2nd Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 38
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|There are some awesome things that God is saying to us. I’m calling the whole series “Poise in the Face of Persecution,” and this is part 3.|
The weakness of fleshly weapons (2 Cor 10:7-11)
Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 10:7-8. We won’t get very far. There are some awesome things that God is saying to us. I’m calling the whole series “Poise in the Face of Persecution,” and this is part 3. And this morning I want to talk to you about the “Weakness of Fleshly Weapons.” You have to put that into context of what we’re talking about and I’ll try to do that.
Now let’s get into this. God’s Word is absolute truth and if you don’t believe that, that’s where your problems are starting, right there. It should be the stronghold in every believer’s mind. Proverbs 10:39 says, “The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the upright,” but then it adds a contrast, “but ruin to the workers of iniquity.” They don’t want this stronghold. Everything they do casts itself in front of this stronghold. It’s a good thing for the believer that the Word of God is there, but strongholds can be a bad thing. And God’s Word, we have the power to disarm and to triumph over every lie which lurks behind all of our wrong behavior.
But the sad thing is a lot of believers inside the church, just like in Corinth, they’re not willing to let the Word of God be the stronghold of their mind. Instead they have allowed other things to build strongholds. Maybe it’s the worldly wisdom or whatever it is in their thinking and that’s determining their wrong behavior. Like that Gibbon monkey we talked about last week. When they did that experiment on that monkey and they had a container and the monkey could put his hand inside of the container but he couldn’t pull it out if it was in a fist. They chained the container to the floor and they put candy inside of the container. The monkey was free; the monkey came up and wanted the candy and he put his hand in, grabbed the candy but was unwilling to turn it loose even for the sake of freedom. He imprisoned himself because something in the instinct of that animal told him he needed what he had in his hand. And so he’s in bondage thinking he needs what he has.
Now that’s what happens with a stronghold that’s of the flesh. We think we have to have this or that and God says let it go. His Word is what disarms whatever it is that’s causing us to put ourselves into bondage. Now in Paul’s day it was no different. It’s the same all the time. There were two groups, two distinctive groups, probably more than that, which was causing the people to have the wrong means of thinking, the wrong premise, the wrong thought pattern. These were cancer to the body of Christ.
There were two groups: one was the ones that preached law instead of preaching grace. And they built into the minds of the people that they had to perform for God. And suddenly that measuring everything, that attaining whatever it is, became a stronghold and dictated their behavior, which was completely against the message of grace. The other group was the worldly philosophers who were so enamored with the way men did things and the wisdom of men, they were so caught up in it, that people began to look for that kind of thing that followed them.
Now these people were inside the church, not outside the church. You say how do I know that? First Corinthians 5:12 says, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?” So this was not outside the church, this was inside the church. Now these poisonous people hated the authority of Paul and the other apostles. That was a real problem. This authority was something they wanted themselves so they had to tear the man down, tear the message down, so that they could get their message where they needed it to be and they could have control inside of the church.
Paul and all of the apostles had a God-given authority. Now listen, if I ever tell you that God has made me an apostle—well, you won’t have to do it, my wife will do it. She’ll walk up, take my arm, lead me away, and have me committed. There’s no such thing as apostles like you have in the New Testament today. I don’t care what anybody says, and I don’t care what any experience they tag to it. These people had authority that we’ll never understand. The Word of God has it in our life; the Spirit of God has it, but not in the way they had it. You see, they didn’t have the whole Scripture. Paul wrote approximately half of the New Testament and it had not been completed at that time. So God gave a special authority to these apostles during that time.
Now they had all the authority to deal with the church and these false teachers and with gravity. In 1 Corinthians 5:5 Paul says this, “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan,” we don’t have that authority, “for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” In 1 Timothy 1:20 he says, “Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered over to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme.” So Paul was determined to suppress the insolence of these false teachers within the church and to destroy their power. But he was also determined, as we see in the text, because he would not let the Corinthian church take up an offense for him to do this dressed in the armor of Christ. Paul knew that only the character of Christ, dressed in the character of Christ and the Word of God renewing his mind and seasoning everything he said, that was the only way he could come against those strongholds that were determining the wrong behavior of the people.
