Throwing Your Cares on God
1 Thessalonians 1:8
1 Thessalonians Lesson #018
March 3, 2015
Before we get started in our class today let’s make sure that we are in fellowship, which simply means that we continue to enjoy that rapport, that close relationship that we have with the Lord. Being in right relationship with the Lord isn’t just a static position of in fellowship, but it emphasizes enjoying that relationship with God, abiding in Christ, and it is part of that family relationship that we have with the Lord. It’s important because when we are walking by the Spirit we’re enjoying that fellowship. Part of that is studying the Word and the Holy Spirit makes that discernable to us so that we can understand it and apply it in our lives. So we’ll begin with a few moments of silent prayer to give you the opportunity to makes sure you’re in fellowship then I will open in prayer. Let’s pray.
Father, we’re thankful that we have this time to come together to study Your Word and to be reminded of so many of Your faithful promises to us and the fact that underlying Your promises is Your character and underlying that is Your eternal unchangeable reality. Father, we know that this is what gives stability and certainty to the promises. We pray that we can understand them accurately that we may apply them appropriately. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.
We’re continuing a study (slide 2) on the faith-rest drill, which comes out of our study in 1 Thessalonians, because as we read in 1 Thessalonians 1 the Thessalonians’ faith had gone out to all the world, to Macedonia and to Achaia. This isn’t just the fact that they believed, but it is the fact that their faith made a change in the reality of their lives. It made a difference on their day-to-day activities; and so how they lived reflected their deep and profound dependence and trust in God. As we look at the faith-rest drill, tonight we are going to talk about the promise, 1 Peter 5:7, casting your care upon Him and how that relates to other biblical promises. But just as a reminder, when we are utilizing the faith-rest drill we first of all (slide 3):
Step One: Claim a promise.
Which means that somehow there is a promise or statement of Scripture that we are wrapping our mental fingers around and we’re mixing that with faith and basically calling upon God to fulfill the promise that’s embedded in that verse or in that particular statement. If we want to pursue this a little further so that we can become adept at the faith-rest drill, then we need to do some Bible studies. I’ve said before that that should encourage some of you to go back and listen to the series on Bible Study Methods so that we can probe these promises that we find in the Scripture. Every Christian should be regularly reading the Word. If you just read five chapters a day you will read the Word of God in a year. And it usually doesn’t take more than about 15–20 minutes to read five chapters. I know that there are some chapters that are very, very long, but there are also some chapters that are very, very short. It’s just important to read that and to underline. When you see promises underline those promises. Write notes in the margin and in the top margin. Write categories for promises and you can categorize those.
In my Bible I write categories in the top margin so that as I go back and I’m looking for something I can easily find it by just scanning the top margin. We also need to read the context. We see a promise; we hear a promise, maybe it’s something I’ve recited or something you hear from somebody else and you take the time to go back and find it in the Bible, read the whole chapter, read the surrounding context and work your way through it.
Step Two: Thinking through the doctrinal rationales embedded in the promise.
We are going to talk a little bit more about that in this lesson. As we do that we realize that there are certain conclusions that are reached that give stability to the thinking of the individual believer. If you look at a lot of Psalms; a lot of Psalms are called by scholars “lament Psalms.” The lament is when you’re crying out because you’re in some kind of pain or difficulty or adversity and there are a number of those. If you think through these various lament Psalms that we find in the Scripture they usually start off with some sort of cry to God. Today we are going to look at Psalm 55:22 as we go through this. But this is a lament Psalm.
It starts off with this cry to God at the very beginning at Psalm 55:1 “Give ear to my prayer, O God.” The Psalmist is saying, Lord, please listen. He’s crying to God, listen to me “and don’t hide Yourself from my supplication.” Don’t ignore me, to put it in to more of a paraphrase. That’s what he’s calling upon the LORD to do. And then as we think our way through a Psalm, you’ll see that there is a transition that takes place. There’s the cry to God, which occurs in this Psalm in the first two verses and then there’s a reason that starts to be given in Psalm 55:3, “Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me, and in wrath they hate me.” The Psalmist then begins to talk about his problems and he’s explaining why he’s calling upon God.
Then in the next section there’s usually a focus upon the lament, the problem, the adversity that he is facing. At this point the Psalmist is usually talking about focusing upon what his circumstances are. That’s the case with many of us. We get into difficult circumstances, something terrible has happened, something very traumatic is happening and we focus on that. We have a tendency to become self-absorbed and if we follow that tendency then we just kick into gear the arrogance skills, which I’ll talk about a little later. We start focusing on self-self-self and pretty soon we’re throwing a pity party and we’re just all focused on our own problems and failures and everything else. We slide into a whole cycle of sadness, depression, anger, and resentment. We can just emotionally spiral out of control into a whole complex of emotional sins at the very root of which is fear.
