Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
We\'re All Broken
Today we are going look at just three verses. Normally these verses might be couched in terms of ?this is really bad stuff?this is sin?don?t do it!? While that is true, I want to handle these verses a little differently. Firstly, remember that these words are written to Christians who were facing a choice?go back under the law and please God by their own efforts, or be let loose to go back into some of the gross pagan practices they had come out of. Paul offers a third alternative: become a slave of the Holy Spirit, an apprentice of Jesus, a child of the Father. They were not trading one form of legalism (the Mosaic Law) for another (the Spirit Law) but were renewing their commitment to a dynamic relationship where the character of the Holy Spirit slowly takes over for our old nature?changing our thought patterns and attitudes from the inside.
Since our minds are so self-deceptive and will take us away from God by default?Paul gives us some objective road signs to show us if we are travelling down the wrong path. But it?s not just that he says ?now go out there and stop doing bad and start doing good.? There is really so much more to it. You see, in reality, instead of looking at ourselves as bad qualitatively and feel shame?we need to understand that we are broken and desperately in need of rescue and repair.
Psalms 139:23-24 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.
Let?s look at the structure of these verses a little more closely:
?Search? ? ?penetrate?
?Test? ? ?investigate?
?Heart? ? innermost part of our being, our core.
?Concerns or Thoughts? ? what is going on in the mind.
?Offensive or Wicked? ? ?idol? but can also mean ?pain? both mental or physical
?Lead? ? ?guide? or ?govern?
?Way? ? road (as trodden) ? God has already made the way for us
?Everlasting? - eternal
What this Psalm asks is for the kind of dynamic relationship that I mentioned. ?Penetrate my mind and my attitudes God?investigate to see if anything you find is broken and guide me along the path of Your kingdom and Your character.?
Paul says much the same in Romans 12:2:
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
This relationship with God, then, is all about not just cleansing but transforming our broken and pain-filled thoughts and attitudes into God?s thoughts and attitudes. God wants to do a deep work in your mind so you will think like He does-thoughts that are ?good, pleasing, and perfect.?
So with that in mind, so to speak, let?s look at this adhoc list that Paul draws up of ways to tell if we are acting out the old nature rather than the new.
Four categories of brokenness: intimate relationships (between people and between you and God), interpersonal relationships, and cultural relationships.
Cheating on your relationship with another person
- Sexual Immorality (Porneia) ? any form of illicit sexual relationship. Both participatory and observational
- Moral Impurity ? moral uncleanness. Crudeness in word or behavior that is offensive, especially of a sexual nature.
- Promiscuity ? open and excessive indulgence in sexual behavior. No sense of shame or restraint
19b ? 21a
Cheating on your relationship with God
- Idolatry ? substituting something for God then worshiping it as god.
- Sorcery ? (pharmakeia) giving in to an evil power (either passively in idolatry or actively in witchcraft)
Introducing brokenness into the lives of others
- Hatreds ? a condition of fixed enmity between groups (even if you can?t remember why you were mad at them)
- Strife ? competition, rivalry, bitter conflict
- Jealousy ? the feeling of resentment that comes when you want something someone else has. It is also the idea of ?zeal? which can be good, but when accompanied by the ?I want? mentality, leads to an intensified feeling and reaction
- Outbursts of anger ? continual and uncontrolled selfish anger
- Selfish ambition ? getting ahead at another?s expense. Also: mercenary, aggressive attitude toward others in pursuit of one?s own goals
- Dissensions ? strong disagreements. Being a disagreeable person in general
- Factions ? as the result of dissension, the creation of cliques, and power blocks
- Envy ? a desire to possess something someone else has, even the cry of ?unfair? when you don?t get something. ?If I can?t have it, then nobody should?
Letting the culture manage your character
- Drunkenness ? excessive use of wine or strong drink
- Carousing ? also ?orgies?. Many times the result of drunkenness ? partying and engaging in accompanying sexual immorality (sometimes these happen because we want to self-medicate our brokenness)
- ?and anything similar? ? see, it?s not about a list but about attitudes and thoughts that lead to actions?actions that are not like God?s character?and it starts in the mind.
James 1:13-15 No one undergoing a trial should say, \"I am being tempted by God.\" For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn\'t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
The more you know of God?s character, and the more access you give to Him in your life, the more you will recognize what comes from your broken nature, and what is coming from your renewed nature.
This doesn?t mean if you mess up you won?t gain access to heaven. It means a person who habitually practices these things reveals the real core of their character?not one redeemed by the Lamb of God. As a Christian you are going to be a citizen of a country where these things simply don?t exist, so why do them?
We look at these lists and think: ?Boy I?m glad I don?t do those things!? In reality we all do them (or something else from the old nature) all of the time. It?s vitally important for us to be more self-aware of the brokenness in us and how we express that in our interactions with God, others, and our culture. But we also need to be aware of the cross?s constant cleansing power. His mercies are indeed ?new every morning? (Lamentations 3:23).
So how does apply to us today?
Ways we use the spiritual sounding concepts to justify fleshly actions:
?I must be excellent in all things I do for the Lord?
So? I become unreasonable in my expectations of others?always demanding perfection to my standards. Instead of serving, we want to be served.
?The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve? (Matt 20:28)
?Count others to be more significant than yourselves? (Phil 2:3 ESV)
This can come from a place of brokenness in our desire for acceptance by God.
?I need to be a good steward?
So? I horde my money, am not generous but stingy with others, and am critical with how others earn or spend their money.
Instead: ?It is more blessed to give than to receive? (Acts 20:35) and ?God loves a cheerful giver? (2 Cor 9:7) and ?where your heart is, there will be your treasure also? (Luke 12:34)
Often this comes from a place of brokenness in our desire for security. For some reason we aren?t ready or willing to turn over our need for security totally into God?s hands to provide how and when He wishes.
A general principal we can apply is this: will this decision, thought, or attitude move me closer to God, enhance my godly character, or make someone else fall in love with Jesus? Or, are my attitudes and actions mainly motivated by getting what I want, no matter the consequences in myself or others? Ask yourself: what desire am I trying to fulfill here and am I trying to do it in a way that God intended?
How you maintain this. Be:
Attentive (to you and to God)
Accessible (make your life open fully to God)
Pliable (allow Him the space to make changes in you, big and small)
Learn (about His character),
Watch (your own behavior and how others reflect God?s character),
Reflect (with God on what you?ve learned and observed),
Ask (for God to do the healing and transforming).