Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Impatience can hinder our sanctification


Patience. (Pixabay, Public Domain)
The LORD was testing Saul. Saul failed the test. The situation was, the new King, Saul, was fighting the Philistines. The Philistines at that time were mighty, had lands all around Israel, displayed military fervor, and their well-trained men possessed metal armor and chariots. Israel didn't have the metal-working capability that the Philistines had. The people were trembling, and some fled. Some hid in caves. Saul had been instructed by Prophet and former Judge, Samuel, to go and wait 7 days at Gilgal, where Samuel would come and offer the sacrifice before the battle.

"He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” (21 Samuel 13:8-11a)

Saul broke the Law. He disobeyed God, because prophets were God's spokesmen. As God said to Samuel earlier when the People wanted a King and not Samuel as Judge, "And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king." (1 Samuel 8:7)

When you reject the LORD's Prophet, you reject the LORD. (When you reject Jesus, you reject God- John 14:6)

In chapter 11 Saul is empowered by the Spirit. By chapter 13, Saul is acting in his own eyes, fearful and impatient. If patience is a mark of the Spirit's fruit, then the opposite, impatience, would be a mark of the devil's fruit. Saul began triumphantly, empowered by the spirit, faithful, obedient, and victorious. He ended faithless, afraid, and seeking wisdom from witches. (1 Samuel 28:7).

It is not wise to take a situation from the Old Testament and directly apply it to today, because there's context, different covenants exist, and there are nuances that are not directly applicable. In this case, the Holy Spirit in the OT came upon men for periods of time, to perform certain purposes, (Exodus 31:3) or He came and stayed as long as people were faithful but withdrew if the faith waned or sin wasn't addressed. (Psalm 51:11). Though Saul was briefly empowered by the Spirit (1 Samuel 11:6), in the OT, the Spirit could and did leave people, as He left Saul. In the NT under the present covenant, He remains in us, He cannot be taken away. We won't lose our salvation.

However there are principles we can extract from Saul's impatience, First, as Galatians says, patience is a fruit of the Spirit. It is a mark of maturity. We can see Saul's impatience led him not only to break God's law but to be immature when called to account. When Samuel asked, "What have you done?" Saul was full of excuses--

And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you..." (1 Samuel 13:11-13a)
Public Domain, Pixabay.

In other words, "But, but, but..." Saul was king, but he did not take it like a man. Compare to King David. After David sinned, Prophet Nathan rebuked King David. David immediately said,

"David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”" (2 Samuel 12:13)

Our patience must be practiced daily. It not only is a fruit of the Spirit, it keeps us in His will. It keeps us wise to see. Detecting false doctrine growing on the tree takes patience. (Matthew 7:16). If we pluck the fruit of the tree before it is ripe we are doing a disservice to ourselves, impugning the reputation of the alleged false teacher, and most of all blaspheme the Spirit, Who's ripening the fruit. Who are we to be impatient?

Impatience is a mark of immaturity, and we would tend to make rash decisions and have a poor witness, as Saul went on to do two more times. And a poor witness puts a stumbling block before the weak ones.

The bible speaks to patience and impatience quite a bit.

Paul prayed the Colossians would have patience, which comes from strength. We need strength to be patient:

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, (Colossians 1:11)

Love itself is patient!

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Patience brings endurance, and endurance brings you to the end.

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Patience helps us finish well. Saul was impatient. He did not endure. He did not finish well.

James said,

You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:8)

Patience!


16 comments:

  1. Hi Elizabeth,

    This was a timely post, and was well said and very encouraging.

    -Carolyn

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  2. PS: a lesson on impatience would be Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar... we're still seeing the effects of that situation today.

    -Carolyn

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  3. David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord."
    (2 Samuel 12:13)

    If you were to take a poll on people's favorite Bible verses, I suspect 2 Samuel 12:13 wouldn't get a lot of votes. Probably none--unless I were among those polled, that is.

    This has long been one of my favorite verses, and from one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament. David was a man after God's own heart, and this one sentence demonstrates it more than all his legendary exploits rolled into one.

    What *really* strikes me about the story, however, is what happened next. Nathan told David that God would spare him, but not the baby from his fling with Bathsheba. Nevertheless, David wept, fasted and prayed for seven days for God to spare the child.

    He didn't.

    David was so distraught that his servants were scared to even go in and tell him the news:

    * * *

    But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.” So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate.

    Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
    (2 Samuel 12:19-23 NASB)

    * * *

    David travailed before the LORD for seven days, but the LORD had spoken. After all the weeping and wailing, all the fasting and praying...God had answered and David knew it.