In the previous lesson I talked about how fear is the core emotional sin of the sin nature. Because when we go back to Genesis 3:10 and we read the reaction of Adam and Eve when God first came into the Garden and began to look for them, cried out “Adam, where are you?” They’ve hidden themselves because after they ate of the fruit they realized that they were vulnerable. They realized they were naked and they clothed themselves. Then when they heard the sound of God’s voice in the Garden they said, we heard the sound of Your voice in the Garden and we hid ourselves because we were “afraid.” So at the very core of our psychology, if we are building a biblical psychology, is fear. We are born afraid and we seek many different ways to cover up that fear.
So just a couple of more points then as we talk about fear are (slide 4):
1. The more things we surrender to fear, the more things we fear.
The basic principle here is an old adage: we can’t take counsel of our fears. We can’t let our fears, our anxieties, dictate our responses and our course of action. We either fear or we love God. Those are the opposites that we’ve seen in the Scripture from 1 John 4:10. The more things we surrender to fear then the more things we fear. As we begin to give into fear, give into this emotional complex of sin that grows out of fear that involves anxiety and depression and anger and resentment and bitterness, all of these fall out of fear. As we give into that it increases; it multiplies itself; it feeds on itself and then this eventually leads until we’re just living in panic palace. We’re fearful all the time and the least little thing sets us off and we become irritable. We become angry. People don’t want to be around us and we don’t want to be around people.
So that’s the first point: The more things you surrender to fear, the more things you fear. It’s a matter of volition. It’s your choice.
2. (Slide 5) The extent to which you surrender to fear, the greater is your capacity for fear.
There are many people who are fearful people. They’re very timid. When they were young, when they were children they may have had a lot of boldness. They may have loved adventure. They got out. They did things. They explored, but as they get older, as a result of being hurt; as a result of being disappointed; as result of failure in life; they become fearful. They become anxious about things. They are afraid to do things. They no longer have that security. It really wasn’t a solid security as a child. As a believer we have security that’s in the Lord. We should not be fearful of anything because we know that our life, our times, our health, everything is in the Lord’s hands. When we are giving in to fear the more we fear the more things we’ll fear and the more we surrender to fear the greater our capacity for fear becomes until we can become just fearful people.
3. (Slide 6) The greater your capacity for fear, the more you increase the power of fear in your life.
What this means is that fear then begins to control us. It dictates our actions. Rather than making bold moves, rather than making moves out of confidence rather than living our life on the basis of the Word of God “that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” instead we are making our decisions based upon fear. That becomes our motivation and the control feature.
4. (Slide 7) The more we increase the power of fear in our life, the greater our failure to live the spiritual life and grow to spiritual maturity.
At some point our spiritual growth begins to regress. We begin to forget the doctrine that’s in our soul. We begin to go backwards spiritually and we are spiraling out of control and this ends up impacting our level of tranquility, peace and happiness in our life, because this just evaporates and we’re controlled by fear and anxiety rather than happiness and stability.
Let’s look at some promises related to this. The one I mentioned as I began is where we ended last time in Psalm 55:22 (slide 8) “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” This comes at the end of Psalm 55, which I pointed out before and a little bit in the introduction begins with this lament. Here we have the Psalmist, who is David in this case. We are told about his background in the superscript you have there, just before Psalm 55:1. Actually, this is in the first verse in the Hebrew text. It is not just something the editors of the English Bible put in there. This is part of Psalms 55:1 in the Biblica Hebraica, “To the Chief Musician with stringed instruments.” This was the instruction given as to how it was to be sung. It’s called “A Contemplation of David.” In this case it is called a Maschil, which was a type of psalm. It is related to a type of music and some sort of code for that which we’re not sure of; it’s a contemplation of David.
David is reflecting upon his circumstances and after he has gone through this adversity he goes back and he memorializes it by thinking it through and writing it in a poetic framework. This reflects how David worked his way through the problem, the adversity that he faced. He writes it later on under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit and then sets that to music. This is a tremendous exercise for people. Some of you are creative like this and you can do that with your own life. You can write verse and you can write this down. Not necessarily for public use. Sometimes that’s possible, some people do this. Of course we know that there are various hymns that we sing that have been written by hymnists that reflect their experience. We sing, “When peace like a river attendeth my way….” We know the song. That came out of H.G. Spafford’s experience as he faced the loss of his daughters. He wrote that hymn as a result of that.
What you write or what I write may not be all that special, but it helps us to think through that process and that is what David has done in Psalm 55. He starts off with his cry to God in Psalm 55:1–2. In Psalm 55:3–8 he is talking about his own experience and what is going on in his soul. It is like he’s just moved into panic palace and he’s having an absolute anxiety attack because of the opposition that he is facing from his enemies and from the wicked who would seek to destroy him. He describes the psychology of this in Psalm 55:4, “My heart is severely pained within me.” If you’ve ever been through times of fright, times of fear where you have lost things; where you’ve just felt extremely uncertain, then you know that this describes that kind of experience. It becomes not just a mental attitude of fear, but it is something that you feel physically. He’s talking about the pain that he is feeling within his soul “and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.”
