Pride

Judges 9:53
“But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull.”

Not every story recorded in Scripture is a positive one. In this case, we find a self-centered man with a drive for power and a taste for blood, fight his way to the top, where he can rule over the people of God. Abimelech was a strong man with many gifts, but he was also an ungodly man who took things by force, and was responsible for the death of many innocent men and women. His ungodly passions and unrighteous principles got him what he wanted, but only for a very short season. He found that no matter who you are, your sins will surely find you out, and you will give an account before God.

Perhaps there are many lessons we could derive from his life, but one that seems to stand out, is the fact that it was pride that drove Abimelech, and ultimately pride that stopped him. He led an army to put down an uprising and his thirst for blood caused him to ignore a basic principle of warfare. His troops drove the enemy back into a city stronghold, where they huddled together in a tower. It would only be a matter of time before they were defeated, but pride drove Abimelech to come too close to the tower, where a woman saw him standing below, picked up a large stone and dropped it on his head. The great and mighty Abimelech was defeated, not by a giant, a mighty army, or a brilliant military strategist, but by a woman who happened upon a heavy stone, at just the right time.

Pride is like that, it will always lead us to think we can do more than we actually can. It will take our eyes of the Biblical principles of spiritual warfare that keep us from falling, and will cause us to compromise. Pride has been the downfall of some of the greatest men who ever lived. Pride led Samson to toy with Delilah, pride led David to let his guard down with Bathsheba, pride led Peter to ignore the warnings from Jesus, and deny him three times. We all need to realize, that apart from the Lord we have very little strength. We need to learn to look to Him, array ourselves in the armor of God, and trust in His ability not our own.

Proverbs 16:18
“Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Pastor Jim

 

Falling Down

Proverbs 7:24
“Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth”

This chapter is given entirely as a warning against the danger of falling into sexual sin. It is written as a letter from a father to his son, pleading with him to avoid the things that will lead to sin. While this sin is perhaps more common among young men, it is a sin we all must avoid. The principles found in this chapter will apply to guarding against all sin. To grasp the danger being warned against, look at what happened to this young man who turns aside from the Lord for sinful pleasure.

Proverbs 7:22 “Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks . . .“

While it seems as though he was suddenly destroyed by sin, it was actually quite a long road that took him there, and one filled with warning signs he chose to ignore. Falling from the Lord is never something that takes place over night. This young man’s failure illustrates the steps that always lead to a fall.

First, we read he was a young man. While he may have thought of himself as all grown up, in reality he was quite immature. We read he was “simple and devoid of understanding.” Hebrews 5 refers to a group of people who should be teaching others, but because they had failed to grow in Christ, they were still behaving like baby Christians. It is appropriate for an infant to act like a baby, but it is sad when an adult is still behaving childishly. Growth in Christ does not happen simply by being a believer for a long period of time. We grow when we invest in our relationship with the Lord. Failure to do so will make us susceptible to a fall.

Second, we read of the young man walking the street that led to her home. His failure was a result of being in the wrong place. Instead of choosing a different route, he walked where he should not have been. We cannot expect to come right to the edge of sin and not fall off that cliff. To avoid a fall we need to steer clear of the things that will incite the flesh and lead to failure.

Third, this young man is walking alone. Many of our failures could be avoided if we got others involved in the fight. Had this young man walked those same streets with a godly friend, they could watch each other’s back, and encourage each other in order to avoid failure. Finding someone who will be an encouragement to you in your walk, involves being in church regularly, stepping out of your comfort zone to get to know others, and letting down some guards so others can know how to pray for and encourage you. There are certain aspects of our walk with the Lord where we must walk alone, but for the most part, God did not intend for us to travel this road alone.

Finally, our traveler fell because he ignored the obvious warning signs. Whatever he was thinking, the moment she used the word “husband,” he should have known this was not a path to continue on. The correct response at that moment was to flee. The problem was, he had allowed himself to reach a point of no return. Once he began following his desires, rather than the Word of the God, those desires began to control him. Flattering words mixed with her embrace, her kiss and her seduction, brought him to a point where failure was inevitable. We must deal with temptation long before we get to the point where it is too strong to avoid. If we are honest, we will recognize that before we fail, we have passed sign after sign warning us to turn around and travel some other route.

