Exceeding Joy - Miriam Webster (Hillsong) [ 2002 ]
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This has been stirring in my spirit for a while. It comes to mind all the time as I read scripture and experience life with others. Despite my fleshly fear of rejection, I have found it of no benefit to anyone to keep it inside rather than sharing the encouragement’s and admonishments of the Lord with others.
First and foremost, praise God who sees fit to redeem minds hostile towards Him and renew them through His word. Let us keep our eyes on the righteousness of Christ above which we have been given through such amazing grace. I pray we do not forsake the holiness of God for our own fleshly pleasures. Instead, lets find a better everlasting pleasure in Christ.
Stronger than God?
I’ve seen too often people enjoy things that God despises and then blame it on God. In other words, they’ve been blessed by God with some spiritual maturity or tolerance to enjoy bad things. As a friend of mine put it, they’re claiming to be “more spiritual than God”. He says this because they claim that they, flawed sinful humanity, can righteously enjoy what God, pure holy deity, abstains from enjoying. Furthermore, if God hates evil, how can we say that is by God’s Spirit that we enjoy it and have overcome conviction of it? Sometimes I have even heard, “My relationship with God has grown so strong that those things do not bother me anymore.” If your relationship with God has grown in a manner where you begin to love what He despises, “strong” is not the correct term to use.
Side note: Someone has to see that this idea doesn’t really hold up when it comes to enjoying sinful entertainment. Pornography? Think about it.
Not Allergic to Poison?
When confronting the issue of enjoying what God hates, The most common excuse I hear is, “It does not affect me or make me want to do those evil things”. The problem is, if its evil and you take pleasure in it, it it already has affected you. It is effect enough that, through deceit, we count it good to consume the forbidden fruit. Never mind the deeds that may come as a result of that original sin.
But really, is how it affects us the main concern? Scripture shows us that the glory of God is the primary concern and purpose of our lives. How it affects us is secondary and actually subject to if it glorify’s God or not. So, Christ is primary, and we are secondary and subject to His will and the glory of His name. If it glorify’s God, our enjoyment of it will affect us in a good way. If it does not glorify God, our enjoyment of it already has affected us in a bad way and will continue to do so, whether we see it or not. But seriously, lets look beyond effects and first seek to glorify the God who created, sought after, and redeemed us.
"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
—1 Corinthians 10:31
"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
What if it’s fiction?
Does it matter?
"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."
– Colossians 3:2-4
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
I have definitely walked away from situations where I attended ungodly entertainment and left thinking “I have learned a valuable lesson.” You might say the same.Thats great! It may even be a gift from the Lord that you learned that lesson. However, think about a familiar story. Joseph told his brothers “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” That does not mean I should start recommending that siblings sell each other into slavery, in order that one of them might one day become a prominent ruler who provides for His family. In other words, “the ends do not justify the means.” Take the lesson as wisdom and warning, not as warrant to continue in sin. Praise God for what He teaches us even, or especially, when we fail.
Failed Spidey Senses?
Another way I’ve seen the blame shifted to God is when someone claims they have not “felt the Spirit’s conviction”. From what I have seen in scripture the Spirit bears witness to Christ’s word. I believe that we (God’s Children), being fleshly human beings wanting to serve the law of God in our minds but finding our flesh doing otherwise, still need God’s word. The Spirit isn’t just a spider sense for wrong doing. He also teaches us righteousness through the scriptures. Thats a major part of our sanctification. I believe that the Spirit of God within a man convicts us of good and evil. I also believe that if the scriptures are contradicting your lack of feeling, I guarantee the Spirit is definitely on the side of the scriptures. He did write them after all.
Besides, look at the honesty of David, a man who was filled with God’s Spirit. He knew He committed sins that he did not know of:
"Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.”
He also saw that He ought to seek God in His word in order to abide in Him:
"How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.”