David is not just talking about fear here, something where he’s mildly afraid or concerned; it's a terror, something that leads to much greater anxiety than simply fear. Psalm 55:5 “Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me.” Trembling is a very physical reaction, so that his adrenalin is up a little bit and it’s causing this physical reaction where he is shaking as he thinks about what could possibly occur because of the opposition of his enemies. “And horror has overwhelmed me.” Psalm 55:6 “So I said,” and now it describes how just wishes to completely escape from the situation. That if I could just escape all of this and fly away and go somewhere else. This reflects the thinking a lot of people have, just abandon everything and leave, to run away, to go find some place where they can just hide and their problems won’t find them and the difficulties won’t find them. They would do just about anything to avoid feeling what they are feeling.
In Psalm 55:9 we see a tone shift as he’s thinking through this. He calls upon the LORD and he calls upon the LORD for specific action. This is sometimes called an imprecation, where he is calling upon God to destroy, to bring curses or judgment upon his enemies. A lot of people have problems with these kinds of Psalms, but this is under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and he is being attacked as the anointed one of God. He is calling upon God to destroy his enemies because they are also God’s enemies and they are bringing violence and strife in the city in the second half of Psalm 55:9, “For I have seen violence and strife in the city.” What city is that? That’s Jerusalem, the city of God. He’s focusing on the problem. This isn’t just a personal problem, but he is able to take this problem and recast it within a divine viewpoint framework. That it is also an assault upon God and upon God’s plan for his life.
We can think back to an early example in David’s life where he did this, showing his divine viewpoint when he went to battle with Goliath or actually in the early stages of that event, as he’s come to bring lunch to his brothers, who are in Saul’s army. While he is standing there this Philistine came out from the other side of the valley of Elah, challenging the Israelites to send someone out and they would do one on one combat in order to determine the outcome of the battle. When David heard this, this had been going on for a month, David heard this. He’s appalled and his reaction shows his divine viewpoint framework. He says why is this uncircumcised Philistine doing this? The key word there is uncircumcised because he’s emphasizing the fact that this guy has no claim on the land because the land was promised to us in the Abrahamic Covenant.
The sign of the Abrahamic Covenant is circumcision. This guy is uncircumcised. He’s got no relationship to the Abrahamic Covenant and therefore he has no right to the land, so why are we trembling? Because God is the One who is going to give us the land and He’s the One who’ll give us the victory. He’s able to look at his problems and to identify and interpret them within the framework of biblical truth in the plan of God. That’s what we need to learn to do. That’s what he’s doing in Psalm 55. He sees this as an assault not just on him but upon God’s plan for him, his life, and for Israel. Psalm 55:9–11, “I’ve seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls; iniquity and trouble are also in the midst of it. Destruction is in its midst; oppression and deceit do not depart from its streets.”
What David is setting up here is a rationale in his prayer to God for why God should intercede and act on his behalf. He is explaining to God within this lament, which is now a prayer, why God should intervene. This is not only a personal problem, but this is a problem related to Your city, Your people, and it is an act of iniquity and rebellion. That this needs to be stopped and God You’re the One who needs to intervene in this situation. In Psalm 55:12–14 we read, “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in the throng.”
David has been betrayed by someone who is very close to him and then he calls upon God to intervene in Psalm 55:15–16, “Let death seize them; let them go down alive into HADES.” That’s “hell” there. “Hell” is an old English word that comes from the Danish and a couple of other concepts, a couple of other languages in northern Europe. In the Hebrew it is sheol. It’s the place of the dead. “Let them go down alive into sheol.” Of course we know from Luke that there are different compartments in sheol and this would be into Torments, which is where the rich man in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, where the rich man went because he was an unbeliever. It says why should they be thrown down alive into sheol? “For wickedness is in their dwellings and among them. As for me”, he says, “I will call upon God.”
There is another shift in tone here. David is focused on the enemy. He’s what he’s called upon; he’s calling upon God now and will call upon God “and the LORD shall save me.” Here’s another example of the Hebrew verb yasha meaning “to save”, which isn’t talking about eternal salvation from the Lake of Fire. It’s talking about temporal deliverance from some calamity, which is how the word is used almost every time in the Old Testament (OT). It is used a lot of times. I haven’t worked through every single usage. There are one or two that are possibly related to eternal salvation; of course we know that the noun form from the verb Yehshua is where we get the name for Jesus. The angel Gabriel told Joseph that you will call His name Yehshua because He will save His people from their sins. Salvation clearly has that connotation. It is used that way many times in the New Testament (NT) but in the OT we always have to be careful to look at the context and not just say, well every time it says “saved” it means escaping eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire; most of the time it does not mean that.
