Psa 119:36-38 “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way. Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.”
J, F, & B - vanity-- literally, "falsehood;" all other objects of trust than God; idols, human power, &c. (Psa_31:6; Psa_40:4; Psa_60:11; Psa_62:9).
Beholding - in the Hebrew means to gaze on something to advise oneself with, experience, with approval, taking heed, respect, and regard - contemplation.
What are we beholding? Are we beholding anything in God’s place – in the place in our heart of hearts that God alone was meant for us to behold? Are we able to discern what is of God and what is vanity, or worthless?
Covetousness – Ardent desire for the things of this world and doing whatever it takes to get what one wants. There are even those Christian leaders who use godliness as a means of worldly gain – that exploit the church as Christian leaders for profit. And there are those who gladly follow them because their eyes have beheld vanity, and their hearts are turned to the appeal of their false gospel. (1 Tim. 6:5-12)
Covetousness and idolatry go together as whatever our flesh ardently desires for its own benefit it will passionately pursue and even find religious excuse to do so. Only the Word of God can effectively put to death our flesh and expose the idolatry of our flesh. It is not possible with man. And most pursuits of the flesh have covetousness or idolatry of some form at the heart, whether it be material or even the worship and exalting of self and human power.
What we behold, continually, will shape our thinking, and our hearts, and become the object of our desire and worship. We must be sure the teachings we behold are according to God’s Word, do not take away from His Word, and lead us to hunger for more of His Word. There are many “Christian” books out there and teachings that we can behold, yet how many of them are vanity? The only way to know is to find the root of their message. Examine the root and heart of their message and go to the Word itself as our source and guide for all. Behold His Word! Gaze on it, meditate on it, understand the way of God, and seek to understand the way of faith, the walk by His Spirit, and the heart of Jesus. Many can take His Word and use it for their own means. Even the devil himself can very effectively use the scripture for his own means. I have found many times in tracing the roots of certain teachings they led back to occultic, new age, or very worldly teachers from which they were originally borrowed from and were mixed with the Word of God rather than coming out of a true walk by faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ according to His Word.
Are you beholding His way of salvation, His way of walking, His way of life? Does what you behold glorify God’s true Word and bring fruit that leads others to feed on, drink from and grow from? Does it produce godliness and the fruit of the Spirit in your own life? Does it turn your eyes away from self, and self-seeking to God and what will glorify and honor Him? Does it make you self-obsessed or God-obsessed? Does it produce humility of spirit and love for your brother? Or does it puff up with pride and produce self-love or self-righteousness because of your own works? Does it cause you to hunger and thirst for true righteousness and hate sin as God hates it? Or does it gloss over sin and cause you to hunger for more “spiritual” or fleshly experiences? Does what you are beholding draw you closer to God and an understanding and hunger of His Word and sound doctrine, or further from God and cause you to disregard His Word or have no desire for it? Perhaps the books you behold even begin to take the place of His Word, rather than upholding the Word and causing you to hunger more for it.
We cannot be careless of what we are gazing at, beholding, devoting our attention to taking in as our counsel! We cannot!
Psa 1:1-6 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
We may think we are standing in the counsel of God, beholding His way as we read “Christian books”, or listen to teachers, yet if they are not rooted, grounded, and established in God’s Word, then they have borrowed from the world and are mixed with the world’s counsel….the counsel of the ungodly. Just because they quote from God’s Word, does not mean they are of God’s Word.
The only way to be sure, is to behold His Word daily as our main source, our guide, our life, that we abide in, drink from, eat from, and cling to, putting our faith in, as we daily apply it and walk by it. As we do this first and foremost, we will desire nothing to behold but what is only also according to the same Spirit.
May the Lord give you an intense hunger to behold Him in all the wonderful, awesomeness He has shown Himself to us in His Word of life and find the treasures there that He has for you! There is nothing that surpasses that!!!
May this be your prayer today: Psa 119:36-38 “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way. Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.”
