“Perversion” – Ecclesiastes 9:13-18

February 16th, 2014

Ecclesiastes 9:13-18

“Perversion”

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Bible Memory Verse for the Week: The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.  — 1 Corinthians 2:14

 

Background Information:

  • The whole story is a dialectic challenge to the celebration of wisdom in the preceding verse because it illustrates that if wisdom does not come from a prestigious source, it is liable to be ignored or forgotten.  (Robert Alter, The Wisdom Books, 379)
  • (v. 13) Wisdom” here (v. 13) means something like “a true discovery of how wisdom works and is treated.”  “Great” signals how important (“notable,” NEB) he deems the discovery to be, while “under the sun” shows that the story he is about to tell can happen anywhere.  It describes a pattern, not an isolated incident.  (David Hubbard, Mastering the OT: Ecclesiastes, 209)
  • (v. 15) Set over against the powerful king is the poor man who is “found” (ms’) there, meaning either that the king found him there or that he happened to live there (as in the NIV).  He is a good counterpoint to the king, for no one would have expected much from him by way of either intellectual or physical power (cf., e.g., Prv 14:20; 18:23; 19:7, for some evidence of societal attitudes in Israel toward the poor).  (Iain Provan, The NIV Application Commentary: Ecclesiastes, 192)
  • (v. 16) The end of this sentence, “but no one recalled that poor man,” suggests that in fact he saved the town, but afterward his act was forgotten by the townspeople, who preferred not to think that their welfare had depended on the wisdom of a man of lowly status.  (Robert Alter, The Wisdom Books, 379-80)
  • (v. 17) The “shouting of a ruler” in verse 17 may well be that of a military commander barking out orders at the far from intelligent troops under his control.  The thought, therefore, naturally moves to that of wisdom being “better than weapons of war”.  (Robert Davidson, The Daily Study Bible: Ecclesiastes, 67)
  • (v. 18) No plan can work well unless those who execute it are faithful to their assignments.  Remember the battle that was lost for want of a horseshoe nail!  Catch the contrast in verse 18 between “one” and “much.”  (David Hubbard, Mastering the OT: Ecclesiastes, 211)
  • Wisdom is a supreme value, but given society’s concern with status, if wisdom is not accompanied by prestige, it will have no audience.  (Robert Alter, The Wisdom Books, 380)

               

The question to be answered is . . . What is Koheleth trying to tell us?

 

Answer: Natural man is not wise enough to embrace wisdom.  He therefore rejects or ignores many of the benefits, advantages, insights, securities and shalom that God desires for him to receive from a life of wisdom.

 

The Word for the Day is . . . perverse

 

In preaching the biblical text, the preacher explains how the Bible directs our thinking and living.  This brings the task of expository preaching into direct confrontation with the postmodern worldview and the simple fact of human sinfulness.  We do not want to be told how to think or how to live.  Each of us desires to be the author of our own life script, the master of our own fate, our own judge and lawgiver and guide.

But the word of God lays a unique and privileged claim upon the church as the body of Christ.  Every text demands a fundamental realignment of our basic worldview and way of life.  Thus, the church is always mounting a counterrevolution to the spirit of the age, and preaching is the God-ordained means whereby the saints are armed and equipped for this battle and confrontation.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 114)

 

What is Koheleth trying to tell us?:

I-  Wisdom is better and more powerful than weapons. (Eccl 9:18; see also: Jdg 10:6-11:33; 2 Sm 20:14-22;  Prv 1:1-7; 20-33; 2:1-22; 3:1-18; 4:5-27; 8:1-36; 9:12; 13:14, 20; 15:24; 16:16; 21:22; 24:3)

 

Strength is more impressive, yet less effective, than wisdom.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Living on the Ragged Edge, 97)

 

Few men saw the power of an idea more clearly than Napoleon, a small man with big ideas.  “Men do not rule,” he said.  “Ideas rule!”  (Robert Lewis, The Church of Irresistible Influence, 55)

