Things in life that shackle and put
us in bondage are vices, habits, addictions, and other
sins, and how we can be freed by the power of Jesus Christ
Did you know that the average man loses his temper six
times a week? The average woman only loses her temper three
times a week. Women tend to get angrier at people. Men tend
to get angrier at things such as flat tires and non-working
vending machines. Single people express anger twice as
often as married folks, and yet the home is the place where
we're most likely to express our anger. Anger is most
frequently and intensely expressed toward people that we
love, rather than strangers.
We all get angry it is a normal response. God
made us with that capacity. Jesus got angry, didn't he?
Re-member the cleansing of the temple? Three hundred and
seventy-five times in the Old Testament, we read that God
was angry. Ephesians 4:26 states, "Be angry, and do not
sin." In other words, there's a right way and there's a
wrong way to get angry. So anger, in and of itself, isn't
The issue isn't how do you get rid of all your anger;
you're not going to do that. You were made with the
capacity to anger at times. The issue is, how can you
control your anger so that your anger doesn't control you,
so that it doesn't cause you to sin and hurt yourself and
I. Anger Expressed
This is the person who just explodes. He or she is a
walking time bomb. They have a hair trigger, and when they
get angry, everything breaks loose, yelling, stomping,
ranting, raving, throwing and cursing. Does that sound like
someone you know?
A Biblical example of the monster-type of anger is Cain,
Abel's brother. Genesis 4:5, "So Cain was very angry, and
his face was downcast." Now listen to verse 8, "Now Cain
said to his brother Abel, 'Let's go out to the field.' And
while they were in the field, Cain at-tacked his brother
Abel and killed him." You see that's the monster, it's
somebody who loses control. Most of the time, those who
express monster anger, are immediately sorry and beg for
forgiveness, but the damage is done. Does it surprise you
that men more than women express their anger in this
The mute is the exact opposite of the monster. The mute is
the silent type. They clam it up and they hold it in.
Sometimes they even pretend that they're not angry. Have
you ever been with a mute, and said "You're angry, aren't
you?" They reply, "No, I'm not." "Yes you are." "No, I'm
not." "Yes, you are." "No, I'm not!!" They're concealing
their feeling, letting it simmer. I call it the crock pot
version of anger. It smolders all day.
This type of anger is not as volatile as the monster, but
it's no less destructive on the individual. Someone said,
"When you swallow your anger, your stomach keeps score."
Folks like this, are susceptible to ulcers, head-aches and
hypertension. In fact, Dr. F.I. McMillan has written a book
called, None of These Diseases, in which he lists 51
different types of major illnesses that are caused by
A biblical example of this kind of anger is the prophet
Jeremiah. He said, "I never sat in the company of revelers,
never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand
was on me and you had filled me with indignation. Why is my
pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?"
(Jeremiah 15:17) Poor old Jeremiah is sitting there alone
holding it in and it's killing him.
Have you ever heard anyone say, "This just burns me up."?
They're speaking more truth than they know. It's not so
much what you eat, it's "what's eating you?"
This guy is the pro at pity parties. He's self-punishing
and passive. One of the chief characteristics of the martyr
is depression. Many people will go to psychologists and
say, "Do you know, I'm depressed." Sometimes after talking
with the psychologist, the psychologist will say, "Yes,
you're depressed, but what you really are experiencing is
A biblical example is the older brother in the parable of
the Prodigal Son. Remember his reaction? The elder brother
was so angry that he would not go into the party. So, his
father went out and pleaded with him. (Luke 15:28) Now if
that older brother had been a monster he would have gone
into the party and trashed the place. If he had been a mute
he would have gone into the party and very obviously stood
in the corner and sulked. But he was a martyr. He stayed
outside in his own pity party so that his father had to
come out and plead with him. One of the characteristics of
the martyr is to make every one else around them
miser-able. They're good at that.
This is the, "I don't get mad, I get even." This kind of
anger is the key to most TV and movie dramas. Some one is
offended, they get mad, they decide to get even, you know
On the domestic front, it may happen when the wife
intentionally burns the toast, just a little bit. Or, when
the husband teases hurtfully and then says sarcastically,
"Can't you take a joke?" Now believe it or not, religious
people are particularly susceptible to the manipulation
form of anger expression. We don't think it's very
spiritual to explode. We know it's not very spiritual to
sit around and mope. But if you put a smile on your face,
you can stab somebody in the back by manipulation.
A classic biblical example is the Pharisees. "But they were
furious and began to plot with each other what they might
do to Jesus." (Luke 6:11) See, they're not getting angry,
they're going to get even.
If you fall into any one of those forms, I've got great
news for you. You weren't born with it, you learned it. You
learned that anger response. You learned it from your
parents, television, friends, environment or somewhere
else. The great news is, you can unlearn it. You don't have
to be any of those four. You can release yourself and free
yourself from those types of anger expressions.
II. Diffusing Anger
Proverbs 19:11 says, "A man's wisdom gives him patience"
The better I understand myself, the more I'll be able to
control my anger. The truth of the matter is, anger isn't
the problem. Anger is a warning light that something else
is wrong in my life, and that's why I'm getting angry.
a. Physical or emotional hurt.
I read an interesting article lately about divorce, and
those who have gone through the trauma of divorce. It said,
"The divorce is far from over for the spouse who lives
angrily ever after" and "one-third of those who have been
divorced for over 10 years, still feel intense anger." Why?
They've been hurt deeply and the deeper the hurt, the more
intense the anger.
b. When nothing is going right, everything is going wrong
and you have to wait.
Anger comes out of your frustration. The classic example is
traffic, isn't it? People do things in traffic they
wouldn't do any other time. I've been in heavy congested
traffic and seen two people up there jockeying and blowing
horns, and I knew them both, and they knew each other, and
they're both Christian folks. They were making those faces
and yelling and shaking a fist, and all of a sudden they
get up beside each other and recognize each other, and feel
shame. They're embarrassed. Why? They lost their temper out
We're angry when we're threatened, afraid and insecure.
When somebody takes away my security, I'm like a passive
animal that's cornered. I come out with my claws ready.
Understanding yourself is step one. What is it that makes
you angry most often? Is it a hurt that you can't get over?
Is it an insecurity that happens commonly? Is it a
frustrating experience you go through daily? Understand
yourself, that's the key.
2. Look to God,
not to others, for your self worth.
A sense of self worth is essential for controlling your
anger because insecure people are easily angered. Confident
people are not easily angered. When you've got a good sense
of self worth, you can handle your hurts, your
frustrations, your insecurities. "Don't pay attention to
everything people say." (Ecclesiastes 7:21) The secret to
overcoming a huge amount of anger in life is to develop a
God-based sense of self worth, then it doesn't matter what
everybody is saying about you.
I love the example of the apostles in Acts 4:9, when Peter
and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, and were
threatened by them not to preach any more about Jesus, or
else. Peter and John said, "Whether it is right in the
sight of God to obey you rather than God, you'll have to
choose, but we can't help but speak the things we've seen
and heard." See they didn't get mad, they didn't get
defensive, they just told the truth. Why? Their self worth
wasn't based upon what the Pharisees thought about them.
Their self worth was based upon what God thought about
There's a statement that I really like, "If God likes me,
and I like me, and you don't like me, then you're the one
with the problem." Isn't that right? It is important that I
look to God for my self worth. That way, the frustrations,
the insecurities and the hurts won't bother me as much.
3. Stop and think
Our mouths usually run faster than our minds. Have you ever
noticed that when you get angry, your sharp tongue is the
quickest thing to cut your own throat.
Proverbs 13:16 says, "Sensible people always think be-fore
they act." The key word to anger management is the word,
"T-H-I-N-K." Start thinking before you start responding.
That's why James said in James 1:19, "Let every man be
swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger." Do you
know why you need to be slow to anger? Just give yourself a
little time so that you can think. Thomas Jefferson once
said. "When you're angry, count to ten." He also added,
"When very angry, count to a hundred." That's good advice
it will give you ten good seconds to think. I'll guarantee
you, very few times will you come to the conclusion, the
best way for me to respond is to be a monster, a mute, a
martyr or a manipulator. THINK!
I know what some of you are thinking. "Oh, yeah Steve, that
sounds great, sounds nice, neat, clinical and logical, but
you don't understand. When I get mad, I get mad. I can't
control it. I lose it. I can't help myself." Yes, you can!
Do you hear me? Yes, you can. Don't you dare believe the
lie that you can't stop and think before you lose it? In
fact, I'll prove it to you.
Have you ever had an argument at home? You're at home
arguing with your spouse or maybe your children, (everybody
is arguing loudly), all of a sudden the phone rings. "Hello
(softly)." "How are you doing?" "Good, so nice to hear from
you!!" Oh, you've never done that, have you? Why the
change? Why the drastic change? You changed because you
wanted to. You changed be-cause you chose to. Let's be
honest. No one makes you mad, you choose to be mad. I
choose my anger. Do you know why? Because the hurt, the
frustration, and the in-security gets up, and I want to do
something so I just get mad.
Let's be honest about it. Sometimes it feels good to be
mad, doesn't it? Just kind of vent your spleen. It feels
good to be mad. The problem is, in the long run, it hurts
you terribly. Proverbs 29:11 says, "A fool gives full vent
to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control."
That's so rich, it's worth repeating. "A fool gives full
vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under
control." You can take two people, you can put them in the
same environment, same conditions, same circumstances, same
stimulus, one of them will blow the top, and the other will
be cool. It's not the circumstance, it's the choice.
Galatians 5:22 lists the beautiful nine-fold fruit of the
spirit. The last one is the capstone. It's self-control.
When you walk with God's spirit, you've got the blessing of
keeping it under control. THINK, think before you
4. Learn to
Proverbs 14:30 says, "A heart at peace gives life to the
body." Have you ever noticed that when you're uptight,
you're more inclined to be angry? Temper and tension always
go together. Have you ever been late for a morning meeting,
you're in a rush and you can't find some-thing you must
have? Oh, what will I do? The pressure and frustration
elicits my anger. I must learn to relax. Some of you are a
walking time bomb because of the tension you feel all the
time. Some of you feel so much tension at work that as soon
as you come home, you snap your spouse's head off. You
blame them for the tension you're under. The following are
things to do to control our tension:
" Be aware that tension is building and seek to diffuse it.
You may have to change jobs. You may need to do something
totally different, but don't let tension ruin your life. "
Exercise. I know that Paul said bodily exercise profiteth a
little, but this is one of the ways it does profit a
little. We are designed to build up stress, but we are
designed to relieve it physically. You will relieve it, if
you exercise. Amazing Grace
Lesson #1199 - Taught by Steve Flatt
1. God is?
All the above
A and C
A, C and E
A, B and C
2. Everyone gets angry as it is a normal reaction.
3. Anger can be expressed by?
Exploding (verbal or
Pouting (the silent
Martyr (self pity)
All the above
4. Anger can be caused by?
Physical or emotional
Afraid, threatened and
All the above
5. What is the key word for anger management?
(count to ten)
6. One can control anger by
Biting tongue and saying
Understanding cause of
Think before reacting
Remove tension and
A, B and C
A, C and D
Picture the face or the name of the person that you admire most in life? Can you get that face? Get that name? Now, what is the single most reason that you admire that person so much? Boil it all down. Reduce it to one word if you can. Did you think of loving, honest, faith-ful, unselfish, loyal, caring, happy, kind or humble? I could go on. The interesting thing about all these words is they all describe attitudes. Isn't that fascinating? All of those are atti-tudes. Did you choose appearance, ability or intelligence? I doubt that many, if any, did. Doesn't that tell you something?
Jesus tells us about human attitudes in the "Good Samaritan" parable. "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" (Luke 10:30-36)
Jesus shows us in this parable three very basic attitudes:
1. What is yours is mine and I'm going to take it.
Somebody had that attitude in the parable can you figure out who? The thief or the thieves, the ones who found the man, beat him, took what he had and left him for dead. We know this about him. His attitude was "what's yours is mine and I'm going to take it." Frankly most of the people don't have that attitude. Oh, it's prevalent in this world. Folks with that kind of attitude are like the old dog that had the bone. He went to a lake looked over and saw his reflection. He saw what he thought to be an-other dog with a bone in his mouth and he wanted that one too. So he let go to begin to bite at the other dog and what happened. He lost the bone he had. "What's yours is mine and I'm going to take it."
2. What's mine is mine and I'm going to keep it.
It's interesting to me that Jesus talks about a priest and a Levite, both religious men. They were probably going from Jericho to Jerusalem to do service in the temple. The priest and the Levites one week out of every year had to perform temple service. They had to do all the duties and prepare the sacrifices. To go along this route was not an unusual thing as Jericho is not very far from the Jerusa-lem, and many priests lived there. They saw this man beaten, bleeding, and robbed, but they chose to pass by on the other side.
Now there could have been one other thing at work here. You see if a priest or Levite were heading toward the temple to perform a service, the last thing that individual would want to do would be to become unclean. Accord-ing to the Jewish law, if you were to touch a corpse, it would make you ceremonially unclean. They may have been in a hurry with important work to do. They could have even thought about the risk of becoming ceremoni-ally unclean. This man may either be dead or he may die in my hands. So, rather than risking becoming unclean they went on their way. "What's mine is mine and I'm go-ing to keep it."
These are the kind of person folks who goes through life hurting no one, breaking no rules, and making no ene-mies. In fact that's the kind of person who goes through life determined to leave things just like they are. They won't bother you and don't want you bothering them. They do not consider those who went before and pre-pared the way. Somebody invested yesterday in what they enjoy today. When you've got an attitude of "What's mine is mine and I'm going to keep it" you just want to be left alone. No you are not a society drainer. But, you're not giving anything to anybody either.
Years ago, when I was a young teenager, I would spend a week every summer with my grandfather on the farm. Some of the greatest lessons I've ever learned in life have been those weeks out on the farm because I lived in the city, a suburban kid. One time I was with my granddad-dy Flatt, we called him "Pap" was planting fruit trees. They were just little tiny saplings, it was a hot day, it was a lot of work and my granddaddy was almost 80. I said, "Pap what on earth are you planting those fruit trees for? You're not going to live long enough to ever eat one ap-ple off that tree." He looked at me and in his own humble way, he taught me one of the greatest lessons about serv-ant hood I've ever known. He said, "Now son, I'm not planting these for me. But, much of what I've enjoyed on this farm is here because somebody else did some work before me. I'm not naive enough to think I'll pull an apple off this tree, but that's not the point, life didn't begin with me and life doesn't end with me." He said, "If my life is really going to be useful, I'll leave something here that somebody else can enjoy."
Therefore,, it's not enough to say, "What's mine is mine and I'm going to keep it."
3. What's mine is yours, and I'm going to give it.
The Bible says that the Good Samaritan saw the victim and had compassion on him. He carried him to an inn, he paid for his care and said I'll come back by to check on him to see if I need to do anything else.
All three of the main characters, the Levite, the Priest, and the Samaritan had something in common. Don't think that only certain people can have certain kinds of attitudes. They had a lot in common.
They saw the same problem, a man in need lying there bleeding.
Many people say I just don't do much, I just give much, because I just don't have much opportunity. It's not the exposure to the need that makes a man or a woman a good servant. It is the attitude. It's not the person who has the most opportunities, who becomes the greatest servant.
They all had something else to do.
It's not how much time you have in your schedule that dictates whether or not you reach out and touch your fel-low man. It's the person who has the best attitude. Some of the best stewards that I've ever known were also the busiest people. You see it has nothing to do with your agenda. It has nothing to do with your schedule. It has nothing to do with how much opportunity.
They all had reasons not to help.
They needed to do some work. They didn't want to risk touching a corpse. But listen to this. The Samaritan had the most significant reason of all for not helping. It was the enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews hated the Samaritans. They called them to their fac-es, dogs. For that Samaritan to look over and to see that Jew bleeding there, it wouldn't have been at all unusual for a man who had gone through the kind of isolation and persecution Samaritans have gone through to say, "Look who the dog is now." Or, if he had a particularly bitter spirit to just go ahead and finish him off. But, you see that's the beauty about attitude.
His attitude helped him overcome his prejudice and it's the only thing that will. You and I have prejudic-es. We develop them as we go through life and the only way they'll be conquered is by attitude.
It helped him conquer his convenience. See none of us want to have our convenience rattled. But, the atti-tude on the part of that Samaritan made him give his donkey, his money, his time and all because he had the right attitude, not because he had more availabil-ity or more time, but because he had the right atti-tude.
1. Your attitude is more important than your abilities. That was proved in the person that we admired the most. We ad-mire the person most who has the right attitude. Attitude is the way we influence this world not by looks or our brain. Every person has something to give to his fellow man and something to give to God. Don't say, if you think you have nothing to give to God, you are also thinking God has given you nothing. That's paramount to blasphemy.
2. Your position doesn't count anything next to your attitude. The classic example is right here in this parable. The first two men were religious men. There was a Levite and a Priest. If anybody was trained to help people, it was them. If anybody had gone to school to learn to devote their life to people, it was the Priest and the Levite. Isn't it fascinating that the people who were trained the most, qualified the most, and schooled the most, helped the least.
3. Your attitude is more important than timing. In this para-ble the Good Samaritan had the poorest timing of all. You see if that beaten up Jew was half dead when the Priest and the Levite passed by, he was probably three-fourths dead by the time the Good Samaritan got there. But it didn't stop him from serving. Don't look for a time to have the right attitude. Have the right attitude and let time work itself out. Remem-ber the purpose of this parable was for Jesus to respond to the question, who is my neighbor? Jesus says your neighbor has nothing to do with proximity, neighborhood associations, or timing. It's whoever has the right attitude to help.
4. A right attitude is active. Which of these three men do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers, the expert in the law replied, the one who had mercy on him? Jesus told him, go and do likewise.
We've all been taught certain myths as we grow up and most
of them are frankly, harmless. But there are some myths
that are extremely harmful.
There are just all kinds of things that we've heard and
absorbed, that the world has taught us that just aren't
true: Myths about yourself, myths about God, and myths
about life and the future and money and sex and
relationships, myths about heaven and hell. Some of those
bring with them some extremely negative consequences.
One myth that undergirds so many of the others is it
doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere.
Have you ever heard that? Sure you have. It doesn't matter
what you believe as long as you're sincere. That sounds so
mature, that sounds so accommodating, so politically
correct. But the problem with this commonly accepted cliché
is, it's absurd. It's absolutely ridiculous, it's naive and
As you go through life, you'll find that so many times
there are beliefs that are antithesis of each other; they
can't both be true, that's just an impossibility. A few
weeks ago, my wife and I had arranged via phone to be at a
certain place at a certain time. You know how busy we get,
a two-car family kind of thing, and I misunderstood. I
believed I was to meet her at a certain place at a certain
time and that's not what she believed. Now is it all right
to believe whatever you believe as long as you're sincere?
We were both sincere, but we never rendezvoused. It cost us
both about three hours out of our day. You see you can be
sincere, but you can be sincerely wrong.
I was channel surfing the other night and came across the
middle of a movie about some terrorists who had gotten in
and rearranged the computer and the radar signals for major
airports. In this fictitious movie an airplane was coming
in to land. The pilot thought they were 300 feet above the
ground when in fact as they came through the clouds, the
runway was there and they crashed and burned. But you see
the pilot thought he was 300 feet above...he was sincere.
He was just sincerely wrong.
