Richly All Things To Enjoy.

From a sermon by Pastor John in his house, May 15, 2001

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"Richly All Things To Enjoy", Part One

From a sermon by Pastor John in his house, May 15, 2001.

"Trust in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy." (1Timothy 6:17)

Lesson: People's hearts make deeds either good or evil.

Paul said, "Unto the pure all things all pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled" (Titus 1:15).

Consider Job, as compared to unrighteous worshipers of God. This godly man said, "my prayer is pure" (Job 16:17). And God agreed. After Job had faithfully endured his trials, God commanded the three men who had tormented him with false accusations during his long, lonely months of affliction to "go to my servant Job and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering. And My servant Job shall pray for you, for him will I accept" (Job 42:8). The situation is just as Solomon taught his son, "The Lord . . . hears the prayer of the righteous" (Prov. 15:29). But Solomon's son was also warned, "He that turns away his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer shall be an abomination" (Prov. 28:9). And it is the same with other acts of worship, for "the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight" (Prov. 15:8). The racket of religious ceremonies and sweet hymns is an irritating, bothersome noise in the ears of God (Isa. 1:11-15).

Please notice that the worship of God can be either a good thing or an evil thing. This means that worship in itself is neither good nor evil; it is the condition of man's heart alone that determines the value of worship. To think that worship is of itself a holy thing is to misunderstand the holiness of God; it is superstitious.

Knowing this is true, here are questions that the Spirit has impressed upon me to ask you: Should the preponderance of worship offered to God by wicked men cause the righteous to cease from worshiping God? Should the many who falsely claim to belong to God silence the testimonies of the upright? I don't think so, for the Scripture says, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy!" (Ps. 107:2). Should the multitudes who falsely claim to have a word from the Lord cause those who have truly heard from Jesus to be afraid to speak? No, for Jesus said, "So, don't be afraid of them; there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be made known. What I say to you in the dark, speak in the light. And what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops" (Mt. 10:26-27). Should those to whom God has given a dream be timid about telling their dream just because there are many who falsely claim to have received a dream from God? No, for even though there were many false prophets in Israel who were confusing their own imaginations with God's voice and were "causing My people to forget My name by their dreams which they tell," God still said, "The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream. And he who has my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff [in comparison] to the wheat?" (Jer. 23:28).

I know that there are multitudes of men, especially those professing to believe in Christ Jesus, who claim to have joy in their souls but who are also making that claim only because they know that followers of Jesus ought to have joy, not because they actually have it. Is their empty boasting any reason for those who do have the joy of heaven in their souls not to express it?

We do not cease to do right merely because there are multitudes who claim to be doing the right thing but are not. We do not refuse to enjoy the blessings of God because of the many who abuse those blessings. As an aged man, Joshua did not refuse to serve the Lord just because many of his Israelite brothers claimed that they, too, served Him, in spite of the fact that they clung to their idolatry. He told them they were wrong, that he was the one serving God, and that they were not. And then he continued walking with God (Joshua 24:14).

"Richly All Things To Enjoy", Part Two

From a sermon by Pastor John in his house, May 15, 2001.

"Trust in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy." (1Timothy 6:17)

Lesson: We can only reproduce what we really are.

The world cannot do good because it is the world's nature to do evil. "How can you", the Master said, "being evil, speak good things?" (Mt. 12:34). Everything that an evil-hearted man does is wrong. Everything that an evil-hearted man touches, he dirties. Nothing that an evil-hearted man says can be trusted. When he prays, he disgusts God. When he gives, God refuses. When he lends aid, there is a hook hidden in it, for he expects a return on his "aid" that is contrary to the will of God. "The whole world lies in wickedness," John said. How then can anyone who is "of the world" do good? Nothing a worldly person does is acceptable with the Creator. Worldliness is perverse; it is blind; it is rebellious; it is ungodly! The whole world is submersed in wickedness and cannot love or do righteousness. Even in trying to do good, a wicked man only furthers the cause of sin. There is no hope in either man or his world, and anyone who loves this world and its fashions cannot love God (1Jn. 2:15). Friendship with this world makes a man the enemy of God (Jas. 4:4).