    He could have angrily shaken his fist at God, and hurled accusations at Him. He could have sunk further into the mire of depression and despair, and grown cold and bitter toward the heartless, unjust God who had refused to spare his innocent son.

    He could have taken his own life.

    But he didn't. And did you catch it? After getting up off the floor and washing himself and changing clothes, what was the first thing he did--even before eating?

    He anointed himself, went to the temple...and *WORSHIPED*.

    This particular episode in the life of David just supercharges my spirit every time I read it. Reprehensible sin, piercing conviction, absolute repentance, and ultimately the complete acceptance of the will of a holy, just, loving God.

    Now *that's* what you call taking it like a man.

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    1. Excellent. The consequences of our sin is grievous indeed. David understood, and loved God all the more for it.

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    2. Had David died before Nathan approached him, would he be in hell today?

      Mario

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    3. Mario, what do you think?

      Here are a couple of essays about the life of David-

      http://www.gotquestions.org/life-David.html

      http://www.gotquestions.org/man-after-God-heart.html

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    4. Thank you. The two posts you supplied deal with David's life before his grievous sins and after God had reproved him through Nathan. The other night, a few of us had been studying this very incident and this verse was brought up, “...When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered...” (Ezekiel 3:20).

      According to scripture, had David died before Nathan approached him, he would “die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered”

      Mario

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  4. Actually your question is a good one, Mario, because it shows you have some understanding of the fact that God dealt with people differently under the Old Covenant. Maybe this will help:

    Read Psalm 51, which was written by David following his confrontation with Nathan. That will tell you everything you need to know.

    When David prays in v. 11 (ESV) "Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me," that suggests to me that God had in fact *not* done that. If the Holy Spirit had in fact departed from David, it's not likely he would have been praying Psalm 51.

    In fact, if the Holy Spirit had departed from David, why would God have bothered to send Nathan to confront David in the first place? And if the Holy Spirit had in fact departed from David, why would he have been so deeply pierced with conviction? See what I mean? That's the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Now, if David had hardened his heart and *not* responded to Nathan the way he did, then it might have been a different story.

    Psalm 51 is arguably one of the greatest prayers of repentance in the entire Bible, and it is the Holy Spirit that convicts men of sin and leads them to repentance. And many of us in the Church Age--with the unique and unparalleled blessing of having the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit sealed within us as a guarantee of our future inheritance--would do well to tape it to our bathroom mirrors.

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    1. Wonderful, Greg, thanks so much. I learned from this.

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  5. Mario--I think I see the problem (and although what I wrote above may be fine and dandy, it may have missed the heart of your question by a centimeter or two).

    People have tried for ages to use various passages of Scripture to refute the eternal security of Church Age believers (OSAS), and Ezekiel 3:20 is one of them. But Rule #1 of Bible study is as follows:

    "Start with the verses of Scripture on a particular topic that are very clear. Then interpret other verses that are somewhat less clear in a way that conforms to what the very clear verses clearly say."

    At least that's my version of it, but I think you get the point. Mario, I hope you understand that there is nothing in this entire universe that is more secure than your eternal destiny if you have responded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, changed your mind about your sin and your need for a Savior, and believed in faith that Jesus' death and resurrection paid sin's eternal penalty on your behalf. According to Ephesians 1:13-14 you have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit sealed within you as a guarantee of your eternal inheritance and He will never leave you--a blessing unique to the Church. So, can you lose your salvation? Sure, if God the Father has butterfingers, God the Son is a liar and a welcher, and God the Holy Spirit is sleeping on the job. So, are you OSAS? Absolutely. The only question that matters is...are you S?

    Many people, however, read a passage like Ezekiel 3:20 and try to make a case for Church Age believers losing their salvation if they sin. They oil it up with all kinds of nuanced nonsense, and then massage it to the point where sincere believers are left biting their trembling lips at the thought of being caught having a lustful thought five seconds before the Rapture. Yikes! And the futile, fleshly, works-based treadmill it consigns them to will choke their spiritual growth--which is precisely the goal of the one behind anti-OSAS. That would be Satan.

    In the beginning of the book Ezekiel, we see God commissioning Ezekiel to be a watchman for Israel, and the reason was that He was about to allow the Babylonians to capture Israel and haul them away into their 70-year period of captivity. God was giving Ezekiel the responsibility to warn the people--both the righteous and the wicked--of this impending national disaster, and in chapter 3 God is laying out the specifics. For example, God is explaining to Ezekiel that he will be held responsible for failing to warn anyone He has instructed him to warn; that a wicked person who does not heed the warning will die at the hands of the enemy; that a righteous man might be warned so that he would not turn from his righteousness and do something unjust, and so forth and so on.

    Bottom line: this has nothing to do with the loss of salvation.