Before we come to the slaughter house of sin, let’s take the time to examine our lives in light of these warnings.

Pastor Jim

 

Watch Your Step 

Hosea 8:11
“Because Ephraim has made many altars for sin,
They have become for him altars for sinning.”

Growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was Sherlock Holmes. As most of us know, he was a detective from London who used his keen skill of observation to solve crimes. Often, when he would uncover a clue, he would declare, “It’s elementary my dear Watson.” Which was an underhanded way of stating that what he discovered was obvious to anyone who would take the time to look. Hosea makes a statement that Holmes would find elementary, he declares that if a person builds an altar for sin, he will find it leads him into sin.

As obvious as this principle seems, we sometimes lose sight of its simplicity. Often, when we fall spiritually, we look around puzzled as to how that could have happened. If however, we took the time to look back, we would find our fall was inevitable, because of the steps we were taking. We must always remember, if we make a way to sin, we will end up sinning.

The secret to success is to remove the things which make sinning easy. We need to do those things that make sinning more difficult, and doing what is right easier. That is what the building blocks of Christian living provide. The Word, prayer, fellowship, worship, and service are designed to help us grow in Christ, and make sinning more difficult. We only have so much time, if that time is spent building ourselves up in Christ, we will in turn have less time to be drawn after the things that lead to sin.

Perhaps it would help to ask yourself, what things you can take out of your daily life that will make it more difficult to sin?

Pastor Jim

 

When Righteousness Dies

Isaiah 57:1
“The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart…”

Isaiah watched as righteousness ceased in the land. Those who lived their lives according to the standards of the Bible were looked down upon and even persecuted. Rightoeusness was seen as a plague, and the righteous were treated with contempt.

In many ways, we are facing the same attitude today. Unrighteous behaviors are being passed off as lifestyle choices. Anyone who dares to speak out against sin is called intolerant, while those who turn a blind eye to sin, or worse yet, applaud the choices of wickedness, are seen as openminded, loving, and progressive. We are failing to see that God has given man a standard to live by, and there are consequences for violating His ways.

One of Isaiah’s primary messages was unrighteousness weakens the nation. It mattered little to the prophet, the size of Israel’s military, or their economic condition. To him, the greatest danger was turning from the Word of God. We are constantly being reminded of the economic, social, and international troubles our nation has. At the moment, we are facing threat of war, threat of disease, and a continual economic crisis. The fact is, our nation is more than broke, we are in debt so deep it may be impossible to ever get out of it.

Instead of waiting for Washington, it is time for the individual Christian to take steps away from sin and toward the Lord. When we, as believers, choose to set aside sin, pride, prejudice or compromise, that action has a dramatic effect on those around us. Perhaps it is time to examine yourself and see if there are things that need to be set aside in your life. We may never know the impact a decision to stop smoking, drinking, or compromising will have on those around us.

Pastor Jim

 

Pride Before A Fall 

Isaiah 14:13
“For you have said in your heart:
I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north; . . . ”

Here, in Isaiah, we are given the details behind Satan’s fall. Before his ruin, Scripture describes the devil as the mighty angel Lucifer, who served Jehovah loyally. Isaiah explains it was pride that turned Lucifer away from God in rebellion. This pride manifested itself in exalting his desires above the desires of God. That same sin has been stumbling the servants of God ever since.

Eve sat alone one day in the shade of the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. Her whole life had been spent enjoying the benefits of being in a relationship with the Lord. All that changed when she began to desire that which was forbidden. It was not long before that desire led her to exalt her ways above the ways of God.

David, staring out the palace window, was struck by the beauty of Bathsheba. Years of faithfully following and serving Christ, were suddenly in jeopardy, as his heart began to long for the wife of another. Once his own ways were exalted above the Word of God, it was only a matter of time before desire became action, and his life took a downward turn.