 

This incident had proved beyond doubt the value of wisdom, and it might have been assumed that this would have made a difference in people’s attitudes towards poor people who happened also to be wise.  But no!  The implication of verses 15-17 is that wealth and social class are far more impressive to people, generally speaking, than wisdom and that people will listen more readily to people of great wealth and high social class than to a poor but wise man (they should “heed” the wise man’s words, v. 17, but they do not thus “heed” them, v. 16).  (Iain Provan, The NIV Application Commentary: Ecclesiastes, 192-93)

 

Learn to estimate men by their wisdom and godliness, not by their outward show.  Value wisdom as the gift of God.  The more we feel our need of the gift, the more stimulating must be our earnest pleading for the continued supply–The wise man learned from this history that it was better than strength, inasmuch as one poor wise man in the city shewed himself stronger than a large army without.  (Charles Bridges, The Geneva Series of Commentaries: Ecclesiastes, 230)

 

Sometimes the most priceless wisdom is concealed in the plainest wrappings.  Often the voice of God himself comes not with the roaring of the wind or the shaking of an earthquake or the raging of a fire, but with “a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:11, 12).  (Roland Cap Ehlke, The People’s Bible, Ecclesiastes, 102)

 

II-  Mankind is so perverse that he not only forgets and despises wisdom, but it takes only one person to completely undermine wisdom.  (Eccl 9:13-18; see also: Est 2:21-6:13; Ps 5:9; 10:2-11; 14:1-3; 36:1-4; 140:1-3; Jer 17:9; Jn 1:4-5; 3:19; Rom 1:18-22; 3:9-18; 1 Cor 3:18)

 

One sinner, who makes it his business to debauch others, may defeat and frustrate the intentions of a great many good laws and a great deal of good preaching, and draw many into his pernicious ways; one sinner may be the ruin of a town, as one Achan troubled the whole camp of Israel.  The wise man who delivered the city would have had his due respect and recompense for it but that some one sinner hindered it, and invidiously diminished the service.  And many a good project, well laid for the public welfare, has been destroyed by some one subtle adversary to it.  The wisdom of some would have healed the nation, but, through the wickedness of a few, it would not be healed.  (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. III, 1037)

 

Wise words are often ignored even as foolishness is given the blue ribbon.  (David Jeremiah, Searching for Heaven on Earth, 241)

But it takes only one person doing wrong to destroy the good work of many.  One foolish, vindictive woman on a telephone for a week can ruin a church that took many years to build.  One foolish successor can destroy the company built up by several wise businessmen.  People must be warned of the consequences of spiteful or slanderous remarks.  Notoriety is also fleeting because people are fickle.  (Jay E. Adams, Life under the Son, 100)

 

Wise counsel is never popular, rarely obeyed, and seldom remembered.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Living on the Ragged Edge, 97)

 

The Spirit may be quenched by someone else’s influence in your life.  You’ve probably come to realize that certain folks tend to be spiritual fire extinguishers.  Critical people quench the Spirit of God.  Their words, like sharp icicles, freeze out the fire of revival in a heart.  (Ron M. Phillips, Awakened by the Spirit, 177)

 

His point is simply this:  as valuable as wisdom can be and for all the good it can do for others, there is no guarantee that a good and wise person will be rewarded under the sun.  (Roland Cap Ehlke, The People’s Bible, Ecclesiastes, 101)

 

The RSV translation assumes that this poor wise man through his wisdom, perhaps through some shrewd advice which he gave, delivered the town from its enemies.  His reward?–‘No one remembered him’.  The story is thus a classic illustration of ingratitude.  You may do things to help other people but do not expect to be thanked or rewarded for doing them.  You are just as likely to be forgotten, especially if you are a person of little importance or standing in the community.  (Robert Davidson, The Daily Study Bible: Ecclesiastes, 66)

 