There are beliefs that we encounter that, if we don't
correct them, will cause us to crash and burn. There are
some very simple principles about belief. Some of these are
going to seem elementary and fundamental, that's because
they are. Some of these we aren't even conscious of, but
let's go right to the root and build on it.
1. You choose what
It's true that there are numerous influences on our lives,
but nobody forces you to believe anything. If I don't want
to believe something, I don't have to. If I want to believe
in some-thing, I can. Nobody can stop me. If I want to
believe the Bible is the word of God, I can believe that,
and I do. If the Republicans and the Democrats are at an
impasse, you can choose to believe the Democrats, or you
can choose to believe the Republicans. It doesn't make any
difference, you can choose to believe whatever you
Nobody forces you to believe anything. The point is, you
can't blame anybody else for what you believe. My parents,
my teachers, my peers, they influence my belief, but they
don't control them. This is a key point as we analyze the
beliefs that we have. You may find you've embraced a belief
that's been wrong for years, but you can change that
God said in Proverbs 8:10 "Choose my instructions, instead
of silver." In Romans 1:25, Paul was talking about some
depraved godless people and said, "They exchanged the truth
of God for a lie." Do you see the two things these verses
have in common? The idea is choice, choosing what you
2. My beliefs
control my behavior.
In other words, they determine how I act. Proverbs 4:23 in
the NIV says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is
the well-spring of life." I like the way the Good News
translation renders this particular proverb, "Be careful
what you think, for your life is shaped by your thoughts."
That's exactly right. The old King James Version says, "As
a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
There is a belief behind every single action that you take
in life? When you sit down in a chair, you believe
consciously or unconsciously that it's going to support
your weight. Now for some of us that could take a great act
of faith, but that's the belief. When you went out to your
car this morning, put the key into the ignition and turned
it, you believed the car was going to start. Every action
we take has a belief behind it. The problem comes when my
beliefs are wrong; because my beliefs will still determine
Look at some practical applications. If you believe that
you are an ornery person, how do you think you're going to
act? Pretty ornery. If you believe you are a clumsy person,
you'll find yourself stumbling over everything. If you
believe you can't trust anybody else, you're going to go
through life looking at everybody suspiciously. You'll act
like they can't be trusted. If you believe that you cannot
understand the Bible, you'll never read it. If you believe
that God doesn't really care about you, you will not pray.
If you believe God is out to get you, you will do
everything you can to avoid God. See every action you have
has behind it a corresponding belief. The point is, even if
your beliefs are wrong, they affect your behavior, so all
our beliefs must be examined.
3. The world
bombards us with false beliefs.
I mean bombards us. One place to find these is the
check-out line in the grocery store. Look over the Enquirer
and Globe headlines. Every week there's a new cure for
cancer, if you will just eat this the cancer will go away.
I'd like to believe that, except right beside that article
is one about the latest alien to visit earth. A preacher
friend of mine clipped out one I really enjoyed. It said,
"New Discovery - Fat-Burning Prayers." The whole article
said, "You just pray these prayers and the pounds will melt
It's hard to know what to believe anymore, isn't it? We
used to say, "I'll believe when I see it." But you can't
even trust that anymore. Technology has come up with a
thing called, "Virtual Reality." They blend fact and
fiction so that you can't tell the difference such as the
movies Forrest Gump and Jurassic Park. So, we really can't
determine if what we see is real or not. The following are
my own top ten myths that are fostered on these television
talk shows. They are not funny. But these are some cultural
myths that people are buying into without exception.
a. My happiness comes over my
b. You'll be happy if you get what you
want. (That's a lie.)
c. The world owes you a living and
d. All beliefs are equally valid.
(Discussed in this lesson.)
e. You can have it all. (No you must
f. There is never any reason to feel
g. You shouldn't have to wait for
h. Man is basically good and
i. All your problems are somebody else's
j. The answer lies within you because
we're all God.
(Propagated on talk shows) If the answer was within me, I
would have figured it out a long time ago. Wouldn't
You see those are the kind of things that over and over
again, we're hearing. Over 2,000 years ago when he was in
his 90's the apostle John warned "Dear Friends, do not
believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether
they are from God" (1 John 4:1) and "For everything in the
world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes
and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the
Father but from the world." (1 John 2:16) The world is
bombarding us with false beliefs.
A belief doesn't have to be true to affect your happiness
and your emotional stability. If somebody ran in through
one of the doors right now and began yelling, "Fire! Fire!"
but there's no fire. It wouldn't make a lot of difference
for a lot of us, be-cause as soon as you heard somebody
that emphatically screaming that alarm, you'd believe it.
Then a number of things would happen. Your pulse would
become rapid, your blood pressure would elevate, your
muscles would tighten, and your stomach would begin to
secrete acid. You would be-come just a nervous wreck, great
emotional turmoil, even though it's not true.
That happens all the time in everyday life, and you don't
even realize it. You worry about things that are not true.
You're afraid of things that aren't real. You rely on
things to give your life meaning and purpose that never
were designed to do that. The result is confusion and
misery. So even if a belief is not true, it still causes
emotional turmoil in your life. If you want to overcome
stress, guilt, anger, worry and emotional problems, you've
got to clarify and correct the misbeliefs in your life.
I found a statement by a psychologist, Dr. Chris Thurman.
He said, "Truth is the road map for negotiating the
difficult challenges of life. Without it we get lost and
develop emotional problems that tell us we're lost. We
often settle for half-truth or no truth at all because it's
easier." That's a great line, he's right. There are some
made by psychologists I don't agree with, but I think he is
right on target. He also said, "But truth is the only road
to emotional health, there is no other path." That's a
great quote, but Jesus had a better one. It was more
powerful and more concise and said essentially the same
thing. "You shall know the truth, and the truth will make
you free." (John 8:32)
The goal of this series of lessons is to expose the lies
that we've been taught and that some of us have bought
into. We're going to also unveil the truth, and the truth
will set you free from those things that bring misery to
5. The only source
of absolute truth is God.
Mark that well. He is the only source of absolute truth.
"I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right."
(Isaiah 45:19) Jesus, who was the Son of God, was God come
in the flesh. John said, "'I am the way, I am the truth,
and I am the life. No one comes to the Father except by
me.'" (John 14:6)
The fundamental question that you need to ask yourself and
every human being has to ask whether you're a Christian or
not is: What is going to be the authority of my life? What
is going to be my standard? What is going to be my compass?
What is going to be my guide? What am I going to base my
You have got two options. You can base it on the world, or
you can base it on the Word. You either have what man says,
and man will say a million different contradictory things,
or you can have what God says. You can build your life on
what culture says, or upon what Christ says. Which of those
two do you think is more reliable?
The problem is not just that man is often dishonest and
will share outright lies; the problem with man is that we
are so ignorant that even when we think we're telling the
truth, we don't know all the truth. Newsweek magazine has a
section called Conventional Wisdom. Have you seen that?
Think about what that means. Conventional Wisdom means it's
wise today. Real wisdom is never conventional; real wisdom
is eternal. One of the problems with man is we're always
learning more. So we have a hard time discovering what's
I noticed something a few years ago that some of you can
really relate to. Seventy-three million of us are Baby
Boomer children who were raised on the second best-selling
book of all time, second only to the Bible. Do you know
what that book is? Dr. Spock's Baby Book. He wrote it, "How
to Rear Your Children." An entire generation of Americans
was brought up on that book. The only problem is that just
a few years ago, in his seventies, Dr. Spock publicly held
a press conference and he said, "Whoops! I was wrong." You
were what? It's too late, I'm dysfunctional. What do you
mean you were wrong? An entire generation was reared on a
man's theories and he comes to find out those were never
correct in the first place. That's Conventional Wisdom.
The average life span of a science text used at the college
level today is 18 months. That's the life span of a science
text. In that kind of environment, you don't put your faith
on some-thing that you can't depend upon tomorrow,
otherwise you might think you're climbing the ladder of
success and you find out it's leaning against the wrong
What am I going to base my life on? Jesus said, "'Heaven
and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass
away.'" (Luke 21:33) David said "Your word, O Lord, is
eternal; it stands firm in the heavens." (Psalm 119:89)
People, God's word has stood the test of time like nothing
else ever has or ever will. You can trust it as your
standard and your compass and your guidebook because it's
not based on conventional wisdom, it's based upon on the
very character and ultimate knowledge of God. He is the
only source of absolute truth.
6. Build your life
on God's truth!
It's the key. Now God's truth is found on every page of the
Bible. I encourage you to read every bit of it, if you
will. It is ultimately and most clearly embodied in Jesus
Christ. One of the reasons 1 Peter 2:21 says Jesus came, is
that he came to give us an example. A lot of us hear and a
lot of us read, but most of us learn better when we
actually see a model. Jesus was God come in the flesh. He
said, "I am the way, I am the truth, and I am the life." In
everything he said, in everything he did, in everything he
was, it was the truth.
While recovering from knee surgery I decided to re-read the
gospels. I read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, because if
I'm going to teach you about truth, I want to know this man
who said, "I am the truth." Eighty different times in
Scripture, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth." Isn't that
something? Eighty times, he says emphatically, I want you
to hear this. Twenty different times, he said, "Now you've
heard it said, but I want to say it to you." Do you know
what he was doing? He was clearing up myths that bring
misery. He said now here are things you've bought into, but
now let me tell you the truth.
As you study things Jesus said and things that other
biblical writers have shared with us that are true, commit
to three things.
Commit to seek the truth.
Have that desire on your heart. "Have nothing to do with
god-less myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself
to be godly." (1 Timothy 4:7) Later Paul warned Timothy, a
young preacher, "For the time will come when men will not
put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own
desires, they will gather around them a great number of
teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They
will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to
myths." (2 Timothy 4:3,4)
The point is test everything you hear, see or experience
against God's truth. The world, or people around me, may
say "It's hot, it's the in thing, everybody's doing it,"
The truth may declare it's not okay. I could take too long
right here giving you a classic example. Let me tell you
what pops into my mind. Astrology and the psychic hot
lines, those things have to be making millions of dollars,
there are too many on television not to be. I'm sure most
people that dabble in those things, some of them are
serious, some of them are for fun and some of them are just
a joke. God's word says it's not funny. I can show you a
dozen different passages that say it's wrong, it's evil,
stay away from it. I test everything by God's word, even my
One of the things our generation believes in is personal
experience. It's the ultimate truth. If I know it, feel it
or sense it, it's got to be the way it is. Now you think
about that. If technology can create a virtual reality
experience so life-like that I can't tell if it's false,
don't you think the devil can do the same thing? In fact,
don't you think he's had that power for years, and years,
and years? I test even the experience that I'm convinced
I've had against the truth of God's word, and if the two
clash, which do I accept? I accept the truth of God's word,
Period. Just because you've experienced it doesn't mean
it's right, true, or correct.
Most of us have seen the bumper sticker that says, "God
says it, I believe it, that settles it." It's not a bad
bumper sticker, but I've got a better one for you: "God
said it, that settles it, whether I believe it or not."
Whether I believe it or not, it doesn't make any
difference; God said it, that's the way it is. Truth is
truth whether I believe it or not.
The point is for me to seek it. But, where do I seek it?
Not from the grocery store check-out lines, (1) I seek it
in Christ. Jesus said, "I came to this world to testify to
the truth. I seek it in the word of God." (John 18:37) The
Bible says, "Thy word is truth." Proverbs 30:5 says, "The
word is flawless." (2) I seek it through his church. Paul
told Timothy, "You will know how people ought to conduct
themselves in God's household which is the church of the
living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth." (1
Commit to believe and embrace the truth.
It's not enough to seek it and it's not enough to know it,
it has to be embraced. The word, "believe," is another word
that popped out at me all the way through the gospel
accounts. John 3:18, states, "'Whoever believes in him is
not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands
condemned already because he has not believed in the name
of God's one and only Son.'" Even the devil has an
intellectual ascent of God, a belief and not an
Commit to live the truth.
I seek it, I believe and embrace it, and I live it. I obey
it. I do it. I start by obeying the gospel putting my trust
in the good news that Jesus is truth personified, God who
came into the world. This guidebook, His word, shares with
us the simple way that's done. It starts with the belief
that Jesus is God's son, a belief that leads to us
confessing him verbally, declaring to the world your
allegiance to him. (Romans 10:9-10) It says once you have a
commitment of your heart and your affection to him your
whole obedience to the gospel is culminated by an
experience called baptism, a physical immersion into water.
Jesus, himself, said to Nicodemus, before he ever died in
that atoning death, "except a man be born of water and of
the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John
3:5) "All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were
baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him
through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ
was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father,
we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:3-4)
Folks, that's the truth about the commitment to Jesus.
That's the truth about how you start your life as a
Christian, how you become a Christian. From that
commitment, you live loving him and walking in the light of
God's truth. But it's up to you. Remember you've got the
freedom to believe any-thing you want to believe. But
whatever you believe, the truth is still the truth.
But, there is a great warning, "They perish because they
re-fused to love the truth and so be saved." (2
Thessalonians 2:10) Somebody asked me the other day: "Will
smoking send me to hell?" I said, "Well, I don't know about
that, but it will smell like you've been there." But you
know let's don't start picking out little sin. We all
commit sin. Do you know what's going to send anybody to
hell? 2 Thessalonians 2:10 tells us, it is to refuse to
accept, love and follow the truth. God does not send
anybody to hell; he let's everybody choose what they are
going to believe and what they are going to do about those
beliefs. Teacher - Steve
Flatt - Amazing Grace Bible Class Program #1244
1. It doesn't matter what one believes as long as he is
2. One is free to choose whatever he wishes to believe?
3. What one believes does not affect their action?
4. My happiness comes over my responsibility?
5. You'll be happy if you get what you want.
6. The world owes you a living and happiness.
7. All beliefs are equally valid.
8. You can have it all without any sacrifice.
9. There is never any reason to feel guilty.
10. You shouldn't have to wait for anything.
11. Man is basically good and unselfish.
12. All your problems are somebody else's fault.
13. The answer lies within you because we're all God.
14. The source of absolute truth is
15. To build a life on God's truth one must
Commit to seek truth
Commit to believe and embrace truth
Commit to live the truth
There is no absolute truth
Peter asked Jesus one day a long, long time ago "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" (Matthew 18:21) What's really written between the lines or the thought behind the lines is: Lord, why do I need to forgive? I find it interesting that Peter asked, "'how many times do I need to forgive my brother?'" Sometimes it's easier to forgive a one-time offense, even if it's something that's as major as an assassination attempt, than it is to forgive those repeated irritations.
Each of us has one, two, maybe three sources of constant
irritation in our lives. Heavenly sandpaper, I call it,
just rubs off our rough edges. Who's your heavenly
Peter asked, "'Lord, how many times shall I
forgive my brother?'" It didn't dawn on me until this week
that there's a chance that Peter could be extremely literal
here. He may have been talking about his physical brother.
I read just a couple of weeks ago that ninety percent of
all resentment occurs in our own families. Most of the
resentment that we harbor in our lives is toward people who
are closest to us.
You know the old adage: "To dwell above with those we love
that will be a glory, but to dwell below with those we
know, now that's a different story." Sometimes it is the
people who are closest to us. Maybe it was Andrew, Peter's
brother. It's not out of the scope of the imagination to
consider that Andrew kept leaving the milk out, or squeezed
the toothpaste from the middle of the tube, or something
which was a constant irritant to Peter. But whether it was
Andrew or a figurative brother, Peter was having a hard
time with this whole forgiveness question.
Peter may have been expecting Jesus to say, "Peter, that's
pretty magnanimous of you. I'm impressed." Jewish law only
required that you forgive a brother three times. After you
forgave him three times of the same offense, you could tell
him to get lost. So Peter could have thought the law says
"I ought to forgive my brother three times, I'll double
that and I'll add one for good measure." "Lord, do you
think it would be all right to forgive a brother seven
times?" Our Lord said, "No Peter, would you believe 70
times seven times" or there is no limit to the number of
times you need to forgive.
If it's keeping score, it's not really forgiveness. Have
you ever kept score with somebody? After Jesus tells Peter,
"No, not seven times, but seventy times seven times." Jesus
tells a parable, a story, to explain why we must learn to
The story begins this way. Jesus said, there is a man who
is hopelessly in debt to a king. The Bible says Matthew
18:23-24 that he owes the king ten thousand talents. Now
talents were really more a measure of weight than it was of
pure money, so it depends upon what the precious metal was.
But the debt here is acknowledging all scholars to be
millions and millions of dollars. One commentary I looked
at lately said $16 million. Now that's a major debt. One of
the things I wonder is, how do you get that far in the
hole? How can a servant borrow that much money? In those
days, whenever you couldn't pay it back, the bankruptcy
principle was simple. There was no chapter 7, no chapter
11, and no chapter 13 for bankruptcy. They simply took your
wife and your children and sold them into slavery and put
you into prison. That was bankruptcy.
"'The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient
with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.'"
(Verse 26) You've got to see the humor in that; it's one of
the most hilarious statements I've ever read. A servant
owes $16 million and he says, "give me a few more days". To
do what, get a passport and buy a one-way ticket to
I did a little calculation. If he paid back a thousand
dollars a day at current interest rates, it would take him
40 years. Now the point of the story, folks, is to show us
three reasons that you and I need to forgive other
We need to forgive each other because we've been forgiven
by God. The king's response after the plea was; "'The
servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt'"
(I've underlined that in my Bible) "'canceled the debt and
let him go.'" Do you know anybody else who will forgive a
$16 million debt? Who will say, all right let's just write
it off and let him go? What a king! Completely forgiven.
But the point of the parable is: That's nothing compared to
the forgiveness that God has given to us, absolutely
Here's the parallel. I owe a debt to God, and you do, too.
The Bible even calls it a sin debt. When I transgress
against God, it builds up a debt to owe to him that I can
never repay. The Bible says, "All of us have sinned and
fallen short of the glory of God." The Scripture makes it
abundantly clear, I can't pay my debt, you can't pay yours,
but God has chosen in His love through the gift of His Son
Jesus as the perfect sacrifice to forgive us, to wipe the
slate clean, to cancel the debt and say, "Let's just start
over." That is the gospel, the Good News. It's all tied up
in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The good
news Jesus has for us when we obediently come to Him
confessing, repenting and being baptized in His name asking
Him to forgive and wipe our slate clean.
God expects me to do for others what he's done for me. In
fact, that's really the message. How would you feel if you
just had a $16 million debt wiped clean? Would you feel
relief, joy and freedom? Those words may be too shallow.
How about excitement, ecstasy or undying gratitude? How do
you think you would treat people if you had just been
for-given of a $16 million debt that was hovering over your
head? Don't you think you'd be easygoing? Don't you think
you would say, "Yes, I'm in a great mood? That's all right,
I'll forgive you."
Look at this servant's reaction beginning in verse 28.
"'But when that servant went out, he found one of his
fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, equivalent
to one hundred days wages. He grabbed him and began to
choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. 'His
fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be
patient with me, and I will pay you back.' 'But he refused.
Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison'"
Now can you believe that? He owed $16 million to his boss
and he was forgiven. Now his fellow servant owes him a
hundred denarii, extremely small compared to the amount he
had been forgiven by his master. He refuses to show any
mercy instead he throws him into prison.