David says, Psalm 55:17–18, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud.” That’s three times a day. Paul says, “Pray without ceasing” continually throughout the day. But it indicates that David’s got specific times that he’s set aside in his daily discipline and routine to pray. That is something we should incorporate in our busy lives. We should have specific times in the morning, at night perhaps. It doesn’t have to be three times. It doesn’t have to be any specific time other than what works well in our schedule and we have to keep that. “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” We see his confidence in God asserting itself now. That’s part of his trust and he relates to what God has done in the past; that “He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me, for there were many against me.”
Here we see the word “redeemed” used, which has that connotation of being purchased, a penalty being paid, but here it is not talking about redemption from the sin penalty as it is talking about a redemption from a physical calamity. It is used as a synonym for yasha back Psalm 55:16. Psalm 55:19–21, “God will hear.” That’s his statement of confidence. “God will hear, and afflict them, even He who abides from old.” That takes us to understanding His essence. “selah.” That’s just a pause in the meter repetition of the song. “Because they do not change, therefore they do not fear God.” So he’s focusing back on his enemies now. “Because they do not change, they do not fear God. He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him. He has broken his covenant. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter.” He’s talking about this enemy of his who’s put forth his hands against who were at peace with him, those who were his friends. That’s what he talked about back in Psalm 55:13–14, “You were a man, my equal, my companion, my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together.”
Now in Psalm 55:20–21 He’s put forth his hands against me. That’s this individual. “Against those who were at peace with him;” he has broken his covenant. That is, he has broken that covenant of friendship that was there. “The words of his mouth were smoother than butter.” He was deceitful. He betrayed his friends. “But war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.” Then he comes to his conclusion. What we’ve done here is that we’ve looked at this whole context here and now David brings us back to the key underlying principle and states it so well for us. It is a command that just as he has cast his burden upon the LORD and the LORD has delivered him, so we too are to cast our burden on the LORD and He will sustain us, Psalm 55:22.
David then concludes, Psalm 55:22, “He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” We need to understand that because on the surface it might look like, well what God promises is that we’re never going to really have serious problems; and of course, if you read these lament songs you realize that Christians have serious problems but that God is not going to lose them. If you think forward to John 10 and Jesus saying that we are in the Father’s hand and He will never let go. It’s that idea, that we will never be ultimately shaken or destroyed because God is the One who keeps us. Psalm 55:22 starts off with a command to (slide 9) “Cast our burden upon the LORD.” We are to throw it, fling it, cast it, shalakh is the word there. That we are to cast this; we’re to take a burden. Picture yourself with a heavy load and you are going to just heave it off of your back and onto somebody else’s back. Somebody else is going to carry the load, carry the burden, and the one on whom we cast this is the LORD.
The result is that “He will sustain you.” The word there for “sustain” (slide 10) is the Hebrew word kul, which means to contain something, to hold on to something, to bear something, to provide something is probably the best idea here. He shall provide for you; He shall take care of you; He shall give you that which you need in order to survive the problem and face the problem. The command is to “Cast your burden upon the LORD” and the result that is promised is that the LORD will provide for you. He will take care of you. He can handle the circumstance. He may not handle it the way you think it ought to be handled. That does not mean you may not go through difficulties that depends on what the cause is. Sometimes we make bad decisions and we’re associated with people that make bad decisions, or there are circumstances in the world that cause trauma in our life, and just because we cast the burden upon the LORD doesn’t mean that the problem goes away. In fact the problem won’t go away, but He gives us the resources to be able to handle that problem with joy and peace and tranquility where we’re not consumed by fear and worry.
Then the next line (slide 11) gives us a conclusion, Psalm 55:22, “He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” The word there for moves is the word mut, which has the idea of being shaken, being made unstable, tottering. The promise here is that if we want stability in our life then we have to give our problems over to the LORD and leave them there, “Cast them upon Him.” This is an interesting word related to mut. It has this idea of giving something over. It is a figure of speech that can relate to great insecurity and it emphasizes also that we need to put this independence upon the LORD. From the many passages in Scripture we learn that righteous men are unmovable and secure because the LORD is our Rock. He is our Salvation. He is the One who gives us stability. It’s not our stability.
We see this word used in an interesting interplay in Isaiah 54:10 (slide 12). There’s a play on words here between the word “depart”, which is the Hebrew word mush, and the word “removed” in the second line mot, which is the word we have here, and it goes back and forth indicating that this is the idea that is behind this word for “that we will not be moved.” “For the mountains shall depart” that’s the synonym mush, “and the hills (shall) be removed,” that’s our word mot. It has to do with movement and change. When we think about the righteous not being moved it’s that we’re not being changed. We’re not being overwhelmed. “My kindness shall not depart form you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed.”