(As I was contemplating these things that I have just written to you, I heard a firm but gentle voice in my heart say to me, "But you do not yet understand what I am saying because you do not yet know your God." This word was not so much a criticism of my lack of the knowledge of God as it was a fatherly invitation to continue to pursue this truth. And so, I did.)

Solomon observed that "God created man upright, but he has sought out many inventions." In the beginning, when God completed each day of His creation week, He surveyed what He had created that day and was pleased because "it was good." But when He created man, He soon realized that it was not good for man to be alone. So, God created for the man a mate, and He told the couple while they were still in their innocent state to "be fruitful, and multiply" and to populate the earth with their children. Unfortunately, before the man and his mate could produce a child, they sinned. Innumerable troubles, fears, sufferings, and death then entered into the world. The two transgressors were cast out of God's earthly paradise and bore their children outside the pleasant Garden of God.

That reproduction of children was according to God's earlier commandment and should have been cause for great joy. But Adam and Eve soon discovered, to their very great sorrow, that the sinful nature which now polluted their hearts was transferred into the children that they conceived. They found that they could only reproduce what they had become: sinners. It was with them as Jesus would later say: "A corrupt tree cannot produce good fruit. Neither can a good tree produce corrupt fruit."

Motivated by his inherited sinful nature, Adam's oldest son Cain envied and then murdered his younger brother, the righteous Abel. Cain's heart was wicked; he was filled with envy of the blessings God had given to his righteous brother. He could not enjoy the blessings God gave to him because he was so consumed with envy of the blessings of his brother Abel. Being wicked, Cain could only produce wicked works. Being upright, Abel could only do righteous deeds. Unknown to Cain, what Cain really hated was not Abel his brother but the righteousness of God that was expressed through Abel's deeds. The light of his brother's righteousness exposed Cain for what he really was, and Cain's response was not repentance but murder. He tried to extinguish God's light by killing the person through whom it shined. Being wicked, Cain could only think wrong thoughts. The wicked deeds followed that.

A sinful man does not have to try to sin; it is his nature to displease God. And a righteous man does not have to try to live uprightly; it is his nature to obey God. If your heart is not right with God and you find that you are unable to do righteous deeds, don't try harder. It won't do you any good. Paul's reminiscences of his efforts to be righteous without the Spirit of God inside of him describe such a life (Rom. 7). But after Paul's heart was cleansed by the power of God's holy Ghost, Paul found that to obey God's commandments was for him no longer impossible, as it once had been. That is why he so greatly rejoiced in the Lord.

So, instead of trying harder to be righteous with your old nature still intact, turn to Christ Jesus and become a partaker of the nature of God (see 2Pet. 1:4). Seek God for a new, tender heart and a clean, holy spirit. With a godly spirit and a clean heart, doing righteous deeds will come easily and naturally for you, for we reproduce only what we truly are, and there is nothing else that we can do.

"Richly All Things To Enjoy", Part Three

From a sermon by Pastor John in his house, May 15, 2001.

"Trust in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy." (1Timothy 6:17)

Lesson: Sin does not come from things; it comes only from the hearts of people.

About 1600 years following God's creation of mankind, life on earth had become utterly unbearable. "The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil, continually." The sons of men, surrendering themselves to their natural, sinful impulses, had taken every beautiful thing God had created for them and twisted it all into something ignoble and shameful.

This twisted, warped view of life still motivates men today. It is what every man still suffers through as he lives on this earth, and it is what all men are still influenced by until Jesus liberates their weak and confused spirit from the spirits of this age! Jesus has to break down the fortress of bondage to our own wills in order to give us a new way to look at the things God has created; otherwise, we are hopelessly lost. Jesus must create in us the vision God had of His creation when He first created it, or we remain in a fallen, perverse state.

