The last few times together on Sunday night, we've been looking at the subject of God's will, the basic, bottom line perspective of all of Christian living as seen in reference to glorifying Him. We have seen how important it is to live to the glory of God. We've talked about its relationship to God's will, to spiritual growth, to obedience, to purpose in life and eternity. And in our last session together, we started a little bit of a list, really, of practical ways in which we as Christians glorify God. If indeed that is the singular purpose for which we live. And it is as we have seen in great measure in our study together. Then we need to know how to do that. We want to give you some handles. If we are made for the glory of God, if our purpose and intention on earth is to be to the praise of His glory then we need to know how to do that. And there are some very pragmatic ways in which we can glorify God.
Remember last time, we began with two very basic ways that a believer glorifies God. First of all, by confessing Jesus as Lord. In fact, in Philippians 2, you remember that great passage in verses 9 to 11, which says that we are to bow the knee, every knee will bow ultimately, whether people be on earth or whether they be under the earth, every living thing will bow the knee to Jesus Christ and everyone will confess Jesus as Lord. And then comes that important statement, "to the glory of God."
And we outlined the fact to you from Scripture that salvation is primarily not for us. It is primarily for him. It is primarily not for our joy and our blessing and our eternal life, but for God's glory. That we might be, instead of sinful, that we might be righteous to the praise of His glory; that we, instead of rebelling against Him, might praise Him and honor Him and give Him adoration forever and ever. And so God redeems us for His own sake more than for our sake. The benefits, which accrue to us, are byproducts of God's primary purpose, which is His own glory.
And that is why the apostle Paul in Romans says, "We preach obedience of the faith among the nations for the sake of His name." It is for His sake. Because it is an affront to God that anyone should exist and not give Him glory. It strikes a blow in the face of Christ that anyone should be alive and not praise His holy name. And we have been made and are redeemed to that very purpose. And when we acknowledge the sovereign Lordship of Jesus Christ and His perfect sacrifice on the cross, His saving power, and set our lives in motion to give Him praise for time and eternity, we glorify God and that is our purpose.
Now the second of this list that we looked at, was not only do we glorify God by confessing Jesus as Lord but by aiming our lives at that purpose. In other words, by coming to the realization that we live for no other reason than the glory of God. So that, in the words of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians in chapter 10, "Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, you do it all," what? "To the glory of God." So the very point of our life is directed then, at glorifying God. When Jesus, who set the example, articulated His purpose in John 8:50, He said, "I am here to give honor to the Father." And that should be the goal and objective of our lives. We are not like the hypocrites of Matthew 6 who sought glory for themselves. But we are of the genuine believers who seek glory for God. So that in all we do, whether we do things as mundane as eating or drinking, or whatever we do, we seek to glorify God.
That means--you'll remember I told you--that means preferring Him and His Kingdom above all else. That means that we really do mean what we say when we say, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven." It also means that we are content to do His will at any cost, doesn't matter what the price is. And you remember in John 21 how Jesus confronted Peter and told him that he would die. Only the terms Jesus used were very unique. He spoke of his death signifying by what death he--that is Peter--should glorify God. God is glorified in the kind of obedience that is so resolute and so faithful and so unwavering and uncompromising that it goes even to death, if need be. So living to the glory of God means then, that we prefer Him and His Kingdom above everything. That we are content to do His will no matter what it costs.
I also told you last time, that glorifying God as a focus in life means suffering when he suffers. In other words it means being so zealous for His name that when He is dishonored, we feel the pain. Psalm 69:9, "The reproaches that fall on Thee, are fallen on me," said David. When You are maligned, I hurt. I am wounded because I'm so identified with Your glory.
And then, one final thought regarding focusing your life on the glory of God was that we, who are living to the glory of God, are therefore content to be outdone by others who do exactly what we do better than we do, as long as God gets the glory. In other words, it's no contest. We're not in it for our own self-glory. We're not competing against other Christians. We are content to be outdone by others who do exactly what we do better than we do it, as long as He gets the glory.
Now I want to bring you tonight to a third, and a very, very essential way in which practically, pragmatically we glorify God. And that is by confessing sin ... by confessing sin. This is a direct way of glorifying God. The thief on the cross, for example, dishonored God all his life. But in the final moments of his life, he gave God glory in the way he exalted Jesus Christ. In Luke 23:41 the text records that he said to the other thief, "We indeed suffer justly." In other words, he recognized that Jesus was innocent but that he was guilty and so was the man on the other cross. He acknowledged his own sin and he acknowledged his own just punishment, such glorifies God.
I'll show you why. Let's look in our Bibles at the seventh chapter of Joshua. Back to the Old Testament, the seventh chapter of Joshua. A somewhat familiar incident, though this particular point from within that incident may be not as familiar. In Joshua chapter 7, you remember the story of the people of Israel coming into the Promised Land. And you remember that in the conquest of Jericho, recorded in chapter 6, the Lord God told the Jewish people not to take anything from Jericho. Remember that? Don't take any garments or any plunder. No loot. Come out empty-handed.
