The Fate of Hypocrisy

"The Smallest Church in the World"

 

Sermon Notes from July 7, 2013.  You can catch the audio sermon on the Adventure Church website.  This message was based on scripture from Mark 11.

“Hypocrisy” – means to act or to pretend.  In short, it means to act like something that you are not.  The world is full of hypocrites, including the church.  But for Christians, it is especially important that we seek to be “real” and “authentic” all of the time.  Our witness is mostly who we are, not what we say.  As many as 72% of unchurched people say that the church is full of hypocrites.

“What you do speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say.” – Emerson

The Hypocrisy of False Appearances

Mark 11:13-14, 20-21 — Jesus sees a fig tree in the distance full of leaves.  It appears to be healthy, but he finds it to be fruitless and curses the tree.  The next day, the disciples find the tree completely withered.

We can too easily live in such as way as to appear that everything is “good” or “fine” when in fact, our real life is far from such things.  We are broken inside.  We hurt.  We sin.  (note: illustration – ‘Dust if you Must’ – when we clean our homes for company, we shove all of our clutter and dirt in the closet or under the bed.  Do we do the same with our spiritual and emotional clutter?)  When we live like this, it is destructive to ourselves and the people around us, especially our kids, who are watching us.

Such hypocrisy is detestable to God, is known by Him, and will be destroyed.  Just like the fig tree, God knows if our lives our bearing fruit.  He knows our real selves.  And, when we try to live a double life, it destroys us.

Also, see Luke 6:45 – “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man things out of the evil stored up in his heart ….” — What is on the outside comes from what is in our inside, our heart.  Fruitlessness shows that we have a heart problem.

The Hypocrisy of Wrong Focus

Mark 11:15-16 – Jesus enters the temple area and turns over the tables of the money changers and prevents them from transacting business.  He teaches the crowd by saying “Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

The temple was the centerpiece of the Jewish faith.  By his actions, Jesus showed that they had come to worship the acts of holiness, the rituals, instead of worshipping God, the only one who is worthy of our worship.

As individuals and churches, we can slip into the hypocrisy of wrong focus.  Instead of spending our lives worshipping God himself, and living for His purposes, we get caught up in our buildings, our attendance numbers, our great music.  We can even allow ourselves to fall into a place of “pious fellowship” whereby we spend time with one another and are “happy” to be with each other, as long as there is no sin mentioned or demonstrated.  We don’t want broken people or personal filth to interrupt our “holy fellowship” times in our small groups or pot-luck dinners.

This type of hypocrisy is opposed to God’s purposes and will be exposed by Him.  God will not allow us to continue to worship things that are not aligned with His purposes or that conflict with our worship of Him.  He exposes our inauthenticity – to us, to others, to the world.  And, just as Jesus upset the money changers’ tables, when our focus is wrong, and it is exposed, it upsets our lives in uncomfortable ways.  But, that’s how God gets our attention.

The Hypocrisy of Willful Ignorance

Mark 11:27-28 – Jesus engages in yet another verbal exchange with the religious leaders.  The leaders try to trap Jesus once again with a question, but Jesus poses a question back to them.  The leaders choose not to answer and in refusing to do so, expose their hypocrisy.  The refuse to listen to God’s Word, instead choosing to be worried about what other men will think of them.

This may be the most devastating of all of the hypocrisies.  Willful ignorance simply means that even though the Word is right in front of us, even though we can read the Bible, hear the Word preached, etc., we choose not to take it to heart.  We know what we should do, or what we should not, but we choose against those things in favor of what is most expedient or most comfortable for us.

This hypocrisy shows up in our lives as we fail to live as God directs in our marriages, our relationships, in how we forgive others, in what we do at work or at school or on the golf course.  The bottom line is that we purposely sin because we willfully ignore God’s Word.  What can be more hypocritical than that?

Such hypocrisy is repugnant to God and will be defeated.

The Bottom Line

1 Peter 2:-2 – “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation ….”

Note: illustration about deer getting addicted to junk food to the point of not being able to consume anything healthy.  It lead to their destruction.

We must crave pure spiritual milk from God.  We must get rid of our hypocrisy, for the sake of ourselves and the kingdom, by feasting on what is good, allowing God to transform our hearts so that we can bear good fruit.

Tough Teaching: Be a Slave?