It is the snobbery which makes it difficult for us to swallow our pride and accept advice, often good advice, from those we regard as our social or intellectual inferiors.  In such situations our natural reaction is to say, ‘Who does he think he is?’  We do it all the time, refusing to listen to what is being said because of our views of the person who is saying it.  (Robert Davidson, The Daily Study Bible: Ecclesiastes, 66)

 

Human rulers will always outshout wise counselors, and fools prefer the former.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Living on the Ragged Edge, 97)

 

Given the drama of the story, the climax is a frightful letdown.  We would expect the “poor” man to receive all the accolades the town could muster and to be promoted to a place of authority and honor.  Instead, “no one remembered” him (v. 15).  Koheleth has made his point: “Wisdom” is invaluable; it can accomplish incredible feats; yet it can also be tossed on the scrap heap of oblivion, even by those who have benefitted richly from it.  Nothing is said about how the victory was accomplished only about who did it and wisdom’s stellar role.  All unnecessary details are omitted to spotlight how indispensable is wisdom and how readily it can be shelved when the battle is over.  (David Hubbard, Mastering the OT: Ecclesiastes, 210)

 

He did not upbraid them with the contempt they had put upon him, in leaving him out of their council, nor tell them he was poor and had nothing to lose, and therefore cared not what became of the city; but he did his best for it, and was blessed with success.  Note, Private interests and personal resentments must always be sacrificed to the public good and forgotten when the common welfare is concerned.  (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. III, 1036)

 

CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: How does a relationship with Christ allow us to live above worldly wisdom (1 Cor 1:18-2:16; Jas 3:13-18) and find the life that is truly life (1 Tm 6:19)?:

A-  It takes a relationship with Jesus even to begin to understand just how perverse our thinking and world-views really are because sin blinds, binds and barricades us from the wisdom of God as our hearts become hard following the wisdom of the world. (Mt 13:1-23; 15:14; 21:42; Mk 12:10; Lk 6:22; 9:22;  Jn 9; especially 9:39-41; Acts 4:8-12; 5:30; 7:35, 51; 28:23-28; Rom 11:7-16; Gal 3:1-14; 1 Tm 6:9; 2 Tm 3:1-9; Jas 3:13-16; 1 Pt 2:4-10)

 

We must remember today that the world will never applaud the basic truths of the Christian faith.  Why?  Because Christianity judges the world, points out its error, and exposes its illusions.  It humbles it.  The world cannot take that.  So we can expect that God-given wisdom will not necessarily be popular.  (Ray Stedman, Is This All There Is to Life?, 145)

 

The kingdom of God always appears upside down to the human perspective.  We think it’s strange to die in order to live, or to give in order to receive, or to serve in order to lead.  Solomon captures the perpetual enigma of our looking-glass values just as Jesus describes them in the Sermon on the Mount.  He insists we should embrace sorrow over laughter, rebukes over praise, the long way instead of the short, and today instead of yesterday.

The truth is that it’s not the kingdom of God that is upside down–it’s the world.  It’s not the Word of God that turns life inside out–it’s the world that has reversed all the equations that God designed for our lives.   (David Jeremiah, Searching for Heaven on Earth, 189)

 

People don’t base their lives on what is true, but on what they see as attractive.  — Porter Paraphrase of Blaise Pascal

 

The characteristics of Christian discipleship are, from the world’s perspective, the marks of losers. (Alister Begg; A Christian Manifesto – Part 2:  Luke 6:20-27)

 

It’s been observed in surveys that the average person believes he is better than the average person.  We are blind to our own blindness.  (David Jeremiah, Captured by Grace, 69)

 

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. — William Shakespeare.