In spite of the command of God there was a man named Achan, and it must have been also that his family was to one degree or another, voluntarily or involuntarily, a somewhat of a coconspirator in his disobedience. But nonetheless, after the conquest of Jericho, this man named Achan took some booty. He took some things that he had no right to take. And those things are indicated to us in the text of Scripture.
Let's look at chapter 7 and begin at verse 19. "And Joshua said unto Achan," confronting him about the sin that had caused Israel to be defeated at Ai because they were disobedient at Jericho, "my son," now watch this language used here, "I pray thee, give glory to the Lord God of Israel." How? "Even make confession unto him and tell me now what thou hast done. Hide it not from me." And Achan answered Joshua and said, "Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel and thus have I done. When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylon-ish garment and 200 shekels silver and a wedge of gold of 50-shekels weight, then I coveted them and took them and behold they are hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent and the silver under it."
Now that is a full confession. He held nothing back. It speaks of an evil deed: taking what he was not to take. It speaks of an evil motive: coveting. He really didn't hold anything back. He openly confessed his sin. The result then, "Joshua sent messengers and they ran to the tent, behold it was hidden in his tent, the silver under it. They took them out of the midst of the tent, brought them unto Joshua and to all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the Lord. And Joshua and all the children of Israel with him, took Achan, the son of Zerah, and the silver and the garment and the wedge of gold and his sons and his daughters and his oxen and his asses and his sheep and his tent and all that he had, and they brought them unto the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, "Why has thou troubled us?" In other words, your sin has brought consequence on the entire nation in the defeat at Ai. "The Lord shall trouble thee this day and all Israel stoned him with stones and burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day, so the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger, wherefore the name of that place was called the Valley of Achor," which, by the way, means trouble, "unto this day."
This is a very fascinating incident. The one thing that I want you to understand in this incident is this: the glory of God was at stake because God was about to give Israel a very firm and stern lesson about the consequences of sin and disobedience. Now is it not true that any act of disobedience against God is worthy of death? Is that not so? And is it not also so that the question in the Old Testament: why do certain people die for their sin, is really the wrong question. The right question is why does anybody ... what? Live, because all of us are guilty sinners. And so we look at this incident and the glory of God is at stake because as sure as God comes in, and kills Achan and all coconspirators in his family and everything they possess, someone is going to say, "God is unjust and unfair and unloving and ungracious." And so the issue here was God was set to punish sin. And if Achan would acknowledge that God was just in that punishment, by confessing his sin, he then frees God from any thought of impunity or injustice. So that when God acts against him, everyone knows that God acts righteously. His glory is saved any reproach.
And so the issue of confession here, frankly, had minimally to do with Joshua and didn't alter the circumstances, but freed God from being accused of being unkind, unfair, or unjust. For, in fact, out of the mouth of Achan came the testimony, "I have coveted and I have disobeyed God." And in so saying, he is affirming what all Old Testament saints knew to be true, the soul that sinneth, as it was worded by later by Ezekiel, it shall die.
I don't know that we understand that about the confession of sin. I think that for many years in Christianity, people have assumed to confess our sins in order to get the power back on. And I suppose all of us have been to seminars or conferences or heard messages where somebody said, "Now if you want to the power of the Spirit of God in your life and you want to get your act together and be useful to God, confess your sin and get back on track." And that is true. But that is a very narrow and limited and incomplete perspective on the reason for confession.
What this text is saying to us is that we ought to outwardly and openly and honestly confess our sin so that when God chastens us, when God reacts in a holy way to our unholiness, there is no thought on anyone's part that God is unjust. So His glory is spared from any unwitting human reproach.
On the other hand, when people run around excusing their sin, then the chastening of God may appear to others to be unfair. And may I suggest to you that this is the commonest way for even Christians to behave. I was thinking back the other day, when is the last time a Christian that was caught in major sin and had to be confronted about that sin, really fully acknowledged the sin, fully acknowledged the evil, fully acknowledged whatever chastening God wanted to bring was just. And in thus, that way, gave God glory. When is the last time that's happened?
I thought a long time before I could remember such a time. The usual response is, "Well, it wasn't handled right. Well, it wasn't my fault. Well, there were circumstances. Well," and so forth and so on. And, "poor me." And then when the chastening comes, everyone is down on God. Why are You letting this happen? Why are You allowing this to be going on? When the miracle of miracles is that God hasn't just snuffed out the life instantaneously. That's only of grace.