1044555_505774096157330_1420433932_n

My sermon notes from the June 30, 2013 sermon “Be a Slave?” from the series “Tough Teachings of Jesus”.  You can hear the podcast on the Adventure website.

Be a Slave?

Intro:  Pastors, church staff and church leaders revealed in a recent survey that some of the most difficult challenges they face each week are church member’s apathy, inward focus and the inability to motivate and keep volunteers in ministries.  If “we” (meaning Christians) just understood and took to heart this one “Tough Teaching” from Jesus, it would go a long way toward eliminating those challenges.

Mark 10: 43-45 — “Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus tells his disciples, and us, that to be “great”, we must first become a slave — a slave to Jesus Christ and His purposes!

The Christian Paradox

This scripture, and teaching, reveals another aspect of the “Christian Paradox”.  A paradox is what seems backwards, inside-out, upside-down.  A paradox is not the natural way we think of things.  The Bible is full of them.  Examples:  to live you must die, to be rich you must be generous, to lead you must follow, and, to be first you must be a slave.

What Are the Characteristics of the Christian Paradox:  Be a Slave?

It’s Voluntary

No one is going to make you do it.  The word “slave” means “bondslave”, which is a voluntary position of servitude.

It’s a Choice

You can say “yes” or “no”, but not both, and not neither. — note:  saying “no” is obviously a rejection of doing what the master wants.  But, we need to also realize that failure to say “yes” (i.e., sitting on the fence, or trying to remain neutral) is also saying “no.”

Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other….” — note: while Jesus was teaching on the love of money in this scripture, the principle remains the same: we cannot not be both devoted to the things of God and the things of “something else”.

It Means Submitting to the Master’s Will

Submission to God’s will and not your own will is the characteristic of a slave.  God is our master.  Submission to His will is going to require us to sacrifice.  We will have to sacrifice our comfort, our desire, our time, our energy, our money, and our priorities to what He wants.  We will be asked to do things that we may not want to do.  We will be asked to do things that we would rather not do sometimes.  But “slavery” to the will of God is doing what He wants, not what we want.  — This will become real in our lives as we serve in ministries in the church, as we allow our lives to molded in His holiness, and as we live a life as directed by the Bible.

Luke 22:42 – “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” — As Jesus prayed this on the night before He was crucified, Jesus gave a perfect example of what it means to submit to the will of God first, and to be willing to sacrifice everything.

It Requires Action Toward Others

Saying yes.  Declaring your intention to do something.  Wanting to submit to God’s will. — All of those things are great.  But they are all meaningless without action.  There is a big difference between saying you are going to do something and actually doing it.  We only reveal ourselves as “slaves of Jesus” when we actually act on what we say and what is in our heart.

Colossians 3:23-24 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, …. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Remember that when you serve that you are not just serving another person, you are actually serving Jesus Christ, your master.  You are connecting to Him by way of the Holy Spirit as you submit yourself to Him and you are connecting another to Him as you represent the hands and feet of Christ to that person.

Conclusion

If all of our church would allow our hearts to be transformed by this one truth, we would make an impact for the Kingdom that would be beyond our imagination!

Are Some Sins “Worse Than” Other Sins?

3D Scales of Justice

This is another question from the congregation during Adventure’s “Q & A” series recently.  For some, this seems to be a very important sticking point in their faith.  Frankly, I’m not sure why.  I think it might have to do with our comparative nature of not wanting to be “as bad” as someone else.  Maybe it has to do with our own sense of justice as we try to  figure out the world we live in.  Perhaps we seek the answer to this question to help us understand God’s grace more fully.

In any event, I do believe that there is an answer to this that we can understand, and, when understood, that should motivate us to seek to live more holy lives.

The Actual Question as Written“Are some sins a ‘bigger deal’ than other sins (i.e., abortion, homosexuality, adultery vs. lying, gossiping)?”

The Answer:

The short response to this question is “No and Yes.”  That may sound like a cop-out, but it really is the truth.  The answer of whether one particular sin is “worse than” another is dependent on how we are looking at (i.e., “evaluating”) a particular sinful action or inaction.  Let me explain.

The “All Sins are Equal” Perspective

All sin causes separation from God.  (Romans 3:23) That means that EVERY sin, whether we would see it as “little” or “big” is completely and fully devastating to our relationship with God, who is perfect and holy in every respect.  Any pollution to the relationship at all, no matter how small, causes imperfection and separation.

