Self-dependency runs rampant in our society and in the ekklesia of God today. We no longer are disciples of Jesus Christ, i.e., learners, followers, supporters and imitators of Him. Instead we think, say and do the words of other men. We no longer deny our own opinions, much less to the very point of death. Instead, we love our own thoughts, feelings and choices based upon the words and actions of other men.The Life Of Man
We are now in the process of being sanctified, weaned from self-to God-dependency. We must live, as much as is humanly possible, the life of Jesus. We must think and speak the thoughts and words of Jesus. We must tenaciously deny our own opinions up to the very point of death, and not love our own thoughts, feelings and choices.
We are weak, fragile human beings. We have not yet attained the glorification of our bodies. We still see through a glass darkly. We still do not know as we are known. If we overcome, we will see clearly and know as we are known. Then we shall be the bride of Christ, part of Him. Then we will understand omnipotency.
Now we are capable of being conquered, of losing the victory, of being overcome. But we are no longer unprotected and helpless. We have Jesus and His Holy Spirit to help us overcome. The example of the life of Jesus on earth tells us to expect conflict. As saved human beings, washed by the blood of Jesus, we are to expect conflict.
The church of Jesus Christ, His ekklesia, i.e., the individual saints who make up that ekklesia, is ill-prepared for conflict. Natural and man-made disasters, lying, cheating, theft, rape, robbery, violent crimes they all take their toll on our human souls. They strip us of our possessions, self-worth, peace of mind and dignity. Alcohol, tranquilizers, drugs, promiscuity, divorce and irresponsibility are our answers.
We are traumatized, lose our drive and ambition, seek counseling and therapy for our shattered lives. Countless physical ailments have been traced to this lack of wholeness of the totality of our beings. What is the solution for this problem?
Our answer is in Christ, if we will but learn the answer He has taught us.
Dont expect that you have power to overcome a wicked environment. You dont. Dont expect the world to respond logically and knowledgeably to your logic and knowledge. It wont. Dont expect immorality, unfairness and injustice to flee as you approach with righteousness. They wont. Dont expect that you are what you do, what you know, where you work and what your relationships and hobbies are. Youre not.
Jesus has taught us that we are not invincible to adversarial attacks and to expect them. He has taught us that in our limited logic and knowledge we should expect illogical and unknowledgeable approaches to solving human problems. He has taught us that our being righteous will be countered by immorality, unfairness and injustice.
Jesus has provided a defense for adversarial attacks by telling us to expect them. He has given us logic and knowledge to expect the illogical and unknowledgeable. He has given us righteousness that we may recognize and come against the expected immorality, unfairness and injustice in our lives.
Most important of all He has taught us who we are in Him. And who we are in relationship to the Godhead. He has taught us by His Words, and He has clearly taught us by His life, to expect these things.
We said in Chapter Three that the opposite of faith is disappointment. Disappointment is accompanied by a sense of rejection, and vice-versa. Disappointment and rejection are ugly companions. You cant host one without also entertaining the other. Guilt, which is assuming responsibility for the problem, intensifies those feelings.
There is a tremendous amount of rejection and disappointment in the body of Christ. It tears up the individual, their families, their witness and their ministries. It tears up the very heart of God, Who warned us beforehand, and gave us Jesus to help us overcome.
Disappointment and rejection can lead to:
1Humiliation (feeling inferior to others)
2Embarrassment (feeling self-consciously deficient)
3Shame (feeling unworthy)
Those feelings cause the following losses:
4Fear (loss of courage)
5Shortsightedness (loss of vision)
6Discontentment (loss of peace)
7Frustration (loss of purpose)
8Defeat (loss of effort)
9Bitterness (loss of happiness)
10Anger (loss of self-control)
Those losses, in turn, cause the following feelings:
11Loneliness (feeling separated from others)
12Misery (feeling pain, an unpleasant, stressful sensation)
13Self-pity (feeling intense personal suffering while enduring pain)
Those feelings then cause the following losses:
14Depression (loss of joy)
15Hopelessness (loss of all hope)
16Grief (loss of comfort)
17Thoughts of death or suicide (loss of life)
There appears to be a descending spiral that comes from our feelings, which cause losses in our lives. These feelings overwhelm us, then losses follow. These losses cause other feelings, with more losses. If these feelings are not checked, they may lead to depression, which will lead to thoughts of death or suicide.
We must maintain healthy family relationships. That especially includes brothers and sisters in Christ. It will provide you with rich resources for friendship, prayer and counseling.
Is any among you afflicted? (kakopatheo suffering hardship) let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick (astheneo lacking strength, feeble) among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer (euche prayer of petition) of faith shall save the sick, (kamno those who are weary and tired) and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults (hamartia sins) one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent (energeo putting forth power or it may also mean its powerful in working changes in the one praying) prayer (deesis prayer of supplication for a need) of a righteous man availeth (ischuo powerfully prevails) much (James 5:13-16).
The last sentence could possibly translated as: The energetic prayer of a righteous man generates an abundance of power. Its important that you be righteous. Its important that you have righteous friends and family. Its important you pray energetically. It could mean the difference between life, and life more abundantly, or a death preceded by depression.
