Our own understanding

Last week we learned that God not only allows us to use our minds, but that he expects us to use our minds.  It one of, if not the most powerful creations in the universe. Use it. Right!

 

But what about… “Lean not on your own understanding”

 

Again we found that what the Psalm 3 is telling us to remember what we had been taught. Use our minds. Why? If you will learn what God is teaching well enough to keep it in our heart “they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity”. 

 

The lessons that you were taught as a child in school or by your parents that you use today are the ones that you understand well enough to use them without having to quote them. You know them. You can think on your own and apply the lesson as it fits. You can reason with the gift of a mind that God gave you.

 

But is it possible to take these things we have been taught and use them in the wrong way. When does it become wrong to lean on our own thought processes of the creative power of our own minds?

 

The Apostle Paul tells us a story and if we aren’t careful then we will think that he is specifically picking on one group or another.

 

Romans 1:20-32

 

20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

 

 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

 

 24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

 

 26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

 

 28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

 

You might believe that Paul just is scolding people who are worshiping idols or he is racking homosexuals over the coals. But if we look deeper we see he is getting to the root to the problem. Like Adam and Eve’s fall in Genesis 3 the problem is not about eating a forbidden fruit, it is about presuming to out maneuver God. Paul mentions the sins of sexual brokenness and speaks explicitly about men worshiping gods they have made. But it is what he says around those statements that make this section of scripture so powerful.

 

Don’t get me wrong… does anything make God more angry then worshiping idols? No! Does God intend that we use our sexuality in ways other than in marriage? No he does not.

 

But as Paul frames the problem he begins by saying that the issue is that men became convinced of their own intelligence to the point of actively replacing God with the foolishness of handmade replacements.

 

Romans 1:21-23

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

 

Their heads have led the hands to create idols for their hearts. This feeds the ego of the heart and head and a vicious cycle is started. Once God is replaced in the equation then there is no need to look to Him about anything. “We got this covered… You can take the week off God. We’ll let you know when we need you again”

 

Paul says we lay-off God; But this isn’t an economic crisis, it’s a spiritual one. When the crime is forgetting Him this self proclaimed jealous God (Exodus 34:14) is not about to rescue them from their crime.

 

Pauls says it like this:

 

Rom 1:24-25

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

 

Ouch!

 

Parents, Can you relate to this moment? People who say, “if there is a God how could He let us go through these things”. A Parent will tell you that sometimes the best way to handle a kid who thinks they have a better plan than you is to let them have their way.

 

When our daughter was like 3 years old she and she would get angry with us she would plop down on her behind and scream at the top of her lungs. When she saw that no one was going to give her the attention she so richly deserved she would bang her head down to the floor between her legs. (Limber, yes) But she always did it on the carpet, on blankets, or on her bed.

 

We hated to see her hurt herself. We would run to her and try to pick her up before she hit her head. No matter how many times we would tell her that the floor was hard and would hurt she would still do it.

 

The last time she did it we were in the kitchen and she got very angry that she couldn’t do something her way. We were mad, she was mad, and this time when she drop to the floor screaming we let it go. Scream if you want to kiddo. Well she reached her climax moment and slammed her head down to the floor; this time a hard linoleum floor.

 

The look on her face when she sat up was stunned amazement. Then her face gapped open in that silent scream that is that sign of uncontrolled emotion. The look we were getting was disbelief that we had let her hurt her head that much.

 

Paul’s point here is that even a loving and caring God reaches point of saying, “bang your head Kiddo”.

 

Romans 1:26-28

26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

 

 28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.

 

Once God has been replaced and the physical pleasures have been discovered to exist outside of God’s plan then man is once again sent into the cycle reminiscent of the “not surely die” incident. You know the one I mean. In Genesis 3 as Adam and Eve fell from grace it all started with the words, “You will not surely die”(Gen 3:4) What follows is at the root of all sin. Eve decides to present this idea to her husband and they decide, “Hey we’re intelligent people. Let’s give it a shot.”