Self-reliance, self-sufficiency, self-confidence, self-containment; these are all synonyms of Independence.
Independence means freedom from the influence, control, or determination of another or others.
The great sin of Eve in the Garden of Eden was an independent spirit…and this is the sin of man today…wanting independence from God. It is also the thing that we struggle with even as Christians – clinging to our own independence, or self-sufficiency rather than abandoning ourselves to God and finding our sufficiency in Him alone.
The world teaches us in many ways, through its many philosophies, this doctrine of self-sufficiency and independence. All of psychology is meant to “strengthen self” and become independent and sufficient and confident in one’s self. Jesus has another way – the only way of our true salvation, which enables us to be saved from self, and free from self – and that is through His cross. Many Christian teachings today take the world’s philosophy of self-reliance, self-sufficiency, self-confidence, self-containment, and independence and mix it with the gospel in a way that instead of leading to a reliance on God and faith in His righteousness and the power of His Spirit to live the Christian life, leads one to work by human efforts to bring about a self-righteousness independently of God’s Spirit in us. When one understands and desires life by reliance on the Holy Spirit, this can no longer, in any way, be acceptable. And once one has tasted of this life in the Spirit, the other is easily recognized for what it is. Unfortunately, if all that is taught is a life of human effort and striving to find self-fulfillment, righteousness, and what one considers the virtues of the Christian life, or to promote evangelism and church programs, it is difficult to understand what it means to abandon self to Jesus and find all in Him, and to do all by the leading and empowering of His Spirit.
Jesus never meant us to live any other way than by faith in the power of His Spirit that was given us for that purpose. Our daily salvation from living according to our flesh comes by relying solely on His indwelling Spirit and complete abandon to Him. It comes from daily abiding in Him. He told us we would be fruitless without that….
Joh 15:4-5 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
Oh that God would open our eyes to see the power He has given us!
Eph 1:17-20 “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”
This same power that rose Christ from the dead, which abides in us, enables us in our daily life to do all that God would want to do in us and through us, saving us from our self-sufficiency and works in us a true righteousness that is only from God. We look at our selves, and see that we are weak, that we don’t measure up. We seek to somehow strengthen ourselves to be more confident, sufficient and able in what we do; yet what God would have us to do is look away completely from ourselves and look to Him and His sufficiency.
2Co 3:5 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God”
2Co 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work”
In fact, He even purposely brings us to places in our life and in our walk where we find that we are totally unequipped to handle the circumstances we find ourselves in. We find ourselves in an impossible problem, with no solution it seems - at least no solution available to us in our own resources and strength. It is our human nature to want independence and to strive to come to that place where we are financially, physically and in every other way independent and secure. We panic when we find that we are not. If our health, finances, or any of our resources are taken from us that cause us to lose that independence, and we find ourselves helpless, it causes us to plunge into despair.
Many times God allows these things to happen to bring us back to dependence on Him alone, until we learn to walk in dependence on Him every day whether in good times or bad.
An independent spirit causes one to want to be in control of all decisions that they make, in control of their lives, in control of what happens to them, and in control of others in their lives. But we can never have that control. We may have an illusion of it for a time, but it can just as easily be taken from us overnight. If we have depended on our own self-sufficiency, talents, abilities, etc. at all then we find ourselves devastated. If we have learned a life of dependence on the Holy Spirit daily and find our life in Jesus and abiding in His Word then these things, though they be difficult and cause us discomfort, do not devastate our lives because our lives are sufficient in Him. We know that all is under His control and He is our source of all. We know that we can trust Him never to fail us or forsake us. We know that nothing is out of His nail-scarred hands and He is working all in our lives according to His plan and His purpose for our lives. Our eyes are set on things above, and not on things on the earth and we know that this is not our heaven, but we have an eternal home and an eternal body and now, in this world a pure godliness is being worked in us and we are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. He is being glorified in us to others, and they are seeing the life that is beyond this world’s life in us as we walk in faith in Him. How different our attitude from that of the world whose only hope is this life! Whose only joy is in this world! Why should we, as believers then, have our focus on anything else? What would we trade for the life He has provided us??
