Ephesians 4:7-16; Fear God while drawing near to Him with confidence.
length: 82:15 - taught on Aug, 22 2021
Sunday August 22,2021
We have begun a study of wisdom so that when we return to Eph 4 to see the gifts Christ has given us we will know the way and manner to use those gifts.
Our approach to the study of wisdom has led us to see the things that make for wisdom - the fear of the Lord, drawing near to God, faith, and uprightness. Whenever you seek out something with God, He shows you the only way. There is no use trying to find your own way to it. Only He knows the way.
We are currently sorting these things out. We had spent some time studying the fear of the Lord and then began to see how the wisdom literature (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job) shows us what to search for and what not to. We still have more to explore on that subject, but for a brief time we have returned to the fear of the Lord because of its frequency in the scripture.
“And the Lord heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me, ‘I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They have done well in all that they have spoken. 29 Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!’”
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, 2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.”
As we have seen, the fear of the Lord is not a concept isolated in the Old Testament. It is a universal truth for all the human race.
be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
This time around we noted the times when God told His people not to fear Him, while they were to still fear Him (EXO 20:20). It is clear that there are some things to fear concerning God and some things not to. In the later, we find that we are told to be confident and bold in approaching God.
We are to draw near to God without fear while still fearing Him in another capacity.
Every believer can work out this seeming paradox.
We found a very good example of this in Luk 9, along with Mat 19 and Mar 9. The disciples were afraid to approach Christ to question Him about a difficult statement.
This fear, fear of losing intimacy or position with God because our stupidity and weakness are revealed, must be completely overcome.
With man, that result will often happen, we will judge even our most intimate people from time to time, but with God (who knows and sees all things) it will never happen. People seem to be quite often in the business of judging, criticizing, and maligning, but God does not do this. God judges with perfect justice. Since we are justified, we can approach God with boldness and confidence.
Though all people are sinners, failing at some time, we are to serve them, doing good to them, because it is perfect God Whom we serve.
Let love of the brethren continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. 3 Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 5 Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you," 6 so that we confidently say,
"The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What shall man do to me?"
We do all in God’s eyes, and so we draw near to Him with confidence while we fear Him, meaning that we fear not obeying and following Him.
The disciples were too afraid to ask Christ about His incredible statement in LUK 9:44-45.
God knows infinitely more than the wisest believer. And still He loves the least of us with the same love He has for the most. In a world that has none of Him in its ways, He is inviting us to intimately know His way, but also to know that it will take the loss of all of our self, which will scare us. Some think this is a cost or a work, but it’s something like taking out the garbage. It’s not a sacrifice if it was never worth keeping.
Courage is not a lack of fear, but the ability to go forward in spite of fear. We must never fear seeking Him and losing ourselves.
Fear cripples the mind. Fear and faith in God’s plans for us tell the mind to step or crawl through and hope in God’s grace and providence. Even if we happen to fall flat on our faces, we trust God’s outcome, trying our best to do what we know is right.
Courage means not quitting on the way you’ve begun to walk.
Jesus gave us the way. Though He was deeply troubled within, and under so much pressure that His sweat became as drops of blood …
And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done." 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. 45 And when He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation."
Find the courage to go. The adventure on the horizon that only God knows; that is the stuff of courage and discovery.
Be sure to not make the mistake of making your own courage. The adventure is not outside of the commands. The journey is under the umbrella of total obedience to our Lord’s commands. Obedience to commands seems to take the romanticism out of Christianity for some, but should bolster the honor of Christianity for anyone with ears to hear.
It turns out that romanticism was misleading. A person’s place, race, economic status, etc. does not warrant a romantic description. A person’s choices and character determine their way.
Not risking where God has told us to go is not a mind that is in the Savior seated at the right hand of God. He sits above all rule and authority, which position speaks loudly to us, yet without loud voice, “Go boldly, beyond what you think or imagine or even ask for.” Who among us has the courage for that, for Him?
“Come and see,” Jesus said to John and Andrew. There is a way, His way, and we all know it to some extent, and we must follow in that way in every part of our lives if we are to find, in real time experience, the life that Christ has gifted us with.
We must never fear seeking all we can know of Him, while humbly knowing that there are some things unknowable.
Don’t fool yourself, drawing nearer to God is much more than academic or mystical. It’s more than a feeling. Drawing nearer to God will mean a change in your thinking and conduct - a change from unholy to holy. It is more loss of self and more of self placed trustingly in His worthy hands. It is going to scare you, and when you overcome the fear by taking those steps, the same situation is going to happen again sometime in the future, and you will fear those steps, and the losses they mean to your old life, all over again. This repeatedly happens only for the believer who is advancing, seeking, asking, knocking. Others fool themselves that the status quo is good enough.
Drawing near to God has a recognizable difference in way of life. God must influence us for good.
The opening paragraph of Jam 4 clearly reveals this truth.
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? [chapter 3 shows us that they were envious and self-seeking, trying to excel one another in teaching and wisdom] Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God [not an unbeliever, but takes a position opposed to God]. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? [God does not accept infidelity with indifference] 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (PRO 3:34 from Septuagint) 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.