 

Humans have an almost limitless capacity for self-deception.  For instance, psychologists speak of a massive integrity blind spot in human nature called the self-serving bias.  We make ourselves the heroes of our stories to exaggerate our role in victories and to absolve ourselves of blame for failure and error.  (John Ortberg, When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, 119)

 

“The true problem lies in the hearts and thoughts of men…What terrifies us is not the explosive force of the atomic bomb, but the power of the wickedness of the human heart.”  –Albert Einstein  (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Pundit’s Folly, 47)

 

My brother, only the heart is hard that does not know it is hard.  Only he is hardened who does not know he is hardened.  When we are concerned for our coldness, it is because of the yearning God has put there.  God has not rejected us.  -Bernard of Clairvaux  (A. W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship?, 90)

 

Just as someone who is allergic to cats learns the beginning symptoms of a reaction and makes haste to get away, so we often unknowingly begin to learn the sensation of God breaking into our hearts, and we rush into some activity or diversion to avoid His presence.  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 109)

 

There are some who naively cling to the nostalgic memory of God.  The average churchgoer takes a few hours out of the week to experience the sacred…But the rest of the time, he is immersed in a society that no longer acknowledges God as an omniscient and omnipotent force to be loved and worshiped…Today we are too sophisticated for God.  We can stand on our own; we are prepared and ready to choose and define our own existence.  (Ralph Georgy, “If God Is Dead, Then the Late 20th Century Buried Him,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 12, 1994)

 

Sin comes when we take a perfectly natural desire or longing or ambition and try desperately to fulfill it without God. Not only is it sin, it is a perverse distortion of the image of the Creator in us. All these good things, and all our security, are rightly found only and completely in him.  (Augustine, The Confessions of Saint Augustine).

 

The real trouble with man in sin is that he always wants to understand.  The ultimate sin of man is pride of intellect.  That is why it is always true to say that “not many wise men after the flesh, not many might, not many noble are called.”  The wise man after the flesh wants to understand.  He pits his brain against God’s wisdom, and he says, “I don’t see.”  Of course he doesn’t.  And Christ says to him, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3).  If you think that with your mind, which is so small when you compare it with the mind of God, and which is not only small but also sinful, and perverted, and polluted, and twisted–if you think that with the mind you have you can comprehend the working of God’s eternal mind and wisdom, obviously you do not know God, you are outside the life of God, and you are lost.  The first thing that must happen to you before you can ever become a Christian is that you must surrender that little mind of yours, and begin to say, “Of course I cannot understand it; my whole nature is against it.  I can see that there is only one thing to do; I submit myself to the revelation that God has been pleased to give.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 5, 251)

 

The evil nature of man is manifested in these last days with increasing intensity, but so is the “good” of man which is rooted in the same tree.  Just as the evil is becoming more blatant, the good is becoming more subtle and deceptive.  For example, what would be the popularity of a leader today if he promised safe streets, sound currency, an end to all economic problems, unemployment, pornography and all other forms of perversion and the restoration of our national dignity and military strength–and delivered on all these promises?

Adolph Hitler promised all of these things to a depression and war crippled Germany and delivered on every one of them.  Milton Mayor, in They Thought They Were Free, observed, “Fascism came as an ‘angel of light’ and German Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, welcomed Hitler as a gift from God.  Nazism was seen as redemptive of a decadent society; and came almost as a puritanism to a majority sick of perversions and license parading as liberty.”

Hitler actually used the church in Germany as a springboard to power.  The dean of Magdeburg Cathedral exulted in the Nazi flags displayed in his church, declaring “Whoever reviles this symbol of ours is reviling our Germany.  The swastika flags around the altar radiate hope–hope that the day is at last about to dawn.”  Pastor Siegfried Leffler stated that “In the pitch black night of church history Hitler became, as it were, the wonderful transparency for our time, the window of our age, through which light fell on the history of Christianity.  Through him we were able to see the Savior in the history of the Germans.”  Pastor Julius Leutheuser actually taught that “Christ has come to us through Adolph Hitler.”  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 18-19)

 

You want to know what makes a person thankful?  They think about their blessings.  You want to know what makes a person hard-hearted and stiff-necked?  They think about themselves.