“Depart” is that word mush again; and then the covenant of peace not being removed is the word mot. So you see this interchange. They look very similar in Hebrew and they sound somewhat similar. They both start with the letter ‘m’. There’s this literary interplay between the two different words. God is making this promise. Isaiah 54:10 gives us a little bit of an insight into the meaning of the word that is used in Psalm 55:22.
This principle that is articulated so well in this promise is restated in the NT in 1 Peter 5:7 (slide 13), a promise I hope everybody knows: “casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.” This is a very short simple promise. Anybody can memorize this. You can memorize it before you leave here, “casting all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.” What do we do when we claim this promise? We’re going to mix our faith with the promise of God and we are going to do what it says to do. We’re going to cast our care upon the Lord. This is in the fifth chapter of 1 Peter, so we need to take some time to look at the context. That’s how we think through the doctrinal rationale and understand what this is talking about.
This is in the context of a paragraph that begins in 1 Peter 5:5 (slide 14). In this chapter one of the things that Peter emphasizes here in the first four verses he’s talking about leaders of the church and humility. He goes on to not only describe humility for the elders, that is, the leaders in the church, the pastors of the church, but how this should also be evident in the lives of younger people; not just those who were the elders within the congregation, those who are more mature. So he says, “Likewise (in the same manner) you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders.” Their submission to authority is part of humility. Humility at its very core is recognizing authority and doing a job whether you like it, enjoy it or not, in doing it well. Jesus humbled Himself to the Father by being obedient and going to the Cross. Humility is evident by orientation to authority and being obedient. Peter says, “You younger people submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility.”
Then he quotes from the OT. He says, “For ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’.” He is emphasizing that God is antagonistic to the arrogant. He’s antagonistic to those who are arrogant or proud, who are independent, and who are rebellious. Satan was rebellious. He says God resists the proud, but He gives grace; He supplies strength freely without condition to those who are humble, those who are obedient to Him. Then He gives a command in 1 Peter 5:6, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” How do we humble ourselves? We know that we are to be obedient, but he says “humble yourselves;” that’s the command “under the mighty hand of God.” Then he gives the result “that” introduces the result clause, “that He may exalt you in due time.” If you want to be exalted, the path is be a servant to God.
This is exactly what was displayed by Jesus in Philippians 2:5–11. It is that He humbled Himself by being obedient to the point of the Cross, to the point of death, that God eventually exalts Him so that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. So the path to exaltation is being a humble servant and being obedient to authority, not challenging that authority, and not being quietly rebellious. So “humble yourselves” is the command, but the sentence continues. 1 Peter 5:7 is a continuation of 1 Peter 5:6. The command is to “humble yourselves” and then when we look (slide 15) at that first verb that is there “casting all your care upon Him” we discover that this is an aorist active participle. In the Greek the grammar indicates that this is an adverbial participle and it’s a participle of means.
It answers the question: how do we humble ourselves? By casting our cares upon Him, by not trying to take control of the traumas and difficulties and challenges of our life, but by putting them upon the Lord, we humble ourselves by casting our cares, our challenges, the difficulties, adversities, heartaches, whatever is going on in our lives upon Him. Why? The last part of 1 Peter 5:7, says because he cares for you. On the right side of the chart I have the two different words that are listed here fore “care;” “casting all your cares upon Him.” The first word is MERIMNA which indicates care, anxiety, worry, whatever it is that you’re so anxious, uptight, and stressed out about. You cast that upon the Lord, that care upon Him. Why? Because “He cares.” This is the verb MELEI, which means something that is the concern, something that is a care, any issue in life. Some people say well, I don’t want to bother God with my little problem because I shouldn’t do that. Everything.
God doesn’t have a little asterisk here that say cast all your cares, just the ones that you think are serious. He says “all your care upon Him.” Every issue in life and by learning to cast what we think are the non-consequential cares upon Him we develop the training to cast the big things upon Him. We train ourselves to where this is the instantaneous response that as soon as we get hit with a difficulty, a problem, then we go through that process of claiming promises. Sometimes we go back and forth and we’re giving it to the Lord and taking it back. Giving it to the Lord and taking it back. That’s part of the process. That’s how we’re learning. Finally we just say, okay, I’m tired of it. I’m just going to put it on You. That’s how we learn and how we go through that particular growth process.
As we look at all these different promises that we’ve been looking at, whether it’s the Psalm 55:22 passage or the 1 Peter 5:7 passages, what undergirds this is an understanding of who God is, understanding His sovereignty (slide 16.) One of the things that struck me years and years ago as I read through the Psalms, probably for the first time reading through all of the Psalms it struck me that again and again and again as David is facing problems, the way he handles it is he starts talking about who God is; and that once we start realizing who God is, we understand His sovereignty. We understand that He is in control of the universe, that history is the outworking of God’s plan. Even though things seem chaotic to us we know that God is sovereign and that He’s in control and that things are not out of control ultimately. They only appear that way to us. We can think through His righteousness, so that His plan for me is a righteous plan. It is a plan that conforms to His integrity. He’s not out to hurt me or to destroy me. He’s not bringing these things into my life because He’s just an evil God and He hates me.