You say, how in the world can he respond that way? That
servant who owed the cancelled $16 million debt didn't
really feel forgiven. He still, for whatever reason, felt
like that Sword of Damocles was still hanging over his
head. So he was foolishly trying to collect such a small
amount to still pay off this perceived $16 million
The real tragedy is that a lot of Christians live that way
to-day. They obey the gospel, they came to Christ and the
sin debt is cancelled; but they still live their lives
feeling, Lord, I'll make it up to you. I know I owe you a
lot, so I'm going to pay that off. I'll work off my sin
debt knowing that they never can. They are demanding,
exacting, and unforgiving to other people around them in
their frustrations. Sadly, I've seen all too much of that.
That is why it is so important that every Christian
understand grace. When you believe you are forgiven, you
will be able to forgive others and not until.
Notice the first servant's harshness in the parable. He
grabbed and began to choke that second servant demanding
that he pay his debt. Under Roman law you could do that. If
somebody owed you money, you could go choke him until he
paid. But after this guy choked him a while and didn't
squeeze anything out of him, he had him thrown into
Whenever you find someone harsh, judgmental, hypercritical,
negative, unforgiving, and ungracious, he is carrying with
him unresolved guilt. A judgmental and negative per-son,
who is always putting someone else down, never ex-tending
to anybody the offer of forgiveness, is carrying unresolved
guilt. When we feel unforgiven, we tend to be
Sometimes you see that in parents. You see a parent who is
demanding, rigid and overbearing. They are reacting to the
guilt that they feel as a parent. Sometimes you see it in
bosses. Sometimes you see it in co-workers. Paul said in
Ephesians 4:32, "'Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.'"
The key to
forgiveness is to recognize how much God for-gives me
Resentment makes me miserable.
It's a hell on earth. It tortures you. Look with me in the
par-able at verse 31, "'When the other servants saw what
had happened,'" (this was after the first one had tossed
the second one in jail) "'they were greatly distressed and
went and told their master everything that had happened.
Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked
servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours
because you pleaded with me. Shouldn't you have had mercy
on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his
master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until
he should pay back all he owed.'" See, when the king found
out how unforgiving his servant was, he went to him and
said, if you're going to be that way, I'll be that way,
too. He then handed him over to the jailer to be
Somebody asked if this parable is a symbol of hell. Yes it
is, but it's also symbolic of a hell on earth. Because when
resentment gets inside you and resentment grows and infects
you, it tortures you, and it locks you up in a prison. It
destroys you far more than it does the person you hate and
won't forgive. The question we need to ask ourselves from
time to time is; are bitter and unforgiven actions robbing
us of happiness? What hurt is still hurting you? If you
find one some day, let it go. It's only tormenting you. The
other per-son that you are hating and not forgiving may not
even know - they may be totally unaware. All around us are
millions of people imprisoned by guilt, enslaved by their
own anger and anxiety and tormented by resentment,
sometimes year after year after year. The forgiveness of
Christ is the only key to unlock that jail. For your own
sake, forgive. Learn to ask for forgiveness and learn to
offer forgiveness. My motto is: Forgiveness, enjoy it and
employ it, or you live a life of misery.
I will need future forgiveness.
"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you
unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
John Wesley was once told by a man who knew him, "I could
never forgive a certain person." Wesley responded, "I hope
you never sin." The point of his admonition; if you're
going to live the rest of your life in perfection, then
perhaps you don't need to forgive anybody else. But if
you're going to commit another sin, you'd better make sure
forgiveness is ready and willing because forgiveness is a
two-way street. Don't dare burn the bridge that you're
going to have to walk over to get to heaven.
In what we call the Lord's Prayer in the Sermon on the
Mount where our Lord teaches us how to pray He said,
"For-give us our debts as we forgive our debtors" Do you
under-stand what that prayer says? That is praying,
"Father, you forgive me as much as I'm willing to forgive
the other people around me." Now I ask you, do you really
want to pray that prayer? See, the Bible says we can only
receive what we're willing to offer to other people.
In that same Sermon on the Mount in the part we call the
Beatitudes. Jesus said, "'Blessed are the merciful for they
shall receive mercy.'" What we offer to somebody else we
are able to receive, but what we're not willing to offer
somebody else, we cannot receive. God says, be forgiving
because I want to be able to forgive you.
Look at verse 35 again, "unless you forgive from your
heart," not lip service, not some little faint intellectual
acknowledgment, but from the heart, right down in the core
of your spirit. Put simply, the parable is teaching
forgiveness is a way of life. It's the only way to live and
the reason is we're all imperfect beings. You're going to
hurt others, and other people are going to hurt you because
we're just imperfect beings, so we have to live in a
constant state of forgiveness. You've got to enjoy it and
then employ it as a lifestyle.
Why do I need to forgive?
1. Because God has forgiven me,
2. To escape the torment of resentment that's
going to shackle me if I don't forgive
3. Because I don't want to burn the bridge
that I'm going to have to walk across. I want to forgive so
God will for-give me.
Who do you need to forgive?
1. Do you blame anyone else in the world for your
unhappiness? Do you blame a spouse? If only my husband
would get his act straight, then I'd do a lot better. I'd
be able to come to church more if he'd come with me. Do you
blame your parents? If my parents hadn't done this to me
when I was little, if that hadn't been a part of that, then
my life would be a lot better today. Do you blame a
teacher? If my teacher would have just. Do you blame a
boss? If I just had a different boss. If you blame anyone
for your unhappiness, that's an indication of resentment.
Blame is an indication of an unforgiven wrong, rather real
or perceived, it doesn't make any difference, and it's you
that's not forgiving. You need to let it go right now. Let
it go or it will torture you and harm your future life.
2. Have I been keeping score? Is there a score sheet in my
mind with regard to this person so that whenever they're
doing something, you're thinking, they owe me? Did your
spouse make a major mistake sometime in the past? He or she
is sorry and life has gone on, but you're holding it over
his or her head. You've become an unpleasable person
be-cause no matter what one does, it's part of a bottomless
pit of repayment. No matter how good a person is, you're
thinking in your mind, he owes me. I want to tell you
something today as straight as I can tell you. As bad as
whatever was done, you're the one killing the marriage.
You're killing it by your unforgiveness. You've never
forgiven and the spouse may be getting to the point of
asking, "What's the use? I can't seem to ever be
Marriage is just one of the areas that can apply. You may
have been neglected as a child. You may have been abused as
a child. You may not have been loved as you should have as
a child. I don't know any of us who were loved as we should
have been as a child. Why? Because we are not able to love
perfectly. We're imperfect beings.
3. Do you find yourself acting a certain way toward someone
because he reminds you of someone you resent?
I know that sounds strange, but there are all kinds of
people who they will look at a person and say, "He reminds
me of someone back in my childhood." So he will treat them
totally different simply because of a past problem they -
he never lets go. If we search our souls, a lot of us have
a lot more forgiving to do than we give ourselves credit
for. We need to do it now! Amazing Grace Lesson #1239 - Taught by
1. God is?
A and C
A, C and E
A, B and C
2. How many times should you forgive?
Every time someone
3. When one forgives does he keep score of offenses?
4. Obedience to the Gospel cancels our debt to God?
5. When is man's sin and rebellion cancelled?
Our physical death
Our death to sin
Our confession that Jesus
When we trust God to
forgive and obey Him
A, B and C
6. The key to forgiveness is to recognize how much God has
7. Why do I need to forgive?
Because God has forgiven me
To escape the torment of resentment
I do not want to burn the bridge I will have
to walk across
I want God to forgive me
A and D
Twenty-five years ago the word homosexuality was spoken
only in a whisper, and rarely, even at that. Then about two
decades ago, homosexuality made its way to the public's
attention in a very major way. This time with a new name,
"the Gay Community", and with a new movement, called "Gay
Rights". Homosexuality literally came 'out of the closet'
and was no longer something that was taboo in the media or
in public conversation. Instead, it was being billed as
some-thing called "an alternative lifestyle".
It is interesting that for centuries now, Christian people
have believed that homosexuality was an unquestioned and
direct violation of God's will. But now that premise is
being con-fronted by a far more liberal public opinion,
which is right? Is homosexuality an alternative lifestyle,
or is it sin? It is a blatant digression from God's law.
Well those of us who accept the Bible as God's inspired and
inerrant Word, God's very breath to man, we have no other
choice than to turn to this Word to find that answer.
Before we look to the Bible and its specific verses in
their context, I think it might be helpful to consider just
a few facts about the background of this issue,
For example, homosexuality is not really a contemporary
issue at all. Anthropological investigations have indicated
that homosexual behavior occurred, even among the most
ancient of tribes. There is very little about it in
recorded his-tory. But it is interesting in western
civilization, especially British history, you find some
fascinating facts, most of them in the forms of
prohibitions against homosexual behavior. For example in
the year 1290, British law commanded that a Sodomite be
buried alive. In 1533, Henry VIII changed the mode of
execution, but it was still a capital offense. Finally in
British law, in 1861, it substituted life imprisonment for
capital punishment, but it was still considered a very
hideous type of offense. Would you believe that life
imprisonment was still the penalty for a convicted
homosexual in Britain until the year 1967? There have been
similar laws in the United States, though with less severe
type of penalties. Believe it or not, there are still some
states in the Union which do carry prohibitions against
Times have changed. Not only are homosexual practices
largely legal, they are becoming increasingly commonplace
and accepted in our culture. The question arises, "just how
commonplace?" Frankly, there is very little reliable data.
The first major study about homosexual activity in America
this century didn't occur until 1950. It was conducted by
Dr. E. G. Kinsey. He traveled all over America,
interviewing liter-ally thousands of men--his study was on
males only--and he concluded that about ten percent of the
male population engaged in at least three years of
homosexual experience between the ages of 16 and 65. In
1972, Dr. Paul Gebhardt was commissioned by the National
Institute of Mental Health to conduct another study. His
study showed even significantly higher results--up to
one-fourth of male America were involved in such
There have been more conservative scholars who have rebuked
and rebuffed those claims. Reliable data is still very
difficult to come by. But most experts, both conservative
and liberal (and anywhere in between), would agree that at
least seven percent of the American male population and
about five percent of the American female population are
actively engaged in practicing homosexuality. While we
don't know the numbers, the fact of the matter is the Gay
Rights movement has picked up a world of steam. They now
have their own magazines and their own communities. They
run their own places of entertainment and nightspots, and
they have one of the strongest legislative lobbies in the
United States of America.
There is one other thing I want us to look at, though,
before we turn to the Bible and see what scripture says
about homo-sexuality. I think it is necessary for us to
define the terms, though I am sure that all of us have a
connotation in our minds of what homosexuality is.
A homosexual act is an act of sexual intercourse between
two members of the same sex. It is an act. I want to
differentiate that by definition from a homosexual
orientation. Listen closely. A homosexual orientation is a
tendency or a desire to prefer a homosexual relationship
over a heterosexual one.
Folks, there is a difference between those two and you will
see why we distinguish these in a moment. A homosexual
act is an action; a homosexual orientation is the
desire or the longing. Those two are as different as a
heterosexual act is different from a heterosexual
orientation. Now there are two technical terms that need to
be defined, perverts and inverts.
There are those who would be labeled as perverts. Perverts,
or perversion, are those individuals who were heterosexual
in nature, but have changed to a homosexual orientation.
You say, "why would anybody change their sexual longing,
their sexual orientation?" Again, research is sketchy and
the reasons vary. It is interesting to note that there has
been a stronger correlation between perversion and certain
environments, for example, mono-sex institutions. Places
where there is a single gender, for example, prison or
boarding school, even the Armed Forces, have generally
sighted higher incidence of perversion than the population
Then there is a second category of those individuals who
would be homosexuals. These individuals are called inverts.
Inverts are individuals who weren't drawn away, but who can
never remember being attracted to members of the opposite
sex. From their very beginning of their cognizant adult
lives, they have felt attracted to the same sex. Research
is sketchy as to what causes inversion. But, a correlation
exists. One of the factors has been the absence of father
figures within the home. In fact, in ghetto situations in
America where there is a higher incidence of the absence of
a father, there is a corresponding incidence of
inversion-about twice that of the national population.
We are going to come back to those terms later, but
remember, the difference between a homosexual act, a
homosexual orientation, perversion and inversion.
Now let's get to the Bible. What does the Bible say about
homosexual behavior? The Word of God doesn't have a wealth
of material on the subject, but when the Bible has
something to say about homosexuality, it speaks strongly
against such behavior. I suppose the first place you run
across it in the Bible is Genesis 19. Lot, who was kin to
Abraham, received two strangers in the town of Sodom and
his house was literally bombarded by the lewd, base fellows
of the town, men who were obviously homosexual, both in
their orientation and in their action. So they stormed
Lot's home. Eventually by the way, Sodom and its sister
city, Gomorrah, were destroyed. In Judges 19, you read
about a similar situation, this time in the city of
D. S. Bailey in his book, Homosexuality and the
Christian Tradition, has tried to argue that the
transgressors (particularly in the episode involving Lot
and the strangers in his home) were really violating rules
of hospitality and that's why they were being reprimanded,
not for their homosexual activity. But, Mr. Bailey's theory
doesn't stand the test of scrutiny, because we are given an
interpretation of what occurred in Sodom and Gomorrah. It
is found in the little book of Jude, verse 7. "In a similar
way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave
themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They
serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of
eternal fire." That makes it pretty clear, doesn't it? The
letter that we call Jude is writ-ten to let us know--at
least that part of it--that those individuals were
condemned because of their homosexual behavior. Frankly,
that corresponds to some Old Testament prohibitions, like
Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13 where male
homosexuality is described as an abomination for which the
death penalty is prescribed.
The strength of these statements is found both in their
con-text and also with the severity of the penalty that is
attached. Then when you go from the Old Testament into the
New Testament, you find that Paul continues to deplore
homosexual activity. "Even the women exchanged natural
relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also
abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed
with lust for one another." (Romans 1:24-25) All of that is
within the con-text of those individuals who have turned
away from God--they are Godless--and God will not tolerate
that type of behavior. Strong words, but really the same
thing Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 6:9 when he listed
those who were unrighteous, and he included homosexuals. In
1 Timothy 1:10, Sodomites were listed among the lawless and
Now I want to point something out here that if you haven't
heard before, you will probably hear in the future. There
has been a movement afoot, among liberal theologians, to
stress that Paul in those three admonitions against
homosexuality, was condemning perversion, not inversion.
You remember the difference? That Paul was saying to those
individuals who were "born with a natural attraction for
the opposite sex", but who have changed, that for those
individuals to do so is wrong. The implication there is,
"if anyone is an invert who chooses to practice homosexual
behavior, that person would not be prohibited". People,
that is not right ... that theory holds absolutely no
water. There are at least two reasons I can show you from
scripture that is true: 1) The primary reason is the word
that Paul used to condemn homosexual behavior in Romans 1,
in 1 Corinthians 6, and in 1 Timothy 1. He uses a Greek
word that is really an umbrella term that refers to all
homosexual behavior. By contrast, he could have used one of
three different Greek terms that would have referred
specifically to sexual perversion, but he chose not to do
that. So the implication is clear, whether in-version or
perversion, homosexual activity is condemned. 2) Notice
that the context in Romans 1 is that of creation. The
prohibition against homosexuality isn't just aimed at
individuals, whether inverts or perverts. It states that
that's in violation of God's order of things. "Since what
may be known about God is plain to them because God has
made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world,
God's in-visible quality, his eternal power and his divine
nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what
has been made so that men are without excuse." (Romans
1:19-20) You see, the context of Romans 1 is that God's
made it clear what his design was. It is for a man to
choose a woman, and for the two to be together within the
context of marriage, in a life-long relationship. That is
the natural way God made things, the way He has chosen to
run this world. It is very clear from the language.
1) Homosexuality is likely more common in
our culture than any of us would like to admit.
2) Homosexuality is an issue that is
making its way to the forefront today.
3) The consistency and the fervor with
which the Bible speaks against homosexual acts mean that a
Christian cannot accept such a practice, as a God-ordained
or a God-accepted lifestyle. That would be true regardless
of an individual's sexual orientation or motivation.
1) The Bible teaches that we abhor sin, but we love the
sinner. When we call a man or a woman a homosexual, are we
referring to what they are, or to what they do? Now think
about that for a moment. When would you call a person a
murderer? When they have committed murder, right? When
would you call a person a thief? When he or she has stolen
something. On a more positive note, when would you call a
person a plumber? Only if they have demonstrated skill in
that task. For many of us, who are Christians, the nature
of the sin homosexuality is of such distaste for us, then
perhaps we have had a harder time of segregating the sin
from the sinner.
There are those in our world who may have a homosexual
orientation, but who are fighting the sin. God can rescue
them from that, just like he can rescue you and me from our
tendencies to whatever our Achilles heel of sin is--and
ours may be totally different. But I implore Christians, as
we face the homosexuality issue, don't run from the
problem, face it. Love the sinner while abhorring the sin.
That's what Jesus did, that's what he would expect us to do
regarding the sin of homosexuality as well as the sins of
prostitution, chemical dependency, anger and all other
Years ago, the Interpreter's Bible (a commentary) wrote
about Romans 1:27 this commentary: "The subject is one, in
which, in honesty must be faced, but one on which no man of
fine feeling should linger."
I suppose that's described our outlook on homosexuality and
homosexual behavior for decades. I'm afraid we live in a
time where our minds must linger on it longer, because of
the place it has taken in our society. Amazing Grace Lesson #1013 - Taught by
1. Since creation homosexuality has been accepted or
tolerated by society?
2. A homosexual act is sexual intercourse between two
members of the same sex?
3. Homosexual orientation is a tendency or desire toward
homosexual relation over a heterosexual one?
4. Men of Sodom and Gomorrah gave themselves over to sexual
5. All sexual activity outside marriage, i.e. homosexuality
and fornication, is sin?
6. The apostle Paul condemned homosexuality and is quoted
as saying "Even the women exchanged natural relations for
unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned
natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust
for one another."
A preacher looked out on his 300-member congregation.
Each parishioner is characterized by a smiling face,
nice clothes, combed hair, polished teeth. The preacher
had just preached a strong sermon on Christian
lifestyle, including a recitation on the evils of
drinking and a passionate admonition to his people to
totally abstain from the occasional use even of alcohol
or stronger drugs.
Concluding his lesson, he looks over the crowd assuming
deep in his heart that maybe a few would imbibe upon
occasion, but he feels sure that none of his members
have a serious problem with drinking or with drugs.
Little does he realize, halfway back on the left there
sits Mike. Mike is a 24-year-old medical student who
teaches the high school Sun-day school class. He serves
on the mission committee and everybody admires him for
his zeal and his work and his dedication. But what
nobody knows is that Mike's father lives in another
town and he's an alcoholic, and that Mike is
compulsively driven to achieving greater and greater
accomplishments in a vain attempt to gain his father's
approval and to raise his own self esteem. Everybody in
the church thinks that Mike has it together. They think
he has a healthy, vital relationship with God. But what
they don't see is a profound sense of worthlessness
that's driving Mike to an ulcer.
Four rows behind Mike, there are Clarence and Sharon.
Sharon attends faithfully while Clarence only comes
about once a month. The preacher knows Clarence is an
awfully successful businessman. He's heard he earns
well into six figures, what he doesn't know is that
Clarence is an alcoholic. And when he gets drunk, he
gets mean, violent and beats Sharon.
Across the aisle there's Tim and Allison, and their
little daughter Amanda. The preacher has heard they're
having trouble, even separated for a while. Just this week,
he got wind that Tim may be having a hard time at the
job. He has no idea that it's all due to Tim's cocaine
binges every two weeks.