 

The Bible presents sin by way of major concepts, principally lawlessness and faithlessness, expressed in an array of images: sin is the missing of a target, a wandering from the path, a straying from the fold.  Sin is a hard heart and a stiff neck.  Sin is blindness and deafness.  It is both the overstepping of a line and the failure to reach it–both transgression and shortcoming.  Sin is a beast crouching at the door.  In sin, people attack or evade or neglect their diving calling.  These and other images suggest deviance: even when it is familiar, sin is never normal.  Sin is disruption of created harmony and then resistance to divine restoration of that harmony.  Above all, sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God, and it does all this disrupting and resisting in a number of intertwined ways.  (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 5)

 

One of the turning points of my life came the day I stopped setting income goals and started setting giving goals.  It was a paradigm shift.  I finally came to terms with the fact that making money is the way you make a living and giving it away is the way you make a life.  True joy is found on the giving end of life.  (Mark Batterson, Primal, A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, 33)

Most of the people who reject Christianity know almost nothing of what they are rejecting:  those who condemn what they do not understand are, surely, little men. ”  (Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy, 82-83)

 

If advertisers thought that human beings were rational actors, self-consistent and centered, they would attempt to prove the superiority of their product in rational, perhaps functional terms.  Advertisers don’t, and this shows that they believe human beings are clusters of desires, particularly desires for novelty, for membership in a “cool” group, for envious looks from neighbors and friends, for a taste of the American dream.  Advertisers also clearly believe that human beings are susceptible to the influence of images, jingles, and slogans.  Selves are not fixed, and their desires can be manipulated.  Human beings can be brainwashed.  So not only does advertising shape desire, but every time an ad goes out that assumes human beings are decentered, changeable selves, it reinforces the postmodern view of the self.  (Peter J. Leithart, Solomon Among the Postmoderns, 145)

 

The famous agnostic Thomas Huxley was once lovingly confronted by a very sincere Christian. This believer stressed to Huxley that he was not in any way impugning Huxley’s sincerity.  Nevertheless, might it not be possible that mentally the great scientist was color blind?  That is, some people cannot see traces of green where other people cannot help but see it.  Could it be that this was Huxley’s problem—that he was simply blind to truth that was quite evident to others?  Huxley, being a man of integrity, admitted that this was possible, and added that if it were, he himself, of course, could not know or recognize it.  (Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 8, 708)

 

B-  It takes knowing Jesus to realize we need a truly righteous and wise One to save us.  Choose Jesus, the rejected One, who alone can save. (Jer 31:31-34; Mt 1:21; Jn 1:1-12; 3:19-20; Acts 4:12; 10:43; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Cor 1:18-2:16; 2 Cor 5:21;  Gal 3:1-14; Eph 1:3-23; 5:8-21; Col 2:1-3; 1 Tm 2:5; 2 Tm 3:15-17; Ti 3:1-7)

 

The words read almost like a prophecy.  Whose name most naturally comes to mind when we hear of a poor man, full of wisdom, who became a savior but whose life and teaching have been neglected and rejected?  Instinctively we think of Jesus.  The man the Pundit saw had the attributes of true spirituality and wisdom; but he was just a reflection, a kind of preview of the spirituality and wisdom of the true Poor and Wise Man who would later become a savior.  The NT actually talks about Jesus in precisely these terms.  Paul describes him as ‘Christ the…wisdom of God.’  He summarizes the meaning of his life and death: ‘though he was rich, yet for your sakes became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich’.  The Pundit sought true wisdom, but could not find it.  How, then, is true wisdom to be found in Jesus Christ?  (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Pundit’s Folly, 51)

 

In Jesus Christ, says Paul (who formerly resisted the idea with all his considerable powers), we find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  He is the Wise Man, and in him alone is true wisdom to be found.  He is the Poor Man whose impoverishment leads to untold riches for those who trust him.  (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Pundit’s Folly, 59)

 