Every one of us has been and will continue to be affected by these adverse factors in our lives. You will have to redefine the parameters of your life. You must begin to expect from every circumstance, situation and environment these attacks upon yourself, family and friends. Attacks that would paralyze you, traumatize you, make you nothing but a bowl of quivering jello bowing before the gods of adversity. Forewarned, you will expect them.
Do we really love God and love one another? The current trend is to love our personalized concept of who and what God is, and to ignore other people who are in need. In essence, we have rejected God and one another, havent we? Spiritual gifts are given titles and coveted for the power of the office they give the person claiming to have a particular gift. All responsibility to our God and Creator is set aside in favor of responsibility to another person, a place or a practice.We have many responsibilities. Some of these are more along the line of commands or ordinances. Some of these are to love God, love one another, water baptism, communion and prayer. There are many more activities that could be added to the list. These activities and the ones following may not be thought of as gifts. In a very real sense, everything our Creator has given us is a gift from Him. And we are responsible to Him for the proper usage of those gifts. Our alternative is, of course, to reject them. Many people have done this. Upon acceptance of Jesus as Saviour and Lord of our lives, however, we continue to display our love for Him by proper use of His gifts. Responsibility is to be no less regarded.
God is our Creator. He is the cause and we, and all of creation, are the effect. Cause is greater in power and intelligence than the effect. Cause requires a response from what has been effected. God demands a response from us. Therefore we have a responsibility to God.
Scripture makes it clear we are to seek God.
God created us from one man, and has scattered all the nations throughout the earth. He determined where they would settle. His purpose in this is that all men should seek Him with all their heart and soul. God Has commanded men everywhere to repent. He has specifically commanded Israel to seek Him. God has promised that Israel will find Him. He has set a date on which He will judge the world. Then the world will be judged righteously by Jesus Christ (Deuteronomy 4:27-31; Acts 17:26-31; Jeremiah 29:13,14).
We are to seek the Lord, and His strength (Psalms 105:4). We are to seek Him while Hes near and we can find Him (Isaiah 55:6). We are to break up the fallow ground of our hard hearts, plant seeds of righteousness and reap love. As we seek the Lord, he will rain righteousness upon us (Hosea 10:12). The humble, those who obey His commands, are called to seek God, and His righteousness. They are to continue to seek humility. Then they will be hid in the day of Gods anger (Zephaniah 2:3).
Jesus summed up our responsibility to seek God: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).
Embrace The Truth
We have the promise and the oath of God that tell us its impossible for Him to lie (Hebrews 6:13-18). Those who reject the truth of God are subject to His wrath. Because of this, their heart is darkened (Romans 1:18-32). Relying upon human wisdom, they become fools (verse 22). They create idols (verse 23). God gives them up to the sexual promiscuity they desire (verse 24; Isaiah 64:6,7). They change the truth of God into a lie. (verse 25; Psalms 81:12). As they continue, God will give them up to vile things. They will begin to practice homosexuality (verses 26,27). When they cease to even acknowledge God, He will give them over to a reprobate (depraved) mind (verse 28). Verses 29 through 31 describe the behavior of a depraved mind. They end up exhibiting self-destructive and suicidal behavior. They encourage others to follow their example (verse 32).
The truth of God is in the conscience of man and displayed throughout nature. Rejection of that truth brings Gods wrath. It causes a perverse desire for sensual satisfaction. The minds of these people become reprobate (literally, not approved, rejected). Among other things they become disobedient to parents. Disobedient means unwilling to be persuaded, obstinate rejection. These people reject all logic, even from their own parents. This shows a dependency upon their own logic, developing into self-sufficiency. They know they are worthy of death.
This text says pride was the iniquity of Sodom. This may be a variation on the theme of the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life. In this instance, however, God is the One Who gives them over to the lust of the flesh (desire to over-satisfy sensual appetites). This leads to lust of the eyes (unbridled imagination desiring the latest and greatest of new things and worldly stuff). It culminates in the pride of life (depending upon ones own ability, human facility and the stability of earthly things).
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
When a person has knowledge of Christ they either accept or reject Him. (Postponement, procrastination and indecision are all really a decision to reject Christ). Upon acceptance of Christ, we attempt to wean ourselves from self-to God-dependency. That includes not over-satisfying our sensual appetites. We have our problems with it, but we also have the Holy Spirit of God to help us. We continue to focus on Christ, and depend upon His supernatural strengthening (through His Holy Spirit).
Those who have knowledge of God and Christ and reject Him continue to focus upon self. Awareness of the human body becomes intense. Pursuit of physical pleasures of the body is escalated beyond normal limits. Sensual pleasure, or what is perceived as such, becomes dominant. The imagination invents ways to utilize all the senses for sensual pleasure and satisfaction. Desire to see things, hear things, smell, taste and touch things that are pervertedly associated with sensual pleasure becomes an obsession. The body becomes gorged with sensuality and old things fail to satisfy any more. New things so far transcend the bounds of normalcy and decency as to become repugnant and offensive to those not caught up in this horror. When they cease to even acknowledge God, He will give them over to a reprobate mind. Their mind becomes depraved, not approved, rejected. Insane arguments and rationalizations are presented by these minds. Knowing that these activities will result in death for them and others, they continue to pursue them. They continue to enlist others to their cause.
Christ destroyed him that had the power of death. He removed the things that always precede death.
These people who reject Christ embrace him that had the power of death. They enthrone the devil as lord over their lives. In so doing they make active all the conditions that precede death.