have any discussion with yourself about who you're going to live for and which direction you're going to walk. Am I going to live for Stephen or God? Am I going to walk in truth or in darkness? I don't know. You know, I've given this thing a shot for two days.

I think I'm going to go after this one. No more debating. You've decided by the goodness of God which leads you to repentance, to follow after Jesus Christ. And by the way, for those of you that do this, you're going to understand what I mean. When I say that pursuing holy living is not a drudgery, it's the only way to live.

In fact, you're miserable when you don't, right? It's a joy to please your father, not so you can go to heaven, but because you're in the bridal party heading there. So the apostle Peter urges the believer with this text in 1 Peter 1, as obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior.

That's pretty comprehensive, isn't it? Be holy in all your behavior. And this is our direction and joy. The next promise follows closely along.

Let's at least get through number three. We promise to avoid sinful habits and entanglements such as illicit drug use, drunkenness, gossip, gluttony, and all other sinful behaviors taught in scripture. We promise to avoid sinful habits and entanglements such as illicit drug use, drunkenness, gossip, gluttony, and all other sinful behavior taught in scripture. In other words, we thought we might just list a few attitudes and actions. Go back to the days of Cotton Mather who pastored during the days of the Puritans. And I'll probably bring some of these next Lord's Day to tell you some of the things that they listed which were fascinating.

The bullfighting was among them. You weren't allowed to do that as a church member. I don't think we're going to risk that one. But at any rate, why list anything? I mean, isn't this legalistic? Isn't it legalistic to rattle off some specific things like gluttony or gossip or drunkenness?

I mean, isn't that being picky? Well, take your Bibles and turn back to Galatians, to the church in Galatia. Paul, we ought to rename him the picky apostle, is about to add this long list. And by the way, Paul gives a lot of lists. You ought to read them sometime. A lot of lists. He effectively tries to cover everything.

Sometimes you use a categorical term that just means for everything related to that. But he adds list upon list. He writes this, walk by the Spirit, verse 16 of chapter five.

Sorry. Galatians 5, 16. But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Now you put a period there and you're good to go because we know that, okay, you're going to walk according to the Spirit. He said, no, no, no.

He's going to go on. The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. You're in this tension. And those are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things that you please. You can never say, well, this is how God made me. I like this.

That's never the standard. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the deeds of the flesh are obvious. Okay, put a period there.

Let's go have lunch. No, they're obvious. What are they? Paul says, let me just list some.

Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. In other words, I could go on and on and on and on, but I'm just going to stop here saying stuff like that. God in his goodness, by the way, is clearly informing us of what those things look like.

This is the manual. He's giving us the information in his grace. He's effectively saying, look, this kind of lifestyle will never fill you up. It'll empty you. It'll lead you to despair. It'll lead you into darkness.

It'll never satisfy you, and it'll ruin you. In fact, he ends that paragraph by saying, if you go to verse 21, and those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Key word is practice. I cherish that. I want to do that. I don't think I ought to repent of that.

I think that's okay, and I'm going to pursue it. You don't inherit the kingdom of God. God isn't a killjoy. He's marking out the path with incredible kindness, and the church is a body of believers who have said, we promise to avoid what God says we shouldn't pursue.

We take his warning seriously. A few months ago, I was speaking at a conference in Kentucky to pastors and wives, and my wife and I were planning to see a few sights along the way, and we enjoyed the drive. At one point, the GPS put us on a tollway. In fact, we were laughing. I think I shared with the audience a number of months ago on a Sunday evening.

I couldn't help but laugh about our oldest daughter who came home from the mission field for a while, and she had a Christmas break and decided to go to New York to see some sights with one of her girlfriends. They were headed to New York and got put on the New Jersey tollway, I think it was, and she called me up, and she said, Daddy, we didn't bring any cash, but we're on a toll road, but it's okay because we were able to go through this lane that said Easy Pass. I said, I don't think that's what Easy Pass means. I think you're going to get an easy ticket.

That's what I think you're going to get. Well, here we were, and we were put on a toll road. I do not carry cash. I just don't. I might have a couple of dollars on me. Everything's debit card. Everything is receded, and if you rob me after church, you might get three bucks. I don't know. There's probably not much there.

I just don't carry it. But I wasn't too worried about it because I've been on tollways in Pennsylvania especially, and you use your credit card, and not a problem. So here we are.

We've been on it for quite a while, about an hour. We pull up to the toll booth, and I hand the lady my debit card, and she says, no, sir, we only take cash. I said, really? She said, yes, we don't accept credit. I should have taken that Easy Pass lane that was right next to me.

No, that wouldn't have been right. We scrounged up enough money between us. Have you ever gotten to the point where you lift the armrest to look inside, and you get pennies and nickels and quarters? We found enough. We found enough to get through, and we made it through, paid the toll. So after the conference was over, on our way back, I told Marcia that I had clicked in the GPS the option to avoid toll roads. I thought, that's brilliant. There it is.