Now you have to understand, make the connection, I hope you’re doing this, that it’s the same way for us today. Because we are daily in a war against those things which cast themselves in front of the knowledge of God. Every time we turn a TV on, every time we listen to the radio, we’re listening to the humanism of this world. And it casts itself in front of the knowledge of God. We have to be so careful to let the Word of God remain where it is in our hearts and in our minds. Whether we’re losing or winning the battle is seen in our behavior. You just watch the way a person behaves. Read the person before you read his book and you will find out whether or not he’s got the right stronghold in his mind.
For instance, a person that is caught in immoral behavior. You know, we live in a day in the 21st century, we’re scared to death to talk about that. And yet that’s one of the problems that people are fighting everywhere, especially men. And it’s a problem in the mind: immoral behavior that they fall into. And that’s not the problem. It never has been the problem. That’s a symptom. But what we do as churches sometimes is that we don’t allow a safe environment where somebody who is caught in that trap can come, be honest about it, and not looked down upon and helped and somebody come and say, “Listen, this is how you put the Word of God in your mind and all those things that you’re missing in your life, Jesus fulfills.”
My prayer is that one day, and I don’t know if I’ll live to see it or not, that our church will be that kind of safe environment where people who are hurting can come and say, “Listen, can you help me? Can you help me put the Word of God in my mind?” You find a person who is critical, judgmental, bitter; they’ve got a bigger problem than that. That’s just a symptom. And so what we’re dealing with is not the action itself, it’s what causes that action. It’s what’s behind it; it’s the premise, it’s the thought processes that a person has that are apart from the Word of God.
But I want to encourage you today. We have the weapons to conquer that. Whether it be in our own life or in somebody else’s life if they’ll just listen. It’s divinely powerful weapons that we have. Paul says that in 10:4, “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses,” or “strongholds” as the King James says. If we summed up all of our weapons today, it would not be what they are; it would be who He is.
As we looked at it last week and tracked it through, Jesus is the garment of Ephesians 4 and He’s the armor of Ephesians 6. We don’t need anything outside of Him. And everything that He does are weapons of righteousness as we studied this past week. We have divinely powerful weapons because they are of God and He lives in us. So if you’ve got a problem today and you’ve built the wrong stronghold in your mind and it’s determining the behavior that you’re in, there is hope for you, especially if you’re a believer because the Lord Jesus in you and His Word can completely tear that stronghold down.
In fact, Paul implies here and uses what they call siege warfare. And if you’ll think about this, the Corinthians would have understood this. When you would go into a city, a stronghold, and take it over, the first thing you would do would be to isolate that city from its allies and any kind of food supply coming in. You’d cut that off. And if you think about it, when a person has got a stronghold in their mind you’ve got to give no provision to the flesh. It’s got to be out of the way.
Then they would come in with towers that were made of iron. They used to be made of wood but they would burn them down, so they made them out of iron, the Romans did. And they would move these towers in and they were taller than the stronghold that they were fighting. And the archers would get in those towers and they’d just shoot arrows down and finally the men would go over, take the city, and leave a group there to protect it and make sure nothing happened from that point on: anything happen, they would correct it.
And that’s the way it is with the Word of God. It’s incredible. You see the enemy is that stronghold. It says in verse 5, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.” You think about that for awhile. Every thought; it’s not every thought that comes against the knowledge of God. That’s the war, that’s the enemy that we’re up against. And it says, “and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” I love that. Once you get in the Word of God, once you begin to surrender to the Lordship of Christ and that immoral thought comes this way—and it’s going to come—and when it comes you just wheel around, pull that arrow out and just nail it to the wall because it’s taken captive to the obedience of Christ.
There is hope. Victory is never you and me overcoming sin, victory is Jesus overcoming us. And that’s what he’s trying to tell us. You’re in a war. It’s incredible how people don’t seem to quite understand that and that’s why we’re teaching it. That’s why we’re trying to help. This is where the help comes. We can disarm every thought as we get into the Word of God. Renew our minds with the Word of God, and then His Spirit takes over in our life and you talking about a warrior and you talking about armor, then we can walk in the victory God has given to us. Well, the picture is awesome; it’s simple, but yet I guess it’s more complex when you live it. But it’s just learning to think differently; it’s learning to let the Scriptures change the way you think and let that become the stronghold in your mind.
