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Jamie Johnson
6 April 2014

Man or God?

NOTE: This is a written version of the message I delivered to a group of residents at Kings Daughters Community Health & Rehabilitation Center on April 6, 2014.

Last month, the Internet was buzzing about World Vision's decision to hire those in same-sex "marriages." I first learned about it from a friend who posted a news article. I then read it on a blog. Meanwhile, World vision U.S. President Richard Stearns explained why they are hiring those in same-sex "marriages" and indicated that it should be seen as "symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity" since more churches and states are now permitting it. Franklin Graham gave a response emphasizing the importance of God's Word and how it consistently teaches marriage as a heterosexual union between one man and one woman. Sadly, Stearns based his decision on states and liberal churches embracing "marriage" between same-sex persons (Side Note: We are all sinners in need of a Savior. However, it would be wrong for a Christian organization to hire someone who is an unrepentant adulterer or unrepentant liar just as it would be to hire one in a same-sex "marriage" which is unrepentant in that it openly accepts and practices an unbiblical lifestyle without intention to repent). Stearns chose to consider man's opinion above God's Word. Franklin Graham, on the other hand, chose God's Word above the opinions of man. Two days after World Vision's decision, World Vision U.S. President Stearns wrote a letter with Jim Beré, Chairman of the World Vision U.S. Board, reversing the decision, stating the following:

"[W]e failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.'s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith, which says, "We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God."

World Vision realized its error in doing things according to man and humbly returned to doing things according to God.

World Vision made a choice. When all was said and done, World Vision had made two choices: one for man and then one for God. In looking back at it all, World Vision U.S. President Richard Stearns and Chairman Jim Beré wrote they are "brokenhearted over the pain and confusion" they caused. Even after deciding to make a Biblical choice in reversing the decision, there were still consequences of the earlier decision and there may be unforeseen consequences. Choices have consequences.

You, too, make choices. Whether it is how we enter each day, how we interact with those around us, how we deal with suffering, or how we deal with things from a Biblical perspective instead of a worldly one, we have a choice. So what is the basis of your decisions? Man or God? And whatever you decide, there are consequences.

There are choices in the big things such as in the case of World Vision, but there are choices in the smaller, day-to-day things as well. Man places expectations on how he thinks people should live, at times in a manner that is unbiblical. Some persons complained when World Vision reversed its decision, saying the reversal was "shameful" and that God does not discriminate. Those are both lies. For those who do not believe, the Bible is folly. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NASB): "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." This contrasts man's way and God's way. Is God's Word shameful? Does God discriminate? I would argue that He does discriminate, but He does so mercifully. There are some things true love will not accept. When I married my wife, we made vows. I am to be faithful to her and to her alone and vice versa. Unfaithfulness is not acceptable. I discriminate against women who are not my wife. It doesn't mean I hate them. It means that my heart and body are reserved for my wife alone. God loves people who are unfaithful and offers to forgive them, but He does not approve of the sin. A lot of people like to try to invoke man's faulty sense of justice and condone all sin as a way of "tolerance" and say, "He who is without sin cast the first stone." They pull this out of context from John 8:3-11 (NASB), forgetting Jesus' final words in these verses:

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?" They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more."

Man's justice would just say to not throw stones and let the woman continue to be an adulteress. God's justice is better and really it is the only true justice. God does not approve of her sin. Jesus told her to stop sinning. Yet, in mercy, He does not condemn her. He calls her to a Biblical life. He does the same for us. He offers His Holy Spirit to work in us to do as He wants, not as man thinks we should live. Similarly, we can love the homosexual without condoning the sin. We can love one another without condoning our respective sins. We can encourage one another to live a Biblical life. If you are in Christ, you have freedom to decide based on God's Word instead of man's expectations.

Many of man's expectations are inappropriate even if well-intended. Some are outright unbiblical. I wrote in my 2008 article What Do You Expect? the following:

When inappropriate expectations are in place, they are typically part of an agenda, usually rooted in selfishness. It may be individual: What can I get out of this person? It may be systemic and perhaps unconscious: What is everyone else doing? I won't make a decision on my own. I am scared of (i.e., manipulated by) making someone else upset with me (i.e., I am being inappropriately responsible for someone else's emotions as opposed to influencing another person's emotions).

Making decisions based on man's expectations brings bondage, victimization, selfishness, manipulation and heartache. Making decisions based on God's Word brings freedom. And your decisions, again, have consequences. They can influence bondage or freedom.

Consider what the Scriptures have to say when considering making decisions based on the expectations of man or the Word of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 (NASB) shows man's way:

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB) shows God's way:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

In Matthew 10:28 (NASB), Jesus says, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." In other words, don't fear man, but fear God; that is, respect God. Galatians 1:10 (NASB) says, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Are you a servant of Christ? If so, stop trying to please men or win their approval. 1 Thessalonians 2:4b-6 (NASB) says, "We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else." Again, please God, not men. You may not receive any recognition at all and you may even be hated for doing the right thing, but there is a saying: "Do the right thing, come what may." No one this side of Heaven may applaud you or give you approval, but that is not why you are to do it. After all, 1 Samuel 16:7b: "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." God knows when you have obeyed Him. He sees your heart.

In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus says the following:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your [c]giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Check your motives! Why are you doing things? Why are you doing good things? Are they for God or for your own selfish motives? Are they for God or to please man? Are you doing things man's way or God's way?

In conclusion, what is God's way? Jesus answers this in John 14:6 (NASB), saying, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." The answer is Jesus. And later in that chapter, He mentions "the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you" (John 14:26, NASB). A couple of questions: First, do you know Jesus, having trusted His work in taking your sins to the cross to save you and His resurrection to offer you a new life in Him credited with His righteousness? Second, do you trust the Holy Spirit as you read God's Word so you know the truth and how God wants you to live? Choose this day whom you will serve: man or God. My prayer for all of us is the latter.

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