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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Monday, August 14, 2006
Morning Thoughts for Monday...
What causes brokeness in the church?As I was studying God's word this morning, in the book of Judges, I twice came upon the line:
everyone did what was right in his own eyes
(c.f. Judges 17:6, 21:25)
It is interesting (critical?) to note that this was exactly what God had told the Israelites not to do in Deuteronomy 12:8...
"You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes,"
Recall, Deuteronomy 12 is where Moses gives instruction on how to worship God (alone) in the promised land.

What struck me about "everyone doing what was right in their own eyes" was not that it was happening in spite of God having specifically commanded Israel not to do that very thing. Nuh-uh - what struck me was that coupled with these two recitations is an explanation given four times in the book of Judges, twice by way of introduction to the thought that everyone did right in their own eyes:
"In those days there was no king in Israel"
(c.f. Judges 17:6, 18:1, 19:1, 21:25)

You may well ask, "So what? What does that have to do with me, or with the church today?"

Good question.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you are probably familiar with scripture, and know already the history of Israel - that time and again, as long as there was someone to rule over them, they obeyed God - beginning with Moses, then Joshua, then the elders under Joshua, Othniel (Caleb's son in law), - and then as these died out, sporadically with the various individual judges, Gideon, Jephtah, Samson, Deborah, etc. The moment the judge died - Israel went astray.

Again, though you patiently read through this reiteration of Jewish history, you may well ask still, "So what?" Well, in this case we want to understand that what Paul said regarding the history of the Jews (Read 1 Corinthians 10) is true - these things became our examples (c.f. vs. 6), that is "they happened (c.f. vs. 11) and were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages has come." - 1 Corinthians 10:11 (emphasis added).

Okay, let's say you are still with me, and you agree with the scripture where it teaches that Israel's history was recorded, in part at least, to admonish by way of example Christians in the coming Christian era.

So when we read that the command to keep themselves from doing what seemed right in their own eyes was neglected on account of their being no ruler in the kingdom - we owe it to ourselves to hear that - and we owe it to Christ to be doers and not hearers only.

Consider Judges 17:6 as a passage that explains the why before it explains the what:
  • In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Now most of you are familiar with Paul's prophetic words in Acts 20:29,30:
For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
But I don't imagine when we read that we normally couple it with these verses in Judges - because the verses in Judges talk about men doing what seems right in their own eyes - and Paul is talking about men following other men - but I should like to tie these two thoughts together for you, and may the Spirit judge if they are rightly bound thus or not.

It is significant that the men who will rise up will draw men away from orthodoxy - and if we want to be absolutely particular here (and I do) let's say, away from Christ the King - that is, away from the rule of Christ - away from the Kingdom of God.

There is room for some legalistic misunderstanding here, so I want to be careful: Those who are in the kingdom obey the King - not that they obey as a means of entering into the kingdom - but that they reveal themselves to be the King's subjects by their God given willingness, indeed - by a God given, consuming desire to live in perfect obedience to their King.

That is not to suggest that Christians suddenly become sinless, but rather that maturity and fellowship follow obedience, and that obedience, being a primary characteristic of Christ, is also a primary characteristic of His brethren.

So when one asks, "Why are there so many Christian denominations?" I am inclined to answer, not that men are simply imperfect (which is almost a justified excuse for disunity!), but that men are either doing what is right in their own eyes, or intoxicated by the doctrines of other men who are doing what is right in their own eyes - and the reason they do that is as old as the bible itself - because no one is ruling over them.

If you are still with me, you may well be saying, okay, I'll buy that - I agree, the church is splintered, and the root problem isn't that men are imperfect, but that imperfect men who have been provided a "Way" to live in harmony with God (that is, through the indwelling Spirit whom God gives to those whom obey Him), these same men reject that "Way" in favor of what seems right in their own eyes, or they follow persuasive men who themselves are either following what seems right in their own eyes, or following men whom they admire. You agree that far, but ask, "What does accepting this information give to the church? How does understanding this help me to bring glory to God in my own Christian walk?"

All of the divisions in the church - from the greatest schisms, to the least infractions resulting in strained fellowship - from the darkest heresies, to the least significant "off-white" areas - all of it stems from doing what seems right in our own eyes at a point when we should have submitted ourselves to the rule of Christ in our life.

Therefore, meditate on this if you have the time or the inclination - consider that God is most glorified in the unity of the church, and that your unwillingness to accept Christ's rightful rule in your life at any point, or over any matter no matter how seemingly insignificant it may be to you - that same heart of rebellion is the seed from which every schism and denominational division in the church has sprung up.

Just as our lives ought not to be about what we can get out of God but rather how we can serve Him - so our prayers should reflect that too - that we pray in surrender to God - that we pray to bring about His kingdom in our lives. Pressing into God's Kingdom is synonymous with pressing into obedience. We are not inclined through the flesh to do so, so let our prayers begin each time by searching out in us that root of rebellion, that unwillingness to submit ourselves to God - and let us come to him the only way we can - with holy hands.

I encourage you, all who read this, to seek the Lord with all your heart - refuse to be content with a disobedient spirit - but call on the name of the Lord, and continue to call without quitting until being free is not just an expression you hope for, but the reality you are living.
posted by Daniel @ 9:41 AM  
  • At 7:55 PM, August 14, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    I think Deuteronomy 10:12 comes into play here - fear the Lord thy God (first) and walk in His ways is how we begin to love Him, and then we can begin to learn to serve and to seek Him with our whole heart. This is what seeking with diligence is (Hebrews 11:6).

    A baby wants its mother, it needs its mother, but it does not yet truly know how to love its mother. A couple that has been married 1 year hasn't gone through the ups and downs, the trials and such of a couple that has been married 14 years, or 20...we mature in our love for one another, and so it is with the Lord, or should be....

  • At 8:47 PM, August 14, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Very well said JD - very well said.

  • At 9:45 AM, August 15, 2006, Blogger mark pierson said…

    Obedience, surrender, His Lordship...All the results of the workings of God the Holy Spirit in our lives. Paul speaks of Christ as being our life-Colossians 3:4. We must let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly-Col. 3:16. And be being filled with the Spirit-Eph.5:18.

    Obedience to Christ...Yes!

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