I mean, it's just part of humanness to deny responsibility and if you deny the responsibility of your sin, who are putting it on? Well, look at Adam. God created Adam, created Eve. Eve sort of led into the sin. And then when Adam fell into the sin and was confronted in Genesis 3:12, you remember Adam's response? "The woman You gave me." Who did he blame? He didn't blame the woman. "The woman," what? "You gave me." I didn't even know there was such a thing as a woman. I didn't even know what a woman was. You could have picked any woman, what did I know? You picked her; she did it, Your fault. That was the implication of it. He blamed God.
And when we blame others for our sin, when we blame circumstances or Satan or demons, the devil made me do it, we fail to accept the responsibility that we act on our own. Those certainly somewhat victimized by the world, the flesh, and the devil in our humanness, we nonetheless make choices on our own for which we are responsible. And when we won't do that and God moves in to chasten, and I see this in the church all the time, there are people who are undergoing trouble, and people all around them, because these people will not acknowledge the sinfulness of their lives which is no doubt the reason for the trouble, everybody around them begins to question why God is allowing this to happen and the character of God is brought into question.
So I want you to understand something that maybe you haven't understood about confession. Confessing your sin is not just so you can keep the fellowship sweet. It's not just so that you can have the joy that 1 John 1:4 writes about. It's not so just that you can be useful to God and know the power. It is also so that when God wants to chasten you, He will not be thought unjust because it will be known that you deserved what comes. You say, "But I don't want anybody to know about my sin." You would rather hide your sin and have others suspect the righteousness of God? See, this is a real important question that will demonstrate where your true affections lie. Are you more zealous to protect your reputation or the reputation of God? Is that a fair question?
Let's look at 1 Samuel chapter 4 and let's learn a lesson from some pagans ... 1 Samuel chapter 4. And, of course, the children of Israel were seemingly always in some kind of a battle with the people around them. And this particular occasion, as on many other occasions, it was a battle with the Philistines. And they were involved in this battle. And the children of Israel were losing. For the most part, for a long time, they had been somewhat irreligious. Oh, they went through a form but there was not real heart in it. In fact, they hadn't, for any real period of time, even acknowledged God. But when they started to lose the battle they panicked.
And so in verse 3 somebody said let's go get God. We can't handle this on our own; we got to have God. And they were getting slain. And so they said in verse 3, "Fetch the Ark of the Covenant out of Shiloh." They had almost come to the point where they were idolatress, in so far as they attached the presence of God only to the little box known as the Ark of the Covenant, which was symbol of His omnipresence, really. And so they said let's go get the box that represents God. We got to have God on our side. And they were looking at God as if He were a utilitarian genie: you rubbed your lamp, God jumps out, and says three wishes; anything you want. Without respect for how you may have treated Him in the past.
And so they thought they could just bring God in as if He were a sort of magic charm. So the people sent to Shiloh in verse 4, "That they might bring from there the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the Ark of the Covenant of God," two wretched, deviated, perverse young men, by the way, "and when the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout so that the earth rang again." The shout was a shout of triumph. We're going to win now; God's here! They rubbed their magic lamp, God jumped out, and now He would save them.
And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout they said, "What means the noise of the great shout in the camp of the Hebrews. And they understand that the Ark of the Lord was come to the camp. And the Philistines were afraid for they said, 'God has come into the camp!' The word was out about that little box. I mean that thing was representative of the God who parted Red Sea, the God who had done many, many mighty miracles in Egypt to free them from their bondage. The reputation of that Ark, that God-representation, for in the pagans' eyes, that little box was their idol. And so they were afraid. In verse 7, God has come into the camp, and they said, "Whoa unto us for there hath not been such a thing here to fore whoa unto us. Who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues, in the wilderness."
And there was instant panic throughout the whole Philistine army. And then there was a pep talk because there was little else they could do but fight. In verse 9, "Be strong and acquit yourselves like men, o you Philistines, that you be not servants unto the Hebrews as they have been to you. Acquit yourselves like men and fight." Get your act together. Somebody became instantly the coach and called for everybody to get going. And the Philistines fought and Israel was smitten. Amazing. "And the Israelites fled every man to his tent and there was a very great slaughter for there fell of Israel 30 thousand footmen." And look at this, "And the Ark of the Lord was taken. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain."
Imagine this turn of events. They're all excited. The Ark of the Covenant arrives. They start to shout and scream so much that the earth rings and the Philistines are afraid just because of the shout. God is here; we're going to win. What happens? Not only did they lose. But the Philistines stole the Ark; they took God, an unbelievable turn of events. Now if you think that's a disaster for the Israelites, imagine what it is for the Philistines who now have God on their hands. That's frightening.
