Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Shepherd’s Thanksgiving Hymn

The Shepherd’s Thanksgiving Hymn

There is evil in this world!  This evil does not always present itself with pointy horns and a forked tail.  In fact, evil is subtle.  Evil sneaks in the backdoor often disguised as family or friend.  Evil manipulates, cajoles, flatters, and smiles while it robs its victims of innocence.  Evil eats its victims alive in tiny bits at a time while anesthetizing them with moments of foolish, sinful, and worldly pleasures. 
          David was a shepherd.  He understood the many dangers and snares in world to sheep under his pastoral care.  He had to fight off the wolves, bears, and lions that sought to devour his sheep.  He had to watch his sheep, feed his sheep, and guard them against their own foolishness.  So, when David says “The Lord is MY Shepherd,” it was a significant pronouncement that came from an understanding of terminology few people possess. 

1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:1-6).

Evil is a major part of our existence “under the sun,” or under the curse of sin.  We cannot escape evil for it is a major part of our fallen nature.  Paul says, “I find then a law {a governing principle of life}, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Romans 7:21).  The created being that God intended to have dominion over His creation was infected with evil by the Evil One.  Can we possibly understand the depth of the love of God for beings that are inherently evil and who oppose everything righteous and good by the very desires of our corrupted flesh?  Why would God love us?  Why would He become incarnate to die for the penalty of death that His righteousness necessitated upon our souls?  He loved us and died for our sin penalty “that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).
David understood and experienced the power of evil that was present in his life.  In one moment of careless weakness, David succumbed to temptation and committed adultery with another man’s wife.  Then, to cover up his evil, he plotted and had that woman’s husband murdered.  Sometimes sin opens a door we can never close again and sometimes sin closes a door we can never open again.  David knew unequivocally that he needed God to shepherd his life.  What fools we are if we do not learn this truth!  David was truly thankful that Jehovah was the Shepherd of his soul. 
          A Psalm is a sacred song or poem used to reflect personal worship and appreciation of God.  A major aspect of a sacred hymn is that it iterates the works of God, the character and nature of God, and the mercy and grace of God.  The Shepherd’s Hymn was a song sung about the relationship between the Creator and His redeemed.  It is a beautiful and precious hymn because it is a beautiful and precious relationship.  Until we understand this beautiful and precious relationship, we will never understand the words of Jesus when He said, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).  Until we understand this beautiful and precious relationship, we will never be able to worship God and adore Him the way He deserves to be worshiped and adored. 
          David’s twenty-third psalm is a song of thanksgiving.  David knew by experience the unfulfilling emptiness sins promises.  Each phrase he utters is an expression of thanksgiving.  We would be wise to focus our attention upon each phrase for we too should be grateful for the intimacy of our relationship with our Redeemer. 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want

          Jehovah is MY personal Shepherd.  He is watching over every minute detail of my life because He loves me and cares for me.  Secondly, because He is Jehovah, He is knows me personally and intimately.  He knows my needs.  He knows the dangers I will face today before I face them.  Because He is Jehovah, He is able to provide for me and protect me if I will allow Him to do so and follow His directions.  In the center of His will and while following His directions, I shall not lack for any need.  He will provide. 

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters

          David is not speaking of a herd of sheep in these verses, although God has many sheep.  He does not say us.  He says me.  He is speaking of a personal and intimate relationship with Jehovah.  Pastures of tender grass and waters of quietness are merely pleasant sounding poetic phrases to those who do not understand their significance.  Other than during the spring flood season, finding grass for sheep was a difficulty.  Doing so was often a dangerous venture.  Even when grass could be found, it was often dried and dying, with little nourishment left in it.  The expression “maketh me lie down in green pastures” reflects the restful assurance of spiritual blessings within the knowledge of the holy Scriptures.  Within the Scriptures, we can lie down in the quiet assurance in knowing God’s will in almost every manner of life.  What foolishness it is to famish in the wilderness of sin when the land that flows with milk and honey is readily available if we will but follow our Shepherd and read His holy Scriptures.  How can we know His pastures are made of tender grass if we never actually taste them?  David would speak of tasting and seeing the Lord’s goodness in Psalm thirty-four.  

8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. 10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing” (Psalm 34:8-10).

