If you want your children to model self-control in their lives, then you must show them self-control in yours.
This is an area I feel like I have not done so well. I need to place all my “control” into the hands of God.
How to control the “stress” that leads to my outbursts of frustration and anger?
- Avoid negative people (Proverbs 22:24).
- Avoid knee-jerk responses when aggravated by others (James 3:2).
- Show control in the midst of chaos or emergency (James 1:26).
- Beg God to give you peace and understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Those churches we can call “liberal” or “progressive” appeal to a section of modern culture which has at least three idols:
- Personal choice and freedom;
- Absolute tolerance and the rejection of exclusive truth and personal responsibility;
- Professional expertise and status.
They accept modern sex ethics, they do not do church discipline, they do not preach Christ crucified and resurrected (really and historically) and the only way to salvation. Their ministry is supportive and therapeutic, and no one is ever warned of the dangers of God’s judgment. In general, the popular opinions of modern culture are adopted and promoted. If churches preached judgment (of God), accountability, and moral virtue (as Jesus did) there would be conflict!
Churches that might be labelled “conservative” appeal to those who utilize:
- An idealized past;
- The nuclear family;
- One’s own race and traditional culture;
While liberals tend to be relativistic, conservatives are “moralistic” and make an idol out of “goodness” and respectability. They often value unquestioning deference to leaders, tend to idealize the “good old days,” tend to feel superior in its view of its own culture and tend to put so much emphasis on family life that singles and single parents feel like second class citizens. If these churches preached against racism, the need for justice for the poor, and challenged people to embrace the socially and morally unrespectable (as Jesus did) their would be conflict!
They “did evil in the sight of the Lord” is a repeated refrain in Judges 2:11; 3:7; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6.
And then at the end of Judges it is phrased different (17:6; 21:25): “In those days…everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
The point is that the Israelites were not doing evil “in their own eyes.” In other words, their perception was that their behavior was morally acceptable. They did not think: I know this is evil but will do it anyway.
This teaches us 2 things about sin:
1. The definition of sin. Sin does not ultimately consist of violating our conscience or personal standards but rather consists of violating God’s will for us.
This flies in the face of modern thinking. It is most often asserted that “only you can define what’s right and wrong for you.” In other words, “my own eyes” determine right and wrong.
If evil is only determined by our own eyes, how could we tell the Nazis that it was wrong to exterminate the Jews? Sin is defined as violating our relationship with God.
2. These phrases show us the deception of sin. They remind us how easily self-deceived we are and to what extent we will rationalize sin. The Israelites were in “group denial.” In their own perception, there was nothing wrong with what they were doing.
This should lead us to be very careful and to evaluate ourselves constantly through biblical reflection and accountability.
Romans 1:22-25 teaches,
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
The phrase “sinful desires” traditionally has been translated “lusts” and in Greek is the word epithumia, a word that means “an overwhelming desire.” To “give up” means that God allows the things in which we hope instead of God to become ruling powers in our lives. Once God gave them over for worshiping idols, they “worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” The judgment for idolatry is idolatry.
Idolatry and slavery go hand in hand. Idolatry leads to slavery and slavery to idolatry. So God says to the person who worships money, “If you want to live for money instead of for me, than money will rule your life. It will control your heart and emotions. If you want to live for popularity instead of for me, then popular acclaim will rule and control you. If you want another God besides me, go ahead. Let’s see how merciful it is to you, how effective it is in saving and guiding and enlightening you.”
There is a terrible spiritual danger involved in the receiving of any blessing. Success can easily cause us to forget God’s grace, because our hearts are desperate to believe that we can save ourselves. God-given victory can easily be used to confirm the belief that, in fact, we have earned the blessing for ourselves, and should receive the praise and glory for that success.
We need to remember that we are saved by grace when we fail. But we need to remember it much more when we succeed.
We need God’s ongoing assurance and reminder that He is with us and for us. How does God assure us?
- Through the Word. When we read His word and the promises contained therein, we often find that the Holy Spirit comes and makes the promises real to us.
- Through other people. It is important to have others who are close friends who can do this.
- Through life circumstances.
How do we know we have been reassured? It leads us to heartfelt praise and worship of God.