Man Over God

Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 6:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Give God the Glory.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 17:5-10 (ESV):

Whom do you trust?

Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.” ~ vv. 5-8

Man’s wisdom is useless to us. It is fruitless. Those who put their trust in humans and in human wisdom over and above or in place of God/Jesus Christ will find their lives to be empty, void of the life-giving word of God, the Spirit of truth, and the fruit of Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Man’s wisdom cannot save us. It may give us some temporary comfort, enjoyment, or pleasure, but it cannot satisfy the deep longings of our souls or answer our deep questions: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” And, “What is my purpose in life?” These questions can only be answered in true relationship with Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, through faith, in prayer, and in the word of God (of truth).

For those who put their hope and trust in Jesus Christ/God, and in his word, their lives will bear fruit (produce; results; outgrowth) for God’s eternal kingdom. Their source for wisdom, understanding, and strength is the “Living Water,” Jesus Christ, his word, and God’s grace, which “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (See Tit. 2:11-14). Christ is our source of strength, wisdom, understanding, love, compassion, kindness, etc. He is the one who gives purpose and meaning to our lives, who leads us in the way we should go, who directs our steps, and who shows us how our lives are to be lived for his purposes and for his glory. We can find his guidance and direction for our lives in his Holy Word.

Living in Bondage

John Eldredge, in his book “Wild at Heart,” in chapter three, finally gets around to discussing the Fall of Man and its subsequent effect on all of humankind… sort of. Yet, leading up to that discussion he compares all men – he makes no distinction between saved and unsaved – to a lion living in a cage in a zoo:

“For after years of living in a cage, a lion no longer even believes it is a lion… and a man no longer believes he is a man.” ~ pg. 41

Ok, so what “cage” does man live in, according to Eldredge? He doesn’t say here, but he does in the two previous chapters. And, it is not in captivity to sin, nor does he speak of being slaves of righteousness, either, which is what the word of God teaches that we are slaves to the one or to the other (See Ro. 6). In fact, in 2 Peter 2:19 we read that a man is a slave to whatever controls him, and natural man is controlled by his sinful passions and desires (See Gal. 5:24). Rather, the cage Eldredge believes all men live in is their homes, Eden (implied), church, in some cases; norms of society, religion, “ought” and “should,” and neat, orderly and controlled environments, etc. Instead, he believes men should be wild, untamed, undomesticated, and that they should follow the natural inclinations of their own hearts and desires, and he teaches that they can trust their own hearts and desires, too (See previous writings on chapters 1 & 2 of “Wild at Heart” – referenced below).

The Heart of Man

And, then Eldredge says:

How come when men look into their hearts they don’t discover something valiant and dangerous, but instead find anger, lust and fear?” “The real life of the average man seems a universe away from the desires of his heart.”~ pg. 41

In order to answer that question, which he posed concerning why men don’t discover something valiant (brave, courageous or noble) when they look into their hearts, but instead find rage, lust and fear, he quotes from Thoreau; from a line from the movie, “Braveheart;” from Ed Sissman; and from the poet, Edwin Robinson, but not from the word of God.

So, what does the Bible teach with regard to the human heart?

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?

“I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.” ~ Jeremiah 17:9-10

We cannot trust our own hearts, because the heart of the flesh of man is deceitful and desperately sick (wicked). We don’t even know our own human hearts, so we can’t look to our human hearts to find our answers, or to know who we are. The Bible describes the human heart as wicked (Ro. 1:21), unrepentant and stubborn (Ro. 2:5), easily deceived (Ro. 16:18; Jas. 1:26), hardened against God (Eph. 4:18) and evil and unbelieving which turns away from God (Heb. 3:12). Even the regenerated heart, which is being strengthened by God’s grace, through faith (Heb. 13:9), and purified by the Spirit of God (1 Jn. 1:7), is still subject to deception and sin against God, otherwise there would be no need to warn us against being deceived or to warn us against falling back into our sinful ways (1 Co. 10:12).

One of the biggest problems with Eldredge’s teaching is that he makes no distinction between natural man and the regenerated man, but he clumps them together as one and assumes that they are all on the same playing field, but they are not. Why does natural man see lust, anger and fear when he looks into his heart? - Because the heart of natural man is sinful, and because we (all of humankind) have been born into sin due to the sin of Adam. So, natural man is not going to see the goodness of God, i.e. what is noble, honorable, moral, decent, and upright in his heart, but he will see what is sinful. Yet, the regenerated heart has been set free from slavery to sin, and sin no longer has dominion (control) over the life of the believer in Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ conquered sin in his death and in his resurrection, and he set us free from the slavery (control) of sin.