Now last week we briefly mentioned 10:6. I hit it and told you I was struggling with it. I think I’ve landed, and I’m going to tell you where I am. It’s kind of up for grabs. It’s a tough verse. He says in verse 6, “and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” I had to really wrestle with that. The context is not talking about every single thing they do. It’s talking about false teachers and it’s talking about those who accused Paul. And as I was studying it this past week it hit me that Paul has already said something about this. If you’ll turn back to 2 Corinthians 6:12-18, Paul has already addressed this. And I think this is what he’s talking about.
He says, “You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections.” That’s where our problems are. “Now in like exchange,” he’s already been open with them, he says, “I speak as to children,—open wide to us also. Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness: Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord. And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.”
Now what he’s saying is “come out from among them.” And I think that’s what he’s referring to here in verse 6. He’s saying, “When I see you come out from them, when I see you understand that they’re teaching something that is false, and I understand that you step aside from them and I know that you’re going to stand with me, 100%, then I’m ready to deal with all of those who are disobedient.”
Well, you say, “Who are the disobedient?” It could be the false teachers or it could be those who are following right along behind them. The word is parakoe, which comes from the word parakouo, which means “to hear alongside something.” In other words, to hear wrongly, you didn’t get it. It means to hear but have no intention whatsoever to do anything about it.
Now these are people who understand the truth but they’re not about to yield to it and that’s what he’s talking about. So it could be the false teachers, it could be those he tells them to get away from and stand away from, I don’t know. But it appears to me that he’s pointing to those who have no respect to Paul’s authority as an apostle or to God’s Word.
Now in verse 7 Paul begins to address the false teachers and he is dressed in the armor of Christ and armed with the Word of God that he has at that point as he’s writing it. He’s going to begin to erode and disarm the stronghold that they have built up. He’s going to reveal what the flesh is really like. And I want to share something with you. There are a lot of things in this passage. I’m going to share what God put on my heart that I believe is the message for us today. If you’re here today and you don’t know Christ, you’re going to see yourself right here. You’re going to see the weakness of your flesh. You have no other option. This is the only way you can live. Only when Christ comes to live in you and you let His Word renew your mind can you be any different.
Or if you’re a believer and have not chosen to let Jesus be Jesus in your life and have not chosen to let the Word renew your mind, you’re going to see yourself. And it’s important that we see ourselves from time to time so that we can understand the importance of what he’s trying to do in our life. So let’s look at some of the things about the weakness of the flesh, the frailty of the flesh, the pattern of the flesh. It’s never going to change, same today as it was back then. This is what you’re like if you’re not living under the Lordship of Christ.
Flesh looks on the outside and not on the heart
First of all, flesh looks on the outside and not on the heart. Flesh has no spiritual discernment whatsoever. It only looks on the outside. It’s only impressed with physical appearances. It’s not impressed with something deeper than that which God is doing. In verse 7 he says, “You are looking at things as they are outwardly.” You’re looking at this stuff that you can easily see and that’s your problem, he’s saying. Now Paul has already addressed this error earlier on in Corinthians. You’ll see him go back and pull out from what he said before.
Listen to this from 2 Corinthians 5:11-17, “Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, that you may have an answer for those who take pride in appearance, and not in heart.” You see, they don’t know how to look at the heart. They can just look at the outward appearance. “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh;” Now this is the problem that the flesh has when we choose to let it dominate our lives. The flesh is impressed with the way somebody looks or the intelligent, convincing way in which they speak or whether they’re funny or whether they’re not funny or whatever. That’s what impresses the flesh.
Even some so-called believers have fallen into this worldly trap. Let me ask you a question as an illustration. Have you ever made this statement? I have and I’m ashamed to say it, but I have. “Boy, if that old boy gets saved, God can use him. He’s got deep pockets. God’s really looking forward to getting him on His team.” Have you ever done that? Is that your thinking today? Well, I want to tell you: that’s from the pit of Hell. That has nothing to do with what God does.
Do you understand that God is not impressed with a single one of us? The only time He’s impressed with us is when He looks at us and sees Himself. You see, the flesh is impressed. That’s a successful man; look at what he has. Look at the size of his house, look at his bank account. And God says, “No, you’re looking on the outside, you’re not looking on the heart.” We see many that have been deceived into this way of thinking in Corinth. No wonder they bought into the false teachers because they had all the credentials; they had all the outward things.
Remember, he wrote to them in 1 Corinthians 3 and I’ll tell you, those first four chapters of 1 Corinthians he has to deal with them big time. They love worldly wisdom and all that kind of stuff and he says in 1 Corinthians 3:1, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ.” What he’s saying to them is that they’ve never come out of the nursery.