Let's see what happened ... chapter 5. So the Philistines have the Ark of God. The Ark of God is now in the hands of the pagans. "And they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod," and here we have a series of Philistine cities. Philistine or Philistiais the ancient name from which we get Palestine and it speaks of those early dwellers in that place. The Philistines took the Ark of God and, of course, they thought it was an idol, it was the Jewish God, which now they thought was no big deal because they had defeated the Jewish God. This was a real coup for them. But they had known that this God had a good reputation so they wanted to at least show some respect.
So this took this box, which they thought was the God of Israel, rather than a representation of Him. And they brought it into the house of Dagon. Now Dagon was the Philistine god, half fish and half man. It was a man with fish head. Now Dagon was their main God. And so they went into the temple of Dagon and put this God in there. Now they had Dagon and they had this God that they had captured, as it were, from Israel. And they no doubt set the Ark of the Covenant alongside Dagon to show that it was now subjection to Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early the next day, and went back, they found Dagon fallen on his face to the earth before the Ark of the Lord. What happened? They went back in and this half man/half fish thing is bowing down to this little box. And they took Dagon and set him in his place again. It must have been a strong wind blow through here in the night.
And when they arose early the next morning, this time Dagon was fallen on his face to the ground before the Ark of the Lord. Only this time, his head and palms of hands were cut off and only the stump was left. And they knew there was no wind doing this. Now his head and his hands are hacked off. Well, verse 5 gives you a very obvious consequence, "Neither the priests of Dagon nor any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon and Ashdod unto this day."
That wasn't all. "The hand of the Lord," now the Lord is not looking kindly on being compared to other gods, right? And certainly is not going to accept the fact that they had put their god Dagon before Him, "for He would have no other gods before Him," says the Decalogue in Exodus 20. "So the hand of the Lord then moves on them of Ashdod and He destroyed them and smote them with tumors." And all around Ashdod there was death and there were tumors. "And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, 'The Ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us.'" You understand that. Get that box out of town. Get it out. "For His hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god. So they sent therefore, gathered all the Lords of the Philistines, and they said, 'What are we going to do with the Arc of the God of Israel?'" They said, "Let the Arc of the God of Israel be carried about to Gath." Now Gath is another Philistine town not far away from which a very famous man came by the name of Goliath.
And so they said take it to Gath. And they carried the Ark of the God of Israel to Gath, which was no particular favor for the people who lived in Gath. The hand of the Lord, in verse 9, was against the city with a very great destruction. "And He smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had tumors in their secret parts." That means internal tumors, very deep within them. Cancerous tumors divinely authored by God.
Well the Gathites said we got to get rid of this box too. And so they sent it to Eckron. "And it came to pass as the Ark of God came to Eckron, that the Eckronites cried out. And they said, "They have brought the Arc of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people." And it's really getting ridiculous 'cause every new town, becomes victimized by God. "So they sent and gathered together all the lord of the Philistines and said, 'Send away the Ark of the God of Israel, let it go again to its own place that it slay us not, and our people," there's a deadly destruction throughout all the city. "The hand of God was very heavy there and the men that died not," the ones that weren't killed in a plague. And we find out in the next chapter the plague was a plague carried by rodents. Like a bubonic plague or a black death and went through the whole population. And the ones that didn't die from that plague were smitten with these internal tumors. And the cry of the city went up to Heaven.
Now what's going to be the response? Are they going be like the people in Revelation pictured in the time of the tribulation when God comes down with a heavy hand of judgment, they shake their fists and curse and name of God? Are they going to curse God for His unjust act, for His lack of fairness, for His lack of love and grace and goodness and mercy and kindness? Are they going to wave their fists at God, like so many people? Let's find out.
It was in their country, it says in verse 1 of chapter 6, for seven months. And they called all the priests and the diviners, all the soothsayers, all the prognosticators, and stargazers, and everybody else who could figure out was going to go on. And they said, "What do we do with Ark of the Lord? Tell us what way, we shall send it to its place." How do we get rid of it? How do we stop this? And they said, "If you send away the Ark of the God of Israel, sent it not empty." Don't send it back empty. Why? "But by all means," underline this, "by all means return Him a trespass offering," so significant. What does a trespass offering acknowledge? Sin. In other words, we need to confess that the reason this has happened is because of our ... what? Sin.
I commend these pagan people for having the integrity to acknowledge the fact that they had violated the Holy God of Israel. And that what had happened to them, had happened to them not because God was unjust but because they had ... what? Sinned. "Then you shall be healed and it shall be known to you why His hand is not removed from you." And they said, "Well, what shall be the trespass offering which we shall return?" And they said, "Five golden tumors." Can you imagine? Five golden tumor and five golden mice for that how many lords of the Philistines there are. And one plague was on you all and on your lords.
So, they would set about to take gold and shape five golden tumors and five golden mice. You say, "What is this?" This is what, in ancient times, was called a votive offering. It is given because, by virtue of its very design, it acknowledges that the tumors and the plague of the mice was due to the violation of the God to whom they offered they offering. See? Very specific.