The closest thing my father ever had to a real pastor was an old saint named Brother Hunnings. As a young believer, he learned many wonderful things from that older and wiser man. One day, my father and Brother Hunnings were walking past a ball field where some young people were playing. Those young people were not dressed modestly, according to the standard of holiness that the saints taught at that time, and my father, laboring to avoid sin, turned his head so as not to soil his soul by looking at those indecently dressed young people. But then he heard Brother Hunnings softly murmuring praises to God as they passed by, and when he glanced up at Brother Hunnings, he saw that older saint staring in admiration at the beautiful bodies of those young people, praising God for the strong, healthy arms and legs. He was not hiding his eyes at all! God had opened his heart to the beauty of His creation, and my father, young at that time, learned the lesson that Paul so wanted God's people to understand: "Unto the pure all things all pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled."

When you are pure, you see creation as God saw it in the beginning. But a sinful person sees all things only from his sinful point of view. Jesus said, "Sin proceeds from the heart of man," but you can truly understand his words only when sin no longer proceeds from your heart. You cannot believe that sin comes only from the heart of man as long as sin still proceeds from yours. And when you cannot understand that truth, the good things God has given you "richly to enjoy" are tainted by your unbelief; you cannot fully enjoy them because of your own guilty feelings. Many a guilty soul thinks he sees sin in things that are around him, and condemns those things as evil, but nothing is either pure or sinful of itself; only people are. A frustrated Jesus pleaded with his followers to try to understand this.

He told the multitude plainly that NOTHING of this earth that enters into a man defiles him. This is true because nothing in itself is evil. God plainly said that everything He created was good (Gen. 1). Marijuana is neither a good or a bad plant. It is people's use or abuse of its particular properties that is either good or evil. Liquor is neither a good or an evil liquid. Tobacco is neither a good or evil plant. It is people's use or abuse of such things that is either good or evil. Jesus told those who followed him that only what comes out of a man defiles a man (Mt. 15:10-11). It is what people intend in their hearts, not the things they use, that is either good or evil.

This is a most important lesson to learn. It is a lesson that will keep you safe from hypocritical religious leaders who seem holy when they condemn things as being evil instead of showing men how to have their hearts purged from sin to serve Christ in "the newness of life." Remember Paul's words: "Unto the pure, all things are pure. But unto them that are defiled and unbelieving, is nothing pure. Even their mind and conscience are defiled" (Tit. 1:15).

Summary: These are the lessons contained in the first three articles in this series of the past three days:

People's hearts make deeds either good or evil. (2-25)

We can only reproduce what we really are. (2-26)

Sin does not come from things; it comes only from the hearts of people. (2-27)

Our next lesson will be on the subject of marital intimacy and physical pleasure, and with these lessons as a background, you will be able to understand God's intentions when He created such things for us.

"Richly All Things To Enjoy", Part Four

From a sermon by Pastor John in his house, May 15, 2001.

"Trust in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy." 1Timothy 6:17

Lesson: Pleasure is God's creation, to be enjoyed with humility and thanksgiving.

The world would have you to believe that there is no joy in holy living, but then, the world's picture of God is as twisted as the world is. The world substitutes "fun" for joy and then mocks those who have joy in their souls instead of pursuing worldly fun. But, my friends, GOD created laughter, not the world. God created peace, not the world. God created pleasure, not the world. If God were the kind of Being that this world would have young people to believe He is, there would be no such thing as lovely flowers dotting the landscape, no sweet aromas in fields. There would be no spectacular sunsets, no brilliant sunrises that thrill man's soul and fill his senses, no pleasant breezes on warm summer evenings. There would be no moonlight on fallen snow, no special moments of tenderness with a child. If God were really the kind of God that carnal men think He is, there would be no such thing as happiness, nor even a smile.