The Pundit could not erase from his mind the realization that the poor man whom he had seen save the city was the only truly wise man; but he could not understand why he had been ignored.  He was like a man caught in a blackout whose torch flickers on momentarily before the battery goes dead.  He knew he had seen something important–but what was it, and what did it mean?  The NT helps us to understand.  God’s Son, his Wisdom, became poor for us so that we might become truly rich through him.  Through Christ we may become rich in wisdom, because at last we understand our foolishness and know where truth is to be found; rich in peace, because at last we see that he died to bring us forgiveness; rich in resources, because he brings our lives under his gracious dominion, rules in our hearts and fills our lives with his blessing.  (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Pundit’s Folly, 64-65)

 

The story is not a direct prophecy of Jesus Christ, but it is a fair analogy for his saving work.  Jesus was as poor as anyone.  He was homeless and destitute, and therefore he was totally dependent on God the Father for his daily bread.  Jesus was also wiser than anyone, as we know from all the wise things he said.  By his wisdom Jesus delivered the lost city of fallen humanity.  The devil was coming against that city with all the powers of Hell.  But Jesus delivered us, all by himself.  How did he do it?  He did it through something that seemed foolish at the time but actually turned out to be wise for salvation.  Jesus saved our city by dying on the cross and then rising again.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Ecclesiastes, 227)

 

Sin God can deal with.  That is what the cross is all about.  It is stiff-necked, hard-hearted, unrepentant religious, pious, do-gooders who are lost and without hope. — Steve Brown

 

The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit.  Among the things of the Spirit to which the natural man is most averse is God’s estimate of sin, which is difficult even for a Christian to accept and appreciate.  This is why believers are to exhort each other daily, “lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13).  Now if sin can deceive a believer, how much more deceitful is it to an unbeliever?  If a man with 20-20 vision cannot discern an object at which he is gazing, how shall one born blind see it?  Because of the deceitful nature of sin, the unregenerate world cannot comprehend.  (Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Freedom, 27)

 

How arrogant, stupid, prideful, ignorant and silly it would be to make Jesus, the Son of God, who created the Universe, and died on the cross for our salvation and the One who can empower us to change our lives and our world so that they can become heaven on earth .. .  Does it make any sense at all to make this Jesus our personal assistant?

 

How could the young ruler understand his sinfulness if he completely misunderstood God’s law?  How can today’s sinners, who are totally ignorant of God’s holy law and its demands upon them, look at themselves as condemned sinners?  The idea of sin is strange because God’s law is foreign to their minds.  (Walter J. Chantry, Today’s Gospel:  Authentic or Synthetic?, 37)

 

Now this is the most alarming thing that we can ever realize about ourselves.  Every one of us is subject to prejudice.  There is not one of us that is free from it; the devil sees to that.  And the prejudices are almost endless in number.  So that when we come to the Scriptures we come with a prejudiced eye and we see what we want to see.  That is what the heretics have always done, is it not?  They have always quoted Scripture.  Some of the modern heretics quote a little Scripture, not much, but even they do try to quote a little.  And, if you take the Scriptures with their prejudiced mind and understanding you can make them prove almost anything you like.  So the Jews were perfectly happy about themselves, because it seemed to them that the Scriptures everywhere were saying that they alone were saved and that everybody else was lost; whereas the truth was that they were lost and others were saved.