Achan is not nearly as well know as Eve or David, but his life similarly illustrates the danger of exalting our ways above the ways of God. Achan dwelt alongside Joshua as Israel entered the Promised Land. Upon entering the city of Jericho, God gave instructions concerning the spoils of war; Israel was not to loot the defeated city. Achan however, saw three items God had forbidden, and desired them for himself. Once his desire took root, it was not long before he took hold of that which was forbidden, and it cost him his life.

We could go on and on with story after story, of those who chose to exalt their own ways above the ways of God, only to find their lives were destroyed as a result. It is worth noting, Eve, David and Achan, not only brought ruin to their own lives, but also negatively impacted the lives of their loved ones. Perhaps the words of James best expresses the danger of placing our own desires above the Word of God,

James 1:14-15
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.”

Every time we sin we are exalting our way above he ways of God. It is for this reason Jesus declared that in order to follow Him, we must deny ourself. Instead of doing what seems right in your eyes, or what your emotions are driving you towards, take time to consider the ways of God and exalt His word above your ways.

Pastor Jim

 

Breakdown 

Galatians 2:18
“For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”

Many different metaphors are used in the Bible to describe what happens when a person receives Jesus Christ. We are born again, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, made alive, and much more. Each of these is designed to reveal different aspects of salvation. Being born again speaks of our new lease on life, being forgiven asserts that nothing from our past will ever be held against us, and being made alive points out the fact that salvation is a supernatural work of God, which cannot take place without the Holy Spirit.

There is another very important aspect of Salvation that Paul alludes to in this verse. When we believe in Christ, we are set free from the sin that once held us captive. Like Israel, under the Egyptian yoke, we were held captive by sin until Christ set us free. What our resolve could never accomplish, Christ did through the cross. The moment we believed, there was a freeing from many of the sins that gripped and held us captive. Paul now warns of the danger of becoming bound again to the very sins we escaped.

Galatians 2:18 “For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”

One of the great mistakes many Christians make, is to think they can outgrow the temptation of sin. We only need to scan the pages of Scripture to find that great, godly, and mature men, fell into sin when they built again that which had been destroyed. Let’s be careful not to open doors in our lives that should be closed up tight, or to walk down paths that will cause us to fall.

Pastor Jim

 

Need More Time? 

2 Kings 20:6
“And I will add to your days fifteen years”

Imagine what this promise meant for Hezekiah. First, he was ill, so it meant he would be healed. Second, it meant he would have more time. Third, it meant a clock started that night, giving him an expiration date. Fifteen years from this promise, Hezekiah would breath his last. This promise has often made me wonder, “What I would do with fifteen more years?” How would you react, if suddenly you were given an expiration date? Let’s take a look at what Hezekiah did.

First, Hezekiah entertained delegates from Babylon. These men were impressed with him because he accomplished what no other nation had; he was victorious in battle against Assyria. We previously read how God sent angelic beings to do battle on behalf of Judah, defeating Assyria. Hezekiah, however, seemed to take credit for what the Lord had done. This is a danger for anyone who is involved in the service of the Lord. We must be careful to give glory to the Lord, not to take it unto ourselves. This behavior set the stage for further failure.

2 Chronicles 32:25 “But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.”

Second, taking the glory for the Lord’s accomplishment led Hezekiah to become lifted up with pride. Pride is a dangerous sin. It was the motivation behind the devil’s first sin, it is listed in the seven things God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19), and James tells us, God resists those who are proud (James 4:6). Pride causes us to lose sight of our dependence on God, and consequently, think we can handle things on our own. It is sad to think the final years of this godly king we’re spent apart from the presence of the Lord.

Finally, Hezekiah had a son in the final years of his life. This young man, Manasseh by name, was heir to the throne of Judah. Instead of being raised around the things of the Lord, with a dad who was dependent upon the Lord, he grew up with a dad who was drifting from the Lord. Manasseh became the most ungodly ruler Judah ever had. Now it is true, Manasseh was responsible for his own decisions, but it is also true that Hezekiah did little to influence him in the right direction.

None of us are certain how much, or how little time we have left, but all of us can determine how those days will be spent. We can resolve to live for the glory of the Lord, set an example for those who are watching us, and those who will carry the mantle once we are gone.

Pastor Jim