We often hear about people who say, oh, why did this happen. God must hate me. No, God doesn’t hate you. He is a righteous God and if you are a child of God, God is going to perhaps discipline you and He’s going to bring some things into your life to force you to trust Him, but He is righteous. He is just; therefore, because He is the Judge of all the universe He will do what is right. This is what Abraham says in Genesis 18:25, “How shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” He will always do the right thing. He is loving. He loves us and He wants the very best for us.
God is eternal; you have to connect His eternality with His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence because this means that God is fully knowledgeable of every situation, every circumstance in our life and He has been forever and ever. He’s eternally omniscient so that billions and billions and billions and billions of years ago He was just as aware of your problem that scares you and frightens you and surprises you now as you are today. He knew this billions of years ago and He made a provision for it. He’s omnipresent, so He’s right there with us as we’re going through that difficulty and He’s all-powerful. That means He’s more powerful than whatever the problem is.
When we face problems God promises that He’s either going to save us through it, as we go through that, or He is going to save us by delivering us from it either in this life or by taking us from this life. Of course, sometimes we worry about the fact that if we’re in a certain circumstances that He’s going to deliver us from it in this life, but it’s going to be extremely painful and that pain could last for some time. But God gives us grace to handle even those circumstances. God is veracity. He’s absolute truth. We can rely upon His Word. He never lies and He’s immutable. He doesn’t change, so He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. So we go to this essence of God rationale in terms of understanding what God has provided for us.
Another great set of promises for us in the area of having peace or stability in the midst of crisis is in Philippians 4:5–7 (slides 17–18). It starts off with the command. Just turn there in your Bibles; just back a few books from 1 Peter. Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. Philippians is a great book focusing on joy. It’s a very positive book from that perspective; and as Paul gets to the end here he has some personal exhortations and out of that grows this particular set of promises. Philippians 4:5–7, “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” Then a paragraph change, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall defend your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
What we have here is a basic promise. The context tells us that he’s been addressing a particular personnel problem in the local church there at Philippi. There are some people who have gotten upset with one another. Philippians 4:2–3, two women, Euodias and Syntyche, and he says that they are to be of the same mind. They are to quit arguing, fighting, bickering, causing all these problems between themselves. Then he says, “I urge you also, true companion,” so this is someone personal who’s mentioned. It’s probably the leader of the church there, “help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also.” These are mature women who have been involved in ministry in the local church. They worked with Clement also, “and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”
Then he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” So he brings us back to a mental attitude focusing on joy that immutable joy that the Lord Jesus Christ has given us. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say rejoice!” And then he says, “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is near.” And then he says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:4–7.
As we look at this we have two different arguments that are presented here, two different rationales:
1. There’s an essence of God rationale, where he’s talking about the fact that God is able to handle your anxiety, whatever it is that you are worried about,
2. And it also goes into what’s called the plan of God rationale that’s embedded here. It is that God has a plan and purpose for your life and that we need to align ourselves to that, and then God will provide for us and protect us. So those are there.
As we’ve talked about fear in the past, fear is related to arrogance (slide 19). Arrogance is the basic orientation of the sin nature. It’s the basic orientation of your sin nature, my sin nature. I have a friend in the congregation who frequently says if I can’t think of any sin I’ve committed, I just confess arrogance because I know I’ve committed that a lot. This the core and it works in tandem with fear. We become self-absorbed, but at the very core of our soul we know that we can’t handle it. That results in fear.
We have these two sins that work in tandem at the very core of our soul and this is the danger point. We have these arrogance skills and they work cyclically and interdependently. I think it starts with self-absorption. We focus on ourselves. We think we are the center of the universe. We think we can solve the problems that we really know and understand truth because we’re pretty smart. It doesn’t matter whether you have an IQ of 50 or an IQ of 150 you think that you can do it. That’s just the orientation of our sin nature. It doesn’t have to do with how smart we are because if we were really smart we would always be humble under the hand of God. We would not be disobedient.
So we start with self-absorption and the more self-absorbed we are the more we indulge our cravings. We develop these skills and we have all become sophisticated, A+, excellent students of arrogance skills before we were two years old. You had this mastered so you never have to think about it consciously again. We crave indulgence. We give into ourselves all the time. We give into our sin nature. It’s just the path of least resistance. Of course, from the time you were born until the time you were saved you have no other options. So what you were doing through that period of time, whether it was four years, five years, six years, 16 years, 26 years, 36 years, you were perfecting your arrogance skills.
