30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

November 21, 1999

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"Thinking God Is Like Man"

We welcome you this morning to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, thanking you for taking the time to turn your radio on to this station this morning as we once again examine God's word. I want to encourage you to get your Bible and have it ready to turn to the passages that we discuss this morning. It would also be good to have a piece of paper and pen handy to jot down the scriptures that you might not have time to turn to or to write down any questions that you might have concerning the topic under consideration this morning. I invite you now to listen to the words of the Psalmist: "But to the wicked God says: "What right have you to declare My statutes, Or take My covenant in your mouth, Seeing you hate instruction And cast My words behind you? When you saw a thief, you consented with him, And have been a partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother's son. These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes" (Psalms 50:16-21).

You will note in verse 21 of this context the Lord accused David and the people, of thinking Jehovah "was altogether like you". Man acts as he does often because he thinks that God is like man; that Jehovah thinks as man thinks, acts as man acts; reasons as man reasons. Man in his own wisdom is not able to elevate himself to the high and lofty heights of Jehovah, so he attempts to bring God down to his own level. But God will not be deal with in this manner! There are many ways that man seemingly thinks that God IS LIKE MAN! I would like to consider some of these things this morning.

1. MAN HIDES FROM MAN and he in turn thinks he can hide from God. In Genesis 3:8, Adam and Eve made a futile attempt to hide from Jehovah, but they did not succeed. They must have reasoned, "We will get behind the trees, and He will not see us." But how foolish! Man tries often to hide his deeds from God, because he finds himself able at times to hide his evil deeds from his fellow man. Jesus, in John 3:19, 20, states "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed." Evil doers seek the cover of darkness, they know the light will expose their evil deeds. But God knows the actions of man as nothing is hidden from Him. In the book of Hebrews, chapter 4, verses 12 & 13 we read: "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Oh how often we have seen men run from the spiritual light of the gospel, so that their evil lives will not be exposed. This is why so few will truly study the scriptures. It is so much easier to throw up a smoke-screen than it is to take the word of God and intelligently discuss it. We need to have it impressed on our minds that the Word of God will judge us in the last day. The passage of scripture of John 12:48 should cause us all to think long and hard concerning God's word. Listen now to the words of Jesus in this passage: "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day." So you see how careful we must be in knowing this word, learning it and doing it. No, man cannot hide from God, even though he might be able to hide from his fellow man.

2. MAN DECEIVED MAN; therefore, he thinks he can deceive God. We read of an example of a man and his wife who sought to deceive God. I would like to invite you to write down Acts 5:1-10 and then take the time to read this passage of scripture later this morning. Here in this passage we find where Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive Peter and the rest, but they did not deceive God. There is no way to fool the Lord, as hard as man may try. Men lay awake all night dreaming up ways to deceive their fellow man, and very often they are successful in pulling the wool over the eyes of many people, but you just rest assured God will not be mocked. The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:7-9: "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." So often man offers his many excuses for not doing the will of God, thinking he has deceived the Lord, but actually he has only deceived himself; for the Lord knows and is able to discern the truth.

3. MAN IS SLACK IN HIS WORD TOWARD HIS FELLOW MAN and as a result he is tempted to think God is slack in His word. This is just another way that man deludes himself into thinking that God is like man, but again man errs. Jehovah God means exactly what He says. In 2 Peter 3:9-13 it is recorded that "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." And again in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 we read: "and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." From these two passages we learn that the Lord is coming again, not for the purpose of establishing an earthly kingdom (and we will have more to say on this subject at a later date), but for the purpose of judgment. The righteous shall be rewarded; the wicked shall be condemned. Man is often slack in his word, but such is not true with the Lord --- He means just exactly what He has said and man had better open his eyes and recognize this fact. I also want you to note: When the Lord returns He shall render vengeance to them that know not God and to them thatobey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. From this we learn that the gospel is something that man must obey. Paul in Romans 1:16, states, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Therefore, only in gospel obedience is there salvation! God says what He means and He means what He says. His word is the final authority in all things pertaining to the salvation of the souls of mankind. Man need not attempt to fool himself into thinking that God does not mean what He says. Sometimes we hear people say, "We do not need authority for everything that we do in religion," but such is fallacious reasoning. The beloved apostle John records in Revelation 22:18-19: "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." In principle these words apply to all of God's word. His word includes everything He wants it to include and He leaves out everything He did not want in it. God's word is both inclusive and exclusive. This simply means man has no right to come along and insert something not found in God's word into the work, the worship, the organization, or any other aspect of the church. For this reason, if for no other, man does not have the right to add human arrangements and organizations onto the work of the church. Human wisdom has no place in figuring out what God wants man to do. The only solution to knowing what the Lord would have us to do is by coming to the Book of God, studying the scriptures, determining what He has commanded of us; and then doing it with all of our abilities.