 

But God stops them right? Of course we know he doesn’t and hind sight being 20/20 we know how wrong it was. But often have we done the same thing. What is the worst thing that could happen when we decide to slam our heads on the floor? There could be carpet there.

 

Do you get what I mean?  The worst that could happen when we decide to defy God is that we could find that it works.

 

 “Hey, look at me. I’ve found a flaw in the system. This can’t be wrong… It worked.”

 

In the book “Head, Heart, and Hands” Dennis Hollinger tell us that our faith is strongest when it come not just from our heart, not just from our head, and not just from our hands helping people. It is a combination of all three. The thing that is amazing is that in order for us to fall it eventually claims all three as well.

 

We use our mind to determine that we can go beyond God’s boundaries. We then use our hands to complete the transgression. In the case of what Paul is talking about we might decide to that we are modern people and we no longer need to be encumbered by those Victorian sexual rules. Sex is fun so let’s branch out in new ways. Why restrain it by making it stay in the bounds of marriage.

 

It is the same lie as the first one. “You will not surely die”

 

So we try it. Woops, it works.  It feels good. We did not die.

 

Hollinger might explain it this way.

·       The hands report to the heart and the head that it feels good.

·       The heart becomes convinced all is well.

·       Once the heart becomes convinced of its success it further bolsters the minds desire for more ways to produce its own happiness.

 

Here’s the problem.  The floor is hard.

 

God knows the floor is hard. He has warned us the floor is hard. But we’ve had success and now even if we have failure it becomes hard to say we failed because of our failure.

 

I love that when Adam is confronted by God his reaction is, “she did it”

 

Genesis 3:12 “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

 

Our daughter looked at us as if we had changed the floor into something hard.

 

We all have done it. “GOD! Why have you let this happen to me.”

 

God’s response is sometimes to let us have our way.

 

Paul finishes by saying something that is so hard to swallow.

 

Romans 1:28-32

28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

 

When we look at the world today I think we can see a ton of examples of Paul being right. We so want everybody to be OK. Everybody is right. Whatever you want to do is right and that makes it everything I want to do OK. But really, can that be right?

 

We start doing odd things that even we feel uncomfortable with in order to appear to be cool. As Paul puts it we “not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (32)

 

Everyone was so glad that President Obama had Rick Warren, the author of “Purpose Driven Life”, to deliver the prayer at the inauguration. But not many know that he also had a homosexual minister to deliver the prayer at the concert before. So what?

 

Here is the “so what”. 

 

Should a Christian who believes that God’s plan doesn’t include a homosexual pastor shun such a person when it comes to conversation, NO.

 

Should he love them? Yes. But we have come to a point in our own existence that we are more afraid of the wrath of man then we are of the wrath of God.

 

Leaning on our own understanding and abandoning the teaching of God we have become convinced that we can nip and tuke the teachings of God and make up our own faith.

 

This all comes crumbling down as man realizes that God’s plan included consequence for not following the plan.

 

If we take human sexuality outside of God’s plan of marriage make no mistake… all of the parts still work.

 

The problem is that we were never meant to work that way. Our hearts long for someone who belongs to us alone. We become jealous and hurt. Brave swingers may think they’re are OK. Like any creation you can run it harder than it was meant to be run. You can run that car at 120 miles an hour, run it without an oil change for 18,000 miles. But at some point it will blow-up.

 

Lean on your own understanding and ignore God’s and you will eventually blow-up.

 

Have you been feeling like your gonna blow? Have you been running your life according to His plans or yours?

 

Have you been feeling like you can’t connect with God? Have you been walking your way or His?

 

Come back to the Maker. Read His word. Give Him attention. Spend some time alone with Him. Understand and live His way.

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About toddcbrown

The body of Christ will never grow if the Pastor is the one using his gifts to MAKE IT grow through some cool program or inspiring turn of a phrase.
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