Then on the third row, down front on the right, there's
sweet little Emma. A widow now, Emma was a charter
member of the local congregation when it began 47 years
ago. Always faithful in attendance, Emma started
missing some services lately, friends noticed her hands
shook. And they feared that she was suffering in the
early stages of Parkinson's disease. Little did they
know that her shaking hands came from temporary
withdrawal from prescription pain medication that she
began taking two years ago, following a minor surgery,
prescriptions that she had repeatedly refilled by lying
to her doctor and deceiving her pharmacist.
On the back row, there's Marvin, whose 12-year-old son
was killed by a drunk driver. Across the way, two teens
who vandalized the area school after they had drunk
beer and smoked pot. The list goes on and on and on.
Now folks the names that I presented to you are purely
hypothetical, but the scenarios that I just shared with
you are real. They and hundreds of others are repeated
in this and every church in America. Chemical
dependency and drug abuse are plaguing our country and
destroying millions of lives. Five out of 12 people
have had their lives touched by chemical
Now let's stop a few moments and consider what we're
talking about. What do we mean by chemical dependency?
Chemical dependency is defined as the state that
results from the process of increasingly turning to
chemical use to meet life's needs. In other words, the
chemical may be alcohol, the most prevalent, dangerous,
costly, deadly drug in our culture. It may be nicotine,
cocaine, crack, heroine, amphetamines, morphine,
tranquilizers or any number of prescription drugs., If
there is a reliance on some chemical substance to make
it through life, the day, the week or to meet life's
needs; what-ever the substance may be, that's called
chemical dependency. It may mean having a drink a day.
It may mean having to have several drinks every two
hours. It may mean an evening tranquilizer so you can
get to sleep. It may mean a cocaine binge every other
weekend. That's chemical dependency.
Chemical dependency often leads to a physical
addiction. Now look at that definition, let's
understand what we're talking about. Physical addiction
occurs when the cells of the body change the way they
function because of the use of certain substances. A
physical addiction literally means you are
physiologically altered and your body craves that
chemical in order to function.
Now let me tell you the tragedy of those two things.
Chemical dependency invariably fails to meet the life
needs that the user is seeking to meet. Let's not lie
about it. A fix of some-thing to a drug user feels good
initially. That's why they take it. There is a
pleasure. But over just a short period of time, that
chemical begins to isolate those people, isolate them
from God, from others they love and from the things
that really can meet their life's needs. After a period
of chemical dependency physical addiction begins and
physical addiction is a death process. Sometimes it's
slow, often fast, but always fatal unless the cycle is
broken and that seldom occurs.
How devastating is the dependency and abuse
Statistics from the Alcohol and Drug Council of Middle
Tennessee show that in Nashville Tennessee drugs are
involved in 50 percent of all spouse abuse, 50 percent
of all traffic fatalities, 35 percent of all suicides,
62 percent of all assaults, 52 percent of all rapes, 49
percent of all murders, alcohol or chemical addiction
involved, 38 percent of all child abuse, 68 percent of
all manslaughters, and 69 percent of all drownings.
But the one that really blew me away was a 1994
Tennessean article that said in Metro Nashville, more
than 80 percent of the locally sentenced felons are
because of an offense related to drugs. Now let that
sink in. If it weren't for drugs, you could take four
out of every five convicted felons out of jail in our
community. It is destroying lives, it's destroying
It's wiping us
It's the tool that's Satan is using to just kill us.
Nationwide in 1960, in our country there were fewer
than 30,000 arrests for drug-related offenses. In 1990,
there were over one million. Today, 1994, American
prison cells are filled with drug dealers, addicts,
alcohol abusers and the mentally ill, often mentally
ill because of substance abuse.
Some people tend to say, "Well, let's just put more of
them in prison." We've already got four million of them
in prison right now. Today, America has the highest
incarceration percentage of any industrialized country
in the world. Five hundred and nineteen of every
100,000 U.S. citizens are in prison; 80 percent of that
because of drugs. Compare America to Canada which has
116 for every 100,000 and in Japan only 36 for every
100,000. Drug-related cases are so epidemic that our
nation's courtrooms are becoming impotent.
Medically in our country, drugs are costing us $75
billion a year; and half-a-million newborns every year.
This one breaks my heart. A half-a-million newborns
every year are exposed to drugs during pregnancies.
Crack babies that were a rarity just a decade ago may
crowd and fill $2,000-a-day pediatric wards today. It
is a catastrophe.
The cause did not start as an epidemic; it goes back to
one on one. Why do people mess with drugs? What's the
whole root? You already know them.
" Peer pressure - This pressure particularly affects
young people. Their curiosity wants to know what it's
all about. Some people like to play with fire. I don't
know why, but they do.
" Pain - Every alcoholic is seeking to relieve pain.
It's the number one reason for drinking. It may be
emotional, physical or psychological. But pain is a
" Lack of self-worth and self-esteem - Young people who
turn to drugs are typically the ones who are most
insecure. Oh, some of them are big and bold and a lot
of bravado, but you when cut through that, they're the
ones who are insecure. Adults are the same way. The
whole idea of the cocktail party is the idea that I
can't relate in my natural state, but give me a little
chemical and I'll loosen up. I'll be acceptable, I've
Some of you are going to think this is simplistic, but
this is the truth. The root cause of the epidemic goes
all the way back to the Garden of Eden. When Adam and
Eve chose to sin, they lost life. They lost real life
meaning they not only lost an endless quantity of life
on what was then a perfect earth, they lost a quality
of life. Prior to that point, they didn't know what
pain was, they didn't know what frustration was, they
didn't know what worry was. They didn't know what it
was to be sad. They had absolute meaning in life. But
when they sinned, they lost it, and they lost it for
all of us. For centuries, men and women have been
trying to get it back. We tried drugs, money, power,
work, play, religion, and a 1,001 other things.
There is only one thing that will recapture the real
life that was lost in the Garden of Eden, it's Jesus
Jesus often talked about being life? He said, "I am the
bread of life," (John 6:48) "I am the way, I am the
truth, I am the life," (John 14:6), "I have come, so
that they might have life, and have it abundantly,"
(John 10:10) and "I am the resurrection and the life."
(John 11:25) Eleven different times in the gospel
accounts, Jesus said, "I am life." He's the life we
lost. A genuine relationship with Jesus is the only
thing that can replace what was lost in Eden. Using
anything else to try to fill that void is sin.
Do you know what the word, "sin," means? In the Hebrew
it means to miss the mark. It was used of an archer who
missed the mark. By the way, I hear this question all
the time. Is alcoholism a sin, or is it a disease? Is
chemical dependency a sin, or is it a disease? It is
always asked as if it has to be an either/or answer.
The truth is, it's both. It's BOTH! It is sin, like
materialism, or greed, or work-aholism, or a thousand
other things, it totally misses the mark in the quest
for real life. That's sin, but so are a lot of others.
But it becomes a disease once chosen and frequented.
Those chemical substances rack and ravage the body
literally beyond the individual's control.
For about 10 percent of our population that are
alcoholic, once they start to drink, the combination of
their physical, their psychological make-up, and the
power of the drug, makes it virtually impossible for
them to stop by sheer will-power. Something will have
to intervene. For us to look piously at a person who's
an alcoholic and say "Quit drinking" would be like
telling a drowning man "Start swimming." Both of them
would if they could. They can't.
The psychological and the physical addictive powers of
drugs are incredible. 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul says,
he's quoting there from the sentence structure what the
Corinthians were saying. They were going around saying,
"Everything is permissible for me, everything is
permissible." They were misusing their freedom. Paul
says, he's quoting them, "Everything is permissible for
me, but I will not be mastered by anything." Read that
last point again, "I will not be mastered by anything."
The fact is those who fool with drugs, become fools.
They will be mastered by those substances to where they
will have to have a snort, a fix, a drink, a smoke, a
pill or a shot, whatever.
Paul says we're slaves either to sin or we're slaves to
God. "I put this in human terms because you are weak in
your natural selves." Now we don't admit that, but
every one of us is weak. We're weak as kittens. "Just
as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery
to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now
offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to
holiness." (Romans 6:19) He says, don't offer
yourselves that way. But I'll tell you something about
the drug enslavement. Here's the key: Satan, if you'll
re-member in John 8:44, is called by Jesus a liar, and
the father of all lies. Do you know what Satan tells
the chemically dependent, and those of you out there
who are chemically dependent? Do you know what he's
telling you? He's telling you over and over again, you
can stop anytime you want to. Do you know what the
chemically dependent do? They'll stop for a little
while, just to give themselves a false proof that they
can do it. But they can't.
There are 18 million alcoholics in America today, just
one drug, 18 million alcoholics. Only 15 percent are
seeking help. Do you know why only three million seek
help? It is because the other 15 million believe the
lie. They believe the lie that they've mastered the
drug, when the drug has mastered them.
Will power can't do it. Is it an absolutely endless
cycle? No, there is a cure for the dependent
1. Realize the
inadequacy and destructiveness of drug abuse
First, he or she must realize the inadequacy and the
destructiveness of drug abuse. The person must come to
a point where continuing on their present course
becomes more painful than recovering would be. In other
words, the person has to realize that he or she is
chemically dependent. The first step of the 12-step
program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous is; and this
is the foundation: When an individual will come and say
in the presence of others, "I admit I am powerless over
alcohol and that my life has become unmanageable."
Until they are willing to admit that, there's no help.
When they admit that, the door becomes open.
that Christ can fill the void in life.
He or she must believe that Christ can fill the void in
life. You say, what void? The void we talked about
earlier. The void created when sin entered the world,
the void that drug and chemicals are trying to fill in
the first place just to help you get through the day,
to get over the pain or to give you the high. They
don't do it, but Jesus does. He is the way, the truth,
and the life.
This isn't a new thing folks, it goes back 2,000 years
when Paul said in Ephesians 5:18, "Don't get drunk on
wine." There's the alcohol drug. He said, that doesn't
fill the void. "But instead, be filled with the
Spirit." What's he talking about? He's talking about
the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God and the Holy
Spirit that God lets dwell in you when you come to
Christ. By the way, the second step in Alcoholics
Anonymous is to say, "I have come to believe in a power
greater than myself that can restore me to sanity."
They're right, only I'll go further. The source of that
power is Jesus Christ. He and He alone will ultimately
restore you to sanity.
3. Become part
of a healing community.
The dependent person becomes part of a healing
community. A "healing community," can be the AA, the NA
or another support group. But I want you to hear this
and hear this well. We are not just talking to
dependent folks, we're talking to a lot of people who
are part of a family, you become codependent. A
chemically dependent per-son will not get well on their
own. Did you hear that? A chemically dependent person
will not get well on their own. They will not identify
the problem on their own. They will not seek help on
their own. They will not stay the course of recovery
alone. That's why God was so wise when he said in
Ecclesiastes, that two are better than one. Because if
one is walking alone and falls down, there's nobody to
pick him up. But if there are two and one falls down,
he's got somebody to pick him up.
Recovery from chemical dependency is a lifelong
process. That's why alcoholics who've been sober for 10
years can still be seen attending AA meetings, because
the dependent person has to become part of a healing
community. Now I want to say something to church folks.
Folks, that ought to be the church. Do you hear me?
It's a shame that a program like Alcoholics Anonymous
didn't rise up in churches, but outside of them.
In 1978 in a Gallup Poll, one out of four Americans
admitted having a personal alcohol problem. But only
eight percent said they would turn to the church or its
trained personnel if they or a family member had a
drinking problem; only eight percent. See, we've done
an awfully good job pointing out that chasing a drug is
wrong, we've not done a very good job of trying to
extend a hand and saying, "Here's how you get it right.
Here's how you get it fixed." We've got to do both.
Galatians 6:1 says, "Brother, if anyone is caught in a
sin, ye who are spiritual restore him gently." And then
the next verse says, "You carry one another's burdens."
And the word there means a prolonged journey, not just
saying, "You ought to quit that." Get the burden and
put it on your back and carry with them over the long
4. Become open
and honest about manipulation, lying and
The dependant person must become open and honest about
his manipulation, his lying, his rationalization,
be-cause every drug dependent person goes through that.
They lie to everybody.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to
forgive them and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
(1 John 1:9) He's got to come clean. It frees the
healthy living skills.
The dependent person re-learns healthy living
a) Maintain agape love for the addict, for the
dependent. That means a love that seeks the best for
them, never gives up, but it does what's best.
b) Don't aid or abet the dependent behavior. Don't fuel
the fire. You keep the agape love. Be like the father
in the parable of the Prodigal Son. He didn't keep
sending money. He knew the boy had to come to his
senses; he had to come home.
c) Confront carefully. You do have to confront at
times. They will not get well alone. You've got to show
them what's happening to their lives. Do you how many
confrontations it takes on the average for a dependent
person to seek recovery? Fifty-four, yes 54. If you're
living with an alcoholic, if you're living with a drug
addict and you have tried over and over again to help
them see what they need, take some heart in that
If you're chasing anything to give you real meaning in
life other than Jesus, you're missing the mark. It may
be your job, it may be play, it may be your pocketbook;
or whatever. If you are chemically dependent today, I
hope you're at the point where you'll say in the
presence of somebody right now, your family, or a small
group, "My life has become unmanageable, and I am
powerless to change it." Until you do, you'll continue
to be enslaved. Amazing
Grace Lesson #1202 - Taught by Steve Flatt
1. Chemical dependency is the process of increasingly
turning to chemical use to meet life's needs.
2. Chemical dependency never leads to physical
3. Why do people mess with drugs?
All the above
None of the above
4. The root cause of chemical dependency is
Created that way
5. One can stop being dependent any time they wish
6. The cure for chemical dependency is
inadequacy and destructiveness of drug abuse
Believe that Christ
can fill the void in life.
Become part of a
Become open and
honest about manipulation, lying and
All the above
None of the above
7. Family love will confront chemical dependency but
will not fund it
8. How many confrontations does it take before a person
dependent on chemicals will seek recovery?
Procrastination... millions of lives are less than they can
be or should be spiritually, physically, intellectually,
emotionally, etc., because they perpetually procrastinate.
How do we get freedom from procrastination?
Procrastination is a universal problem a most of us put off
dealing with. Most of us know what to do but we just tend
to put it off and after a while it becomes our lifestyle.
Are you a procrastinator? Do you constantly put things off?
Does this little poem describe you?
Procrastination is my sin,
It only brings me sorrow.
I know that I should give it
In fact I will, tomorrow.
This lesson discusses the causes, costs, and cure for
Have you ever been in a restaurant, the waiter comes over
and you make him go away because you can't make up your
mind? Or, have you ever perused the menu, order and after
the entrees arrives say, "I wish I had selected what you
ordered." Indecision makes us procrastinate, makes us put
off buying a car, choosing a college, or changing jobs.
When I'm afraid I put things off. Any one ever postpone a
visit to the dentist you know you need? Any one put off
needed surgery? Have you put off sharing your faith with a
co-worker? Why? It's because you're afraid. Fear makes us
Perfectionism tends to make us procrastinate. Solomon said,
"Whoever watches the wind, will not plant; whoever looks at
the clouds will not reap." (Ecclesiastes 11:4) In other
words, if you wait till everything is just right, the
clouds and barometric pressure, you'll never get it done.
The Living Bible paraphrases that verse: "If you wait for
perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done." Amen.
Perfectionism will cause procrastination.
Procrastination may be a way of getting back at people that
we don't like, or people we don't want to please.
Have any of you who are parents ever told your children
"Turn off the TV, wash your hands and come to the table to
eat?" Two minutes later you repeat, "Turn off the TV, wash
your hands and come to the table to eat/" Five minutes
later, "....." Why is that? Is it because the show is so
good, or kids are masters at procrastinating to let you
know that they are wanting their independence?
Does anybody have a mate that you've been asking to do a
certain thing for months, and they're not doing it? One
reason may be that they are resisting your control.
Procrastination is sometimes a form of passive resistance.
It may be caused by anger.
The most prevalent of all causes is purely and simply,
laziness. The Proverbs have a great word for a lazy person,
sluggard. Think about that old slug out on your sidewalk
that creeps along. "The sluggard craves and gets nothing,
but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied."
Our generation has a low tolerance for sacrifice and pain.
I can remember when my great-grandfather worked diligently
out in the field right up into his early 80's. By contrast,
our "couch potato" culture loves the word, "easy." If it's
easy, I like it, if it's hard, I don't. Have you ever seen
how often the word, "easy" is used in advertising? Easy to
use, easy to apply, easy to get. Would these books become
bestsellers; Ten Difficult Steps to Change Your Life or
Seven Gut-Wrenching Ways to Get Into Shape? Who would buy
them? We want it easy. Two common misconceptions about
procrastination are (a) "It's easier to avoid this problem
than to face it" and (b) "It will be easier to handle
tomorrow." No, the longer it is delayed the more difficult.
It's rarely easier tomorrow. Cost
"The way of the sluggard (the lazy procrastinator) is
blocked with thorns." (Proverbs 15:19) Procrastination
always makes the problem worse. What happens when you put
off that leaky roof, and put it off, and put it off? You
need a new roof! Any one ever have a major engine repair
because you've put off checking or changing the oil in your
car? Procrastination turns a problem into a crisis. It
creates obstacles and that's a cost.
"A sluggard does not plow in season, so at harvest time, he
finds nothing." (Proverbs 20:4) The procrastinator doesn't
take advantage of the opportunity to plant, so he doesn't
reap. When opportunity knocks, open the door.
John Greenleaf Whittier said, "The saddest words of tongue
in men are, 'It might have been.'" "If only" are two of the
most useless words in the English language. While we are
postponing, life is passing. Procrastination wastes
hurts other people.
Laziness keeps us from being loving. Love requires
commitment and effort. A lot of people don't want to exert
It's easier to be lazy, than it is to be loving. I can't
tell you how many marriages break up simply because two
people are lazy. They put off doing what they know they
should to do. I've heard couples sitting in my office and
say, "I know what I should do, but I just can't." No, it
isn't you can't, it's you won't. You think you'll put it
off, and it will get better.
People who procrastinate hurt their children. Lazy parents
produce problem children. It creates problems with your
children if you put off (a) teaching them about the facts
of life, when you know they need it, (b) discipline to
build character and responsibility and (c) postpone another
family vacation where family bonding occurs and fond
memories are developed. You're destroying your children.
Procrastination really does hurt other people.
1. Quit making
"The sluggard says, 'There's a lion outside', or 'I'll be
murdered in the street.'" (Proverbs 22:13) If you missed
the point of that proverb, let me make it clear. How many
lions do you suppose roam the Land of Israel, in the days
of Solomon? Solomon is saying the procrastinator comes up
with all kinds of excuses. Everybody else has excuses, but
I have reasons. I ran across something this week that I
thought was great. It was a list of excuses that people had
submitted to insurance companies to collect for accidents.
One of them said, "The guy was all over the road. I had to
swerve a number of times before I hit him." How about this
one? "I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at
my mother-in-law and drove over the embankment." Another
fellow said, "In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a
telephone pole." I like this one, "I've been driving my car
for 40 years when I fell asleep and had an accident." Well,
no wonder, that's a long time. How's this guy, talking
about an excuse, trying to put responsibility somewhere
else. "The telephone pole was approaching fast; I attempted
to swerve off its path when it hit my front end." My
favorite is this last one, "The pedestrian had no idea
which way to go, so I ran over him."