I was preaching through 1 Corinthians a few years ago, and I was in Sam’s one day and I found a big gallon jar of adult pacifiers. Does anybody know what I’m talking about? They’re great big things. It wouldn’t work for a baby, that’s for sure. And I put them behind the pulpit and I wanted to use them when people came up and yak, yak, yak. Just pull one out and say, “Will you go suck on this for a little while and when you’re ready to come out of the nursery I’m ready to talk to you.”
Well, that’s the church of Corinth. And because they had this worldly bent, oh, they were impressed with education, they were impressed with polish, they were impressed with all of this stuff, and because of that they were fair game for the false teachers. Man, the false teachers waltzed in and just took them over because they were already of that bent. They didn’t let the Word of God be a stronghold in their mind. They didn’t know how to look on the inside. They only knew how to look on the outside.
So the phrase in verse 7, “you are looking at things as they are outwardly,” that can be taken as a command or it can be taken as a statement. The indicative ending and the imperative ending there on that verb are the same. If you took it as a command he would say, “Come on, people, look at what’s right in front of you. Pay attention.” But if it’s taken as a statement like it is in the text, and I think that’s probably the best way to take it, “you are looking at things as if they are the outward things; you’re not looking at the heart.”
You see, a person who has chosen the flesh to dominate his thinking, a person who has chosen man’s thoughts and man’s wisdom to be the stronghold of his life has no spiritual discernment. He doesn’t know what is of God; he doesn’t know what isn’t of God. He’s only impressed with what he sees on the outside. He doesn’t know if somebody’s teaching is right or wrong. He’s just impressed on how they did it.
I was at a conference, and a speaker got up to speak. And about half-way in the middle of his message I wanted to stand up and shout, “Why don’t you sit down; just be quiet.” He obliterated anything I’ve ever studied in the Word of God. He didn’t mention the Word of God. He talked about all the other stuff that fleshly minded people can’t seem to filter through. And when he finished his message I was about to say something to my friend who had the same exact response I did, but about that time somebody in front of us jumped up and started clapping and the whole place gave him a standing ovation. And I heard somebody say as we walked out, “That’s the best message we’ve had all week long.” And I thought to myself, “Good grief! Are we back in the church of Corinth?”
They had no clue what was spiritual. They had no clue how to discern what was of God and what wasn’t. You see, the flesh is much more impressed with outward appearance than it is with the heart. It doesn’t even know how to look at the heart of an individual. Paul alludes to some of this in the chapters that follow. In chapter 11:22 he talks about how these people had pedigrees. He said, “Are they Hebrews: So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.” It’s almost as if Paul is saying, “So what?” But, you see, to the people that was big stuff. They’re probably from Judea. They’re from Judea. They’re of Abraham; they’re Israelites. They’ve got to be right.
Who you are, where you’re from, how much money you have, how successful you are, these are the mistaken observation of the fleshly minded man who has no clue about spiritual things. You know, the natural man cannot understand the things of God. Paul even had to defend the fact that he didn’t have a letter of commendation. Chapter 3 he had to explain that to them because they had degrees hanging everywhere. So the false teachers used their pedigree, their prestige, their worldly credentials, to completely deceive the gullible Corinthian church.
Now all of this really was aimed at putting Paul down, robbing him of his authority and tearing down his message so that they could really have control over the way the people thought and behaved. Let me ask you a question at this point in the message: what is your grid in the sense of how you discern things? What grid do you put it through? If you’re putting it through the world’s eyes, then you’re in to this if it’s big is must be right because that’s what the world says, isn’t it?
The term “mega-church” is probably the most damaging church that has come out in the 21st century. Now we’re in a large church, but this whole idea that if it’s full it must be God. I want you to help me in your study, tell me when Jesus ever played to the crowd in the Gospels. Tell me one time, just one time. In fact, in John 8 He preached the hard thing. Now you don’t do that if you want to keep a crowd. He preached the hard things and what happened? It says they left and would never return. So this fleshly mindset gets into everything. If you have the paradigm of a stronghold of the flesh, you’re looking at outward things. You’re not looking at the things the way God looks at them. You’re not looking at the heart.