So, if man looks into his heart and he sees lust, rage and fear, it is either because he does not have a heart transformed of the Spirit of God - away from living in sin and toward walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness – or it is because, as a follower of Christ, he has wandered off to follow after the desires of his flesh once more and to follow the gods of men instead of to trust in Almighty God, and/or it is because he, as man still living in a flesh body, is still vulnerable to sin, i.e. we won’t be perfect until Christ returns for his bride (See 1 Co. 13:10; Php. 3:12). Yet, we should be daily fleeing our youthful lusts and pursuing “righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along withthose who call on the Lordfrom a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). And, daily we should submit ourselves to God, resist the devil, draw near to God, turn from our sin, purify our hearts, grieve over sin, and humble ourselves before God (See Jas. 4:7-9). And, we should not yield to sin and/or lie to cover it up.

What is Man Made For?
Why is he here?

And, then Eldredge says,

“If a man does not find those things for which his heart is made, if he is never invited to live for them from his deep heart, he will look for them in some other way.” ~ pg. 44

So, what does Eldredge suggest man’s heart is made for? For one, he suggests that every man has a battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beauty to rescue, which is the basic premise of his whole book, upon which he brings forth his (and others’) thoughts on the subject. Then, he asks the question, “What is a man for?” (Pg. 48) He then says:

“Why does God create Adam? What is a man for? If you know what something is designed to do, then you know its purpose in life… Desire reveals design, and design reveals destiny. In the case of human beings, our design is also revealed by our desires… (pg 48) The secret longing of your heart… those are the things you were made to do. That’s what you’re here for… Are we willing to live with the level of risk God invites us to?” (Pg. 49)

Some examples he gave of man’s “secret longing” – the things he was made for and the purpose for which he is here on this earth – were things such as “build a boat and sail it,” “write a symphony and play it,” etc. He said that boys don’t have to be told to do these “for the simple reason that it is his purpose” (pg. 49). Really? - A man’s purpose is to build, create, explore, and conquer, and his desires reveal his design and destiny? Well, that part has an element of truth to it, but not in the way Eldredge intended… or did he? Man’s original design was in the image of God, but sin entered man through Adam, and thus man is born into sin, now bearing the image of Adam, separated from God, and thus destined to eternity in hell without God.

So, what is our purpose and why are we here?

We are here to fear God and to keep his commandments (and to walk in his ways), “for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13; cf. Pr. 1:7; Ps. 128:1-6); that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11; cf. Ro. 14:11); for the glory (honor, praise, reputation, and character) of God (Is. 43:7; Ps. 102:18; Rev. 5:13); that none should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9); to know God and Jesus Christ (Ro. 1; 2 Co. 4:6); to present ourselves, as believers in Christ, to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our service of worship to him, no longer conformed to the pattern of this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2; cf. 1 Thess. 5:23; Phil. 3:10-11); and to put on the new self in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6; Gal. 2:20; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 1-5) etc.

Eldredge does not even hint at any of this, i.e. his listed purpose for man and the things for which his heart is made did not include the fear of God, the keeping of his commandments, walking in his ways, humbling ourselves before God, submitting ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, knowing him, surrendering to his will, worshiping him with our lives, living holy and pleasing lives to him, and living such lives in Christ Jesus, in the power of the Spirit within us, that we will be for the praise, honor and glory of God. Man cannot find his purpose in life apart from an intimate relationship with his God and creator, Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, via the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for our sins, and by faith which humbles itself, submits to the cross and surrenders to the working of the Spirit of God in transforming our hearts away from sin to living and walking in the righteousness of Christ.

And, man IS invited to live out these Biblical purposes for which he was made via God putting within him the knowledge of God, so man is without excuse (Ro. 1) and through the presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in which we are invited to accept what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross in dying for our sins, and to do so by faith in Jesus Christ – a faith which submits to his Lordship and his work of transformation in our hearts.

Continued next post...
The Fall of Man

On pages 50-52 of his book, Eldredge gives his rendition of the fall of man and the subsequent effect that fall has had on all of humanity. He said, with regard to Adam’s sin against Almighty God:

“Adam fails; he fails Eve, and the rest of humanity… He won’t risk, he won’t fight, and he won’t rescue Eve… He denied his very nature and went passive. And, every man after him, every son of Adam, carries in his heart now the same failure. Every man repeats the sin of Adam, every day. We won’t risk, we won’t fight, and we won’t rescue Eve.”

