Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Grace-filled Man

I will give them singleness of heart and singleness of purpose, so that they will fear me forever—this will be for their own good and for the good of their children after them. - Jeremiah 32:39 (CJB)

One of the many glorious promises we have in Christ is that He will give us singleness of heart and action, whatever we have in our hearts, that we will accomplish. The ultimate frustration is to desire to accomplish something and not being able to do it.  Now this word is true in many ways, for we know that the Law was powerless against sinful flesh in that it could not make us obey.  The apostle Paul wrote that while under the law the good he wanted to do he could not and the evil he did not want to do he found himself doing that was until He found Christ.  The promise enables us to obey which is why Jesus could say, "those who love Me obey My commands and My commands are not burdensome to him."
Singleness of heart and action not only gives us the power to obey, but also provides the ability to execute our God-given desires. This promise is a defining characteristic of the grace-filled man and woman.

The Prideful Man

The prideful man is the very antithesis of the grace-filled man. The scriptures attribute many qualities to the prideful man, but there are some key qualities which we will explore.
Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, He is a proud man, And he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell, and he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, He gathers to himself all nations and heaps up for himself all peoples. Will not all these take up a proverb against him, and a taunting riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases What is not his—how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges’? - Habakkuk 2:5 (NKJV)
The prideful man is never satisfied, he always wants more, his desires are ever expanding and is evidences by his disregard for others by accumulating what isn't his and over-extending himself with loans so that he can acquire more and more.
Hear and give ear: Do not be proud, For the LORD has spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God Before He causes darkness, And before your feet stumble On the dark mountains, And while you are looking for light, He turns it into the shadow of death and makes it dense darkness. - Jeremiah 13:15 (NKJV)
The prideful believer does not give glory to the Lord His God and is often confused and bewildered about the circumstances in which he finds himself.  Life appears to be difficult for him, because he keeps tripping over things which the wise and discerning can easily see. The prideful believer at least has this going for him that God disciplines those he loves and all the trouble he finds himself in eventually takes him to the point where he humbles himself and cries out to God to rescue him, and God who is gracious and merciful delivers him from all his troubles.

The prideful unbeliever has a different fate, he may actually appear successful because God has reserved judgment until the end of the age when He comes with His angels to harvest the tares and burn the wheat. Paul describes the life of the prideful unbeliever as:
[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, [19] because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. [20] For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, [21] because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. [22] Professing to be wise, they became fools, [23] and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. [24] Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, [25] who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." - Romans 1:18-25 (NKJV)
The prideful unbeliever suppresses the truth because he prefers darkness rather than light, He doesn't glorify God and his thinking becomes futile.  He worships mankind rather than the creator and God hands him over to the lusts of his heart exposing him for who he is.

The Grace-filled Man

There is much to be said about the life of the grace-filled man and woman, but I want to focus on the promise of singleness of heart and action.
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? [2] You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. [3] You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. [4] Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. [5] Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? [6] But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” [7] Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. [8] Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." - James 4:1-8
The most frightening piece of this passage is that a believer can find himself being opposed by God.  The very promise of singleness of heart and action is withheld and the believer finds himself frustrated, desiring things he cannot have which lead to fights and even wars. The believer put on pride, expanded his desires, cast aside complacency and found himself an enemy of a jealous God, a consuming fire.  God resists the proud.

God gives grace to the humble.  By submitting ourselves to God, seeking to know and obey His will, we find an abundance of grace and the promise of singleness of heart and action being made manifest.

James 4:7-8 provides the best picture of the grace-filled man.  When the grace-filled man resists the devil, he finds the devil fleeing from him.  When the grace-filled man starts to draw near to God he finds that God is drawing near to him.  Whatever he puts in his heart to do, God aides him with His abounding grace. The grace-filled man is always satisfied, seldom struggles with evil and finds it quite easy to draw near to God.

Continued in Part 2: Reigning as Kings