We must always beware of prejudice.  We must never read the Scriptures without praying.  We should never approach them without asking the Holy Spirit to lead us and to guide us and to direct us.  We should deliberately humble ourselves, we should talk to ourselves and say, Now why am I going to the Scriptures?  Am I going there only to find arguments to support my case, or am I going there to be instructed, to be enlightened, to have my eyes opened to the truth of God?  We should always try to come as little children and be ready to find that we are wrong.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 9, 321)

 

Like Scripture writers, Augustine thinks of the heart not just as the seat of emotion or desire but also as the governing center of a human being–the human being at his center, at his core, considered in his fundamental orientation.  From the heart “flow the springs of life” (Prv 4:23).  Hence, in Scripture, integrity is a pure heart (Mt 5:8); where integrity is lacking, it is the heart that is “perverse” and “devious above all else” (Jer 17:9).  Accordingly, when Paul wants to describe the source of our new power, love, and integrity, he testifies that Jesus Christ has taken up residence at the governing center of human lives:  he “dwells in our hearts” (Eph 3:17).  Depending on its orientation, then, the fact that “the heart wants what it wants” may be our shame or our salvation.  (Augustine, The City of God, 14.13)  (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 62-63)

 

There is more in Christianity than can be gathered from books or teachers. A blind man may learn the theory of light.  But open his eyes and he is in a new world.  “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord” (Isa 54:13).  Though one may have had the best instructors, yet if he is not taught of the Lord, he is not prepared to teach others the way of salvation.  The captain who understands navigation, in approaching a strange coast, gives the control of the ship into the hands of the pilot who knows the channel.  An unlettered man who enjoys religion is a much safer spiritual guide than an uncovered theologian.  One cannot teach what he does not comprehend.  “For what a man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him?  Even so the things of God knoweth no man , but if he is destitute of the Spirit of God he cannot comprehend the things of God.  If he thinks he can it only makes matters worse.  “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Cor 2:14).  (B.T. Roberts; Fishers Of Men, 35-36)

 

Mt 9:16,17    Jn 12:37-41

In his book, An Anthropologist on Mars, neurologist Oliver Sacks tells about Virgil, a man who had been blind from early childhood. When he was 50, Virgil underwent surgery and was given the gift of sight.  But as he and Dr. Sacks found out, having the physical capacity for sight is not the same as seeing.

Virgil’s first experiences with sight were confusing.  He was able to make out colors and movements, but arranging them into a coherent picture was more difficult.  Over time he learned to identify various objects, but his habits—his behaviors—were still those of a blind man.

Dr. Sacks asserts, “One must die as a blind person to be born again as a seeing person. It is the interim, the limbo . . . that is so terrible.”

To truly see Jesus and his truth means more than observing what he did or said, it means a change of identity.  — Terry Seufferlein

 

If we do not move in divine forgiveness, we will walk in much deception.  We will presume we have discernment when, in truth, we are seeing through the veil of a critical spirit.  We must know our weaknesses, for if we are blind to our sins, what we assume we discern in men will merely be the reflection of ourselves.  Indeed, if we do not move in love, we will actually become a menace to the body of Christ (Mt 7:1-5).   (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 75)

 

Worship point:  Even though we are dumber than dirt, too perverse to know better, and too lazy to pursue wisdom; still the God of the Universe continues to be patient, gracious, merciful, forgiving and loving.  This fact alone should cause us to worship Him who continues to sacrifice for us spite of our stiff necks.

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Endeavor to become wise enough to recognize, embrace, and enjoy the life God wants you to enjoy.  Endeavor to become wise enough to comprehend just how unwise you really are and how much you need Christ.

 

Lord Kenneth Clark, internationally known for his television series “Civilization,” lived and died without faith in Jesus Christ.  He admitted in his autobiography that while visiting a beautiful church he had what he believed to be an overwhelming religious experience.  “My whole being,” Clark wrote, “was irradiated by a kind of heavenly joy far more intense than anything I had known before.”  But the “gloom of grace,” as he described it, created a problem.  If he allowed himself to be influenced by it, he knew he would have to change, his family might think he had lost his mind, and maybe that intense joy would prove to be an illusion.  So he concluded, “I was too deeply embedded in the world to change course.”   (Our Daily Bread, February 15, 1994)

 

 

2 Corinthians 8:9; Isaiah  53:3-8; James 1:5

 

God’s gonna survive your rejection

 . . . will you?

 

 

Christ:

Futility Slayer

 

 

 

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