4. MAN CAN BE BRIBED INTO APPROVAL. How often we have seen our fellow man fall into the temptation of bribery, many dollars passing beneath the table to persuade someone to perform a favor, or give them some advantage. We read of Judas Iscariot accepting 30 pieces of silver to betray our Lord and Savior, handing him over to the mob for crucifixion. Many today are willing to betray the Lord for such trivial fleshly gain. We can hardly pick up our newspapers without reading of some public official being accused and often convicted of taking a bribe to slip something by a gullible public. Because of his ability to bribe his fellow man, people today seem to think they can bribe the Lord, but such cannot be done. Some attend the worship services only occasionally, when they feel that maybe the Lord needs token acts on their part. Others seem to think if they give a pretty good check each week then everything else will be alright, deluding themselves into thinking as long as they give a goodly amount then they can live and act like they want to the rest of the week. Some religious bodies stamp their approval upon the members who give the most, seemingly without regard to the kind of life they live. But friends, God will not be bribed into approval. This is not to say that our contributions are not important, because they are. The child of God must "give, not grudgingly, nor of necessity," so states Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:7. Jehovah expects the very best we have to give Him in everything. The complete body and soul must belong to God, or else He will have none of us. This idea of believing in the Lord, and living like the Devil is not found in God's Holy Book. Some leave the impression that you can just live like you want to ---live in the sins of Satan, live in adultery, drunkenness, lying right and left, but just believe on the Lord and everything is just fine. Don't you believe, that is the message of Satan? Either God will be first in our lives or else He will be last. Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). Either you do His Will or you don't. It isn't enough to do part of what God says and then add or subtract from the rest. No, God cannot be bribed into approval. He demands our very best, our all. It was said of Peter that he left all and followed Jesus. Luke 5:11. Another line of reasoning that man follows where he seemingly thinks God is like man is:

5. IN REGARD TO SIN. Man thinks that sin is not so terrible, and as we look around us how sad the picture is being painted by many as man winks at sin, laughs at sin, looks upon sin so lightly. Fornication has become the "IN" thing to do, lewdness and filthy talk is the thing of the day. The motion picture industry and the television producers have thrown reason and common sense to the wind. Today if a picture is not rated "M" or "R" for mature audiences it just isn't filmed. We see so many of the pictures now being made stamped with the phrase "No one under 18 admitted." And how many supposedly Christians relish such trash, even allowing their children's minds to be warped by such filth. Man's tongue has a way of showing how that person thinks -- and today it seems as if people cannot open their mouth without some curse word or some lewd or filthy story coming forth. Last week while my family and I was walking in one of the malls we walked by some teens using filthy words. It seemed to be a practice that they were accustomed to. What a tragedy, that young minds are filled with filth and obscene language. We could spend a whole lesson here as we think of the crumbling standards of morals in our nation, and maybe in the near future we shall spend more time on this. But for now, our point is: Man thinks sin is not too bad, and he also thinks Jehovah feels the same way about sin; But again, this is more deception on man's part, for God feels the same way He has always felt about sin. Listen to Isaiah 59:1, 2, "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear." Sin separates man from God. Sin destroys the soul of man. You will note: Sin does not only separate the one in the world from God, but sin will separate anyone from God, including the child of God, if that Child of God persist in his sins and does not repent of them and confess them. The passage in Isaiah is addressed to God's children under the former dispensation. Sin is sin and there is nothing as terrible as sin. Paul, the apostle, states, "For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Anyone who continues to live in sin will die a spiritual death. Sin cannot and will not enter the presence of Jehovah. Through obedience to Christ Jesus and the cleansing power of His blood mankind has the privilege to being freed from sin. Saul was told, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16). What was Saul told to do to have his sins washed away? Arise and be baptized! God's law is still the same today as it was when Saul received that command. You, too, must arise and be baptized if you would have your sins washed away. Baptism places you into the death of Christ Jesus wherein the blood was shed. Read Romans 6, verses 1 through 17, especially verses 3 and 4: "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Have you been baptized into Christ?

6. MAN THINKS IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT HE DOES IN RELIGION, so he concludes that God must feel the same way about it. Man says, "Just please the conscious, Just be sincere and honest. It doesn't make any difference what you do if you are honest and sincere." Now do not misunderstand me, surely man must be sincere and honest, he must be conscientious; but it takes more than these attributes. Listen to 2 John verse 9, "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son." Also, in Matthew 15:13, 14 we read these words: "But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch." Christ states in Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." He continues in the next verse with these words, "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" To work "lawlessness" is to work without law, outside the realm of law. Jesus is saying that it does make a difference what man does. Unless we are doing what is within the scope of Christ's commandments, within His law, then we do not have His blessings. It truly does make a difference what man does, so says our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. One must DO theWILL OF GOD, not just anything. Listen to Paul in Romans 6:17, "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." You see, man must OBEY FROM THE HEART the teaching of Jesus Christ. God sent his son Jesus into the world to prepare a way whereby man might please the Father. Jesus came bringing the truth. He very clearly states, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). Jesus points out that it is only the truth that can make man free (John 8:32), but man must accept (attitude) that truth, believe that truth and obey that truth. That same truth shall judge us in the judgment (John 12:48). Yes, my friends, it does make a difference what one does in religion. Man may delude himself into thinking that what we do is of little consequence, but such is just not true. Yes, we must do something, but that something must be what is approved of by the Lord.

Truly, it is a mistake to think that God is like man. God is so far above man that there is no comparison. Man must elevate himself to the level of God, striving to make our calling and election sure as Peter states in 2 Peter 1:10. God has given us a perfect pattern, a perfect standard. Let us study it, learn it, and then follow it.

This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"