What you need to be looking at is the changed lives. What you need to be looking at are the people coming to know Christ. What you need to be looking at is the marvelous things that only God can do. He’s a good preacher because he makes me laugh or whatever. It’s amazing how fleshly people look at church; how fleshly people look at Christianity. They haven’t a clue; they have no discernment. They can only look on the outside. That’s why the world has such a weird idea of what the church is. But you see God’s people who built the Word of God as a paradigm in their minds, they have spiritual discernment. They look at the heart; they don’t look at the outside.
The flesh bases its worth on tangible things
The second thing is that because they look at the outside and because everything external determines everything, the second thing is the flesh bases its worth on tangible things. Now this is interesting. Paul’s going to say, “I belong to Christ.” He knows that for a reason. In Romans 8 it shows us that there’s an inner witness to the fact that a person is a child of God. Romans 8:16, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
This inner witness is not based on any outward thing, any outward experience, anything. It’s based on something that the Spirit does on the inside. You know because you know. It is spiritually revealed. But a person who walks and chooses to walk after the flesh as the paradigm of his life, he doesn’t have a clue. He has to even base whether he’s a Christian or not on external things. He has no inner witness of his spirit.
Paul goes on in verse 7, “If any one is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.” Now the word “any one” opens this thing up. He does this, he says “such a one,” “anyone.” It’s almost as if he knows who he’s talking about. But he doesn’t decide to put a name on it. However it does open it up. We just don’t know beyond that. We don’t know what he’s doing with that.
“If any one is confident in himself.” The word is peitho, and it means he’s “persuaded about something.” It means to be so persuaded that you live accordingly. It’s in the perfect tense, which means evidently something in his past had happened that has caused him to think this way. “In himself” heightens the impression one has within himself. I mean, this is coming from within. Now, what Paul is saying here is if there’s somebody there and they think that they’re a believer then they’ll know that I’m one, because I’m one too. There will be a witness there in their spirit.
In other words, they can’t tell me that I’m a false apostle and not even called of God if they’re a believer because if they’re a believer the witness of the Spirit would be there: they would know that I’m a believer. But he appears to make this a slant towards those false teachers who have completely duped themselves and also the Christians there in Corinth. We just simply saw that they based everything on their pedigree, maybe it’s because they were Hebrews and Israelites and sons of Abraham that they’d convinced themselves from within that they’re believers.
But by Paul’s having to defend himself, we can begin to see the standard on which they base what they are; where it comes from. Whatever their reasons, these false teachers had persuaded themselves that because they were Israelites and descendants of Abraham then they were of Christ. We know that they presented themselves as ministers of Christ which was a joke, but they did and the Corinthian church believed them. It says in 2 Corinthians 11:23 “Are they servants of Christ?” And the word “servants” is also translated “ministers.” We know that they brought letters of commendation because we know that Paul had to defend the fact that he didn’t.
In chapter 3:1, “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?” They had degrees running out their ears. They had the audacity to identify themselves as “super” apostles. And Paul says this. I think it’s in a humorous way. He says in 2 Corinthians 11:5, “For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles.” But at the same time there was something else that the church of Corinth missed. At the same time they were saying, “We’re authentic, and we’re real,” they sought monetary gain. They peddled the Word of God. He mentions that in 2 Corinthians 2:17. Paul says, “For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”
We also know they indulge in immorality. In 2 Corinthians 12:21 he says, “I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.” And in their deceitful arrogance they duped the Corinthian believers into thinking that they were authentic and that Paul was not.
And Paul says, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. If they’re believers they would know I’m authentic.” You see, this forced the Corinthian believers to say, “Wait a minute. Let’s put one up against the other. Let’s just look a little deeper than what we’ve been looking at.” They’ve got all the credentials, the social status, the education, the communication skills. Now where’s Paul fit in this whole equation? Paul calls the false teachers in 2 Corinthians 11:13, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.” So we know that they’re fake but the believers are having to begin to understand the difference: look a little deeper.
Well, we know that Paul’s genuineness can be seen by the fact that the church is alive there in Corinth. He didn’t go there to start a church: he went to make tents. Second Corinthians 3:2, “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men.” So we know by the way he presented the gospel of Christ. It says in 2 Corinthians 4:5, “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus” sake.” It’s seen in the persecution that he had to go through. It’s time to tell them to get a clue; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, 2 Corinthians 11:23-29, too many to list. It’s seen in the fact that Christ Himself commissioned Paul as an apostle; 2 Corinthians 1:1-22, 2 Corinthians 5:20-21, 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, 2 Corinthians 10:9, 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Paul says, “What have I got to do?”
