[CF Devotionals] 2003-09-14 - Hey! It's Depraved Out There

Philippians Study, Part 19

  1. The Submissive Mind - Cont'd.

    I used to listen to Bob Larson some. He had very interesting individuals on his show, and certainly as I heard Satanists, witches, sexual degenerates, etc., it was easy to see that these people are depraved. Most of the world would have agreed with this assessment, though I’m not so sure today. Getting back to the show, there was one "New Ager" who believed Hitler, Manson, and others weren’t evil, simply socially dysfunctional. After all, there is no sin, no evil, no devil. And once, not too many people would have agreed with this view. "Hey! It’s Depraved Out There!"

    But Scripture teaches mankind in general is depraved. Realize that humanity as a whole is in rebellion against God. This is true depravity. People live for themselves. They have accepted the first lie. They want to be their own gods, as Satan stressed to Eve. This is depravity.

    Mankind was created in the image of God. But due to the fall, we are no longer in that perfect image. Instead something has been totally corrupted, not corrupt, but a corruption of that image in which we were formed. In that sense, all are totally depraved, that is fallen in all aspects of human nature. We are all created in God’s image, but that image is fallen. Our problem is: How can we have joy in such a world? Sometimes, as I deal with the pain of people caused by the acts of others, I wonder. Well it isn’t easy, but it is simple. Our joy can’t depend on how people treat us or how people function in such a depraved world. Our joy comes from being loved and redeemed by the Eternal God. Our joy comes from having the opportunity to present Him to others, giving them a chance for this same relationship. What greater joy than to bring light into the darkness, purity into the midst of depravity?

    Now as we’ve been examining Philippians, we have been learning that there are at least four things that can steal our joy. The first joy stealer is circumstances. Paul has shown, thorough his handling of his imprisonment, that the way we deal with painful circumstances is to stay focused on the Lord and the giving out of His word, the disseminating of the gospel. As we see all our circumstances as being under the Lord’s control: "And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28). For with the maturing of our character and the advancing of the gospel, then circumstances will loose their control over our lives. Then we can be joyful in spite of them. What joy comes from freedom from circumstances.

    The second joy stealer, the one we are currently looking at, is people. As we respond to the way others treat us, we find it very easy to lose our joy. As our friends, spouse, children, other members of our family, bosses and colleagues treat us with less than the respect we want, it is easy to become unhappy and upset. "How dare they treat me this way?" But as we’ve seen, the reason people are able to steal our joy is often due to selfishness on our part.

    We are focusing on ourselves and our "needs" instead of following the example provided by the Lord, focusing on the needs of others. The way we can prevent others from stealing our joy is to put their needs ahead of our own. We spend a lot of energy being concerned with making sure that we don’t go beyond appropriate bounds in doing this, but let us again look at the example of Christ.

    "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:5-8).

    Jesus wasn’t worried about protecting His own rights. He gave them up. His only concern was carrying out the will of the Father, even unto His own death for our sins. If we sincerely desire the will of the Father, then we will allow Him to care for our needs, and our concern will be for the needs of others. It isn’t our responsibility to worry about ourselves, but to trust our situation to the Lord.

    "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

    Our joy then comes from our relationship to the Lord, commitment to obedience to His will, and dependency on His working in our lives. All of this is in total contrast to what the world believes to be the source of joy, actually happiness. And it is these issues which we will look at as we finish up the last part of this chapter. After this, we will move on to the last two factors that steal our joy, things and worry.

Questions or Comments?
Geoff

[email geoff] gkragen@aol.com
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