An illustration I like to use to explain this goes like this.  Imagine that you are a lamp with a cord that needs to be plugged into the wall in order to have “power that turns on your light.”  Imagine that God is the electrical socket in the wall.  When we are “plugged in” to God, our relationship is “perfect” and our light is on.

Now, imagine that sin is any distance between the cord’s plug and the wall socket.  What we might see as a “small” sin (for example, calling into work and saying I’m sick when I’m really not because I wanted to play golf) might only move the plug away from the socket a short distance – let’s say a foot.  What we might see as a “big” sin (for example, cheating on my wife or committing cold-blooded murder of multiple people) would move the plug away from the socket a big distance – let’s say a mile.  In BOTH EVENTS, the lamp is not plugged in and there is no “relationship” between the power-source and the lamp.  Both “sins” essentially caused “equally devastating” damage to the relationship because the relationship is either “on” or “off”.

So, from the perspective of our relationship with God, there is really no “ranking of sins” because ALL sin separates us from God.

(Note:  While not directly related to the question of the ranking of sins, I do want to finish my illustration. — Jesus is the extension cord of infinite length (i.e, infinite grace) who is always sufficient to connect our lamp to the power source. See, Romans 5:26).

The “All Sins are Not Equal” Perspective

On the other hand, and something that we often forget, is that our sins do not just affect our relationship with God, they also affect our relationships with people.  And, because of that truth, it is also true that a particular sin that I commit can cause much more damage to my personal relationships with people, as well as their relationships with people and with God, and, therefore, is “worse” than another sin I might commit.

Staying with the sins used in my example above — lying about being sick in order to play golf will definitely cause some damage to a relationship or two.  Even if I don’t get “caught”, by lying I have introduced an element of distrust into the relationship I have with my boss and co-workers.  If you don’t believe that, just imagine what I might think the next time a co-worker called in sick and left me with a bunch of extra work that day.  Don’t you think it would cross my mind that he might be out playing golf?  Of course, damage to the relationship, any relationship, is not good.  But, the damage caused in this example will be fairly “contained” and hopefully “subside” somewhat over time, particularly if I don’t compound the damage by continuing to lie.

However, if I cheat on my wife or commit a multiple murder, the damage and pain caused by such sins would be devastating to many, many people for a long, long time.  There would be extreme grief reaching multiple families.  My kids would be devastated and their future marriages would be impacted as they would have to overcome an element of mistrust.  And, you can only imagine the devastation and ripple effects of committing multiple murders – to families, to the community, to the legal system, to the church, etc.

So, from the perspective of my relationship with people, some sins are much “worse” than others because of the widespread damage they cause to relationships – between me and others, between others and others, and between others and God.

The Bottom Line Goal

Our goal in seeking an answer to this question should not be so that we can compare our sins to the sins of others.  Instead, our goal should be to understand that what we do, and what we fail to do, when we are not living up to what God wants for us and from us, causes damage to both our relationship with God and with others.  That’s why sin is harmful and that is why it is wrong.  Sin isn’t harmful because God says so.  Sin is harmful SO God says so.

Previous Questions:  How Can I Know God’s Will?

How Can You Know God’s Will?

Question mark

 

Recently, I conducted Question & Answer sessions during our weekend services at Adventure Church.  People asked questions via email, text or notecards during the services and I attempted to answer as many as I could during each service.  There was a HUGE response to this activity and many suggested that I blog some of the questions and answers as well.  So, here’s the first one.

The actual Question:  “How do I really know if God wants me to move my family?”

Answer:

This question, and a few similar ones, has to do with God’s will for our lives.  It’s a common inquiry.  And, it should be.  Of course we should all want to be within God’s will for our lives and to do our best to direct our families to be within God’s will.  So, how can  we know God’s will?  The answer comes in a few parts.

God’s Hidden Will

It is only logical, and reasonable, that there are some things about God and His will that are not now known, and will not be known presently.  At first that statement might confuse you or even anger you because we can sometimes feel that it is our “right” to know everything.  But, if you really think about it, is that your right?  And, is it even necessary?  The short answer is:  of course not!

God is God.  We are not.  He gets to decide what He reveals about Himself and His will.  We don’t get to decide.  He’s the Creator.  He’s the One in control.  He’s God.