When David speaks of Jehovah leading him beside still waters, he is speaking of the guiding direction of the Word of God.  Still waters are not rushing waters.  Rushing rapids provided great dangers to careless sheep which often were swept away downstream and drowned.  The still waters were calm pools.  These were safe places.  When believers follow the directions of God Word and stay on the pathways of righteousness, they will find themselves in places of safety and protection.  That does not mean there is not a roaring lion roaming around in the shadows trying to snag a drifting wanderer.  The point is: STAY CLOSE TO THE SHEPHERD!

He restoreth my soul

          The human soul is the essence of our being.  The soul is the combination of our knowledge, thoughts, emotions, and spirit.  The soul can grow weary and weak.  The soul can be discouraged and anxious.  The soul can be filled with doubt and worry.  When any of these things happen to a soul, that soul needs to be restored.  The Hebrew word translated “restoreth” means to be turned away from what is doing the damage and returned to faith in what makes the soul whole and wholesome.  The greatest weakness of the human soul is our ignorance of God and God’s will.  God delights in making the souls of sinners whole.  Eliphaz describes to Job the workings upon the human soul by the Great Physician:

17 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: 18 For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole” (Job 5:17-18).

          Rest in the calm assurance that there will be no spiritual surgery upon your soul if there is no need for it.  If God opened you up for spiritual surgery, you needed to be opened up.  However, the Great Physician is also the Great Healer.  Your soul will be better and stronger after God’s surgery.  He is the only Restorer of souls. 

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

          There is a presumption that those whose profess faith in God will follow Him and the directions He provides.  To profess faith in God and not follow the directions He provides is a contradiction of the profession – FALSE FAITH!  The point is that God is leading.  If you are following God’s leading, you are obeying the teachings of Scripture, which will be evident by your living on “the paths of righteousness.”  You will walk on the “paths of righteousness” to bring glory to God’s Name. 
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

          The context of this proclamation of faith in this verse is not about the moments just before we die.  The context is living each moment of our lives within the understanding of the eventual moment of our deserved physical death.  For the unbeliever, the event of death is a fearful experience because he can never be sure of what awaits him.  For the believer, death offers nothing but the surety of hope in the promises of God.  Therefore, “I will fear no evil: for thou {the presence, power, and victory in Christ of God} art with me.”  Evil has no power over us even though it lies within our corrupted spirits.  John the Apostle iterates the confidence of faith in Christ in his first epistle.  Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome {by trusting solely in the finished work of redemption in Christ Jesus} them {the spirits of antichrist in false teachers}: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4). 
The words “for thou art with me” is a proclamation of the presence of the Holy Spirit of God with the Old Covenant believer and the presence of God in the New Covenant believer.  Jesus taught this, and it is recorded in John chapter fourteen.

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:15-17).

The Spirit of God is God’s seal upon our soul until the day of the redemption of our bodies.  This is God’s promise of His eternal presence with the believer and why we need never again fear evil. 

13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

The great truth of Psalm 23:4 is that death has been reduced to nothing but a shadow for the “born again” believer.  There is no remaining substance that can ever harm us.  The substance of death has been borne in the body of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary.  We need not fear a shadow that has no substance.  All that remains is the shadow to reminds us from what we have been saved.  Rejoice in that reality!

20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 {Now here is our example} Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (I Peter 2:20-25).

Jesus is not everyone’s Shepherd.  Jesus is only the Shepherd of those He has redeemed.  If Jesus is not your Saviour, He is not your Shepherd.  That is why the Saviour Psalm (Psalm twenty-two) precedes the Shepherd Psalm (Psalm twenty-three). 
The “rod and staff” of Psalm 23:4 respectively represent the sovereignty of God and the grace of God.  Sovereignty is God’s divine authority and power while grace is God’s mercy and love to the sinner.  God’s sovereignty means He still has everything under control even though the world appears to be in chaos.  Grace means God is operating under mercy and out of love even towards those that ignorantly blaspheme His Name and oppose all the good He seeks to do amid the curse.  Those facts “comfort me.”  They “comfort me” because there is hope for the worst of sinners, for I was once the worst of sinners. 

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” (Psalm 23:5).