I remember being in Corinth, the ancient city of Corinth. And while I was looking through the museum at Corinth, the guide said to me, "Would you like to come into a private room? I want to show you something." Now in Corinth in ancient times, they worshipped the god who was known as the god Esculapius. And Esculapius was the god of healing. And people would come to Corinth in the temple of Esculapius to receive their healings. And they would acknowledge when they came that their diseases were a result of offending this god Esculapius, in order to demonstrate that, they would bring votive offerings.
And when I went into this room, I saw for the first time what they were. All over this room were feet and knees and elbows and arms and noses and ears and fingers and internal organs, every imaginable limb and organ of the human body, and by the thousands in there, all formed out of clay. They would literally make a clay replica of the diseased part of their body, as they understood it, and they would bring it in and lay it at the feet of this god in this temple, acknowledging to that god that the disease in that part of their body was due to an offense against him. And they knew that was offense against him and they wanted him to know they knew it by presenting that very diseased part of their body as a recognition that they had violated him.
That's essentially what you have here. It was a common pagan way to acknowledge to a deity or a god, whether the true God, as in this case, or an imaginary god like Esculapius, that you knew your trouble was related to your violation of that god. And so we see here and other places in history that even pagans have acknowledged their sin to their deities. And that that which comes upon them is a result of that violation.
The sum of it is in verse 5, "Wherefore you shall make images of your tumors and images of your mice that mar the land." Now you should underline the next line. "And you shall give," what? What? "Glory unto the God of Israel."
Listen. When we sin and trouble comes into our lives and chastening comes into our lives and difficulty comes into our lives, the first, the first response in us tends to be, "Why God are You doing this?" And then we begin to question God. And strike, as it were, against His absolute perfect justice. Instead, we should glorify God by confessing ... what? Sin. We acknowledge full responsibility. And His name is cleared from any unfairness and He is glorified.
Now this was the heart of Nehemiah. Nehemiah chapter 9 verse 33, he vindicated God's righteousness when he said, "Thou art just in all Thou hast brought on us." Doesn't that sound like Luke 23:41 which I quoted earlier, one thief on the cross saying, "We indeed suffer justly."
Look for a moment at Luke chapter 15 ... Luke chapter 15 and verse 18. You remember the story of the prodigal? Decided he wanted everything that was coming to him and we wanted to go out and live the way he wanted to live, out from under the protection and care and supervision and accountability of his own family. And he went and wasted all the substance that his father provided for him, it says in verse 13 of Luke 15. He spent everything he had. A great famine came, he had no way to support himself. So he wound up slopping hogs, which for a Jewish boy is an extremely difficult profession. And he would have eaten the pig slop, verse 16 says, but no one even gave him that. And he came to himself and said why am I doing this when I can go back to my father. He has, for his servants, more than enough and I'm dying of hunger. And then in verse 18, he goes back and what does he say? I will arise and go to my father and I'll say unto him, Father you drove me away because you put too much pressure on me. And I mean I got fouled up but I mean you made it really hard for me. No. I'll go to my father and I'll say, "Father," what? "I've sinned against Heaven and before thee."
There's so much integrity in that, people. There's so much honesty in that. God help us. That's honest. And I am no more worthy to be called your son. Just let me be a hired slave. I mean do we run around thinking God owes us things? Do we? I mean this is what is so repulsive to me in this health and wealth doctrine, this name it and claim it stuff, this demanding out of God, prosperity. Listen, if one moment you got what you deserved or I got what I deserved, I'd be in eternal hell. I don't want what I deserve. But I realize that when the chastening hand of God comes into my life, He is just and holy and righteous and fair, in all He does. And I, in confessing my own sin, free Him from any thought of unfairness, to do as He pleases and be glorified.
Your confession is to acknowledge sin and that does bring you back into a right relationship. And it frees God, should He should choose, to chasten us. You remember Genesis 41:9? "Then spoke the chief butler to Pharaoh, 'I do remember my sins this day.'" Genesis 44:16, "So Judas said, 'What can we say to my Lord? What can we speak and how can we justify ourselves, God has found out our sins.'" In 1 Samuel 15:24, "Then Saul said to Samuel, 'I have sinned. I have truly transgressed the command of the Lord.'" 2 Samuel 12:13, "And David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord. I have sinned against the Lord.'" And then Daniel chapter 9 verse 20, "I was praying and speaking and confessing my sin." In Luke 5, you remember dear Peter when he pulled his net in and had all those fish, looked at Jesus and said, "Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord." And you remember the man in Luke 18:13, beating on his breast, "Lord be merciful to me," what? "Sinner."
You see to confess is homolagetofrom which we get words homo that is of the same. Lagetomeans to speak, to speak the same. To confess is to speak same thing about your sin that God is saying, to agree with God about your sin. That gives Him glory. That allows Him to still be God, a God of holiness, a God of justice, a God of righteousness, who has every right to respond to evil the way He does for He, says Habakkuk, is a God who is too pure to look upon iniquity.
