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: Just Going Through the Motions!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Just Going Through the Motions!

Just Going Through the Motions!

          As American Christians face the pending years in the rapid degradation of our societal moral values, these times will test the genuineness of our faith and our resolve to be faithful.  Christianity is not designed to function in vacuum.  Christianity is intended to flourish within the constant friction between truth and error, light and darkness, morality and immorality, and the constant battle “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12b). 
          Fundamental and Evangelical churches are rapidly sliding into Post Modernism and Emergent Church views stretching themselves beyond imagination for some kind of quasi-cultural relativism.  They strive for some common center with one another while abandoning all Scriptural parameters defining holiness before God.  They seem more concerned with being accepted as friends of the world rather than giving the world spiritual direction to Christ to be saved and to walking in fellowship with Him.  James 4:4 warns against this nonsense – “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
          Christians of the twenty-first century face very similar problems as did the faithful of the nation of Israel before Israel’s captivity under the chastisement of God.  In fact, Israel’s captivity was due to the compromise of the priesthood of Israel and their corruption of Jewish society.  The faithful remnant cried out to God for divine justice often without realizing that God’s judgment of nations happens in time and to ALL those within the nation.  It is foolish when the faithful fail to realize that they are in part responsible for the moral degradation within the culture they live and testify.  It is never enough to set in the light and curse the darkness!

1 The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. 2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! 3 Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. 4 Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth” (Habakkuk 1:1-4).

          Habakkuk prays for revival.  Like most of us, he understands very little of what must be done in order for revival to come.  Like most of us, Habakkuk desperately wants and needs revival but is not really willing to pay the price of personal sacrifice necessary for revival to come.
          Habakkuk had a burden (v. 1).  That burden was directly related to the difference between where he was spiritually and where his nation was spiritually.  Yet, there was a greater difference than Habakkuk realized.  The difference was between the holiness of God and where Israel was spiritually.  God had built deep convictions of truth into Habakkuk’s life.  Habakkuk saw everything in his world through the eyes of those convictions.  Yet, Habakkuk’s convictions were not necessarily in perfect alignment with God’s holiness.  He was deeply burdened by the contradictions between the truth he knew and the practices of those around him.
          This burden is expressed in the questions and statements of Habakkuk 1:2-4.  Yes, if we look at these verses superficially, we will fail to see why Habakkuk was among those who needed revival.  To avoid that, we need to spend some time on some of the symptoms that reveal that we (individually and as a local church corporately) may need revival.

Just going through the motions

Christians can be doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons.  When you go to church services, are you excited about the things of God?  Are you focused on worship and praise of God?
          The word FOCUS can reveal a great deal about our need of revival.  Ask yourself this question, what motivates me to attend church services and minister to others?  Your answer will tell you where your focus is.  Be honest with yourself.  When your FOCUS is right, you will answer - because you want to express a genuine, heartfelt love for God and praise Him for what He has done and is doing for you.  You will attend church services because attending will provide you an opportunity to love others and to extend yourself to others in ministry so as to teach and to learn.  (Be honest in your evaluation!)

1. When you are just going through the motions, you have lost your excitement for the things of God and do not really expect God to do anything during your church’s services.  (Be honest in your evaluation!)
2. When you are just going through the motions, you are not really cognizant of the lost people around you and you do not make plans to bring them to Christ.  (Do you take Bible tracks or your Bible with you to work?)
3. When you are just going through the motions, when God opens windows of opportunity for ministry and witness, you will view them as inconveniences and disregard them.  (Be honest in your evaluation!)

If this describes you (be honest in your evaluation), you desperately need revival.

How does the fact that we are just going through the motions impact our missional vision?

When our Christianity degenerates into just going through the motions, one of the most dangerous things that can happen to a Christian (and to a local church) begins to happen.  Read Habakkuk 1:2-3 again and see if you can find what it is.

2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! 3 Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.”