It is a sad testimony for a believer who claims to be a faithful warrior of God but has no enemies in the world.  The world hated Jesus.  Why would we think the world would love us if we are teaching what Jesus taught and living like Jesus lived.  It is one thing to love the world by trying to evangelize the lost.  It is another thing to try to court the world and earn its respect.  Nowhere in the Bible are the redeemed told to court the world, cater to the carnality of worldly people, or employ worldly tactics to gather a crowd of seekers.  If the vast majority of the world does not hate you for the loving message of redemption that you lovingly preach, you are probably doing it wrong. 

18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19).

Amid this spiritual tension with the enemies of those who are faithful, God paints this scene of tranquility and peaceful fellowship.  Three acts of God are manifest for the faithful.  They refer to both physical/temporal needs and spiritual/eternal needs during the Kingdom Age.

1. A bountiful table is prepared by God to refresh the faithful warrior.  A mere Shepherd boy was now feasting as a king.  Do not be discouraged by the number of your resisters.  Be encouraged by the One that is constantly there to support you and enjoy His fellowship.  Remember, that during the Kingdom Age, all faithful believers will rule with Christ in glorified bodies as kings and priests.
2. The faithful believer’s head is anointed with oil by God.  God anointing is God’s consecration and acceptance of the faithful believer commissioning that believer with overwhelming and significant responsibilities of service to Him.  The oil represents the crowning empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
3. The faithful believer’s “cup runneth over.”  This expresses a state of existence where abundance is common to the faithful believer in that there is no want because the Creator is the Supplier.  This is a statement of faith by which a faithful believer lives.  Just as Jesus created new wine from water at the marriage feast of Cana, the faithful believer’s needs will be constantly and consistently met.  David said in Psalm thirty-seven verse twenty-five, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:6).

“Goodness and Mercy” are often regarded as the twin angels of God’s grace.  “Surely” is a verily, verily promise of comfort and encouragement to the faithful believer.  This does not mean that the life of faithfulness to God will have no difficulties or discouragements.  This means the presence of God’s “goodness and mercy” will always be there during every difficulty and discouragement to lift us back up and set us once again upon the high ground of living faith.  No matter how faithful we become in our lives, we do not deserve the attendance of God’s twins of grace.  Therefore, they are called the twins of grace.  Yet, the promise of God, and therefore the knowledge of faith, can rest in the calming assurance that these twins of graceshall follow me all the days of my life.”
The last proclamation of faith in the Shepherd’s hymn is “I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”  This statement is more than a mere statement of fact.  This is a proclamation of thanksgiving.  This is a glory to God in the highest kind of proclamation.  It reminds me of Paul’s last statements to Timothy, his faithful son in the faith in II Timothy 1:6-14 to stir him up and refresh his excitement about serving the Lord.  There is a culmination time to serving the Lord and that day will be glorious.  

6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us” (II Timothy 1:6-14).

Paul was a Roman citizen, a “Hebrew of Hebrews. As touching the Law, a Pharisee” (Philippians 3:5).  These were no longer things for which he was proud.  He considered them as “dung” compared to his new life of service to Christ.  He was going to die a criminal’s death at the hands of the Roman government.  He was not ashamed of the curse of the world when he knew the blessings of God upon his life.  Thousands of souls were “born again” due to Paul’s faithful preaching of the Gospel and his consistent invitation to sinners to repent, believe, confess, call upon, and receive Christ.  Thousands would “hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of” Paul and thousands of thousands down through the ages would be added to the faithful.  Paul’s cup was running over, and he knew it!  He could face death with rejoicing. 

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Faulty Faith and Foolish Decisions

Faulty Faith and Foolish Decisions
   God is constantly working to grow our faith in Him, test the reality of our faith in Him, and prove the strength of our faith in Him.  This process of spiritual growth is very similar to what physically happens in muscle growth.  When a person exercises or lifts weights, muscles are actually damaged, torn, and stressed.  This is why your muscles hurt after strenuous exercise or work.  Muscle growth happens when these damage muscles begin to repair themselves through a cellular process where the human body fuses muscle fibers together to form new muscle protein strands or myofibrilsHowever, this muscle growth happens after exercise and during muscle rest.  Muscle growth is actually part of the body’s healing mechanism.  It is foolish to think we can grow muscle without some pain and without work and exercise.  God did not create our bodies to work that way.