There is great integrity, beloved, in the confession of the sin as well as great cleansing. And that we should discuss, but don't have time. I want to emphasize just this one aspect for tonight. You want to glorify God? You say you do, I know that. You sing it, "To God be the glory." We sing it over and over again. We say we want to live to His glory. We say we want to live to His praise. We say we want to exalt Him. We understand what the apostle Paul meant when he said to Titus, "Adorn the doctrine of God." We want to lift Him up. We want to exalt Him. Well, here are some ways to do that: confess Him as Lord; aim your life at His glory; and confess your sin. So that there's never coming from you, any thought that God might be in any way unjust should He bring trouble into your life.
Let me give you a fourth, very practical way in which we can glorify God. And that is by trusting God ... by trusting God. Would you look with me for a moment at the fourth chapter of Romans ... Romans chapter 4 verse 19 and 20. Just pulling out a couple of verses from this great text about Abraham's faith which is a marvelous illustration of saving faith that Paul uses in this chapter to explain what he says in chapter 3. And speaking about Abraham in verse 19, he says, "Being not weak in faith."
God promised Abraham a son, but it's a little difficult to believe that when you're nearly 100 and your wife is in her 90s. And she's been barren all her life. And yet, when God made the promise, he was not weak in faith. He considered not his own body now dead when he about 100 years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb. And we could add when she was about 90. A barren woman, 90, and the man who, by all intents and purposes, humanly speaking, would be sterile at the age of 100. And yet he believed and was not weak in faith. Verse 20 sums it up, I love this, "He staggered not or wavered not at the promise of God through unbelief," follow this, "but was strong in faith," what? "Giving glory to God."
Well, listen. It's a simple truth. God is glorified when you believe what He says. Does that not seem reasonable? God is glorified when you believe what He said. You say you believe the Word of God. You say I believe the Bible from cover to cover. I believe every word of God, I'll fight for Biblical inerrancy plenary, verbal inspiration. Boy, I believe every word of Scripture is true. And then do you go through your life a psychological basket case worrying about everything happening around you? What does that say? That says your theology is unrelated to your attitude. Your theology is unrelated to your life. I mean it is a conundrum to me that many Christians, who affirm the absolute authenticity, veracity, and applicability of Scripture, can't seem to live a life that trusts God. And they question and they doubt and they vacillate. Do you think that glorifies Him? We greatly dishonor God when we claim to believe in Him yet we can't accept what happens in our lives and cast our care on Him knowing He cares for us.
You remember the testimony of the gospel of John? 1 John chapter 5; pardon me, the epistle of John. 1 John chapter 5 verse 10, listen to this, just listen to it. 1 John 5:10, "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. He that believeth not God has made Him," what? "A liar." You don't believe God? You've made Him a liar. Let's put it simply. Did God say He would supply all your needs? Did He say that? Do you worry about your needs? What does that say? What does that say? Did God say that He'll care for all your cares and you can cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you? Yes. Do you trust Him with your cares? Or do you carry them? What does that say? That says you don't trust God consistently.
For illustration's sake, go back to Daniel chapter 3 in your mind and remember Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who were given the pagan names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago, along with Daniel. And they were all facing the fiery furnace because the king was going to put them there for failure to bow down to the image he had made of himself. Do you remember their testimony? They said, "Our God shall deliver us, O king." I like them. You say amen, brother. Preach it. I buy it. "Our God shall deliver us!" I am there. Man I believe it. Yeah, but you're standing four feet from a fatal furnace. That's the test. Some people get four feet from a small problem and it all goes out the window. And then they said and even if He doesn't, we still won't bow down to you. And he threw them in the fire. And you know what happened? The fire was so hot, the guys who threw them in burned up. Now that's a hot fire. But the ones who got thrown in didn't burn up. They trusted God and did He prove Himself trustworthy? Sure He did. Is there anything too hard for Him?
We betray, we betray our spiritual infirmity, perhaps more in this area than any other area of our life. And an inability to apply the confident theology we have about God being absolutely trustworthy, in the matter of day-to-day living. And many Christian people live most of their Christian experience unable to enjoy the blessedness of a life that God would give them because they will not let Him carry the burden.
How about Philippians for a minute? Do you remember chapter 4? And I could go to varying Scriptures. But look at this. Verse 4, what does it say? Rejoice in your circumstances. Is that what it says? Rejoice over your husband, all the time. Rejoice over your bank account. Rejoice in the bliss of your employment. Is that what is says? No, it says rejoice where? In the Lord. Now if you're trying to attach your joy to your circumstances, you got a real problem. If you rejoice in the Lord you're okay because He's not going to change. And again, I say what? Just in case you didn't hear it the first time. Because the first time you say, "Rejoice in the Lord, but, but, but, but." Again I say, "Rejoice. And let your gentleness be known to all men, the Lord is at hand." That's not talking about the second coming. That's talking about His presence.