What's your excuse? What is it that leads you to say, "One
of these days..."? The Bible says, "The lazy man is full of
excuses." Benjamin Franklin said something in Poor
Richard's Almanac, "People who are good at making excuses
are seldom good at anything else." The number one excuse
people use for procrastinating "When things settle down,
I'll ________" (You fill in the blank.) I've got news for
all of you. Things will never settle down. They will only
settle down when the Lord comes again.
For the procrastinator "One of these days," is "none of
these days." Stop stalling, do it today. Start now.
If you tend to procrastinate, these three words will change
your life. "Do it now." Write that down. Take a magic
marker, write on piece of cardboard; put it on your
refrigerator, bathroom mirror, desk or on your car visor.
Have it staring you in the face, "Do it now!" Every time
you begin to think, "I'll get to that later," look those
three words in the face and do it now! NASA tells us that
the greatest amount of energy expended is getting the
rocket off the pad. Once it gets into orbit, it's a cinch.
Stop stalling, get started and if it can not be finished
today, do part of it. Do 10 minutes today, 10 minutes
tomorrow, and 10 minutes the next day. See how much you
will accomplish in six short weeks. It will astound
"Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after
that, build your house." (Proverbs 24:27) In other words,
set your priorities, what needs to be done first, and
schedule a time to do them. You don't ever have time, you
must make time.
Schedule the important and the unimportant. Schedule time
for personal and family Bible study, time to be with your
wife, additional time for family and schedule time to be
alone (your quite time). If you don't commit time for
things they simply won't get done. However, just scheduling
something is not sufficient; you must work your schedule
and more than once per day. On rare occasions when waiting
on someone or for something, it may be impossible to
continue working on your top priority task. Then work on a
less important task until the obstacle is removed or
resolved on the top priority task
"Make the most of every opportunity." (Ephesians 5:16)
There was a famous author who wrote his first book while he
was riding on the subway in New York, and he made the most
of every opportunity. Another man memorized a thousand
Bible verses at stop lights. That's making the most of
every opportunity. Wise men and women plan, schedule and
4. Face your
Remember, the main cause of procrastination is fear. When
you're avoiding something, you're probably afraid of it.
Identify it and face it. The greatest fear is the fear of
failure. That's why we put more things off than anything
else. We're afraid we'll fail. Folks, just face up to it,
fear isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of humanity.
Mark Twain said, "Courage isn't the absence of fear, it's
moving on in spite of your fear." If you flee from your
fears, they grow bigger. If you face them they grow
There are two things to ask yourself when facing a fear:
(a) "What's the worst thing that can happen?" Usually it's
not nearly as bad as you think and (b) Recite Philippians
4:13, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
Recite that over about three times, it becomes easier to
tackle whatever it is in front of you knowing God
5. Focus on the
reward for your efforts.
There are very few things in life are easy. Life is tough.
You have to persevere to see the reward. Concentrate on the
gain beyond the pain. Concentrate on how good you'll feel
when you finish the task.
Here is a little illustration. When children come home from
school, if they sit down and complete their homework first,
they will enjoy the rest of the afternoon and they will
enjoy their evening more because undone homework is not
hanging over their head. It's the philosophy "you can pay
now and play later, or you can play now and pay later."
The principle is, "Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at a proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not
give up." (Galatians 6:9) The wrong question is "what do I
feel like doing". The right question is "what does God want
me to do". It's only a very immature person who lives his
life by his feelings. Everything above leads us to the
following two questions.
What is it that
needs changing in your life?
Is it "one of these days I'm going to become a
Is it "one of these days I'm going to get involved in
the ministry God has assigned to me?
Is it "one of these days I'm going to read and study
the Bible daily?
Is it "one of these days I'm going to quit drinking, be
a better parent, spend some time with the wife and kids
or whatever I've have been putting off that I know
needs to be done?
What is it going
to take to get you in gear?
God says, "I want to help." The biggest mistake in life
is to postpone or delay the opportunity for Jesus
Christ to change you and to save you.
" I don't know of anybody who doesn't eventually want
to get their life right with God. They say, "One of
these days, I'm going to make that commitment. One of
these days, I'm going to get my life in order. One of
these days, I'm going to obey God by repenting of my
sins, confessing my belief that Jesus is God, to be
buried for remission of my sins in water baptism and to
arise a new Christian cleansed being forgiven of all my
sins." Why not now? A good intention is only
procrastination. You know the old saying, and it's
true: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Why not today?
Amazing Grace Lesson
#1200 - Taught by Steve Flatt
1. The Causes of Procrastination.
A and C
A, D and E
B, C and D
2. The Cost of Procrastination.
It creates obstacles. (Prov. 15:19)
It wastes opportunities. (Prov.
It hurts other people.
A and B
A and C
B and C
3. The Cure.
Quit making excuses. (Prov. 22:13)
Start scheduling. (Prov. 24:27)
Face your fears. (Phil. 4:13)
Focus on the rewards of your efforts.
A, B and C
A, C and D
B, C and E
B, C, D and E
4. A procrastinator's favorite expression is "one of these
days I" whereas God's states "Today is the Day."
5. What is the most important thing generally postponed by
Expressing their feeling
of love to a family member
Telling someone of their
sorrow asking for forgiveness.
Salvation, obedience to God for forgiveness
Many people desire the answer to the questions (1) how do I free myself from lust, addictions and hang-ups that mess up life and (2) how do I get the power to make the needed changes or how do I get God's power in my life?
The beginning point is to admit the problem, not just the physical manifestation of the problem, but the root problem. The root problem is "I'm in charge, and I don't need God." That was the problem Adam and Eve had. Paul wrestled with it in Romans 7, and it's our problem.
The key is found in James 4:6. Everything in the rest of the lesson is going to spring from that great text. James said, "God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble." That's worth repeating. "God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble." The Bible states the key to power in your life is humility and the key barrier to God's power is pride, because a person full of pride cannot see a need to change or to improve. Only when one is full of humility, will he be given the power to change.
The Bible talks about two kinds of pride. There really is a good kind of pride. If you don't believe that, read Galatians 6:4, or 2 Corinthians 7:4. The good kind of pride is synonymous with self respect, satisfaction for a job well done and the enjoyment of seeing others succeed. Only two or three times in the Bible do you see pride referred to that way. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you'll find pride referred to in a very negative way, where it's linked with conceit, selfishness, arrogance or egotism. Somebody said, "Egotism is the only disease that when you've got it, it makes everybody else sick." By looking at a number of famous and important people, one can see how one can easily become victim.
Remember Muhammad Ali, those of you in my generation or above, and how brash and proud Ali was in his prime? The story is told that Ali was on a plane one time and it was about to take off. The flight attendant came to Ali and said, "Sir, you'll have to buckle your seat belt." Ali in his typical brash, showman-type manner said, "Superman don't need no seat belt." To which the flight attendant responded, "Super-man don't need no airplane either." He buckled the belt.
Pride's very easy to see in others, but it's difficult to see in ourselves, but it's there. It's not only the basic human problem, it is your basic problem, and it's my basic problem, too.
Pride that leads to other problems.
1. Pride prevents personal growth. You think you've got it altogether and don't need to change, grow or improve. You have pride dwelling in your spirit. Somebody said, "When the head starts swelling, the mind stops growing." The one sure way to know that you need this lesson is if you don't think you do.
Solomon said "Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him." (Proverbs 26:12) "He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray." (Proverbs 10:17) These two verses together are saying the proud man or woman only goes by self-evaluation. They think they know everything there is to know and there's no sense getting counsel from others.
If you've got marriage problems and you won't talk to anybody about it, that's pride. That's all it is, pure and simple. If you've got financial difficulties and you won't seek counsel about that, that's just your pride. If you're failing at your work, school, or some relationship and you're just trying to cover it up, that's pride. All too often we'd rather look smart than be smart. The way to become smart is by being humble. Pride prevents one from growing.
2. Pride sabotages my relationships. Pride is the root of all relational conflict and disharmony. When you act out of pride, you tend to be demanding, unsympathetic, even obnoxious and rude.
Have you ever seen a proud person treat a waiter in a fancy restaurant? It's disgusting, they are demanding and never being satisfied. Pride makes us hold grudges and keep score. It makes us unable to admit we're wrong. "Pride only breeds quarrels." (Proverbs 13:10) I'm going to repeat that. "Pride only breeds quarrels."
The root of virtually every argument or quarrel in a marriage is pride. You don't want to admit that your husband or wife may be partially right. So many family conflicts could be resolved if we could just swallow our pride.
How many times do you think this scenario has been acted out? A young man gets rebellious and lets loose at his dad and the father loses his temper and says, "Get out of the house and don't come back." They are alienated for who knows how long because neither of them can force out these six most difficult words in the English language, "I was wrong. I am sorry." Pride destroys relationships, and pride also produces stress and anxiety.
The focus of a pride-filled person is on self. It's on my status and my image. Politicians now have spin-doctors. They don't care about the truth, they just want the image to be right. Image is everything. But it really reveals an insecurity and a feeling of inferiority.
Have you ever watched on FOX, CNN or another channel one of the worldwide summits, or a UN meeting? You see these tinhorn dictators and the ambassadors from the tiniest countries come marching in with eight rows of braids and 40 medals and these brightly adorned uniforms, but the presidents and the ambassadors of the United States, Germany or Japan, come in just in a modest dark suit. Why? They don't need to impress anybody. They're secure.
Tony Campolo, one of my favorite authors, said, "Pride often destroys those that we love the most." The pride of parents can lead to the destruction of children. People who are out to prove they are better than others often use their children to this end. Campolo goes and explains what we already know. "How many parents have pride-fully lived through their children's grades, through their children's sports career, through their children's beauty, and all under the guise upon doing it for their betterment. They're wrecking their psyches, while they're inflating their own personal egos." Campola concludes by saying, "Happiness is often the casualty of pride."
Proverbs 29:25 says it's a dangerous thing to be concerned about what others think of you. Pride causes anxiety and stress because if I'm trying to live one image, but inside I'm something else, I become stressed, discouraged, and disillusioned. By contrast, the very first thing Jesus our Lord said on the Sermon on the Mount was "Happy are the humble."
Happiness through humility
If you're going to break free of the things that shackle you, there's no way you're going to do it until you begin to develop the mindset of humility. This is the real core of the lesson.
1. Recognize my weaknesses honestly.
"He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy." (Proverbs 28:13) If you don't admit your weaknesses, if you do not admit your perpetual areas of spiritual failure, neither you nor God will be able to work on them.
I love the story of the teenage boy who said to his sister, "Sis, I'm afraid I'm guilty of the sin of vanity." She looked at him and said, "You, vanity, how?" He said, "Well because every time I walk by the mirror, I catch myself stopping and looking and saying, 'Wow, what a hunk.'" She laughed and said, "No, that's not vanity, that's just ignorance."
Many of you will bow and pray tonight before we go to sleep, and say, "Lord, if I've committed sin today." Stop right there, just stop and think. Leave off the "if," be-cause there's no question about it, you have committed sin today. Take the time to isolate the sin in your life, particularly the perpetual sin, the sin you're trying to stuff in the closet. Maybe it's your adulterous affair, maybe it's your lying tongue, maybe it's the hatred of a parent, maybe it's a broken relationship at work or maybe it's something you're just pretending doesn't exist. Get it out on the table and stretch it out before God. Until you admit your weakness, you'll not know genuine humility.
2. Realistically evaluate your strength.
Pride is based upon a false evaluation of self but humility is based upon the truth. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." Paul said, "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment." (Romans 12:3) In other words, be realistic about who you are. Some people think humility is an inferiority complex. Humility isn't saying, "Oh I'm wretched, horrible, worth-less or nothing. I'm just an old worm." That's not true. You're not a worm, you're not nothing, you're something. Jesus didn't die for nothing. Every one of us, unique in creation, is made in the image of God. The fact is, you have strengths. All of us do. God gave them to us but we're also weak in areas. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses and realistic about your strengths.
I love the story of the little girl who walked in Baskin Robbins. She could barely see up over the counter, and said, "Sir, I want one of those hand-packed pints, no lid, just a spoon." The fellow looked at her and said, "Well little girl, are you sure you can eat all that?" "Oh, yes sir," she said. "You see I'm much bigger on the inside than I am on the outside."
Pride is pretending you're much bigger on the outside than you are on the inside. "Each man should test his own actions, then he can take pride in himself without comparing himself to someone else." (Galatians 6:4) That is one of my life texts. There is also a good kind of pride. Paul said, you enjoy your own abilities, enjoy your own successes, a job well done, but don't compare. There are two reasons not to compare.
a. You can always find someone who is not doing as good a job as you and you'll be proud.
b. You can always find someone who is doing a better job than you and you'll get discouraged.
God says, I don't want you being either of those. I made you absolutely unique. You're like the snowflake, no two are the same. God just wants you to be you. If you're not going to be you, who's going to be you? Don't compare with other people - you'll either be proud or discouraged.
Galatians 6:4 is a difficult command to obey, particularly in a culture where everything is built upon competition. Let's just be honest, in America, we only want top dogs. We only want gold medal winners. We only want the salesman of the year. You watch during the fall when the camera goes down to the sidelines in the football game and they pan that sideline, all the players take that helmet off and turn. What do they say? Their team record may be four and seven, but they'll look at the camera and say, "We're number one, we're number one." How many times have you ever seen a football player turn to the camera and say, "We're number four, we're number four, and we're proud of it."? No! No! Being number one is not what it's all about, never has been God's standard. It's all about admitting your weakness honestly while recognizing and using your strength.
3. Enjoy your successes gratefully.
Paul said "What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did not receive it, why do you boast as though you did?" (1 Corinthians 4:7) Do you know what Paul was saying? Everything you and I have has been given to us by God. We say, I've built my business with my own two hands. It was my idea. Great, but where did you get that mind, your health or your hands? They all came from God. Where did you get the DNA that fashioned your chromosomes that made you like you are? You see the fact is, we all do have designer genes, if you'll pardon the pun. But we didn't design them, God did.
How many of you chose your parents, where you were to be born or when you were going to be born? Those are all gifts from God, and what you do with them is your gift back to God. Humility then enjoys success in life, but it does so gratefully knowing the origin of that success. "Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father." (James 1:17) We need to remember that and the lesson of the whale. When the whale gets to the top, and starts to blow off, is when he gets harpooned. One minute you can be a hero, and the next minute you can be a zero. Don't ever forget, there's just 12 inches difference between a halo and a noose. What we need to do is enjoy our successes gratefully.
4. Serve other people unselfishly.
In October 1989, Psychology Today did a great article about depression. It was focusing on the epidemic that major depression is becoming our culture. It particularly focused on the Baby Boom population, people between ages 30 and 45. Do you realize that people who are in the Baby Boom generation are three to ten times more likely to suffer major depression than their grandparents? That seems bizarre to me because our grandparents were the ones who went through the Depression, the ones who had to struggle to raise ten kids from the milk of one cow. I mean, isn't it amazing?
It continued, "It can be traced to the historical and cultural occurrences which have exalted the individual." In other words, the article said, depression is a result of the "Me" generation---me, my image and my goals. It is plain old selfishness and pride. What they found out, is that a person who's all wrapped up in himself makes a pretty small package.
The article also stated "Just as belief in the nation was crumbling, and belief in God was also fading, the sky-rocketing divorce rate was eroding belief in the family. When people no longer believe that their country is so powerful, that the family can be a source of enduring unity and support, or that a relationship with God is important, what else can they turn to for identity, satisfaction, and hope? People then only have one alternative, they turn to themselves and depression results."
In that same magazine, there was another article called, "Beyond Selfishness." Keep in mind this is Psychology Today. It's not trying to promote any particular Christian value. But it said that helping other people overcomes depression. In fact, the article said that when you help others, it actually creates endorphins in your brain. Some of you who are runners and athletes know what endorphins are. It's the hormone chemical that literally gives runners a high. The article stated that when you volunteer to help somebody else, physically you get that same kind of thing. "Volunteering to help makes people feel good physically and emotionally. Like runners calm, it's good for your health."
What Psychology Today said in 1989 was simply restating what Paul said in Philippians 2, over 2,000 years ago. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:3) Paul is saying humility isn't thinking poorly of yourself, it's just thinking more about others. The focus is off my needs, my desires, my wants, and the focus is on what other people need. I like to put it this way: humility isn't thinking less of yourself, humility is thinking less about your-self. The model is Jesus.
When all the apostles were in that Upper Room, all too proud to wash each others feet, Jesus walked in, took a basin and towel, and began washing their feet. Oh, it embarrassed them so much. But, proud and insecure people can't serve others, they're too wrapped up in themselves. Each of us needs to lighten up on the introspection; i.e., what about me? Let us just dive in and serve other people.
5. Humble myself voluntarily.
"Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up." (James 4:10) I want you to notice that humility is a choice, it's a verb. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to ask God to humble us, it's something we're to choose. We choose to act, speak, and think in a humble way and the promise is, if we humble ourselves, then Christ will lift us up. That's called a paradox. God says the way up is down. The more I humble myself, the more I do admit my weaknesses and recognize my strengths, enjoy my successes in a grateful way, the more I serve others, the more God lifts me up. But the opposite is also true, just as the way up is down, the way down is up.
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18) How many personifications of that proverb have you seen? The moment I start getting filled with pride, the moment I think I've got all the answers, is the moment I begin walking right out to the end of the gang-plank. If you're thinking that you don't need God, you will. You will, it's just a matter of time. That's true regardless whether or not you believe it. It's going to happen. But the longer you wait to see it, the more you'll lose. In a nutshell the worst thing about pride is it cuts off all the wonderful things that God wants to give us. God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.
Grace Lesson #1197 - Taught by Steve Flatt
1. God is?
All the above
A, B and C
A and C
A, C and E
2. God is the perfect example of being pleased in doing a good job without any egotism or self-centeredness (pride) in what He had done.
3. Egotism, self-centeredness, is the only disease that makes everyone else sick?
4. Disharmony and relational conflicts has its roots in pride?
5. Pride is destroyed by
Maturity, one just gets older
6. Pride is based upon a valid self examination?
7. Pride is pretending to be bigger on the outside than you are on the inside?
"They promise them freedom, while they themselves are
slaves of depravity---for a man is a slave to whatever has
mastered him." (2 Peter 2:19) Listen to that last sentence
again. "For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered
Not long ago the New York Times carried an article about
addictions, and the whole premise was that Americans seem
hooked on this idea of addiction. Not too long ago, you
only heard the idea of addiction mentioned with regard to
drugs and alcohol. Now it says that there are addictions to
all kinds of things, food, cigarettes, exercise,
relationships, shopping, work, sex and video games. In
fact, there's now a monthly publication called, Lifeline
America, that focuses on nothing except our addictions.
There are over 200 different kinds of addiction support
groups meeting throughout the country.
Many if not most of us tend to be addicted to something.
There is something that literally has a mastery of or a
control over our lives. You may be into one of the new
ones, or you may be victim to one of the oldies, like
drinking. Over 18,000,000 Americans are problem drinkers.
It disrupts their lives and their families. Surely some of
us are addicted to eating, I don't mean for livelihood, but
for pleasure. Did you know that Americans are 2.3 billion
pounds overweight? What is your addiction? What is your
life-controlling vice? Whatever it is, I want to share with
you seven steps to freedom.