          The process of growing faith is very similar to the process of growing muscle.  People grow spiritually through knowing the Word of God and putting the Word of God into the practical applications of everyday life while living in the midst of the curse.  Living in the midst of the curse is living in the midst of the constant resistance and opposition to practically living the Word of God in everyday situations of life.  The testing of the strength of our faith is when God allows Satan to tempt us with sin and various situations that will require decisions to be faithful to our professed beliefs.  Such testings, or trials, are usually personally painful and difficult.  These trials can be health issues, financial issues, or the drama of life through personal relationships.  Most of the time these trials come to us by personal delivery with someone’s name and personality plainly labeled on the package.
This whole process of spiritual growth and the trying of our faith is what is communicated between two phrases in Job 1:6 and Job 1:13.  In Job 1:6, the phrase is “now there was a day.”  This phrase refers to the angels of God giving account to God about humanity’s behavior.  The second phrase in Job 1:13, “And there was a day,” refers to God’s allowing the testing of the faith of people against the accusations of Satan against all of humanity.  The satanic accusation is that without God’s blessings, humanity would not worship God but instead would curse Him.  God had particularly singled Job out of all of humanity because God believed in Job.  God believed that Job was a man of very strong faith and that Job’s faith would stand against Satan’s accusation and slander against humanity.  This testing is a historical practicum existing in every person’s life by the degree that begins with the words “And there was a day” in Job 1:13.  It is in-between these two statements where life happens!  This is the reality of our under the sun existence within the curse.
Not everyone will be tested to the same degree.  God is still in control of the minutia of the testings of our faith.  God promises us; “There hath no temptation {putting to test to prove} taken you but such as is common to man {this is happening to everyone to some degree}: but God is faithful {Romans 8:28}, who will not suffer you to be tempted {tested} above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it {God believes you capable of succeeding in the testing}” (I Corinthians 10:13).  It is one thing for us to profess belief in God, however it is another thing altogether to understand that God believes in us.  Every trial of our faith is a testimony to God’s faith in us!

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. 7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. 13 And there was a day . . .” (Job 1:6-13 a).

          Every person will make hundreds, if not thousands of decisions each day.  These decisions will be faith decisions if those decisions are based upon solid knowledge of the principles and precepts of the Word of God.  However, for most people those decisions will be made from ignorance of the principles and precepts of the Word of God.  For many others, those decisions will be made by purposefully ignoring the principles and precepts of the Word of God. 

          The purpose of preaching/teaching and personal Bible study is to prepare people to make decisions that will bring glory to God.  Bringing glory to God means living in a manner that is a manifestation of the righteous desires of God and doing so out of a genuine love for God with “all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

          “Those that entice you to buy into sin won’t be around to help you pay for it.”[1]  However, other faithful believers in your local church will be aware and try to help you recover yourself from the “snare of the devil” (II Timothy 2:26). 

1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted {tested}. 2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove {test} his own work {the intent is to insure that his ministry is in alignment with the revealed will of God according to the inspired Words of God}, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone {not in what God did through someone else’s work}, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden {every individual will be held accountable for his own ministry work}. 6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate {share with or contribute to; I Corinthians 9:7-15} unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7 {Paul then gives this general governing law that applies to all issues of life} Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh {selfish, carnal, sensual, and worldly desires} shall of the flesh reap corruption {This is decadence resulting in ruin and waste of life; the natural fruit of a natural life is destruction. This is a universal and natural principle and does not require God to act in forms of judgments or chastisements.}; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting {the supernatural fruit of a Spirit-filled life is supernaturally Spirit produced life in this world}. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due {your own individual season or time} season we shall reap {fruit is not produced the moment the Seed is sown}, if we faint not {remain faithful; the intent is that we can corrupt spiritual seed that has been sown through unfaithful living}. 10 As we have therefore opportunity {every moment of every day is an opportunity to sow to the Spirit}, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith {summary statement about what was said in Galatians 6:1 about doing what is necessary to maintain a sanctified existence and helping others believers within your realm of influence to remain faithful}” (Galatians 6:1-10).