He even reminds us of this in His Word in the book of Job where God essentially says “Who do you think you are?   Did you create the world and everything in it?  Were you there?” (see especially chapters 38-40)

But, don’t fret.  God is also perfectly just and perfectly loving.  He’s not going to hide something from us that He desires us to know.  Why would he?  Even I, an imperfect father to my children, wouldn’t hide from my children knowledge that I want them to know.  It just wouldn’t make any sense to do so.  So, whatever is within God’s hidden will should be hidden, and it will stay hidden until God decides otherwise.  And, it does not and should not affect anything about our present day living.

God’s Revealed Will

Then, there is God’s revealed will.  This is His will that can be known by us.  And, when you really search for it, you can find it.  See below.

God’s Universal Will

Part of God’s revealed will is called His “universal will.”  That simply means that whatever is within God’s universal will is God’s will for everybody.  There is a lot of God’s universal will in nature – for example – oxygen to breathe, gravity to bind us to the earth, and sunlight to provide energy.  There are also other things that are clearly God’s universal will – for example, it is His will that all would come to know Jesus as Savior for He sent Jesus to the world because “God so loved the world …”  See also, 2 Peter 3:9.

Outside of God’s Will

Then there are some things that are clearly outside of God’s will.  Sometimes these can be easy to identify.  It is outside of God’s will for me to murder someone, to steal, to cheat on my wife, or to be selfish with my possessions.   When we are outside of God’s will, we are committing sin.  God has given us the Bible so that we can know what is outside of His will.

God’s Specific Will and God’s Permissible Will

At times, God has a “specific will” for us.  And, at times God’s will is what is called “permissible will.”  This is where most of our questions about “God’s will for me” come from.  I hope that I can explain these for you to ease some pressure for you and to get you to focus on a better question for your life.

First, let me explain the difference between specific will and permissible will.

“Permissible will” choices are those choices / decisions that God allows us to make on our own, that are not outside of His will (i.e., sinful).  Most things in life (that are not sinful) fall within this category.

“Specific will” means that specific calling that God has for you at a particular time and place.  Frankly, most decisions we make are not really within or outside of God’s specific will.  I’ll explain more below.

If God has something specific for you — i.e., a decision that He desires for you to make, a choice to choose, or a path to take — we would further define that as a “calling.”  When God is calling you to something, He is going to specifically gift you to accomplish the goal or to meet the challenge.  He is going to give you passion for whatever it may be.  And, it is going to further His kingdom specifically in some way.  (That’s the kicker and is often the difference-maker between specific will and permissible will).  Some things that may be included in this are being called to the mission field, called to the pastorate, marrying a Christian if you are going to marry, etc.

However, all other choices, as long as they are not sinful, are going to be within God’s permissible will.  That simply means that God allows us to make a choice and whatever choice is made, He can bless that choice and use us within that choice.  By far, most choices that we make (that are not sinful) are permissible will choices.  Here are some examples:  who you marry, whether to take the job at company A or company B, whether to live in Louisville or New York, whether to buy a house or not, which prom dress to wear, what gift to give your wife for her birthday, etc.  Those are all permissible will decisions because no matter what we choose (as long as it’s not sinful), God can bless that choice in a special way.

Where I have seen people get hung up, and stressed out, is thinking that a permissible will choice is somehow a specific will choice.  I’ve seen someone truly fearful that she was going to be outside of God’s specific will by choosing to take a job at Starbucks instead of working at the local mall.  Believe me, God is a very big God and he can use you at Starbucks or the mall so either choice is permissible!

So, relax.  Spend your time in prayer, studying the Word, and seeking advice from other Christians on the important question in all of this “will” stuff:  is this decision outside of God’s will or not?  In other words, if I make this decision (this choice) will I be sinning?  If we all spent more time on that question, the rest of our decisions would be a lot easier, and, frankly our lives would be a lot less complicated and a lot more holy.

 

The Parable of the Soils – notes

Image

These are Pastor Buddy’s sermon notes from his April 28, 2013 on the Parable of the Sower (aka the Parable of the Soils) from the series on the Gospel of Mark.  (remember, these are notes, it is not written like a regular blog post).  You can listen to the podcast here.

In Mark 4:1-20, Jesus relates what is often called the Parable of the Sower or the Parable of the Soils.  In a somewhat unique turn, Jesus also provides some insight into the meaning of the parable.