2Co 5:20 “Now then we are ambassadors (representatives) for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
What a sober thought – that as believers in Christ, we are His representatives – His ambassadors on this earth. We are that if we name His name, like it or not. We are what the world sees of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3
If eternal life only comes through knowing Him, then, oh how important it is that they are led to know the true Jesus of the Bible, and that He is not misrepresented!
What kind of Christ does the world see in us? How much thought do we give it? Are we trying to show a false concept of Jesus to those around us, or are we letting Him live in us and through us Himself so that the world will see the Jesus of the Bible? There are many Jesuses portrayed today. Many make movies of their idea of who Jesus was and many have their own concept of who He is today and how He should be portrayed. But there is only one real Jesus! And no man’s concept of Him will truthfully represent Him. There is only one way He can be accurately represented, as Paul found himself when he stated, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
Only as we are identified with Jesus in His death and resurrection, allowing His life to flow through us, can we be the kind of representatives of Christ that will cause the world to see the true Jesus.
Many instead try to hide the gospel, make it more worldly acceptable, and give the lost a picture of Jesus that they will like, thinking to draw them more effectively to Him. Jesus told us the world hated Him, and that it would hate us as well. If we are His representatives, the world will hate us. And if our “Jesus” is more to their liking, we have falsely represented Him, and they are not coming to the true Jesus at all. The world is no different today than it ever was, in that it still must choose between God or self, this world or eternity. The choice is no different and people’s needs have not changed. If sin has increased, then all the more they need to know they are sinners, and that they need a Savior. That Savior needs to be truthfully represented to them.
Moses, at one point, falsely represented Jesus in the wilderness, out of his own anger at the Israelites. In Numbers 20:8-12 God told Moses to “speak to the Rock”, which represented Jesus Christ. 1Co 10:4 “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” But instead He struck it with his rod. Moses, in His impetuousness, disobeyed God, and misrepresented Christ. As a result, he was told he would not lead them into the promised land.
Is our gospel hid or changed? Or is it lived through you for others to see? Are we changing it to their liking so we don’t have to take His reproach? Are we preaching ourselves, or Jesus? If we name His name, the world is watching us to see Who this Jesus is and what kind of change He makes in our lives.
2Co 4:1-5 “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.”
Only those who live in Christ can truly represent Christ. Only those who allow Jesus to live in them by faith and abide in Him, can truly represent Him. And only those who truly represent His Word of truth, can truly represent Him. Movies and books come out, representing a “Jesus” that the world wants to make after their own image – one that is more like they are and will not condemn their sin – one they can feel comfortable with.
Which Jesus will you show the world? Who will you represent? Is His life abiding in you? Is His living Word abiding in you? Are you serving self, the world, or Jesus? Something to ponder for each of us.
May the Lord reveal Himself to this lost and dying world through His people. May many truly be reconciled to God, as they see the true Christ living His life in each of us who name His name!
I thought we’d start out with some definitions to help us clarify –
Worldly-Wise: wise in the ways or affairs of the world
Worldly: 1) of or limited to this world; temporal or secular. 2) devoted to or concerned with the affairs, pleasures, etc. of this world: also worldly-minded
Friends: intimate associate; close acquaintance, one who is not an enemy or foe; ally, a supporter or sympathizer.
Jam 4:4 “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.”
Joh 15:19-20 “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”
1Jo 2:15-17 “ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
In light of these verses, recently I’ve begun to ask the Lord more to give me understanding of any “worldliness” that may be in my heart and to help me to understand more what that truly is and recognize it in myself. I’ve grown up with many “people’s opinions” of what is worldly, even creating my own little “Christian law” to follow based on these things that have been put on me by others. One day the Lord spoke to my heart that He had put none of them on me and I was to live by the Spirit not by other’s dictates or laws or regulations. I would have to leave it to the Lord and His Word, by faith, for Him to reveal to me what was truly my flesh and what was truly living by faith. I was surprised as God began to reveal that even my set of rules to live by which I thought was denying my flesh, actually was my “religious flesh” at work and did not free me of worldliness at all. It only made me self-righteous.