          The word “fault” in Galatians 6:1 is from the Greek word paraptoma (par-ap’-to-mah).  The word means to make a side-slip or a lapse in judgment.  The idea is a deviation from the right pathway in life.  This deviation can be an unintentional error or a willful transgression.  The admonition is about protecting the spiritual seed that has been sown from the corrupting influences of selfishness, carnality, and worldliness by restoring other believers to live Spirit-filled and sanctified lives.

One of the great difficulties of ministry is watching saved people freeze spiritually when the fire of God’s revival is but a prayer of repentance away from them!  Hungering and thirsting after righteousness (sanctification and the Spirit-filled life; Matthew 5:6) should be the normal and all-consuming desire of truly fully surrendered Christian. 

There is little wonder why there is no real harvest of spiritual fruit in the lives of most professing believers because worldliness has been redefined and selfishness is condoned under the disguise of pursuing self-esteem.  This corruption corrupts sanctification, which in turn corrupts the testimony of local churches to the world.  God cannot, and will not, bless ministry with worldly and selfish foundations.  The emphasis of Galatians 6:7-10 is built upon the foundation and expanding upon what was already said in Galatians 5:22-26.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:22-26).

          These few verses of Scripture define what is said in Galatians 6:8, “he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”  The point is that none of us, born of the cursed seed of Adam, can ever produce spiritual seed apart from the supernatural operation that takes place through the Spirit-filled life of faithfulness. 

Four Principles of Sowing

1. We reap what we sow!
2. We reap more than what we sow.
3. What we sow must be protected against corruption.
4. We reap later then when we sow.

We have a puppy in our home.  Everyone who has ever had a puppy understands that there will be a rather lengthy time of daily dealing with rather unpleasant things that I call puddles and piles.  The puppy is just doing what comes naturally to him.  He is not even aware of the unpleasantness and inconveniences he creates with his puddles and piles.

However, if the puppy’s owner is not willing to make the necessary time and effort to train him to make his puddles and piles outside the house, the puddles and piles just get bigger and more unpleasant.  This training is often called house breaking a dog.  There is a close similarity to Biblical discipleship.  Without discipleship, believers will continue to leave puddles and piles in the lives of everyone with whom they come in contact.  Bible history is redundant with puddles and piles believers who just never seem to get house broken

We have many negative examples given in the Bible of reaping what we sow.  The historical account of the life of Lot is certainly one of these negative examples of a lifetime of reaping the outcome of a very selfish decision.  The whole point of God’s very extensive narrative (Genesis chapter eleven through chapter nineteen) regarding Lot is that the corrupted seed of one selfish decision just kept producing corrupted fruit generation after generation even until today.  Lot lived with his uncle Abraham and was saved under Abraham’s influence.  Lot shared real estate with Abraham until the acreage they occupied together was unable to sustain the wealth of their herds of animals.  Lot’s servants began to strive with the servants of Abraham over the grazing areas allotted to each of their herds. 

Lot was given the first choice of the place he would resettle with his herdsmen and animals.  This reveals that Abraham trusted God while Lot choose to profit himself.  Lot foolishly chose the fertile plain of Jordan where Lot “dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12).  This verse tells us of the inclination of Lot’s choice.  Lot had a propensity to be selfish and worldly.  People will always fall in the direction they lean.  The big city and all it offers can be quite tempting to a farm boy.  This is the same scenario of the parable of the prodigal son. 

6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 And delivered just {justified by grace through faith} Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous {imputed} man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed {tortured or tormented; he was under constant conviction about the things he saw and with which he lived everyday} his righteous {imputed} soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) 9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (II Peter 2:6-9).

Although selfish and sinful decisions can mess up and mix up life to the point it seems it can never be straightened out, God’s grace still intervened in Lot’s life and got him out of the mess he chose for his existence.  However, Lot still had a freewill.  Although God got Lot out of the mess Lot created for himself, the real mess was still inside Lot and he continued to make bad, selfish, and sinful decisions. 