It's not brilliant. What that means is you're effectively telling this lady to take you on every back road in West Virginia, okay, which is exactly what we were doing to avoid the toll road, which was the interstate. So we are literally winding on these steep mountain sides, one cutback after another, and it took a long, long time.

Of course, my wife was with me, and I immensely enjoyed that. Five more points. Okay, at any rate, so I thought, this is crazy. It would straighten out a little bit, and then we'd see another sign, and those signs would say slow down or caution, and sometimes it would draw a picture of the curve or whatever, and sometimes it attached a speed limit, and sometimes it was down to five miles an hour. We're a long way from home, and here comes another sign.

Slow down. Now, I can respond to those signs in one of three ways. I can obey the sign and slow down. I can ignore the sign and maintain my speed and be buried in West Virginia somewhere in the hills, or I can defy the sign and speed up. I'll show that sign. But one thing remains constant no matter what my response is, the truth of that sign.

There's a curve coming, and you better slow down. My actions do not change the truth of that sign. I remember reading the interview of a famous actress who was asked about God and morals, and everybody knows she didn't have any, but she was asked about it, and she said, if I could meet God, and she was angry, if I could meet God right now, I would want him to explain to me how he could take something as beautiful as sexual relations with whomever I want to have it and connect that activity with a disease.

I would ask him why he would do something like that. It's called a gracious warning from God. You can obey the sign. You can ignore the sign.

You can defy the sign, but you do not change the way God has created us and made us. And so Paul is writing to the church in Rome at chapter 13, and he says, let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the daylight.

In other words, act as if you wouldn't be ashamed to be seen with all the lights on. Not in carousing and drunkenness. You know, that word carousing has shown up now twice in texts I've read to you. I've wondered what that means, so I went back and looked up the original word, and it literally means in the first century to go to drinking parties.

Don't go to drinking parties, and typically following carousing is the word drunkenness, because that's typically what happens. Not in carousing and drunkenness, Paul adds in this list, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. By the way, he's writing to us, not the world. He's writing to us, he goes on, to lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Let us behave properly as in the daylight. Listen, God is calling us to purity. He's calling us to holy living, to make that decision to point our toes in that direction, and this will be our pursuit, to ask him for wisdom to avoid the sinful traps and the entanglement of corruption that hangs on our clothing in every aspect of life. The church is made up of people.

It ought to be made up of people who are serious enough about following Jesus Christ that they want to pledge their lives, not only to the testimony of the gospel, but to each other. We want to be reminding each other. We want to be exhorting each other. We want to be discipling and warning and confronting each other to watch out for those pitfalls.

Here's the path of light. Unfortunately, in our culture, in our generation today, we've grown up to now have it. We inherited it. Joining the church is nothing more than joining a tennis club, being willing to pay some fees every so often and stick around if the club pro is talented and the courts are nice and cleanly swept and people leave you alone. Joining the church, beloved, belonging to a local assembly of believers according to the New Testament is nothing less than a mark of courage. Courage. You dare to meet with people who will invite the presence of a holy, righteous God into its midst. You dare to align your life with others who are forsaking their darkening culture and choosing to walk in a path marked by the light of God's word.

Are you kidding? Joining the church ought to be nothing less than an act of dedication, promising to take on holy obligations as it relates to our own personal conduct. Well, those are the first three. But I wonder, before we close, what do those first three promises make you want to do? Join or get as far away as you possibly can go. By the way, if that's the tension created, then I'm very grateful because it is my prayer and objective to erase the middle ground. It is either holy obligations and promises to one another or I really want nothing at all to do with this church. There is no fence to sit on.

There is no middle ground. I call you to one or the other. Like Elijah who said to the Israelites, if Baal is God, we'll follow him. But if God is God, then follow him. And this is our promise to one another.

That promise is to embrace the holy obligations that God has placed upon us as a church. You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. If today's lesson was an encouragement to you, we've posted it to our website.

You can listen to it again and you can share that link with others. You'll find us online if you navigate to wisdomonline.org. When you get to our homepage, you're going to see a link at the top that says Magazine. That's the place you can go to sign up to receive the next three issues of Heart to Heart Magazine.

Heart to Heart is not available as a subscription. It's a gift that we send to our Wisdom partners who support our ministry. However, we'd be happy to send you the next three issues just so that you can see it. During November, Stephen has some articles on what it means to be truly thankful. You'll want to read those. There's also a daily devotional guide to help you stay rooted and grounded in God's Word each day. Right now, those devotionals are looking at some of the significant sayings of Jesus. As you read along each day, you'll be able to reflect on key teachings of Jesus like, I am living water and I have overcome the world and I am the resurrection and the life.

Words that have no equivalent in history and demand our deepest concentration and devotion. Sign up online or call us today and ask how you can receive the next three issues of Heart to Heart Magazine completely free. Join along with us each day as we reflect together on those precious promises from our Lord. Our number is 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. Our email address is info at wisdomonline.org. Have a great weekend and then join us here on Monday as we continue through this series right here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-31 11:25:43 / 2024-01-31 11:35:25 / 10

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