Parables Are Wondrous Things — Learning from a parable is unlike other types of learning.  We are not just “receiving information that we are to memorize.  Instead, when we seek to learn the truths contained in a parable (or “story”), we must “think it through.”  We should place ourselves in the parable as characters, ask questions about what is happening and what else could have happened, etc.  By doing that, we will learn deeper truths about God and also about ourselves.

Here are some things that I learned while studying this scripture:

God Gives His Grace Indiscriminately

God doesn’t just offer His grace to those people who are a “good bet.”  Instead, He offers it to all – without prejudice or discrimination.  No matter where we are in life, His grace is there for our receiving.

God Gives His Grace Lavishly

God isn’t stingy with His grace.  He offers us more than enough “seed” for His truth to take root in our lives.  We might fail to recognize the lavishness of His grace, but it’s there nonetheless.

The Impact of God’s Grace Depends on Our Heart’s Condition

Notice what is different among the four soils in the parable — the condition of the soil.  The sower is the same.  The seed is the same.  The sower’s activity is the same.  What is different is the condition of the soil itself, nothing else.

“The Path Soil”

Mark 4:15 – Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown.  As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

note:  there is a spiritual battle going on for our souls.  note: we ignore God’s Word as if we were listening to an airline stewardess give pre-flight emergency instructions.  It’s a life and death matter, but we just let it go by as if it has no importance.

“The Rocky Soil”

Mark 4:16-17 – Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time.  When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

note:  we aren’t likely to have special police in our church parking lots any time soon.  But for us, the “trouble because of the word” often comes when we are called to obey the word in personal relationships when we don’t want to — for e.g., forgiving others, working on our marriages, being humble, serving first, etc.

“The Thorny Soil”

Mark 4:18-19 – Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Many of us allow God’s Word to be active in our lives, but it is prevented from bearing fruit because we fail to follow God as our first and primary priority.  Instead, we let the worries and distractions of life get in the way — e.g.s, our jobs, money, busyness, kids, how we look, etc.

“The Good Soil”

Mark 4:20 – Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop – thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.

Notice that the good soil: receives the word immediately so that it cannot be snatched away, receives the word deeply so that it can not be uprooted easily, and receives the word exclusively so that it’s fruit is not choked by other things of this word.

Do a soil check — which type are you?  What is the condition of your heart today?  Do you need to prepare your “soil” to hear the Word of God and to fully receive His lavish Grace?

 

 

The Power of Jesus Is Bigger Than Your Issues

gospelofmark

Last week at Adventure Christian Church, we began our study of the Gospel of Mark.  For most of the next 20 weeks, our messages on Sundays will focus on the life of Jesus as told in this Gospel.

The first series from this study we have titled:  “The Power of Jesus.”  This post’s notes relate to the first sermon I preached on April 7 which I titled:  “The Power of Jesus Is Bigger than Your Issues”.

As always, you can go to our church website to hear the podcasts.

Here are my notes from April 7 (remember, these are just my notes and not written in “article” format):

What is the Gospel of Mark about? — Mark shows us that God is a God of new beginnings, reminds us of the foundation of our faith, and also provides an example of peace in the face of persecution and opposition.  These themes will be shown repeatedly throughout this Gospel.

Jesus Is Bigger than Your Security Issues

Mark 1:16-18 – “As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men.  At once they left their nets and followed him.”

note: These men had sacrificed their financial security in order to follow Jesus.  They were not tied to their wealth nor did they find their significance therein.  And because of their faith in Jesus instead of their security he transformed them / promised them to have a higher purpose: from “fishermen” to “fishers of men.”

Jesus is Bigger than Your Social Issues

Mark 1:19-20 – “When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets.  Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”

note:  These two men were willing to put aside their social alliances and comforts (i.e., their family).  Are we willing to sacrifice our social structure and comforts for the One who is even more powerful?

to “leave” = “to depart from permanently” (note: they didn’t just leave for a day – they were going to be different people, with a different social bond).

“The problem with trying to balance friendship with the world and service to God is that one becomes religiously a split personality, looking both to God and to the world for standards and assurance.” – Dave Garland

Jesus Is Bigger than Your Past Issues

Mark 1:23-24 – “Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!’