What are you worried about? He's right here. "Therefore," verse 6 says, "be anxious for," what? For what? For nothing. Just give your requests to the Lord, say thanks, and enjoy His peace. Now wouldn't that be a nice way to live? That is the way we're supposed to live if we really trusted God. And it is important to do that because that's how we glorify Him. Abraham believed God, was strong in faith, unwavering, thus giving glory to God.
Can you imagine how the watching world would define a God who was not only articulated by people as He is by Christians, but whose power and whose promise was demonstrated to be so secure that Christians lived totally without anxiety in perfect peace. Can you imagine what a testimony that would be to the world? It should be. It should be.
You know, in Ephesians 6, the shield that we hold up against the fiery darts of the wicked one, is the shield of ... what? Of faith, isn't it? Trusting God. Satan's firing away, you're trusting God. Very basic, I wish we had more time.
Let me give you at least one more. And I've got over a dozen. Maybe we'll do it again next Sunday morning. We glorify God by fruitfulness ... by fruitfulness. I just love this. Look at John 15:8 ... John 15:8. And you don't need to stumble around on this subject because you can get some direct answers. How do you glorify God? Here it comes, John 15:8, "In this is my Father glorified," here it comes, "that you bear," what? "Much fruit." Isn't that great. This is how you demonstrate the fact that you're My disciples.
You want to glorify God? Then confess Jesus as Lord. You want to glorify God? Then aim your life at that purpose which means that you prefer His glory above everything, you're content to do His will no matter what the cost, and you suffer when He is maligned, you feel the pain yourself. And you are content to be outdone by others who do what you do better than you do it, as long as He is glorified. And if you want to glorify God, you glorify God by confessing your sin and realizing your own unworthiness. And you glorify God by a perfect trust in Him that leaves you free from anxiety. And then you glorify God by bearing fruit. Not just fruit, but what? Much fruit.
I think it dishonors God to have little fruit. I might add, at this point, that all Christians have some fruit. There's no such thing as a no-fruit Christian. You might look a long time to find a shriveled grape, but it'll be there some place. You basically cannot have the life of God in the soul of man and not have it produce something. Some of you are raisin Christians, to be honest. And some of us, at times all of us, have wrinkled fruit and scarce.
Philippians 1:11, "Being filled," and this is what God would have. "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness," follow, "which are by Jesus Christ," here it comes, "unto the glory and praise of God." You see it is the fruit of your life that is to the glory of God. Why? Because it puts Him on display, folks. It puts Him on display. In 1 Corinthians 9:7, it says, "Who plants a vineyard and doesn't eat the fruit of it." And if God planted the vineyard and you're in the vineyard then He ought to have the fruit. And it ought to the fruit of righteousness.
What does that mean? Any righteous deed is fruit, any righteous deed. In fact, in 2 Thessalonians, I'm looking just at chapter 1 verse 11. It says, "We pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you." In other words, fruit is the result of the work of God's power in your life. There ought to be something there, visibly demonstrating the power of God is at work.
You say, "What is fruit?" Two kinds of fruit, two kinds. First is action fruit. What's that? Well, it's the outward fruit, the fruit of righteousness like Roman 1:13. He says, "I want to come Rome that I might have some fruit among you, even as among other Gentiles." What does he mean? What's he talking about? He's talking about converts, isn't he? I want to come and lead some people to Christ, that's fruit. Winning someone to Jesus Christ is fruit and you ought to have fruit. I mean it is a contradiction in terms that you should be a believer and not reproduce yourself, true? Because life begets life.
And so, fruit can be winning someone to Christ. In Philippians 4, which we mentioned earlier, a little later in the chapter, Paul thanks the Philippians for sending him some money and he said it isn't that I wanted the money. He said, "I desire fruit that abound to your account." I'm glad you gave me the money, not because I need the money, but because I love to see the fruit. And the fruit is your giving heart.
So that fruit is not just winning someone to Christ, it may be giving something to the Lord's work. That's fruit. That's a righteous act. Colossians 1:10, "That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work." Every good work is a fruit produced by the power of God. And what does Hebrews 13:15, "The fruit of your lips which is," what? "Praise to God." So praise is fruit. Giving is fruit. Any righteous deed is fruit. Winning someone to Christ is fruit.
But there's not only action fruit, follow this thought. There's also attitude fruit, attitude fruit. You say what is attitude fruit? Galatians 5, the fruit of the spirit is ... what? Love. Joy. Peace. Gentleness. Goodness. Faith. Meekness. Self-control. Those are attitudes, aren't they? Is love an attitude? Yes. Is joy an attitude? Yes. Peace? All of those: love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. All of those are attitudes.