There are many question that come to mind as we read of Lot continuing to live a lifetime in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  If Lot was under constant conviction, why didn’t he just repent and get out of there?  What happened to all of Lot’s herdsmen?  What happened to the wealth of his herds?  Who did his other daughters marry?  Did Lot in fact choose his daughters’ future husbands when he made the choice to dwell “in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12)?  Why was he willing to sacrifice his two remaining virgin daughters to the mob of licentious sodomites?  Lot’s desire for wealth and fame was Satan’s hook in his flesh.  It was not the hook that held onto Lot’s flesh.  It was Lot’s flesh that held onto the hook.  Lot was willing to sacrifice ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to his idol – HIS OWN CARNAL DESIRES!

Never underestimate the ability of one bad decision to snowball down the hill to an ever-increasing problem.  Lot’s faith was tested just like Job’s faith was tested, but with devastatingly different results.  Lot would end upon committing incest with his two surviving virgin daughters producing two sons that would become the tribes of the Moabites and Ammonites.  These two tribes would be a constant thorn in the flesh of the nation of Israel for millennia.  The descendants from these tribes would intermarry with the descendants of the Ishmaelites, Abraham’s failure, and later become the nation of Islam.  Thousands of years later, the whole world is still paying for the failures of Abraham and Lot – two “born again” men who made foolish decisions. 

However, the problem of living within the temptations and testings of the curse did not begin with Abraham and Lot and it did not end with them.  The same problem is continued and increased by the carnal choices of believers every day.  Every single one of us add to the puddles and piles of corruption deposited into this cursed world every day.  This is always the outcome when the “just” do not “live by faith.”  Each of us add to the continuum of corruption by the carnal, selfish, and worldly decisions we make each day.  We infect other people with our corrupt decisions.  When we sow corruption, we reap corruption in the lives of people for generations after us.  There comes a time when the only solution to the extreme breadth of corruption in the world is for God to intervene and end it lest true faith is completely destroyed upon the earth. 

Christ spoke to this issue of ongoing corruption that infects and destroys each generation more and more in a parable in Luke chapter eighteen.  The point of the parable is the about the faithful prayers of the righteous when being overrun with the evils of corruption in the world (Luke 18:1). 

1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint {not give into evil influences}; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge {corrupted in that he saw himself in his position above all, even God}, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me {even a self-serving, corrupted, indifferent judge will intervene if you are persistent in petitioning him for justice}. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God {Who is perfectly just} avenge his own elect {those that are dear to Him}, which cry day and night unto him {for righteousness sake}, though he bear long with them {waiting for the fruit of righteousness to be borne through their faithfulness; James 5:7} ? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth” (Luke 18:1-8)?

Living by faith is the knowledge of, and the obedience to, the revealed will of God in the Word of God.  The issue of the question of Luke 18:8, “when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth,” is will He find the kind of persistent faith exhibited by the petitions of the woman in the parable or will every believer just give up on hope for the salvation and sanctification of the worldly.  The faithful must remember that our desires should be reflected in our prayer life and actions to see BOTH the salvation of lost souls and the sanctification of believers.  Evangelical focus has become dominated by the salvation of lost souls while almost completely abandoning the sanctification of the redeemed.  The implication is that there will be a very small remnant of faithful believers at the time of the second coming of Jesus. 

These types of foolish people are described in II Peter 2:10-22 extending from what God has said already about Lot.  Corrupted faith corrupts everything it touches.  Perhaps the greatest descriptor of this thoughtless, carnal selfishness in the Bible is the word “selfwilled” (II Peter 2:10). 

10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled {self-pleasing and pleasure focused}, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. 11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. 12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; 13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you {in the midst of the churches}; 14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: 15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor {a believing prophet}, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. 17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment {sanctification} delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2:10-22).

The reason a spiritual leader fights the fight of faith and struggles in his life for personal holiness and spiritual maturity is simple. The spiritual leader understands that the imperfections in his life will usually be reproduced in the lives of others.  This corrupting influence is the greatest fear of his life!

President Donald Trump, in his speech to the United Nations on September 19th, 2017 said, “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.  When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.”  

Why is it that Christians cannot understand this simple principle when it is repeatedly stated throughout Scripture?

1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? 2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. 3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? 4 {Now the answer is given.} The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. 6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright” (Psalm 11:1-7).

[1] Pastor John McDonald, Calvary Baptist Church, Utah, Facebook post.

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 Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.