The true believers in Corinth knew that he was true. But these others that had built the paradigm, the stronghold of the flesh, didn’t have any discernment at all. They looked on the outside; they were not looking on the heart on the inside. Paul was God’s apostle and he knew he belonged to God. He knew he belonged to God. And he was not ashamed of being His child nor His servant. Second Corinthians 10:8 says, “For even if I should boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I shall not be put to shame.” “I’m not ashamed of it.”
Let me ask you the question today. They built their whole worth, they said they were convinced from the inside that they were God’s people, but they built it on the wrong premise. Let me ask you: if you died right now in this service, if you’re a believer that’s pretty good, we’ll get you right in the sight of God, but if you died right now and you’re standing before God in the next millisecond, and God looks at you and He says, “You know, what can you tell Me that will cause Me to say you need to be in heaven for the rest of your life? What are you basing your faith upon right here? What would you say? Here’s my question: Do you know because you know because you know because you know that you’re a child of God? Or are you basing it on something else? I walked forward when I was 9 years old. I based it on an experience. I prayed, whatever I prayed, they told me what to pray. They said if you get baptized and become a member of the church you can be saved. I went down and did all that stuff.
I went through life for years thinking I was a believer. I was in the ministry, thank God it wasn’t the pastorate, but I was in youth work for eight years before God finally convicted me that I was a sinner. I’d been convinced that I had sinned and that was my problem. I’d never been convicted that I was a sinner. And I cried until my nose bled when I began to see the filth of my flesh. And I’ve never been the same. You try to take away from me my salvation, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I know because I know because I know. I know from the conviction of the Holy Spirit when I lied to a game warden. I know I’m a Christian.
Does God confirm in your heart? You know what my biggest fear is in the 21st century? How many people are in churches just like ours that don’t know Jesus from a hole in the ground? Billy Graham said, “I pray that at least 20% of all the people that have come forward in my crusades truly met Christ.” Don’t base your spiritual worth on tangible things. The Spirit will bear witness with your spirit that you’re a child of God. And that’s what he’s trying to show them. The flesh is just left hanging out there. And when we don’t get into the Word of God, we have no stronghold or fortress to determine the behavior, our discernment and everything else that we do in our life. That’s the key: to let God’s Word be where it needs to be in your heart.
Well, I’ve got a whole other point and I’m so excited not to have to finish it because I’m already ahead of myself next week. You know men are funny creatures. Ladies, don’t have to say amen real loud. I’m talking to the guys right now. We’re funny people, especially that middle-aged time or when you’re like I am and you’re over 60. We get that gut and we walk around as if it’s not even there. It’s incredible. Have you ever noticed that? I have a friend in Kentucky, and he would stand in front of the mirror and his stomach was hanging to his knees and he couldn’t even see it. He was in shape. And we can’t understand why our pants have gotten longer, because it’s the same built, it’s just further down. And when we look down we can’t see past. We don’t even see it.
When I was on television it adds 12 pounds. And I never listened or watched my programs. I’m the worst critic of myself. I think one day it came to me when I was studying, I was upstairs in the video room and they were editing one of my videos. And I was just walking by and I just happened to glance at the screen. And they backed off and gave a side view but I didn’t realize it was me at first. I walked by and said “Whoa, who’s that fat guy?” And I just kept on going.
I took about two steps and stopped dead in my tracks. That’s me. It was a side view and I had my coat open and it looked like the whiteout in the Arctic. It never stopped. So what’s that got to do with anything? You know what this Book is right here? It’s a video and every now and then when we’re going through a text you don’t like some of the passages and neither do I, but we need to walk by and take a glance, because we might see ourselves and when we see ourselves we might see something we don’t like. Because we may not be walking like we ought to be walking. We may have the same discernment as a pagan outside in the world that has no discernment whatsoever. We may even be basing our spiritual worth on tangible things.
This is not a map, it’s a mirror, a video, and we’re in some pretty tough passages right now. And I think what God wants us to do is take the meat and throw away the bones, and if it’s not speaking to us, but as we go through it, take a glance. You might see what you don’t like. How do you measure this church? Based on what paradigm? You see, the way you look at it is totally coming from what’s inside your brain, controlling your thoughts, which controls your behavior. And if it’s not the Word of God, no wonder from time to time it’s not quite as synergetic as it needs to be.