Even after you are saved you still continue to do that unless you are completely and totally spiritually mature and none of us quite reach that goal. So it takes time. So even if you are saved like I was when I was six years old or you are saved later when you are 16 years old, you still go through a lot of time after that when you are struggling with your sin nature and it gets the best of you and you just continue to perfect it. We become self-indulgent and then when we indulge ourselves things usually go wrong and then we have to justify it. Well I just had to do that “because.” I really didn’t have a choice. I just had to do that. We come up with all kinds of reasons for why we were right and the more we repeat those to ourselves the more entrenched we become in our own righteousness and now we become self-deceived.
We can’t see the truth anymore. We can’t look at ourselves objectively anymore because we’re totally self-deceived and then we become the ultimate arbiter of truth and reality in our lives and that’s self-deification. So those are the arrogance skills and how they work together. The more we deify ourselves the more absorbed we become. The more indulgent we become the more self-justification we have, the more self-deception and it just spirals out of control completely. This is the result of arrogance. Just a couple of points about arrogance:
1. Arrogance is the orientation of the mind or thought that puts man as the ultimate reference point in the universe. You put yourself as the ultimate reference point in the universe and that means that we become the source of what it means to be happy. We define happiness. We define security. We define success and stability rather than God. So it immediately puts us in a situation where we are opposed to God. This is why God makes war against the arrogant.
2. Arrogance replaces the Creator with the creature. If we’re not worshiping a thing; if we’re not worshiping an idol, then we’re worshiping some sort of value from our own soul. Ultimately what determines that is us. We determine what that ultimate reality is and so we become as it were a substitute god and we take God’s place. We replace the Creator with the creature. This is Romans 1:18ff. The whole rest of the chapter is all about what happens when we worship the creature rather than the Creator.
3. Arrogance thinks that man’s way is better than God’s way, but Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death.” So in arrogance we think that man has a way that is better than God’s way, but it is self-destructive. So we could add something to the arrogance skills as a consequence to all of this selfism. We add that the consequence of this is self-destruction.
4. Arrogance is the core mental attitude of the sin nature. That is the focal point of the sin nature. So when you’re born, as I love to say, is that little smiley, happy, beautiful little face is just a sin nature wrapped up in the flesh; and we know what Paul says about the dangers of the flesh. You’ve got to look at your babies as just little sinners and it’s your job as a parent to teach them how to control that, teach them self-control, teaching them good manners, teaching them obedience, and teaching them orientation to authority. All of that prepares them ultimately for when you can give them and communicate to them the gospel and then they have been prepared through all of your training and discipline as a parent to respond to that.
5. Arrogance is the orientation of every person from birth and it’s the orientation of every unbeliever no matter how nice and sweet they might be and every believer out of fellowship. When you’re looking at another believer you have no idea whether they are in fellowship or out of fellowship. You can’t look at another believer and say well, I can tell you are walking by the Spirit. They can’t even tell that. They might have more of a clue than you do, but they can’t tell absolutely. We have to recognize that when people are operating on the sin nature they can easily become very manipulative and very dangerous and just terrible, terrible people. We always have to recognize that arrogance is the orientation of every unbeliever and that is always their modus operandi.
6. Arrogance is the orientation of all human viewpoint. It’s all about making something out of man. All human viewpoint philosophies: rationalism, empiricism, post-modernism, modernism, whatever it might be. All is oriented to developing man as the ultimate reference point in the universe.
7. Arrogance was the sin of Lucifer in the five “I will(s)” that are expressed in Isaiah 14:13–14. He culminated that by saying “I will be like God.” That personifies in his action what arrogance leads to, self-deification.
8. Arrogance is the idea that the creature knows more than the Creator and can sit in judgment on the Creator and His revelation. This is what Eve did in the Garden when the serpent said in Genesis 3:1, did God really say that you can’t eat of every tree in the garden? The implication is, is that really good? And what he has done by casting the question that way is causing Eve to follow his mental track and evaluate God’s command. Once we put ourselves in a position where we’re evaluating the Word of God in terms of whether it’s true or not we can begin that slippery slope of arrogance. What happens when we are arrogant is that we give into fear. We give into fear.
Now back to Philippians 4:5. The command that Paul is giving is to straighten out this problem of this personal antagonism between Euodias and Syntyche. He says, “Let your gentleness be known to all men.” That is a key thing that we are to focus on. Gentleness is a product of God the Holy Spirit in terms of the fruit of the Spirit. It means to be reasonable, to be fair, to be kind, to treat another person on the basis of the justice of God and out of humility. So it is related to grace orientation and authority orientation toward God. But that can only be built on a foundation of biblical truth in the soul, wisdom in the soul, and then we’re able to treat somebody in this manner.