Mark 1:25-26 – “Be quiet! said Jesus sternly.  Come out of him!  The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.”

note: This man had been plagued in the past by an evil spirit.  We all have our own past evil spirits that dwell within us that we can easily allow to fill us (for e.g., regret, abuse, unforgiveness of self or others, past sins).  Jesus has the power to remove our past evil spirits and set us free.

“What once could invade human personalities and evade God’s control, can no longer do so!”

Jesus Is Bigger than Your Indirect Issues

Mark 1:30-31 – “Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her.  So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up.  The fever left her and she began to wait on them.”

note: This issue was not directly Simon’s.  Instead, someone close to him had an issue which undoubtedly affected him too.  That happens to us – we have friends and family who have “issues” that cause trouble in our lives.  However, when we introduce Jesus into the picture of that person’s life, He can overcome those issues as well.

Jesus Is Bigger than Your Personal Issues

Mark 1:40-42 – “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, If you are willing you can make me clean.  Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.  I am willing, he said.  Be clean!  Immediately, the leprosy left him and he was cured.”

note:  There is nothing more personal than a skin disease.  It was painful and even more devastating it caused the person to be unclean and therefore shunned.  We can allow our personal sins that make us so unclean to keep us from the people who can help.  We can get caught up into thinking that we aren’t worth Jesus’ healing power or that He can’t help.  But he can.  He has power over our sin.

The leper was worth the effort — and so are YOU!!

Remember where the power is:

Mark 1:15 – “The time has come, he said.  The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”

 

Soul Detox: Coming Clean

SoulDetox-mailer(front)

In Soul Detox: Coming Clean we discuss the importance of recognizing our self-deception and the impact of self-examination in ridding ourselves of the spiritual toxins that invade our souls.  These are my sermons notes from the first in our series Soul Detox, based on the book Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel.  You can listen to my sermon online at the Adventure Church website.

Here are my sermon notes, with some comments:

Spiritual Pollution

Are you (your life) polluted with these toxins:  anger, apathy, laziness, rage, hate, greed, harshness, unforgiveness, bitterness, worry, anxiousness, depression, joylessness, distrust, etc.?  – Those are toxins infecting your soul.

Everything Matters

Proverbs 25:26 “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.”

note:  a river does not become muddied and polluted because of just one “trash dump” into it.  Rather, it is a slow and steady combination of pollutions, some right into the river and some washed into it from upstream.  Our souls are muddied because of the slow and steady trash that we allow to be dumped into our souls:  what we watch, what we talk about, who we are around, what we read, who we listen to — all of those add up, and if they are toxic, they dump toxins into us that build up.

Coming Clean

Psalms 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

note:  spiritual problems have spiritual solutions!

1.  Recognize Your Self-Deception

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things …”

note:  it is easy to allow ourselves to be deceived because we don’t know what we don’t know.  At least admit that you might be in error about what you believe or don’t believe.

2.  Begin the Process of Self-Examination

(note:  examine your life for toxic behaviors, emotions, consumptions and influences)

You must be willing to call poison, poison

Psalms 36:2 “For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.”

note:  We can excuse so much and so many things in our lives.  Be careful if you are saying any of these things:

“I don’t have a problem with this”

“It’s really no big deal”

“This is just how I cope”

“I’m not as bad as most people.”

“I can quit anytime I want”

“This is jut how I am.”

note:  if you are saying those things, you may be “excusing” a toxin

Listen to God’s Word

note:  as you read and study the Bible, the Word will “show” you what is toxic for your life.  Is it your speech, unforgiveness, sexual purity, roles in marriage, what it means to love your neighbor, theology?

Listen to God’s People

Proverbs 15:31-21 “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.  He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.”

note:  Christian friends, your pastor and your Bible teachers are ways in which God speaks truth to you about toxins that are influencing you.

Listen to God’s Voice

note: God speaks through His Word and through His people, but if we don’t want to, or refuse to, “hear God” through those ways, we must remember that God also speaks to us through our circumstances.  If your circumstance is “out of control”, “full of drama”, or “always stressed and unhappy”, there is a good chance that God is allowing that circumstance to exist to show you a spiritual toxin in your life that is infecting your soul.  Pay attention to it!

“Life to the Full”  (note:  Jesus wants us to have an abundant life, not just a life where we get by or a life where we struggle carrying a bunch of unnecessary, burdensome baggage.  Removing the spiritual toxins in our lives will allow us to live life to the full!)