1 John 3:4-12
by Paul George
In part 3, A Troubled Land” we will examine the sources of the problems in our nation and in the Church.
The number one source is disobedience. This is not a popular subject. Many view the concept of disobedience antiquated and demeaning, something that needs casting aside in light of current “modern thought.” The advocates of the current modern thought theory claim the problems in our nation and in the Church are the result of a conflict between those who are content living a life that is going nowhere and those who are moving forward to a higher state of consciousness. Christians however know the Word of God will never become outdated. Disobedience is one of the subjects that will never become outdated. It is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago.
Disobedience is defined as the knowingly and willful refusal to comply with the guidance of authority, especially a refusal to obey the commandments and statues of God. Disobedience involves the setting of the human will above the will of God. This is a natural tendency. It is the Christian’s responsibility to engage in a spiritual warfare against their natural tendency to disobey God (2 Corinthians 10:5-6) and be as obedient to God’s will as Christ was when He “became obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2:8).
We do not do this blindly. God has given us His commandments and statues to guide us in the way of righteousness. These commandments and laws are for our good and are meant to preserve the gift of life that God has given us. When we obey God’s commandments and law there is liberty and freedom to enjoy the gift of life without fear of future problems.
James wrote in his letter, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does” (1:25). The laws of God are perfect and are given to bless us. When we break God’s law we have committed sin and are acting in a way that will be detrimental to our own good and that of our neighbor.
Righteousness is a word used to describe the state of being in conformity with God’s laws and requirements. The apostle Paul asked the Corinthians, “Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). He told them, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership has righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Unrighteousness is the same as lawlessness both of which describe the concept of sin. “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
The second source of the problems in the nation and in the Church is Rejecting God’s Plans and Purpose.
God has given His laws to govern His creation. These laws govern our lives in the context of the pursuit of God’s plans and purposes. God has created and designed this world with specific plans and purposes that are not to be neglected or rejected. His original plan for the human family was to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth. This puts the focus of life on the family. Husbands and wives raising children in loving families where the truth about God is learned from God’s word. Disobedience has altered the original plans and purposes of God.
The focus of the disobedient society we live in is the destruction of the family unit. In the disobedient society, the family unit is described as three or more people living together as a family unit. This can be two men living together in the role of a husband and wife. Two women living together in the role of a husband and wife. The label, “domestic partners” is used to describe this perverting of God’s plan and purpose for the family unit.
The problems in our nation and in the Church exist because this one source of disobedience that is supported by the authorities of this nation and the judicial system. In the Church, it is tolerated. We often ask the question what would Jesus do. If we need to ask this question we have not listened to what Jesus said when He walked on this earth two thousand years age. He has not changed His mind.
The third source of the problems in the nation and in the Church is Rejection of the Will of God.
The will of God for our lives includes our salvation, sanctification and service for the kingdom of God. When we reject the plans and purposes of God for our life in pursuit of our own plans and purposes we are disobeying God. Isaiah said, “Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?” (Isaiah 29:15). The Lord sees and the Lord knows.
The fourth source of the problems in our nation and in the Church is The Human Heart, the Human Nature.
The scriptures are consistent in teaching that man is inherently flawed. This idea like that of disobedience is not popular with many today. However, what needs to be accepted is not what is popular but what is true. The Bible as God’s word is true when it speaks of the condition of man. The prophet Jeremiah tells us, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus said, “That which proceeds out of the man that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23)
The apostle Paul, one of the greatest Christians to have lived, evaluated his own heart condition in these words: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good… Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
While some might recoil at the thought of admitting to the presence of sin in their heart, others might find hope in being able to define and understand a principle at work in their lives that moves them towards that which they know to be wrong. May such an individual find even more hope in the words of Jesus, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” ((Luke 5:31-32).
The most important aspect of disobedience is the rejection God’s plan and purpose for our lives and the rejection of His will. We need to understand and acknowledge these are the universal nature of disobedience. The scriptures are clear and unmistakable on this point. Every person has disobeyed God and stands before God guilty. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:9-10), and “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). We need acknowledge the source of disobedience. It is the sinful human nature.
These verses are not saying that every person is living a life characterized by consistent patterns of gross sin and rebellion against God but simply that all have sinned in one way or another and as a result that none can stand before God in perfect righteousness. We need to stop making excuses and justifying the problems in the nation and in the Church and apply the cure, confession. Confess disobedience and return to the ways of the Lord. As long as our nation and the Church disobey God, we will not solve the problems.