So as we look at Philippians 4:5 (slide 20) we read, “Let your gentleness be known to all men.” Then we get the motivational point, “The Lord is near (at hand).” He’s close by. His coming is near. This is a motivation. Are we going to be ready and prepared when the Lord returns? It emphasizes the imminence of the Lord’s return. But death is also imminent for every one of us. We do not know how much longer we have on this earth. We could live to this afternoon, tomorrow morning; we could live for another 30–40 years. We can’t assume that. So what Paul is emphasizing here is that we need to be right with the Lord in terms of our actions, in terms of what we do so that we are always prepared to meet the Lord.
Then in that context he says, he goes into a specific point, Philippians 4:6 (slide 21), “Be anxious for nothing.” Not to worry about anything. This is related to that word for “care” in 1 Peter 5:7, “casting all your care upon Him.” That was a noun form of this word (MERIMNAO) which relates to anxieties or worries. There’s a level of anxiety or worry, for example, if you are an actor and you are going on the stage, there is a level at which you have a certain amount of nervousness and this sort of gives you an edge. You are not taking the situation for granted. We’re not talking about that kind of a situation. You are going to give a presentation at work or you’ve got a situation at work and you are concerned about it so you keep thinking it through in your mind. That may, or may not, fall into the category of worry depending on how well you are trusting God.
We have to think through issues a lot. We have to phase through them. We use the term that we are “worrying” it. What we are doing is that we are thinking it through again and again and again to reach solutions of what we need to do. But we can do that within the framework of casting it upon God or we can do it where our whole motivation is out of fear and anxiety. Maybe we’ll lose our job; maybe some other catastrophe will happen, whatever. And we are not doing it within the context of trusting God. That’s what we’re talking about; it’s when we are motivated by fear we are out of fellowship and we’re worried to death, everything is out of control and what are we going to do? It can spiral out of control.
We are told to “be anxious for nothing.” That’s an all inclusive word. There’s nothing left out. Everything is there. There is no category of life that you’re not suppose to not apply this to: whether you’re worried about your kids; whether you’re worried about you’re parents; whether you’re worried about your retirement; whether you’re worried about your savings; whether you’re worried about getting a job; you’re worried about that test tomorrow; whatever it is, cast that care upon the Lord. “Be anxious for nothing,” not one thing. “But in everything” see you go from nothing to everything. These are all inclusive terms. “By prayer and supplication,” two synonyms related to bringing something before the throne of grace and giving it to the Lord. So it’s explaining how we cast our care upon Him. We put “everything by prayer and supplication” to Him along “with thanksgiving.” We are thankful for facing the problem because of how God is going to use it to bring us to spiritual maturity.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Articulate this. God’s omniscient, of course He knows about it, but God wants us to bring this before Him and it gives us that opportunity to trust in Him and to articulate the situation, the problem and the solution. The result is then given in Philippians 4:7 (slide 22), “and the peace of God.” This is contentment, tranquility, calm, we’re relaxed. It comes from God. This is not just something that is the result of pulling ourselves up by our own emotional bootstraps. God gives us this calm, “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension.” It goes behind what seems reasonable or rationale for the situation or circumstances. This is not a decision-making tool: well I couldn’t decide whether to do this or to do that so I prayed about it and God gave me a peace. This is not a decision-making concept. That’s just mysticism and that’s not relevant.
This is that God protects us. We’re protected by this peace. It’s part of our problem-solving device. It is the ultimate problem-solving device. God’s peace, which is the result of casting our cares upon Him, bringing prayer and supplication before Him, then we have this calm, this tranquility that protects our soul as long as we stay in fellowship from giving into fear and worry and anxiety. It guards. It protects. It fortifies our hearts and our minds. Those two terms used together indicating our soul, who we are through Christ Jesus. This is a divine protection. This isn’t just some motivational technique, some mental technique that anybody can utilize.
Then it goes on to tell us what we should be thinking about in Philippians 4:8 (slide 23), “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate (New King James word) on these things.”
Think on these things; reason upon these things. The word is LOGIZOMAI, which is the same word that is used or related to the word that is used for the imputation of sin, “Reckon yourselves dead to sin.” “Count it all joy.” That’s all LOGIZOMAI. It’s an accounting term stressing objectivity and rational thought. This isn’t emotion. So once again it reinforces the truth of Scripture that the spiritual life is a life of thought and reflection and logic and it is not emotional. It has nothing to do with your emotions. Those are just consequences of right thinking, but most people want to spend all their time thinking about the emotion and trying to generate those emotions rather than thinking about the Scripture.
We are going to stop here, and the next time we’re going to come back with some other promises and continue our study on the faith-rest drill. Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things and as a class we pray that You will help us to cast our care upon You. Remind us that God the Holy Spirit will store these principles in our soul and that we will be encouraged and strengthened to focus more and more upon You as the solution rather than upon our problems and we pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.