– Psalms 119: 9-16
I’ve often seen this issue, in some sort of sympathy, made an issue of Christian Liberty. This is concerning things that God expressly says He does not like in scripture, not things that are up in the air and based on conscience alone. I am scared to think that many believers are unknowingly calling Jesus their “weaker brother”, because of His love for righteousness and hatred of evil.
Lets say, a Father says “blessed are the peacemakers” but then says he hates “the wicked and the one who loves violence”. He has two sons. Both sons are loved in the grace of the Father. The Father taught his sons to be “Holy as He is Holy”. He also taught them to “cling to what is good and hate what is evil.” One son enjoys watching violence but is convinced that its ok because the Father’s teaching will keep him from doing that evil physically. The other son feels convicted that he should not love or enjoy violence in any manner because His Father has expressly said that He hates it. It doesn’t matter if he is watching it or doing it, because He understands that the way of peace is right and the life of violence is evil.
Lets ask a very obvious question. Spiritually, who is the weaker brother? And who is the stronger brother? Is it not the weaker brother who gave in to passions his Father despises with the excuse that “I only enjoyed them but did not commit them”? Is it not the stronger brother, who may have a fleshly desire to love violence, but denied it in all ways in order to please His loving Father and take joy in His peace? This isn’t limited to enjoying violence, but the same goes for slander and gossip, lying and cheating, lust and adultery, pride, idolatry, sorcery, selfishness and all evils that oppose the image of God.
Point is, Romans 14 is not about two brothers having different tolerances for the enjoyment of sin. Romans 14 is about two brothers who have differing “faith” concerning the partaking of things that are ultimately clean to God. It points to how the stronger brother ought to sacrifice what He enjoys in God for the weaker brothers conscience to God. The cool thing is that they can both rejoice and give “thanks to God” (vs6) though one will “drink wine” and the other abstain from drinking wine (vs 21). Can you give thanks to God for enjoying what is ungodly? No, because it is not a gift from Him nor something He delights in. Hence, Romans 14 does not apply if you cannot give pure thanks to God for the “thing” in question. Romans 14 only applies to things that are good.
Some have said that you can’t make any blanket statements about this subject. I had, for a moment, agreed. Then i felt really naive once scripture came to my mind. We can make blanket statements about this subject, because the Bible makes blanket statements about this subject. You can absolutely 100% know that God wants us to delight in good and take pleasure in purity. You can absolutely 100% know that God does not want us to delight in sin and He desires that we hate evil. Those “blanket statements” were hand quilted from the thread of the scriptures.
I am not going to try being anyone’s Holy Spirit and delve into the fine details of obscure scenarios. From scripture we get a good general picture that directs us as we face daily situations where we might ask “Am I enjoying God?” God’s Spirit will be there, leading us in one accord with the scriptures toward a clear answer. Yes or No. Too often we like to have our gray areas, where as long as we are ignorant of the truth we can dance in sin because “no one can know whether it is good or not”. Sadly, that thought is machine stitched by the deceitfulness of our sinful hearts. There certainly are things that we do not understand, but there are no gray areas to God. Since God has pure sight and knowledge to see and understand the difference between black and white, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5). Christ does not will that you be confused and “[n]o good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). If you want discernment and wisdom, just ask. God is our Father and the giver of “every good and perfect gift (James 1:7)”.
What a great joy we have to know that God not only rescues believers from the penalties of sin and death, but offers us much greater pleasures in Himself with everlasting life and everlasting fulfillment. Please pray for me that I may heed the scriptures and find more pleasure in Christ than in the world. I am a man with like flesh and need the glorious grace of God that has been given to me to make me righteous by faith.
"The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.”
– Proverbs 8:13
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
– Romans 12:1-2
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good."
– Romans 12:9
"You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
– Psalm 16:11
#495 Garden – A new minimal geometric composition each day
Such beautiful lyrics. Praying that I can live in strength and courage of these convictions rather than reacting in momentary emotions that cease with the music.