    And lest anyone think I am blowing smoke, take a gander at "The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Old Testament)" by the Dallas Theological Seminary Faculty.

    P.S. This is not directed at you Mario, but there are few false doctrines out there that I hate more than anti-OSAS. It completely undermines everything Jesus died for, and if anyone out there wants to toss any other verses yanked out of context at me that they wrongly believe refutes the eternal security of Church Age believers, step right up and take your best shot.

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    1. "And the futile, fleshly, works-based treadmill it consigns them to will choke their spiritual growth--which is precisely the goal of the one behind anti-OSAS. That would be Satan."

      Yes, Greg!

      If our salvation at the moment of our death (or our participation in the rapture, whichever comes first) was conditional on us being fully "confessed up" regarding every single sin in our lives right before the moment of our death/translation, then heaven would be empty! E.M.P.T.Y. Because none of us could ever measure up to that. That's the point of the Law - it points us to the futility of our own ability to keep it - and then points us to CHRIST.

      Praise the Lord, our merit, our security, is in CHRIST'S FINISHED WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      The issue with David - folks, he was a BELIEVER when he committed the adultery/murder. Therefore those sins were already under Christ's not-yet-shed-blood. If David had died before he verbally "confessed" those sins, he would still have gone to paradise (not heaven yet, OT saints were brought to paradise until Christ finished His work, but that's a theological discussion of its own, and I won't wander off on that rabbit trail right now...). Why would David have gone to paradise? Because salvation is OF THE LORD.

      Blessed is the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works, and against whom the Lord will NOT COUNT HIS INIQUITIES. Romans 4:5-8. That passage even references David.

      Mario, if you want to live day to day believing a Christian is responsible for keeping him/herself in Christ (presuming the person in question is actually regenerate - born again - in Him of course), you are going to be one tuckered out, anxious saint. Rest in His finished, once-for-all, fully propitiatory sacrifice. His yoke is LIGHT.

      -Carolyn

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  6. Greg, thank you for your kind remarks and the time spent to answer back. All that you relayed is true but the question that our study group was concerned with was, what if David died in his sins before Nathan approached him or, what if a believer was responsible for the death of a person, commits adultery, then dies with no action of repentance, what then. You stated that “...sincere believers are left biting their trembling lips at the thought of being caught having a lustful thought five seconds before the Rapture...” yet, there was a time period of at least nine to ten months where there is no mention of remorse or repentance by David prior to Nathans visit.

    Mario

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  7. I see your point, and it's not a trivial question--I've read things people have written that seem to go both ways, ranging from "He went to hell, so you can lose your salvation!" to "Nathan said God had taken away his sin, and clearly God was gently bringing him to a place of contrition--so he would have still gone to heaven." One thing I *am* convinced of however, is that we can't condemn David on the basis of Ezekiel 3:20. I personally don't believe it applies here.

    Obviously David's repentance was genuine when Nathan confronted him. The question before the court, however, is what about the 9-10 months that preceded it?

    While it is true that David apparently preoccupied himself with wartime matters in an attempt to take his mind off things, there are verses in the Psalms that clearly indicate that David was in fact deeply distressed over his sin during those months. For example, in Psalm 51:3 he writes "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me." It's almost impossible to read Psalms 51 and 38 and not get a clear sense that David had been secretly tormented in his spirit the entire time--which explains why he broke so completely when Nathan uttered those crushing words "Thou art the man!" David's reaction really only makes sense when we realize the Holy Spirit had been working on him the entire time, gradually bringing him to that point of supreme contrition. It's clear to me that David's sin had been haunting him and robbing him of sleep for the entire 9-10 months, and his confession to Nathan was the culmination the Holy Spirit's ongoing work in his heart. Mission accomplished.

    Beyond that, however, I think at some point we have to recall and yield to the fact that God is sovereign. Every beat of our hearts and every breath we take is known to Him, and it's easy for us to forget that sometimes when we ponder such rhetorical questions.

    For example, what if Jesus had choked on a fish bone at the Last Supper?

    Well, He didn't...and you know the rest of the story.

    Mario, thanks for making me think! =:)

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  8. In other words, if I had to answer your question directly in one sentence, I would say this:

    If David had died during those 9-10 months, he still would have gone to heaven...because God would have sent Nathan to him sooner!

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  9. Of course, that would be my answer to someone who insisted that the Holy Spirit had departed from David in the first place. Personally, I am convinced from Scripture the Holy Spirit *never* departed from David at any point. *Could* He have, theoretically? Yes. That's why David could pray Psalm 51:11. But *did* He in fact depart from David? No, to me it's clear that He did not. So, I say heaven all the way.

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