So we are to have fruit in our lives in terms of our attitudes and in terms of our actions. Now there's a whole fruitful Christian. Let me suggest to you that a Christian or a person that has action fruit without attitude fruit is a legalist. Just cranking out the activity without the right spirit, that's legalism. That's phariseism. That's empty religion. Even though the end result may accrue to the glory of God, the process falls short of His standard.
What should be the right process? Galatians 4, walk in the spirit, controlled by the spirit. The spirit produces attitude fruit. Attitude fruit produces action fruit. That's true spirituality. Action fruit without attitude fruit is legalism. Action fruit as a result of attitude fruit is true spirituality.
Now what God wants to see produced in our lives to His glory is fruit. I mean it's as simple as this: if you hear that a guy's a great farmer and you check his orchard and nothing growing, you say to yourself, "He's not as great as I heard." And if the word goes out of what a great God ours is, and what a glorious God we serve, and what a blessed Savior is ours, and what tremendous power God has, and what tremendous power Christ has dispensed to the believer through the agency of the Spirit of God, and the world comes around to check and it sees absolutely nothing, what is their conclusion? God is not glorified.
That is why, in my own judgment, the severest issue for Christianity to deal with in the world, is not the overt unrighteous, vile, ungodliness of the pagan world. It is the deadness and the lethargy and the fruitlessness of the church. That's the tragedy. Because when the garbage of the world has filled a person where they can stand no more, and they want to find some reality, and they check the church and they find chaos and deadness and lethargy, therein lies the great tragedy. God deliver us from fruitless believers. Not in the sense that they are absolutely fruitless. But in the sense that their fruit is so miniscule it's almost in perceivable.
If we're to glorify God, then we must allow by His Spirit working through us, His power to be put on display so that He can receive the praise. And again, it isn't for our sake. It isn't for our sake. It's for His sake.
Well, we'll stop at that point. I have much more in my heart to say to you. And fortunately I'm your pastor, so I'll be back. Let's bow together in prayer.
Lord God, we cannot understand the mystery of how it is that Your glory could ever be displayed through these weak human vessels. We cannot understand that. Lord, I know my own heart. I know my own life. I know my own weaknesses and my own failures. And they are so far beyond my successes, they are so far dominant it seems, above the things that are my deepest desire, that is a wonder to me that You find any useful at all in me. And Lord, I marvel at how this treasure can be held in earthen vessels and still be to the praise of the glory of God. But Father, You know the deepest desire of our hearts who love You, is that we should give You glory, who are so worthy. For that will be our occupation throughout all eternity. As we praise You, forever and ever. Lord, it's our desire even now to offer that praise. We do confess Jesus as Lord to Your glory. We do desire to aim our lives at the intention of whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, it be done all to Your glory. We do want to confess our sinfulness. And the fact that we deserve only to be alienated from Thee, whatever chastening You choose to bring is deserved and more. And we honor You when You chasten as a holy, righteous, just God who is acting consistent with His person. And O God, we long so much to trust but we find ourselves so weak, so weak. Help us, like Peter, when we tend to drown in the sea of circumstances around us, to look to Thee and rise to walk across the storm. And Lord, we desire to be fruitful to Thy glory. Not that men may see us, not that men may praise us, God forbid, but that they may see Thee on display through us. We long to be to the praise of Your glory. We thank You for such a privilege.
While our heads are bowed in just a closing moment of prayer, I wish you would just pray to the Lord yourself. In whatever words the Spirit of God might prompt in your heart, refresh your commitment to the Savior. Refresh your commitment to give Him glory. And maybe recite in your mind, these that we have mentioned tonight and renew that covenant of your own heart. That when the watching world looks to the church, it may see the true revelation of the God who is to be on display through His people.
Gracious Father, we bless Your holy name tonight. This has been a wonderful day. We do humble our hearts as we heard in the beautiful song earlier because we know that that's the kind of heart You seek. And we do ask for forgiveness this day, that impurity of heart as we have been washed, we might go forth as instruments of power for Your name. We ask Lord, that You'll lead us to the people that need to hear the message. That You'll bring us with our life across the path of those who need to see the power of God at work. That You'll shape and mold us more like Jesus Christ as we gaze on His glory. That You'll save those, tonight Father, who have not yet embraced the Savior. That You'll give us a new vision and a fresh commitment to the task at hand to reach those that are outside the Savior, with the saving gospel of grace. And Father, we ask that You'll give us a great week. May we rejoice in the richness of our fellowship. May we find a deeper love for family and friends. May we have a compassion for those that are lost. A zeal to reach the world. But, more than all of that, may it be that our consuming passion is to glorify Thee. We pray in Thy gracious name. Amen.
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