A little red, flashing warning light ought to be going off right now.  When your Christianity is just a duty to perform and you are just going through the motions, your focus is taken off of serving Christ and that focus begins to fall upon yourself and the faults of others.  Whenever you begin to focus on yourself, your Christianity immediately moves out of focus to the degree your focus is off of Christ.  The longer this goes on, the more difficult it will be to overcome.
          Stop right here for a moment.  When was the last time you really were serving the Lord with gladness and rejoicing and really focusing on the needs of others?  When was the last time you were really excited about the things of God, about reading His Word, about praying, about hearing preaching, about singing songs of praise, about true worship, or about witnessing for Christ?  Perhaps you can see that you need to change your FOCUS and begin to pray for your own revival. 
Let me share with you an amazing truth about all of this.  When your focus is on helping others realize their potential in Christ, amazingly your Christianity grows and you grow as a person.  When your focus remains on yourself, you stagnate and cease to grow as a Christian as long as your focus remains on yourself.  You may still learn Bible verses.  You can find your way around the Bible and you no longer do all those things you used to do, but you know your Christianity is just a façade.
As soon as you begin to focus on yourself, your Christian growth comes to a screeching halt and you have really stopped serving the Lord even if you are still going through the motions.  Now you do what you do just to protect your image.
          Notice as well in Habakkuk 1:2-3 that as Habakkuk begins to focus on himself, he begins to take the failures of others PERSONALLY and becomes offended.  A person or a local church needing revival is the person or church that is the most susceptible to offenses and all the problems that go with them.  Stop for a moment again.  Who are the most easily offended people in your local church?  Are they those who are serving the Lord and winning souls, or are they those who are doing nothing and just going through the motions?  Easily offended people have some silly notion of self-importance.  They are often arrogant, angry, argumentative, and unteachable. 

Notice Habakkuk’s prevailing attitude reflecting his need of revival in Habakkuk 1:2.

When Habakkuk begins to take offenses personally, he begins to accuse God of injustice.  He blames God for the existing conditions.  After all, why doesn’t God just take care of these people that refuse to do what is right.  It is easier to pray that God would kill them, or harm them, than to pray that God would bring revival.  This is easier because to pray for revival must involve a commitment by the faithful to be part of the solution.  The revived believer prays for direction from God in being part of the solution.  He then moves in the direction of his prayer.

Revival follows God bringing conviction that leads to repentance.

God is always bringing conviction.  God will convict anyone that reads or hears the truth of His Word or its proclamation.  God will convict that His Word is righteous and that there is pending judgment upon the unrighteous.  However, many will go away from the proclamation of God’s Word angry and unrepentant.  Those people will continue to just keep on going through the motions.  Repentance is a change of heart, of mind, of attitude, and of FOCUS that brings one’s life into harmony with God’s proclaimed righteousness.  Convicting is God’s part in revival.  Repentance is our part.
Changing our FOCUS, how do we do that?  Read Habakkuk 1:3.  Habakkuk asks, “Why do you show me these things?”  Habakkuk appears to be ignorant of his personal responsibilities in dealing with the immorality within his own culture.  It is almost as if Habakkuk is saying, “I cannot do anything about this.  Why do you “shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance?”

“Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.”

The truth is that Habakkuk could do something about it!  He could speak out publicly against the aberrations.  He could warn of God’s pending judgment.  He could pray for God to use him in a being a bold witness.  He could recognize that the problem was that the majority of the people of Israel were lost and needing to be saved. 
Like Habakkuk, most believers want ACTION without PARTICIPATION.  We want RIGHTEOUSNESS without ever having to confront UNRIGHTEOUNESS.  We pray that God will do for us what He has commanded us to do.  It is wrong to pray for God to act without being willing to participate in providing the answer and being part of the solution.  Once we begin to think that way, we are just going through the motions.  Then, we just continue as part of the problem.
          Revival happens when the faithful are willing to repent and change their lives.  Then they become the spark of life that ignites life in others.  They THEN become God’s kindling for revival. 
          Have you been just going through the motions?  The longer you have been doing it, the harder it will be to overcome.  When was the last time you walked the isle of your church to come before the Lord broken over something God has spoken to you about?  If it has been awhile, either your life is perfect or you are just going through the motions in your Christian life.  Be honest, which one do you think is true?

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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.

1 comment:

Len Peeler said...

Amen Dr. Ketchum! This convicted me. Thank you for writing this.