Worldliness seems to be a thing, however, today, that the church dismisses. It either goes overboard in producing a fleshly form of holiness, outwardly, which is not of the Spirit, inwardly, or it goes the other direction and ignores the subject all together; in fact, borrowing from the world’s ways and bringing them into the church so that there is little difference between the church and the world. There is no more reproach left. The world is fully comfortable in this worldly church and finds no conviction of sin there, but instead is made to feel quite accepted and safe in their sin.
What is worldliness? How do we recognize it in our hearts? I believe it is friendship, agreement, affection, sympathizing, and drawing our security, significance, and happiness, and our worth and counsel from the things of the world, it’s ways, it’s philosophies of life, and it’s goals? The things in the world, we all must use. We all need food, clothing, and shelter. We all need to live in this world. But how do we live in this world without being part of this world?
People in this world have totally different goals. Their goal is self-fulfillment, happiness, pleasure, love, and security. They will pursue these things throughout their lifetime, focused on self, even to the extreme of hating and killing or to the less extreme of manipulating others for their benefit – but the goal is for self. Even acts of love are done for the purpose of being loved, and are self-centered.
In Christ we are a new creation. Old things have passed away, and all things become new. (2 Cor. 5:17) Our self-pursuit now becomes a God-pursuit.
Our security, significance, and happiness are now found in Jesus Christ. We have surrendered all of our worldly motives to the cross, where Jesus continually is at work to render them powerless in our hearts and to reveal His true life that He has given us in Himself. More and more as we are freed from this world, it’s ways, it’s affections, it’s goals, it’s philosophies of living, and more and more as we are freed from self-pursuit, we find that Christ is our all in all, and is able to be just what He said He would be – in Him we live and move and have our being. Our affections become an outflow of His Spirit in us, and the affections of Christ. Our desires become what pleases Him and what He desires.
Psa 37:4 “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
He becomes our joy, and we no longer find that in the pleasures of this world. We are actually able to enjoy the pleasures God gives us in this world more freely without being bound by them or possessed by them, but in recognizing the God who created them for our enjoyment and for His purposes. Those things He forbids, we find we do not desire, but only desire the things that we can rejoice with the Lord in and enjoy in communion with Him. In finding pleasure in God, we also find that we are a delight and pleasure to God. You cannot have both the love of the world, and communion with God in your heart at the same time. But with the communion of God and the enjoyment of Him, you can truly enjoy the things He has given you for your pleasure, all the while He being your true source of joy, and those things only causing your heart to be lifted up in praise to Him and thanksgiving.
Forbidding certain things, bringing restrictions on yourself or others, that God did not Himself give, have no way of bringing true godliness or of freeing you from worldliness in the heart. They only have the appearance of doing so.
Col 2:20-23 “If, then, you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why are you under its decrees, as living in the world? Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch, which things are all for corruption in the using, according to the "injunctions and teachings of men." Isa. 29:13 Which things indeed appear to be a matter of having wisdom in self-imposed worship and humility, and severity in abuse of the body, but are not of any value with regards to gratification of the flesh.”
It is only through the cross of Jesus Christ, as we cast our worldliness onto that cross, and through a surrender of faith in all He has done in us in making us a new creation, that we find true deliverance from the love of this world and deliverance from our own religious self-deception, in thinking that we have overcome it by law keeping.
Gal 2:17-21 “But if seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found to be sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? Let it not be! For what if I build again these things which I destroyed, I confirm myself as a transgressor. For through Law I died to Law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, the One loving me and giving Himself over on my behalf. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness is through Law, then Christ died without cause.”