1) Freedom starts
Freedom starts today, not tomorrow, not next week, not next
month. Have you ever noticed how many more people go on a
diet tomorrow than today? I love what Solomon says in
Proverbs 27:1, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not
know what a day may bring." In other words, quit telling
yourself, "one of these days." The truth is, it's going to
be harder to change tomorrow than it is today, because
delay always makes the problem worse. Begin today.
"Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at
the clouds will not reap." (Ecclesiastes 11:4) In other
words, don't get distracted. Don't make excuses, the
greater the delay, the bigger the problem. So step one is,
freedom has got to start today. Don't put off until
tomorrow what can be started today.
2) Refuse to blame
Refuse to blame others. You'll never get out of your
addiction until you refuse to blame others. But this old
cover of "alibiing" is as old as Adam and Eve. Do you
remember? Adam sinned and blamed his wife,. Eve sinned and
blamed the snake in the grass." Sure enough, check it out,
the old snake didn't have a leg to stand on either. But,
the point is we tend to want to blame somebody else. I'll
never get better until I take personal responsibility. It's
my life, I make choices.
One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Galatians 6.
"Let each one carry his own load." (Galatians 6:5) It's
talking about personal responsibility. It's not saying we
don't help one another. Because three verses earlier, it
says "to bear one another's burdens, so fulfill the law of
Christ." But I am responsible for me and you are
responsible for you.
"Do not be deceived: God will not be mocked. Whatsoever a
man sows that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7) Who are
you blaming for your big problem in life? Are you blaming
your parents, your husband, your wife, your teacher or your
boss? Or, are you like Flip Wilson blaming the devil? Are
you blaming God? To break free, you must take
responsibility for your life. Someone said, you spell the
word blame, "B-lame." When-ever you blame somebody else,
that's exactly what you're doing, you're being lame and you
will not seek a remedy to your problem. Stop excusing
yourself and stop accusing other people. Refuse to blame
3) Examine my
Take a personal inventory of your life. Do a frank
evaluation. Ask some tough questions: What is my addiction?
Why do I have it? When did it start? How frequently do I
fall victim to it? When are the situations in which I'm
tempted most? Why am I afraid to do something about it?
It's hard to ask those questions, but they must be asked if
we are to correct our problem.
"Let us examine our ways and test them and return to the
Lord." (Lamentations 3:40) To see to change, I've have to
stop pretending. I can't cover up my faults. I must come
face to face with them. The fact is, hiding our hurt only
intensifies it and makes it worse. Denial prevents
"For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength
was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my
sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I
will confess my transgressions to the Lord'---and you
forgave the guilt of my sin." (Psalms 32:4,5) David said, I
wouldn't face my problem, and I was drying up.
David examined his own life, and when he did, he came clean
before the Lord. It was like lancing a boil. All of a
sudden he felt this freeing relief. Examine your life. Let
me tell you something, that's not a once in a lifetime
thing. We need to be examining our lives regularly because
vice, addiction and other sins will insidiously creep in
and control you before you even know it.
4) Employ Christ's
Christ is waiting to help. Employ his sovereignty - you
can't do it alone. You need a power greater than yourself.
Why don't you go straight to the source and get the
greatest power? "Therefore do not let sin reign in your
mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer
the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of
wickedness, but rather offer your-selves to God, as those
who have been brought from death to life." (Roman 6:12,13)
"For a man is a slave to whatever masters him. So, you are
a slave. Romans 6:20 states, you're either a slave to sin,
or you're a slave to righteousness. The bottom line is we
all really are a slave. But the good news is, you can
choose your master. "Submit yourselves, then, to the Lord."
(James 4:7) The solution to your addiction is to choose the
right master. Every day you're controlled by something.
You're controlled by a bottle or by a pill. Many are
controlled by other people. You may be controlled by the
thirst for power, you may be controlled by food. But you
are going to have to serve some-thing. Why not choose the
right master? God says, "Let me be sovereign."
Often we only want to give God the problem. We say to God,
I've got a problem. I need you to take care it. But to tell
you the truth, I really want to run the rest of my life.
God says, if you want me to work on the problem, you've got
to give me every area of your life, and give it all to me,
not just part. When we do, it produces incredible power to
So, why don't more people do it? The truth is, they're
afraid. They're afraid that by submitting their lives to
Christ it will turn them into something they don't want to
be. They're afraid it means no fun, no freedom, and
becoming some distorted view of a fanatic for Christ.
That's one of the biggest lies that has ever escaped from
hell. Did you hear that? That's a lie straight from the
flames of hell. Jesus said, "I've come so that you can have
life and have it to the full." What God is saying is,
"Don't you know I was your architect? Don't you know that I
was your chief construction engineer? Don't you know that I
know the way you work? Don't you know that I know you need
fun? Don't you know that I know you need freedom?
Therefore, in the short term and the long term, you submit
your life to me and I'll give you more joy than you can
ever find anywhere else."
You think about the epitome of Christian people that you
know and look at their lives and tell me they are not
joy-filled. If I get a picture of somebody in my life that
is dour and sour and down on anything, he does not rank at
my list of top ten Christian people, because he is not, he
has missed it somewhere. Jesus said, "I've come so that you
can have life, and have it to the full. Make God sovereign
in my life.
5) Distance myself
If you don't want to get stung by the bees, stay away from
them. Avoid situations where you know your temptation is
going to be looking you in the eye. The Bible says "Resist
the devil and he'll flee from you." This is not only
biblical, it's just good old common sense.
That means if you've got a problem with drinking, don't
stock a bar in your house. If I've got a problem with lust,
I don't need to go to places that sell pornography. If I've
got a problem with overeating, I don't need to line the
shelves with junk food. Stay away from the things that
cause me problems.
Now can I confess something to you here? I've got
weaknesses. I have things in my life that have controlled
me and that I still wrestle with daily to keep from
controlling me. One of them is food, but my real Achilles
heel is ice cream.
Eleven years ago, my wife and I were building a house.
While we were building a house, we moved into a little
apartment complex on Murfreesboro Road. Across the street
in the shopping center was a Baskin-Robbins. About 8:00
every night, two hours after our evening meal there was
this little churning in my stomach. I'd say, "I believe I'm
going to go across the street." It started out slow, one
dip of Rocky Road. In a couple of weeks, I said, "Make that
a dip of Rocky Road and a dip of Jamoca Almond Fudge." I'm
not kidding, it's exactly the way it went. Within a month,
I said, "give me a hand-packed pint, and don't put on the
lid, just stick a spoon in there." In eight months, I
gained 30 pounds. I weighed 245 pounds. But thank God, I
broke that addiction. I'd like to tell you that I applied
all these spiritual principles. I didn't, we moved.
Baskin-Robbins just went "out of sight and out of mind."
The key to overcoming temptation is planning in advance not
to be around it.
Can I give our teenagers a little word of advice? About a
year ago, a year ago this month, a lot of our teens went
through a great program called, "True Love Waits," where
you made a commitment to stay sexually pure until marriage.
I hope you're still on track with that commitment, but if
you're going to fulfill that commitment, here's a great
piece of advice. You don't wait till you're in the back
seat of a car, or you're sitting alone on a couch at your
date's house alone, to then ask yourself the question: Do I
want to stay pure? If you wait to that point, it's going to
be too late. You plan in advance, you decide to avoid the
temptation in advance.
Teen, if you want to live your life the way God wants you
to live it, you plan your dates. My youth ministers told me
a long time ago, "You either go by your plans, or your
glands." Let me tell you, you want to go by your plans.
Don't you give the devil an opportunity to make you fall!
One fellow quit smoking, and somebody asked him, "How did
you quit smoking?" I love his answer, he said, "I wet my
matches." That's good. Every time he tried to get it out
and strike one, he couldn't get that match to strike. He
planned in advance.
"Do not give the devil a foothold." (Ephesians 4:27) It's
like climbing a mountain, you get a foothold that allows
him to step up and get another foothold, then another and
another. Don't let the devil be the king of your mountain.
You start by not letting him get a foothold. That may mean
you have to choose new friends, get a new job or move
somewhere else. The Bible says, "Flee from temptation." You
don't toy with it or flirt with it, you run from it. If
we're honest, when we flee from temptation, most of us
leave a forwarding address. Sometimes we say, "I'll be
right down the road, come see me, down there." We want to
play with it. Playing with the temptation will not work -
you must distance yourself from it.
6) Opt for
"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7)
The battle for your life is fought in your mind. Whatever
captures my attention, captures me.
My thoughts control my emotions, my emotions control my
decisions, and my decisions control my actions, right? The
beginning point of the end product, our actions, starts
with our thinking. If you have an addiction, a sin that is
mastering your life and you are pretending you could break,
you can't break it because it's got you by the throat, I
will assure you that you dwell on it every day mentally. In
fact you may be dwelling on it every single hour.
The real key to resisting temptation is not in resisting,
but refocusing. Do you understand? The real key to
resisting temptation is not in the resisting, it's the
refocusing. You can't just look at that temptation that's
got you by the throat and say, "No, no, no, I don't want
it, I don't want it, I don't want it," when every ounce of
your flesh desires it. You do want it. That won't work. If
you just try to resist, you'll lose. However, you must
refocus your attention, you mentally change channels so
that when temptation calls, you drop the phone. You don't
try to argue by saying "I don't want that, I don't want
that" because it is a lie. That's why it's a temptation.
The only way you'll have victory over temptation is to
refocus your attention on something else, whatever you
concentrate on gets you.
That's why so many people fail on a diet. What do you think
about while you're on a diet? Food! You say, "Fifteen more
minutes and I can have another celery stick." You sit there
and look at that clock." Resistance will not work, you must
I took my mother to the doctor the other day. She's had to
go on insulin because of diabetes. But we were in the
office talking with the doctor. I was hungry when I went
in, but over on the side on the table, he had a big old
gunky yellow model of a five-pound blob of fat. I saw it
and kept staring and I lost that hunger real fast. Why did
I loose my desire for something to eat? It was by
Paul says in Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever
is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is
pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable---if
anything is excellent or praiseworthy---think about such
things." Do you realize that's called the principle of
replacement? You re-place the bad with the good, because
nature will not allow a vacuum. When you say that your gas
tank is empty, it's not empty, it's full of air. You fill
it back up, it's full of gas and the air is gone. When you
think "I'm going to get rid of this thought", it will come
right back if it's not replaced by some-thing better.
That's the principle of replacement. It's the principle of
a positive affection. Opt for something better.
Don't sit around all day saying, "No, I don't want to be
drunk. No, I don't want to give in to sexual desire. No, I
don't want to use all my money gambling. No, I don't want
to keep smoking." Whatever the problem, that's the wrong
way to fight it. The Bible says, you fill your mind with
positive things. That's part of knowing the truth, and
letting the truth set you free. Opt for something
7) Make solid
Every human being needs a support group. You may not want
to call it that, but you sure need it, and so do I. Every
person needs a circle of caring people to give him
reinforcement and support. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes
4:9, "Two are better than one, because they have a good
return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can
help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to
help him up!" That's more true spiritually than it is
January 1st people make resolutions to become a new
per-son. I'm going to break all my bad habits," and then
what? Two months later we are right back into the same old
thing. There's a cycle.
We are not what we want to be, and so we humble ourselves.
We say, "God, I need your help. I'm failing." The Bible
says, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and
He'll lift you up." So, we humble ourselves, God gives us
the power to do better. We start doing better and after a
few weeks or a couple of months, we start getting proud
about how good we're doing. Beware! "Pride goes before a
fall." We go right back down. We get down in the depths and
we begin to humble ourselves again, and the cycle goes over
How do you break that cycle? You need friends. You need
Christian friends who will pray for you, who will care for
you, who will encourage you, who will help make you
accountable and keep you on track. Two are better than one,
because they pick each other up.
I'll give you a parallel verse to this, so important.
"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so
that you may be healed." (James 5:16) Did you understand?
Now tell me the truth, do you like that verse? "Confess
your sins to each other and pray for each other so that
you..." Do you like that verse? Oh, be honest, you don't
like that verse much. I think it's the least obeyed verse
in the Bible. We don't want to confess our sins to each
other. Nobody does. I don't want to open up. Now it says,
"so that we may be healed." We like that part. We want to
We want the power to break the addiction grip on my life.
That comes only by confessing my sin, not only to God, but
to each other. That doesn't necessarily mean in front of
all the brethren and giving a generic statement. I think in
the context that James wrote it, it meant more to a select
few Christian brothers and sisters, who know me, who love
me, who trust me, and whom I trust implicitly and who I
know will talk to me every day and say, "how are you doing?
I prayed for you today."
Now many of you are thinking right now, I have this
addiction that is mastering me. I want to break it, but I
don't want anybody to know about my problems. I don't give
you any hope of ever coming to a lasting solution. I don't
give you any hope at all. Because that's the attitude, I
can do it on my own, I don't need God. I'll take it all by
myself. That attitude will keep you in bondage.
It is essential that we learn to live transparently before
God and before the people in our lives who love us the
most. Just say, "I have strengths, and I have weaknesses.
This is me." The Church, Christian people not the church
building, is designed by God to be transparent so we can
encourage one another and pray for one another. It is the
number one reason God designed a church in the first place.
That's why you need to be in some kind of small group. It
may be a care group, it may be a Bible study group, it may
be just a group of friends who live around you or it may be
Christian friends you've developed over years. But you need
close, intimate friends where you can sit down sometime
with tears in your eyes and say, "I'm burned out, I'm about
as depressed as I can get." Or where you can look them in
the eye and say to maybe others your age, "I'm having
trouble parenting. I've got a child that I don't know what
to do with, and I'm at the end of my rope." They will
probably look at you and say, "I didn't know anybody else
was the same way, but I'm that way, too."
You need somebody close enough in your life
that you can look in the eye and say, "You know five years
ago I went on a business trip, and I started nipping a
little bit of booze, and I didn't think anything of it. But
now, I drink every day and I hide it in the closet, and I
don't want anybody to know that I'm addicted." Until you
can get a group of people that you can confide in, you'll
stay in your addiction.
To paraphrase James 5:16, revealing your feeling is the
first step to healing. Others of you are thinking, well I'm
going to quit. I'm just not going to tell anybody. That's a
cop-out. That's making provisions for the flesh, Romans
14:13. You're guaranteeing failure by making an escape
hatch so that you can bail out and nobody will know you
ever failed. Everybody needs a support group.
Seven steps to freedom, straight from the Word, clear as a
bell, no mistaking and no short cutting.
1) Freedom starts today.
2) Refuse to blame others.
3) Examine your life.
4) Employ Christ's sovereignty.
5) Distance yourself from temptation.
6) Opt for something better.
7) Make solid relationships.
"The God who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we
can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we
ourselves received from God." (2 Corinthians 1:4) When God
heals me of my addiction, my life-controlling sin, I
receive comfort from him. This is the very same comfort
I'll pass on to somebody else. The best people to help
some-body overcome a particular addiction, whether it is
booze, workaholism, or whatever, are people who've come out
of the same thing. Because the comfort they've received
from God, God uses them to pass it on. That's what we need
to be and do. We want to be even more that way tomorrow.
Amazing Grace Lesson #1198-
Taught by Steve Flatt
1. God is?
All the above
A and C
A, C and E
2. All mankind is a slave to whatever has mastered him?
3. When is it time to start controlling your life?
As soon as time is
4. Who is to blame for your addiction or lack of
5. How does one identify their addiction or lack of
See a Doctor
Seek help from a friend
6. People are afraid to submit to Christ because they think
it means no more fun or freedom?
7. Flirting with a temptation is okay as long as one does
not yield to the temptation?
8. The battle for your life is fought in your mind
This lesson is about myths involving pain. We are a very
pain-conscious society. Everywhere you turn there are ads
for pain relievers and painkillers. Technology has led us
from aspirin to Tylenol to Ibuprofen to Naproxen to I don't
even know what's out there. It seems like the whole world
has a headache, doesn't it?
One of the facts of life is that we all face problems and
we all feel pain. As long as we are alive, we are going to
have pain. You are going to have physical, emotional, and
spiritual pain. The world gives us a whole collection of
myths about what to do with that pain.
The world basically says pain is an awful thing. It's the
worst thing you can experience. So just avoid problems if
you possibly can; don't face them. Two major myths the
world would have you believe are (a) ignore it, it will go
away and (b) escape it, take a drink, a pill or something
else. All myths have a grain of appeal in the short term,
but they tend to bring major misery in the long run.
The eminent psychologist Scott Peck said, "Fearing pain,
almost all of us to one degree or another, attempt to avoid
problems. We procrastinate, hoping they will go away. We
ignore and pretend they don't exist. We attempt to get out
of them, rather than to suffer through them." He concluded
with, "This tendency to avoid problems and the emotional
pain inherent in them is the primary basis for human mental
illness." Did you hear that? "The tendency to avoid
problems and pain inherent in them is the primary basis for
human mental illness." He's right, and the fact is God
doesn't want you to ignore your pain. He doesn't really
want you to run from your pain. God wants you to discover
the cause of your pain and then go to the root for real
Pain is like a warning light on the dashboard of your car.
When that warning light comes on, it indicates that
something is wrong. You can take a hammer and crash it if
you want to ignore it, or you can just turn your head. But
the fact of the matter is, if you're prudent, you'll go
find out what's causing the problem (or pain) and cure it.
The myth then is to run from pain, to ignore pain, to find
an escape from it. The truth is that pain is a tool that
God uses to bring good in my life. The problem is, we don't
tend to understand it or recognize the good that pain can
ultimately bring to our lives.
This lesson is not how to do away with your pain. Nothing
short of death will do that. It is to help us to understand
pain. Once we understand a purpose behind pain, it's a lot
easier to deal with.
Those of you who are ex-athletes can remember the endless
practices in whatever sport you were involved in. You would
have the conditioning time, lining up and doing those wind
sprints. You think your legs were going to buckle and your
lungs were going to explode, but you knew there was a
greater purpose than just the running. It was to accomplish
God uses our pain to:
He uses my pain to spur me into action. Some people are so
afraid to go to the dentist that the only thing that will
make them go is a pain that is greater than their fear.
Pain can be a great motivator. I like what some wise fellow
said, "We don't change when we see the light, we change
when we feel the heat." That's when we're motivated to make
a change. The alcoholic, drug addict and chemically
dependent will seldom seek help before they hit bottom. To
hit bottom, simply means, experiencing enough pain
physically, emotionally, and spiritually, that their pain
is worse than their desire for the drug. They say, "I can't
see going on like this anymore." Nothing short of that will
get them to change.
In the Bible, the parable of the Prodigal Son is the
classic example. He goes to father and says, "I want all
that's due to me, and I want it right now." Then he takes
it and goes to some far country where he just wastes it, he
blows it. The Bible says he went out looking for a job. He
got a job feeding pigs, its a shame and disgrace for a
Jewish boy to feed pigs, but he got so hungry he would have
scooted the pigs over and got right down there and eaten
with them. The hunger pain motivated him.
2. To mold
Pain will mold or shape me like clay into what I need to
be. David said, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that
I might learn your decrees." (Psalm 119:71) David says pain
is a teaching tool. It makes us pliable. God uses pain not
just to motivate me, just to get me off square one; he then
uses it to mold me, to teach me. It's like a bit in a
horse's mouth. Are you equestrians or raised on a farm with
a horse or a mule? You put that bit there and just the
slightest pull causes the pain. It causes the horse to go
one way or the other. That's the way God uses our pain.
Somebody says that God whispers to us in our pleasure, but
he SHOUTS to us in our pain. Has God ever shouted to you
through your pain?
