(2 Timothy 3:4-7) …lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(Jeremiah 6:10) To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; They have no delight in it.
(If you have not read Part I click here to read
How does the church arrive at a place, where when sin and its serious consequences are spoken of, and the message is heard, yet not heeded; where it irritates those hearing it, rather than drawing them to the Lord? Where that individual or church, rather than revealing Christ, operates in a “form of godliness, but denying its power” and is “loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”?
Make no mistake this was occurring in Timothy’s day, and in the times of Jeremiah; few were hearing the message as God intended, most took it as a reproach. Remember from our last time together, God’s word, His call and His loving correction, were a derogatory insult; a cruel sucker punch from the Lord and His minister. Why?
THAT WHICH LEADS TO GOD’S WORD BECOMING A VILE REPROACH
Verse 6 begins to peel back the layers to find the slowing rotting center. “Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hear”.
When dealing with circumcision, it deals with God’s conventional relationship to Israel and His church. Recall with me, that circumcision deals with the covenant of faith. To enter there needs to be a transaction, like when Abraham entered covenant with God.
“And he believed the LORD and He accounted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). To enter covenant with God all that was needed was faith in God’s word and promise. In Genesis 17, we see that physical circumcision was a sign of that covenant of faith. After that initial transaction there is no need for further transaction, as the just shall live by faith. Abraham’s faith in God’s promise was essentially faith in Christ, who is the Pinnacle of the descendants of Abraham.
The problem with Israel, who were children of Abraham, is they wanted to live in a transactional relationship to God, rather than in covenant with God.
In covenant God makes promises because of His love and is faithful, out of His love for us, to keep His promises. God’s people out of love and gratitude, for His love and faithfulness, promise to obey Him out of a heart of love. Note there is no transaction needed anymore, only faithfulness from both parties.
Most of Israel mistook the sacrifices and commands of God, as gaining credit for good deeds done, rather than holy reminders of their sinful state and God’s mercy to them. His command to sacrifice was not only to temporarily cover their sin, but one day removed it completely through the Lamb of God.
In their error they believed they were righteous by profession and wanted prosperity and for God to bail them out of their troubles. To save them from their temporary troubles. Their good deeds, to them was credit, a transaction with God, by which He was to give them blessing in return.
Most cared little if at all for being with or led by God daily; for that demanded obedience to His word. He continued to call them in covenantal relationship, where they obeyed Him because of their gratitude and love; they only wanted to say their prayers, make their religious sacrifice, give their tithe, get His blessing, and live as kings and queens of their own lives.
Having uncircumcised ears, THEY COULD NOT HEAR. Let’s not believe in error, we are exempt.
Church, we have the same problem. Romans 2:29 declares that true believers have a circumcised heart. Praise God the sign of that covenant is not circumcision, but baptism. Not only is baptism and identification with Christ in his death and resurrection, but it is also a prophecy of our living a changed life, in righteousness, as we obey His word, because of love (Romans 6:1-14).
Note, our obedience is not transactional, but covenantal, because the transaction occurred prior to our faith.
As with the first covenant, it began with a transaction: Christ bled and died to pay the penalty of our sin, which makes the removal of sin and its penalty from our account—brings peace between us and God and overcomes the sting of death. Christ’s death and resurrection is the transaction needed.
We receive this blessed transaction of redemption by repentance and faith, in Christ’s finished work. The purpose of Christs propitiation, and redemptive work (transactional word), was that we may live in covenant with God.
Romans 6:12-14 (NKJV) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Why yield to Christ with and in us, to righteousness? In the first place, we can. Secondly, we understand the value of the cross and resurrection is that we can and want to love God through obeying His word (John 14:15-23). No transaction but covenant.
How ought this relationship be seen?
When we hear messages on a need to drop sinful or carnal behavior, we grieve and run to commit all to Christ, as an expression of loving surrender. When called to a holy life, we do not belly ache, but rejoice He has paid for it in full, and determine that for His glory and fame we will walk it out. When we find we have a hindrance to being able to glorify Him, with His love for us as our fuel, we let patience have its perfect work, in making us more like Him.
But why is this not the normal disposition of our churches? Because we have made salvation all about the transaction. Our faith is no longer about loving God with all our heart, but how much more He should love us, because we do this or that.
This has arisen over the last 70 years in the church in America and is called cheap grace. ABC (acknowledge, believe, and confess Him as Savior) and you are in; God loves you and nothing else matters. Rather than tell the truth, that there is no saving faith without repentance (or turning away and leaving your former life); we have made salvation about a transaction called, “accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior”.
Therefore, people get baptized, assume their ticket to heaven will get them blessed and happy in this life, only to be disappointed when trouble comes; and it will come. As trouble continues, they are often frustrated believing God does not love them. This mentality arises for the person never moved into covenantal relationship with God. I read my bible, pray, go to church, got baptized; you give me what I want, get me out of the trouble. More frustration arises as we begin to believe we deserve better from God, as we figure we have kept our end of the bargain.
What is it that we deserve from God, for goody good moralistic behavior, apart from Christ? Revelation 20:1-10 declares we deserve eternal punishment in the lake of fire.
That is the only transactional information we need, besides the benefit of Christ’s transaction in His own blood: we do not get what we deserve, but God’s love in covenantal relationship, as the children of God (Romans 8:14-17). Israel was destroyed for this wrong attitude and disposition to the LORD, so too shall we if we do not repent and understand His love, the transaction, and our call to love Him back unreservedly (Romans 5:8).
As individuals we are called to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith—to work our salvation with fear and trembling. I make no personal judgment on you, as I need this instruction as well, but the body of Christ in America, almost exclusively is ignoring God’s call to deeper conventional relationship to Him.
There are excuses and justifications, but it really comes down to the fact that we are not hearing God call us to Himself, because we do not delight in His word or His will.
(Jeremiah 6:10)…Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; They have no delight in it.
We ought not need a voice from heaven, His word is sufficient. In both Psalm 1:1-3 and Jeremiah 17:7-8 we are called to delight in his word for the purpose of being filled with His Spirit, fruitful, and at peace in troubled times. In these same passages we are called to meditate on His word day and night. Palm 119:9-12 reveals delight in His word is what keeps us from sin. This takes more than reading.
Psalm 40:8-11 was written by David, capturing the heart of Messiah 750 years before His birth. This is also describing the heart of those delighting in the word of God. Like Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, they “delight to do His will”, because that is the heart of covenant relationship with God.
In lieu of this, some may still stubbornly refuse to heed His call to your own detriment, believing, “I accepted Jesus, I am fine.” When you hear the challenge, it borders on reproach.
How do we turn the tide? First acknowledge it today. Secondly, turn to His word with your whole heart. Receive the full benefit of Christ’s transaction on your part. IT IS FINISHED.
Now live in obedience, because you love Him with all your heart.