He continues,
The evidence is clear: Adam and Eve’s fall sent a tremor through the human race. A fatal flaw entered the original, and it’s been passed on to every son and daughter. Thus every little boy and every little girl comes into the world set up for a loss of heart… Every man is haunted by the question, ‘Am I really a man? Have I got what it takes… when it counts?” (pg. 57)

Again, I say “Really?” Are we supposed to accept this idea presented here as the reality of Adam’s sin? And, does every man truly repeat the sin of Adam every day? Is the “fatal flaw” that entered man through Adam that we, as humans, now come into this world set up to lose our human hearts? Well, in a way we do, because of sin we must be crucified with Christ and our fleshly hearts must give way to the control of the Holy Spirit within us if we are to truly live, discover who we are, why we are here, and if we are to fulfill the purpose for which we were created by God. But Adam’s sin passed on to us is not what causes us to lose our human (fleshly) hearts, nor should we try to regain our fleshly hearts. We don’t have what it takes if we don’t have Christ. It is not our hearts we are to seek after. We are to seek after God with all our hearts, to know him, and to desire to do his will, not ours.

So, what truly was the sin of Adam (and Eve)? Where is Eldredge missing the mark here?

If we read the creation story and read in Genesis 3 concerning the fall of man, I believe we can get a pretty clear picture of what Adam’s sin really entailed, and why God thus banished him from the garden and put all of mankind and the earth under a curse – See: 3&version=ESV.

Although Eve was the one deceived, and she was the first to partake of the forbidden tree’s fruit, Adam was standing right there with her, watching the whole thing, and listening to Satan’s lies, too. And, he also partook. The first thing Satan did was to get Eve to doubt God’s words, that he didn’t really say what he said, and that the end result really would not be what God said, either. Then, as Satan does, he tantalized the woman by telling her that God was holding out on her, i.e. that he was somehow keeping something good from her, and that if she just didn’t listen to him, but if she followed her own heart and her own desires, then her eyes would be opened, and she would be like God, knowing good and evil.

So, Eve saw the tree now through different eyes. She no longer saw it as something she “ought” not to do, but as something she had the freedom to do. She (or they) now doubted God and his words, listened to a deceiving spirit, and thought they could disobey God and still have eternal life. Wow! They (or she) wanted to hear the “new truth,” because it sounded so much better than the “old truth.” The new truth did not require obedience or submission to God’s commands. It was more pleasing, felt good, and was delightful to the eyes. In fact, the “new truth” said they could be gods themselves, and thus they didn’t really need God any more. They thought that eating of the tree, evidently, would make them wiser than God, for their actions certainly showed they thought they knew better than God.

And, then, to top it off, when they heard God walking in the garden, they hid from God, and when confronted with their sin, they blamed someone else for their sin. Wow! So, what was their sin? Ultimately, it came down to a rejection of God as their Lord and unbelief in him and in his words to them, and then a refusal to obey him. And, it is such unbelief that keeps each and every human separated from God and bound for hell, if they do not come to genuine faith in Jesus Christ in all humility and repentance, allowing the Spirit of God to transform their hearts away from sin to a walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness.

Making it Personal

You know, Eldredge’s teaching sounds a whole lot like the voice of Satan. He puts all men on the same playing field with God, whether saved or unsaved, and convinces them that they all bear (wear) the image of God/Christ, and then he distorts who God is and lies about God’s divine character, making God like man. Then he tells man that he is in a cage (trapped), not because of sin, but that “Eden” is the figure of what holds him in bondage, and that ever since God put man inside the garden, he has longed to get out – to return to the “natural” state from which he came – to be wild, untamed, and undomesticated.

Then, he invites man to look for, discover, and to follow after the desires of his own heart; to find those (earthly) things for which his heart is made, and to live for them from his deep heart. The path he suggests for finding what man is for, what he is designed to do, and his purpose in life, is for man to know and to understand that his (our) design is revealed by his (our) own (human) desires, which he also clumsily tries to suggest are also God’s desires for man and/or that they represent God’s character. And, he goes so far as to say that the secret longing of our hearts are what we are made to do… it is what we’re here for. Wow!

He does not counsel man, though, to find his purpose in life, the reason why he is here, and what he is designed for, in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, through faith, in prayer, or in the word of truth, God’s holy word, the Bible. What a tragedy!

Give God the Glory / An Original Work
Based off Psalm 19 / March 10, 2014

All of creation now proclaims:
“Give God the glory; honor His name!”
Each day the stars in heav’n above
Show forth His wisdom; tell of His love.

They do not speak. They have no voice.
Yet, they declare we have a choice:
“Worship the God of heav’n above;
Believe in Jesus; trust in His love.”

God’s word is perfect, just and good,
Refreshing souls who trust in the Lord;
Makes wise the simple; radiant -
Lighting our lives with God’s righteousness.

Joy to the heart His words now speak;
Pure and enduring, now we seek.
They are more precious than our gold;
Sweeter than honey; never grow old.

Keeping the word brings great reward.
By the word Jesus speaks and He warns,
Convicting hearts of all their sin;
Forgiving all who call upon Him.

Praying You keep me, Lord, from sins.
May they not rule my life again.
Then will I walk in all Your ways,
Following Jesus all of my days.

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