Aristotle rightly observed that there are some things that
a human can only learn through pain. Mark Twain putting it
in his homespun way said, "If a cat ever sits on a hot
stove, he'll never sit on a hot stove again." Of course
he'll never sit on a cold one either. But the point is, by
being burned, he learned like that cat. There are some
things you can learn only by being burned. Has God ever
gotten your attention through pain? I know some
workaholics. God has gotten their attention through an
ulcer, through angina. I know some workaholics for whom God
has gotten their attention through emotional pain when
their spouse came to them and said, "I'm not putting up
with it anymore." Some folks have been overextended
financially, been up to their eyes in debt, leveraged
everything they owned, had a severe case of "wantitis." Do
you know what happened? They got burned. If they've got an
ounce of common sense, they learned through that pain. You
don't want pain to be the only or the main source of your
total education. You're going to have an extremely
miserable life if that's the case. But some of life's
deepest insights are learned only at the expense of pain.
Those lessons are there because God loves you. He will
motivate you, and he will mold you.
3. To measure
It helps us see what we are really like on the inside. For
instance, when I experience pain, the way I react to it
measures my faith. My commitment can be measured by how I
react to pain. My maturity is measured by how I react to
pain. My patience is measured by how I react to pain. Your
problems and the pain that they bring with them are among
the best ways to see what's inside of you. The reason pain
is among the best barometers of what's inside of you is
because it's impossible to maintain an image when you're in
Now let's be honest, we all project images, don't we? Sure
you do. We project physical images. We comb our hair and we
brush our teeth. Ladies, you put on your make-up. We
project a social image. We smile and we have pleasant
social conversation. But give yourself three days at home
with the flu and see how much any of those things matter to
you. You just drag into the bathroom and look into the
mirror, you've got that bad case of bed-head look, like a
wreck and you don't care. The pain has stripped away the
Now that's not just true physically. That's true with
emotional pain. All the time, people will get up, dress up
and go to work. They've got their image shields up, but
underneath, there is a personal problem, there is a
relationship problem, there is a sin that's beginning to
dominate their life. It's no longer got just a foothold,
it's developing a stronghold over their heart. As that pain
intensifies, sooner or later in front of somebody, those
images will come down. Sooner or later, that person will
fall and just break down. The image is gone and as
unpleasant as that sounds, God says that's not really bad
because you ought to be more concerned about your character
than your image. Pain tests character.
You may say, "I'm a person of integrity." But when the pain
gets intense, you'll find out if you stand for the truth or
if you buckle under. You may declare, "I'm committed to
Christ." But, when pain is there, you'll run to what you're
most committed. The real question is: What does pain say
about your life? When you're in a squeeze, what comes out
of you? Are you a fair-weathered believer or a consistent
As long as things were okay, the Children of Israel were
okay, but when pain came they yielded. This is the reason
they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years instead of
getting to the Promised Land. God says, "Remember how the
Lord your God led you all the way into the desert these 40
years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what
was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his
commands." (Deuteronomy 8:2) After they had gone through a
parted Red Sea and seen the Egyptians defeated, they
yielded to the pain of thirst and began griping and
complaining. This pain of thirst measured their hearts. God
knew they were not ready to obey His commands. They were
not ready to have a commitment that will extend through
pain. See in my pain, God measures me.
4. To monitor
God will use my pain to keep me on track, just to put
parameters around me and just make sure that I don't get
too far afield. For example, a fever is the way your body
is telling you that you may have an infection somewhere.
The pain you feel with a sore throat tells you that there
is a deeper problem. But if you never have either or those
symptoms, those problems could have gotten much worse,
maybe even life threatening. God uses pain to monitor us
and to allow us to monitor ourselves.
A practical application of this is painful emotions. These
painful emotions are telling you that something is out of
kilter. When I feel depressed over a prolonged period of
time, feel resentful and I can't get over it, feel
increasingly hostile, totally fearful, or get apathetic and
say, "Nothing matters," my painful emotions are telling me
something is wrong. They are our barometers. They are
letting us know. We should get a thing checked out. Pain is
a monitoring device for our protection.
2,000 years ago Shepherds who had a sheep or a lamb that
was a little too aggressive or tended to get a little
wayward would break its legs. They still do that today.
After they break its legs they put a splint on it. That
little old sheep can hardly move. It just pegs around a
little bit. I know that sounds cruel, but they're doing it
for their protection.
Sometimes God puts a splint on your life to keep you from
wandering too far from the flock. You may resent it, resist
it and you may curse it, but it's because God loves
Do you recall the story of Joseph? It's a story of pain. He
was betrayed by his brothers and sold by them into slavery.
He goes to a place where he doesn't know the people, he
doesn't know the language or the customs. He is a slave in
a man's house, but he walks uprightly and faithfully. While
he is there he is falsely accused by his master's wife,
thrown into prison and forgotten. Years later he comes out
and by God's amazing providence, rises the second in charge
of all Egypt. But even then, there's a pain. There's a pain
of about 20 years knowing that he was abandoned by his
Finally, his brothers come down looking for food and Joseph
reveals himself to them and all the family comes down, but
at the very end of the book of Genesis, after Jacob,
Joseph's father, dies, all of his brothers feared that
Joseph was going to get his pound of flesh. He's going to
get his revenge. Instead Joseph said, "You intended it for
my harm, but God intended it for good." You intended it for
harm, but that's all right, God intended it for good. God
was monitoring Joseph's life all along. He was watching
him. God used the pain in Joseph's life to motivate him, to
mold him, and to measure him for greatness.
There are people in your life who mean to harm you. We all
have those people. They may have harmed you as a child,
they may be harming you right now, physically, emotionally,
some other way and it hurts. But the great news I have for
you is that God says to you, I've got a plan, I've got a
purpose that's bigger than that. They may mean it for your
harm, but don't worry, I'm your God and I'm going to work
it out for your good.
At the end of Joseph's life we find out he had two sons.
One of them was named Manasseh and the other one was named
Ephraim. I don't know about you, but I like the meaning of
names. Manasseh means "he made me forget" and Ephraim
means, "fruitful" or "successful." Joseph named his two
boys that because Joseph realized that in all the pain he
had endured, God worked and monitored his life for
preparing him for greatness. He said, "God has made me
forget that pain and now he has made me successful. He has
made me fruitful." Folks, God will use that same pain that
you feel to monitor you to greatness. But you must allow
Him to do so.
5. To mature
It is possible to grow spiritually and emotionally during
bright, healthy, cheerful, sunny days of spring and summer,
when everything is going great and life is fantastic. You
can grow during good times but will grow far more and far
deeper in the dark days of the soul. You will grow far
deeper in the valleys than on the mountains. That's just
the way humans are made.
Through the years, people have told me countless times as
they have gone through the valley, "I've learned more this
past year being out of work, than I've ever known prior to
that time." Somebody said, "I've learned more through this
financial crisis than I ever could have matured any other
way." Speaking of the death of a loved one somebody said,
"I didn't know how to trust in God until I went through
this, and now I know how to trust in God." These are true
statements because grace does grow best in winter. That's
when God matures you.
The half-brother of Jesus said, "Consider it pure joy, my
brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because
you know that the testing of your faith develops
perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you
may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything."
(James 1:2) He said all the perseverance and all the
problems work together so you can be mature and complete.
Pain is the high cost of growth! We've heard it since we
were kids, it's trite but it's true, there is no gain
without pain. Contrary to what the world wants to tell you
there are no five easy steps to a wonderful life.
The simple fact of the matter is, we live in a time that
wants the product without the price. The product we want is
maturity, emotional stability, a sense of fulfillment and
satisfaction, happiness and wisdom. That's the product we
all want, but we don't want to pay the price. The price is
pain in one form or another. There are no shortcuts.
The very thing that is discouraging you the most, God is
using to develop you. The apostle Paul said, "I've got a
thorn in my flesh, and three times I sought the Lord and
said, 'Lord, take that thorn away from me.'" (2 Corinthians
12) We don't know what that thorn was and I'm glad we
don't, because we can relate to it. But I know one thing
about a thorn. It hurts. I've never had a thorn in me that
didn't hurt. It brought pain. As badly as he wanted the
pain of my thorn taken away Paul concluded, after God
refused to remove the thorn, through it I learned how
desperately I needed the presence of Jesus Christ in my
You really don't know that Jesus Christ is all you need
until Jesus Christ is all you've got and then you'll
Steve Flatt lesson
1. You can ignore most problems and they
will go away?
2. Pain is used by God to bring good into one's life?
3. Pain motivates some into action
4. Pain is an education tool as it causes one to
5. Pain measures the internal man?
6. Painful emotions are telling you that something is out
Sometime back I received a piece of direct mail. It was col-orful and on the outside of the envelope it said: "If you have ever felt fat, clumsy, or depressed, this letter is for you." Wow! I couldn't resist. I opened it up and "For only $29.95 plus $3 for shipping and handling," they would send you this kit that would take care of all your problems. Change your life for only $29.95.
When I see that stuff I wonder who buys those things. I know the answer. People like you and me, people who want to get things that are out of control in their lives and wanted them under control. Did you know that over 2,000 new self-help books flood the market each year? We just gobble those things up. Why? Because they are things and habits in our lives that are out of control, things like temper.
Do you have a problem with your temper? You may be like the wife who said my husband is very temperamental. He's 90 percent temper and 10 percent mental. Anybody have a problem with spending? Anybody got spending out of con-trol? If you do, you need this bumper sticker, "Anybody who says money can't buy happiness, just doesn't know where to shop." Anybody have a problem with mood swings, eating or procrastination, drinking, sexual desires or some other addic-tion?
How can we really break free from these life deforming hab-its and hurts and hang-ups?
Why is it that we have these things and can't seem to get out of the cycle? Well Paul tells us in Romans 7:15 -18, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." Can you relate to what Paul is saying? Paul said, all the things that I want to do, I don't seem to do, and all the things that I really want to re-frain from doing, I just go ahead and do them.
Have you ever broken a bad habit only to have it return may-be within a matter of days? Let me give you an example. How many of you made New Year's resolutions? How many have kept all the resolutions you made? Probably none of us, because resolutions will not suffice. Good intentions are sel-dom good enough. It takes more to change.
How many times have you promised, "I'll never smoke an-other cigarette again"? How many times have you promised yourself, or your family, or God, "I'm not going to lose my temper anymore," or, "I'm never going to drink again," or, "I really am going to begin my diet tomorrow," or, "I'm going to be a better father, I'll never strike you again," only to drift right back into the behavior from which you came.
Frustration. The apostle Paul tells us three things. He said, "The first result is, it's frustrating." It's greatly frus-trating. "I do not understand what I do." Why do I keep making the same mistakes? Why do I do what I don't want to do? Why do I do things that I know are bad for me?
Confusion. Paul said, I had the desire to do what's right, but not the power. If you've ever been on a diet you how that goes. You start out the morning with great resolution and intention, don't you? Then as the day begins to go on, do you watch that resolution begin to drift away? So, by the time you get home, you're so hungry you could eat a almost anything and everything. By that time, my idea of a balanced diet is a Big Mac in both hands. That's the way we are. I want to change, but I don't know how. I have the motivation, but I don't have the determination. I've got the desire, but I don't have the power.
The reason self-help books don't work is that they don't empower us to do it. They'll tell a negative person to stop being negative. I've known hundreds, perhaps thousands of negative people in my life. I've never known one to change by my saying to them, "Just stop being negative." Have you? The self-help books tell the procrastinators "Try to get there 10 minutes early." They know that, that's why they bought the self-help book. They can't get there, they just keep putting things off.
Defeat and discouragement. "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24) Paul said, I'm losing the battle. I'm defeated. I just can't change. How many promises have I made to God and to myself that I've broken, often within a matter of a few hours? So you just want to throw up your hands and say, "I'm tired of trying." If you have felt that way or if you feel that way today, do I have some great news for you. You can change, and the power is there. You don't have to stay in this cycle of failure/defeat, failure/defeat, failure/defeat, over and over. The Bible makes clear the principles of how you can gain control over that which is out of control.
Jesus said in John 8:32, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." The secret to personal change isnot willpower. That's not enough. The secret to personal change isn't a pill. The secret to personal change isn't hypno-sis, it's not a fat farm or some gimmick. Jesus said, the way to break free from the habits, hurts, and addictions in your life, is by knowing the truth.
But how can that be? How does knowing the truth set me free from my bad habits? To unlock the secret of Jesus' statement, you've got to remember a basic axiom. Your thoughts control your emotions and your emotions control your decisions and your decisions control your actions. Do you see that? That's the way it always flows. Have you ever said, "He makes me so mad"? He can't make you mad. She can't make you mad. They don't have that power. What you are really saying is "every time I look at him, I think negative thoughts". Those negative thoughts may result from remem-bering something that happened in the past. Consequently, I get a negative emotion which leads to negative decisions. These negative decisions may even lead you to a very nega-tive action.
It all starts with the thought process. Solomon in Proverbs 23:7 stated "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." If I'm acting depressed, it's because I'm feeling depressed. I'm feel-ing depressed because I am thinking depressed thoughts. Most of us try to work on the action not the cause. We try to work on the external things. God says, you've got to start with your thinking.
That's why Jesus says, if you know the truth, if you'll focus on the truth, it will set you free. Bad beliefs lead to bad be-havior. Every behavior you have is based on a belief. It's based on a value in your life that you have either consciously or unconsciously. This is important: Behind every self-defeating behavior is a lie that I'm believing. If you are in-volved in a wrong behavior, the root cause is you are believ-ing something that is not true. The devil is fooling me and deceiving me.
A. Admit my problem.
Admit the root of my problem. That's the starting point for breaking free. Most of us have this vague feeling that some-thing is wrong with me. We don't know what it is, and we can't put our finger on it, but something just doesn't seem to be right.
God put his finger on it. He says your basic problem is your basic attitude of life, regardless of your hang-up. This atti-tude has a name, it's a word that we don't hear much any-more, it's not hip, it's not cool, and one certainly won't hear it in the media. The word is disgusting and repulsive. It is SIN.
You and I have all kinds of wrong perceptions about sin. Sin is not, first and foremost, doing drugs, getting drunk, rob-bing a bank or running off with somebody's wife. Those things are really the second wave of sin. They are the result of the underlying sin. The root problem is an attitude that says, "I'm in charge, and I don't need God." That is the core of what Paul called in Romans 7, the sinful nature. It's man's oldest problem. It's been around since Adam and Eve. I'm going to ignore God, and I'm going to do my way, my own thing.
Every one of us is grappling daily with that basic response attitude of sin. We wrestle every day in that tug-of-war. Who's in charge, me or God?
John said "If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving our-selves and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8) Put that to-gether with what Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free." So, by denying your sin, you have no truth in you.
We act like we've got it all together. Who do you think you're trying to fool? If you're acting like nothing ever gets out of control in your life, are you trying to fool God? Are you trying to fool other people? You're only fooling yourself. Nobody has it all together. Every one of us every day has that tug-of-war. When you pretend you have everything to-gether and that you're in charge, you're only hurting yourself.
B. Stop deceiving myself.
I have to stop deceiving myself. That's worth repeating. In order to stop defeating myself, I have to stop deceiving my-self. The root problem is, I think I'm in charge and I don't need God. We are not made to live that way.
When an alcoholic goes to Alcohol Anonymous the very first thing required of him is to admit, "I am powerless to control my situation and my life has become unmanageable." Too often we have to hit rock bottom before we admit anything, not when we feel a little heat, but when the fire is out of con-trol. Then we begin to say "maybe I could use a little help."
Most people wait too late to seek help. They wait too late to admit the problem. I have men come into my office and say, "my wife dropped a bombshell on me. She said, she's fed up with my neglect, my abuse, my vile tongue, my temper and she's walking out. What can I do? I need help." Down deep I'm sitting there thinking there's often very little that I can do, very little, because he has waited too long.
. Admit your problem. You have a hang-up in life, come clean with it in the mirror, and before the Almighty God.
. Believe that Christ can change me. Remember Romans 7:24, "Who can deliver me from this body of death? … Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Paul said the answer to my problem is a person. Through Jesus Christ, God will provide the power that you are lacking. If you don't believe that, you won't get rid of your hang-ups. Because, "through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2) There's a way out folks. The law of the Spirit of Christ will set me free.
If I were to go outside and on the grass somewhere find a dead bird, pick that little bird up, that dead bird, throw it in the air and say, "Fly," what's going to happen? It's going to fall back down. I pick it up and throw it back up and say, "Fly!" It's going to fall back down. What is the only thing that's going to make that bird fly? The only thing that is go-ing to make him fly is a new life, become a new creation. He doesn't need to turn over a new leaf, he needs a new life. He needs power under those wings. And a new life is the only thing that's going to make him fly, is.
C. Commit all that you are to Christ.
I commit all that I am, the good, the bad, the ugly, all of it to Jesus Christ. Some of you may be thinking, give me one good reason why I ought to do that. Man has tried every-thing else, and it did not work. Isn't that a good enough rea-son?
Why don't you try Jesus? I've seen him change hundreds and hundreds of lives. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new crea-tion; behold the old is gone, and the new has come." That's the truth for anyone who will let Christ do His transforming work. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
A few years ago a letter was printed in Time magazine in re-sponse to its cover story, "Who is Jesus Christ?" Of course the article had all these opinions from many scholars. Mike Mandel wrote "As far as I'm concerned, the liberal theologi-ans can keep their historical Jesus and their cut and paste Bi-ble. I'm a former alcoholic and adulterer set free by the pow-er of the living Christ Jesus. Who cares about higher criticism when the resurrected Son of God can transform you here and now." Amen, Mike, Amen!
Paul says, in 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (self control)" Some of you who were baptized into Christ a long time ago are holding back. You're not committing all that you are to him, you're holding back, you're also holding on. You're holding on to your addictions, to your hang-ups, and to your perpetual sins.
You have bought the world's lie that if you've really commit-ted all that you are to Jesus Christ, you'd become some kind of weird fanatic. You'd sell everything today. You would just be absolutely weird. Folks, that's a lie. You would be in self-control because Christ is controlling you. You'd be pow-erful. You'd be loving. You'd be the person you've always dreamed of being. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." (2 Corinthians 3:17) That's the foundation for our study. Lesson #1196
Let's take a poll. How many of you have at least one worry?
We do worry, don't we? We live in an era where we are
filled and bombarded by stress, anxiety, worry, and
pressure. In fact we are literally worrying ourselves sick.
The American Psychiatric Association has labeled ours "The
Age of Anxiety," and their diagnosis is borne out simply by
the facts. The American Academy of Physicians say that at
least two-thirds of all the patients they see come to them
with stress-related illnesses. Then, the three best selling
prescription drugs are: 1) tagamet, an ulcer medication: 2)
enderol, a medicine for hypertension and 3) valium, a
In 1988, Newsweek magazine ran an article that projected
that American businesses lose over $150 billion a year
through stress and anxiety related illnesses. Now the
amazing thing is we really don't have all that much to
worry about. Consider 40 percent of the things we worry
about never happen, 30 percent concern old decisions that
can no longer be changed and 12 percent center on criticism
which is often untrue and usually made by people who feel
inferior. Incidentally, most of life's critics are people
who have a deep inferiority complex. A few percent of all
the things we worry about relate to our health, which if we
worry about will only make it worse. That leaves only eight
percent of all the things that could even begin to be
labeled "legitimate," needing mental attention. But, the
truth of the matter is, you and I don't often hearken to
those statistics. Instead, we tend to be engulfed by worry
over and over again.
I want to share with you some things that Jesus had to say
about a prescription for an antidote to worry and to
stress. During the last week of Jesus' life He is
undergoing great anxiety. He knew He was going to die. He
makes that declaration to His disciples in John 13. He
tells them He's going to die and one of them was going to
betray Him. In chapter 14, He states the good news that He
is going away to prepare a place for them. In John 15 & 16,
He tells the disciples the bad news. He says, the world is
going to hate you just like it has hated me, you're going
to scatter and I won't be able to find a single one of you.
Then Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in
me you may have peace." (John 16:33) Underline John 16:33
in your Bible, then highlight "in me" with a yellow
highlighter. When Christ dwells in you and you dwell in
Christ, you can have peace.
Later in the same verse he said, "In this world you will
have trouble." That's right. Put your hope in the world.
Get involved in all worldly things, you'll have trouble.
You'll have anxiety, strife and stress. But then he said,
"take heart! I have overcome the world."
The umbrella statement is, if we are in Jesus, we can
have peace. Our Lord gives us a prescription for
overcoming worry that is tremendous. "After Jesus said
this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 'Father, the time
has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.
For you granted him authority over all people that he might
give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this
is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you
glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.'"
Why would Jesus be under stress? Why would he need to
say these things about peace? He had every reason in the
1. He was
One of the reasons you and I tend to come under stress and
pressure is when we are misunderstood. They misunderstood
Jesus' motive. They misunderstood his mission. They
misunderstood his message.
2. He was not
Don't you feel stress when some-one around you doesn't
accept you? Particularly your peers. It was the peers of
Jesus who didn't accept him. The religious people, the ones
who were looking for a Messiah, but they turned him
3. He was
That's why he felt stress. Hebrews 4:15 said he was tempted
in all points like as we. I'm going to go a little farther
than that. I think Jesus knew temptations that you and I
can't even imagine. He was tempted to take a shortcut
around the cross and you and I can't identify with that. We
don't have the option of saving the world.
4. He had many
Now you and I know something about that. Any one of us have
some people who don't care a great deal for us, but if the
truth be known, I don't know that I have anybody that
really wants to crucify me, to take my life or wrench it
away from me.
5. His disciples
were slow learners.
That would have killed me. I'm just not as patient as our
Lord. He spent over three years with them day and night
trying to let it all sink it in and they still couldn't
figure it out. He loved them enough to die for them. I
think I would have wanted to kill them. They were slow
learners. He faced the stress and pressure of tremendous
responsibility. Victory over sin, victory over the grave,
the opportunity of salvation, the opportunity of heaven for
every single human being, all that was on his shoulders.
That's pressure and his time running out.
6. He was going to
hand over the advancement of the kingdom into the hands of
How did Jesus deal with it and
how does he tell you and me to deal with it?
1. Jesus knew who to go to. Feeling all this pressure he
says, Father, I've got to talk to you. You and I need to
know and practice what Jesus knew and practiced.
2. He knew why he
came to earth.
He had a purpose and when he says, Father, the time the
hour has come, he's saying his mission is just about
3. Jesus gave up
It relieved a tremendous amount of pressure. "'Father, the
time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify
you.'" Why would Jesus pray that the Father glorify Him?
Jesus was God come in the flesh. He was part of the
Trinity. He was part of the Godhead. But, you see He had to
pray that God glorify Him because Jesus in coming to this
earth and taking on the human form of a servant had given
up his rights. Folks, I want to tell you some-thing that
too many of us don't know. It's amazing the pressure that
comes from each one of us trying to protect every inch of
the turf of our rights. We don't want to yield on this, we
don't want to relinquish on this, and we are going to guard
every right to fight for the chance. Jesus gave up his
rights and it relieved a tremendous amount of pressure.
4. He had
something to give.
He was granted the authority over all people that he might
give eternal life. He had something to give all right; it
was the greatest gift of all time. It is eternal life to
everybody who would come to him, put their trust in Him and
obey His gospel.
5. He did a good
"'I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work
you gave me to do.'"
How do you and I get relief from stress and pressure
that we face everyday? We do the same thing Jesus
1. Turn everything
over to God.
Like Jesus, we too must turn everything over to God. "Cast
all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter
5:7) Two observations a) God is concerned about me. God
cares for me, He cares for you and He cares for all of us;
b) He cares about everything in my life. He said "cast all
2. Understand your
purpose in life.
We've been created with different abilities all for the
purpose of glorifying God and serving others. When you have
a purpose in life, it can help you handle pressure. Now one
of the things that I do following Jesus' lead is when I
feel the pressures coming in on me and I feel them like you
do, when I feel stressed, I revert back to my basic purpose
3. Give up your
This is probably the one most of us need work on and the
one that gives us the greatest difficulty because we live
in a culture that is so filled with assertiveness training.
It's contrary to the way the world thinks. There are five
destructive emotions that damage and hamper our life -
resentment, bitterness, anger, hatred, and fear. They'll
eat you up and they'll spit you out and I will guarantee
you that a major source of each of those five is often when
people are not willing to give up their rights.
I want you to think with me for a moment. It is rare for
you to have an argument over an issue if you under-stand
and practice this principle. Now let me be clear, I'm not
talking about being a wimp or a perpetual dish rag. There
are a few things in life that are worth drawing a line in
the sand for, but not 98 percent of the time that we do. I
found that the really strong people in this world are the
ones who are willing to yield their rights. It's the weak
who fight for their turf. The greatest ex-ample I know is
Jesus. Philippians 2:5, "Your attitude should be the same
as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did
not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but
made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a
I have observed in my lifetime that fighting for rights can
make you do some awfully foolish things. When Abraham
Lincoln lived a rich man loaned a poor man $2.50 and after
a while the poor man was unable to re-pay, the rich man was
so upset he went to Lincoln and asked for representation.
Lincoln didn't want to take the case, but he came back and
said, well I'll tell you what. You give me $10 up front and
I'll take it. The man gave him $10 then Lincoln went to the
poor man and gave him $5. He said "you take $2.50 of this
and pay him back and you can keep that $2.50" and Lincoln
pocketed $5.00. You see that man spent $10 to get $2.50
back. You may say, people don't do those kind of stupid
things. You wouldn't believe what I've seen husbands and
wives accuse each other of doing as they fight for their
rights instead of yielding.
4. Be a generous
That's what Jesus did. You give things away it relieves
pressure. Be generous with your prayer, your money, and
5. Glorify God
Do the best you can do in a day, then go to bed and put
your head on the pillow. It's amazing how good you feel.
Some of the stress that we feel in the world is when we
know we have not done what we could have done, it haunts
us. Just do your best and then feel the relief as the
stress lessens. Amazing
Grace Lesson #1108 Taught by Steve Flatt
1. Which of the following statements regarding worry are
40% of concerns do not ever occur
30 % are old decisions that can not be
12 % are based on untrue criticism
None of the above
2. Peace is found in?
3. In this world you will have trouble?
4. Jesus was under stressful situations because
He was misunderstood
He was not accepted
He was tempted
He had many enemies
His disciples were slow learners
5. Jesus overcame stress because
He knew who to go to
He knew why He came to earth
He gave up His rights
He had a purpose and something to
He did a good job
B and D
6. We can overcome stress and pressure by
Turning our life over to God
Understanding the purpose of life
Giving up our rights
Being a generous person
A, C and E
A, B and E
B, D and E
One of the most common, frequent and dominant shackles of
our day is debt. Debt literally fetters millions and
millions of Americans. In fact, there are precious few
people that I know, particularly in my generation and
under, who aren't up to their chins in debt. Others are up
to the top of their heads in debt, almost bankrupt.
Why is debt so consuming? I've done a great deal of
research and have reached one key reason. We spend more
money than we make. Okay? Is that profound? Our yearnings
exceed our earnings. A 1995 survey indicated that the
average American puts $1,300 on credit for every $1,000
that they make. That's the problem. Somebody put it this
way: "When your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep
will be your downfall."
The result of borrowing is a record number of personal and
business bankruptcies. Millions of families are so strapped
for money that every month is a difficult ordeal because of
Causes of debt
The root of 95+ percent of this debt dilemma is an
old-fashioned thing the Bible calls coveting. There is an
epidemic in our culture of "wantitis." For most of us, our
debt is not caused by our need but our greed. We want to
buy things that we don't need with money we don't have to
impress people we don't even like. Isn't that right?
The reason for this is we are being bombarded by all this
"wantitis" message. By the time a student graduates from
high school, he or she has seen on an average 350,000
commercials. All those commercials are saying one of three
things; (a) "Having more things will make me happy,"
(re-member in America we are guaranteed life, liberty, and
the purchase of happiness); (b) "Having more things will
make me important." (It's the devil's old ploy about what I
have makes me what I am. Such as "Having a MasterCard won't
really make you a better person, well then again, maybe it
will") and (c) "Having more things will make you secure."
God says these are all lies.
a) Lie number one - having more things will
make me happy - "Whoever loves money never has money
enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his
income...As goods increase, so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his
eyes on them?" (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11)
b) Lie number two - having more things will
make me important - "'Watch out! Be on your guard against
all kinds of greed; for a man's life does not consist in
the abundance of his possessions.'" (Luke 12:15)
c) Lie number three - having things, more
things, will make me secure.. "Whoever trusts in his riches
will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green
leaf." (Proverbs 11:28) That's what God's Word has to say.
Most of us still buy the lies, and as we buy the lies, we
want to buy things with money that we don't have, and we go
into this thing called, "debt."
2. Pretend we are
somebody we are not
It's a shallow and harmful view of borrowing. Debt beckons
us like the sweet, siren song luring a mariner to the
destructive, rocky shores. The lyrics suggest that
borrowing is the way to achieve the beautiful, wrinkle-free
life. Just like little children who dress up in daddy's and
mama's clothes and pretend to be bigger than they are. Debt
allows us to pretend to be somebody we're not.
Here's what Solomon said about debt in Proverbs 12:9,
"Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than to
pretend to be a somebody and have no food." Here's what he
said in Proverbs 13:7, "One man pretends to be rich, yet
has nothing; another man pretends to be poor, yet has great
wealth." Isn't that true?
Have you ever noticed in the paper some guy with the yacht,
a fleet of Rolls Royces, jewels and an Aspen home then all
of a sudden he goes belly-up. Why? Because what he owed on
all that stuff was more than it was worth. On the other
hand, it seems like every few months, I find out about
some-body who has the modest of lifestyles, who's worth a
fortune. See, the former is a pretender, and the latter is
the real thing. The problem with pretending is, sooner or
later, you have to stop likewise with debt. Sooner or
later, you have to pay it with interest.
Now believe it or not, there was a time in this country
where credit was very difficult to obtain. I know that's
hard to believe. There was a time in this country when you
could keep spending to a minimum because when you run out
of money, you stop spending. That did not stop coveting; it
just put a damper on your spending. Ironically, about the
same time that our federal government began living on money
that it didn't have is about that same time debt and credit
became available to practically everybody. We all became
like the "Eveready Bunny." We just keep on spending, and
spending, and spending. We have a very shallow and harmful
view of debt.
Cures for becoming debt free
If you could take care of the causes, you should find the
cure. Then how do we attack the causes? The tenth
commandment says, "You shall not covet" and is followed by
a long series of things that you are not to covet. Paul
included coveting when he summed up the Law stating in
Romans 13:9 "'Do not covet,' and whatever other
commandments there may be, are summed up in this one rule:
'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" But in our
materialistic, consumer-oriented culture, frankly, that's
easier said than done but it can be done. There are three
things to consider in dealing with your covetousness:
comparison with other people
Comparing always leads to coveting. That's why in the tenth
commandment, it says, "Don't covet your neighbor's house,
or your neighbor's ox, or your neighbor's manservant." When
you start comparing with your neighbor, you're going to
always end up coveting.
"Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take
pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody
else." (Galatians 6:4) Can you look at what someone else
has and not covet that? What I'm really asking is, have you
learned the secret of being able to admire without having
to acquire? I don't have to acquire everything that I
enjoy. If you're a person who has to actually own
everything you en-joy, you're going to be perpetually
miserable. Learn to ad-mire without having to acquire.
Remember, if the grass is greener on the other side of the
fence, the odds are that the water bill is higher, too.
2. Rejoice over
what God has given you<</u>
Focus your attention on what God's given to you. "Every
good and perfect gift comes from above from the Father of
light." (James 1:17) Or, I like Solomon said in
Ecclesiastes 5:19, "...When God gives any man wealth and
possessions, and enables him to enjoy them,...this is a
gift from God." God says, enjoy my gifts as I give them to
you. That's what we need to do.
Have you ever been a victim of that? "When and then"
thinking says, "When I get ___________, then I'll be happy.
You can fill in the blank, whatever it is for you. The idea
is when something changes I'll be happy. No you won't. Oh,
you'll be happy for a little while. Can you remember what
you received last Christmas? "When and then" thinking, what
is it that you're waiting on to make you happy? What is it,
a new house, new job, new car, a new position, marriage?
"When and then" thinking never makes you happy. I become as
happy as I choose to be and when I focus on what God has
3. Remember what's really important
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is
unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen
is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18) As you decide what your
priorities in life are going to be, and where you're going
to focus your attention, you should always be asking
yourself, can I see it? If you can see it, then you're
focusing on the temporary, the wrong thing.
It's a little sobering to look around and realize that a
hundred years from now what you see will not be here. The
carpet, the chairs, the walls, the building, our clothes,
the people won't be here. Paul was absolutely right, "If
you can see it, it's temporary." Everything you can see
will eventually erode, it will rot, rust, wear out, and go
away as opposed to things you can't see i.e., your
relationship with God and others, love, honesty, values and
your soul. See what we need to do is quit coveting and
remember what's really important. That's how you deal with
You must put the axe to the taproot of covetousness before
you can apply the next cure. You apply key biblical
principles to money management. Remember it will not work
unless you deal with the heart problem by conquering your
coveting problem. But there are four great pillars that the
Bible teaches about using your money.
a. Earn your money
slowly, but surely.
Get rich quick schemes almost never work. They're a dime a
dozen, and they're more accurately called, "go broke quick"
schemes. Proverbs 13:11 says, "he who gathers money little
by little makes it grow." In Proverbs 6:6, Solomon uses a
metaphor that we can all identify with. "Go to the ant, you
sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no
commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its
provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest." He
said, be like the ants, work and supply and store little by
Now sure, there are some vocations that pay higher salaries
than others, but no matter what your choice of work, put in
a good week's work, a reasonable number of hours with
maximum effort, and earn your money.
b. Save money
The word, "save," is practically a forgotten term in modern
American economics. But the "little by little" principle
doesn't just mean earning, it also applies to saving.
Listen to what Solomon said in Proverbs 21:20, "In the
house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a
foolish man devours all that he has."
Teach your children and grandchildren this and teach them
well. The day that a person starts earning an income is the
same day that person should begin to save and do it every
time he receives income. If they start earning an income at
age 14, throwing papers in driveways, start saving right
then. If they're 24, or 44, it's not an option, it's a
priority. If an individual saved between seven-and-a-half
and ten percent of his income regularly, he or she will be
prepared for emergencies, contingencies, temporary
unemployment, and retirement. I'm not talking about putting
your trust or your security in your money, remember if you
can see it, it's going anyway. Money is nothing more or
less than a tool that's placed in our hands as God's
Contentment comes through saving including some type
savings account but any number of good investments. But
contentment comes through saving. Stress and panic come
when we spend to the limit and beyond. We panic over every
unexpected financial challenge and there are people all
over America living in that situation.
Jesus said , "'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on
earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break
in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in
heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where
thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure
is, there your heart will be also.'" (Matthew 6:19-21)
Now those words from Jesus tell us a couple of absolutely
critical things: (a) where we put our money is where our
affections are. You cannot separate the two) and (b) when
we give money to the Lord's work, we're storing up for
our-selves treasures in heaven. Now I'll confess to you, I
don't fully understand that. I know what heaven is
metaphorically, it is a spiritual place. But, I know that
God promises me that anything I forfeit on this earth for
the good of His cause will somehow reap a reward in
God required the Children of Israel to give 10%. He
requires Christians to give as they have been prospered
which could be more but in some situations and
circumstances it could be less. God expects us to give
because we want to give, but it is not limited to money. We
must also give ourselves. By giving ourselves
wholeheartedly to Him, we will focus our attention on
things above and be less inclined to desire material
things, power, position or prestige.
How is giving money going to keep me out of debt?
The more you give to him, the more God will bless you.
Jesus said "Give, and it will be given to you. A good
measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over
in your lap."( Luke 6:38) Now that doesn't mean that
God is some slot machine that when we put money into
him, he's going to give it back all that time. It means
he's going to bless us in every way, but you test it.
Have you ever seen any-body out give God? Have you ever
seen anybody give more to God than he somehow returns
"It is more blessed to give than to receive." Do you
know what the Hebrew word there, the Aramaic word for
"blessed" literally means? Happier. You are hap-pier
when you give than when you receive. And a lot of us
know that firsthand. Now the happier you are, the less
inclined you'll be to spend money to buy things to make
you happier. In other words, the hap-pier you are as
you give that money away, the less inclined you are to
go covet things you don't really need. So, earn money
little by little, save regularly, share generously.
religiously and responsibly.
It's clear from Scripture that we've already examined, God
expects planning and stewardship concerning his assets
placed in our hands. Another is "What man would build a
tower without first counting the cost." (Luke 14) He is
saying you need to have a plan, a budget addressing.
The desire to be debt-free. That ought to be every
Christian's desire. The Bible does not place an
absolute moratorium on debt, but it says in Proverbs
22:7, "the borrower is the servant of the lender."
Somebody put it this way, there are two kinds of men in
this world, there are men who earn interest, and there
are men who pay interest. I will guarantee you, the
latter are servants to the former. It may take a while,
but every one of us ought to have the goal to be
debt-free as soon as we can.
The question: how much is enough? See, most people
don't answer that. Have you ever noticed how most
people who have $25,000 a year incomes spend over
$25,000 a year and those with $50,000 a year income
spend over $50,000 a year. Is it bizarre to suggest
that system is way out of whack? Our plan should ask
the basic question: What are my family needs for this
year? Then when those are met and an adequate
percentage put in savings, the rest would be given to
God's work. Debt doesn't have to bind us. Debt in many
ways is synonymous with sin, that's how it's gotten to
be. Amazing Grace Lesson
#1203- Taught by Steve Flatt
1. It is wrong to pretend to be rich when your are not;
but, not wrong to pretend to be poor when you are not.
2. The common cause, root, of debt is
3. Lies of covetousness are
Having more things will make me happy. (Eccl.
Having more things will make me important.
Having more things will make me secure (Prov.
4. The cure for the debt dilemma:
Take matters in you on
Resist comparison of self
with others. (Gal. 6:4)
Focus on what God has
provided and rejoice. (James 1:17; Eccl. 5:19)
Remember what's really
important. (2 Corinthians. 4:18)
All the above.
A, C and D
A, B and D
5. Which of the following are biblical principles?
Earn money slowly. (Prov. 13:11;6:6-9)
Save regularly. (Prov. 21:21)
Give generously. (Matt. 6:19-21; Luke 6:38)
Budget responsibility. (Luke 14:25-33)
Desire to be debt free. (Prov. 22:7)
None of the above
B, C and D