Understand this! God created beauty and sweetness, and "at His right hand there are pleasures forevermore." No one wants you to enjoy life as much as God does. And no one can lead you into a life of happiness and pleasure the way God will, if you obey Him.

This "wicked and adulterous generation" would have us all to think that pleasure itself is ungodly. The whole culture in the United States in our time is geared toward leading young people into a life of fornication, as if one must disregard the commandments of God in order to enjoy pleasure. The attitude in this country toward physical pleasure is abominable. It betrays an abysmal ignorance of God who created the physical pleasure that a man and his wife may enjoy – and it was not accidentally created!

This past March, I walked into the room where John David, my son, was watching the national collegiate basketball championship. There being a break in the action, a commercial came on the television, a commercial advertising beer. In this commercial, a young man and a young woman were in a hotel room, standing beside a bed, a noise representing fornication was being made in the room next to theirs, and they looked at each other admiringly. Words then appeared on the screen that said, "Never miss an opportunity." Now, the developers of that advertisement knew that a vast audience of young people would be watching the championship ball game that night. They purposely designed that commercial for the eyes and hearts of millions of our children. And their very clear message was, "Take advantage of every opportunity to get drunk and commit fornication. That is fun. That is the good life." How can this generation have pure thoughts concerning intimacy between a man and a woman when they are pummeled constantly with such filthy garbage?

As with every good thing God has ever given to man, man has taken the gift of intimacy between a husband and wife, something that is beautiful, something that is precious, a gift of God to man, and twisted it and dirtied it. Men promote their twisted versions of that pleasure in their schools, in their newspapers, on their televison programs, in their social programs, and in their movies. And in seducing young people to seize upon that sacred gift as just another way to have fun, wicked men have stolen forever from millions of young people worldwide the pure joy of it and the thankfulness that should fill man's heart for it.

God is unwilling that His people should be so in bondage to this world's filthy spirit that we can no longer think of His gift of marital pleasure as something clean. When we know God, we see life, and all its elements, as God sees it. But at the present time, God's children are so inundated with the world's twisted, guilt-ridden version of the relationship that belongs to a husband and wife that we are in danger of having our conscience seared with the hot iron of shame when we even think of it. The mind of Christ, once we have attained to it, rejoices with excitement and thanksgiving for the love of God toward us in creating pleasure for us to enjoy. The physical relationship between married children of God is not something dirty; it is not something God's children should be ashamed of when it is partaken of in God's time and with God's appointed mate. Should we feel guilty for enjoying our spouses just because the whole world is perverse and guilt-ridden? I refuse to surrender my right in Christ to enjoy my gift from my heavenly Father with a pure conscience.

Paul encouraged the saints not to "be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good." If we are spiritual, we will overcome the evil of the world's view of God's gift of intimacy with the goodness of a godly view of it. The spiritual man refuses to surrender his thoughts to the filthy spirit of this age; rather, he will joyfully participate in the act of marital intimacy, in God's time and manner, with humility and thanksgiving.

As a young man, I can recall an occasion when this subject came up in a conversation with my father. He was referring to his own experiences, to the foolishness of his immoral younger days, and also to God's gift to him of my godly mother. And in reference to the marital relationship between a man and woman whom God joins together, my father said "Even that is better. God makes even that better."

We protect ourselves and our children from the corrupting influence of the world's view of anything by putting into practice the healing power of the Lord's view of it. God created the physical relationship between a man and a woman for our benefit and joy, and the way He created it, it is good. Remember, He told Adam and Eve to produce children before they fell into sin.

Listen to God's instruction to young married men: "Drink waters out of your own cistern, and running waters out of your own well. Let your fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be yours only, and not a stranger's with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. Let her be as the loving hind, and as the pleasant roe. Let her breasts satisfy you at all times, and be ravished with her love" (Prov. 5:18-19).

Now, the word "ravished" has a powerful connotation. It can mean to be forcibly seized and dragged away. It can mean to be removed from earth, or to be transported from one state or another by the power of some emotion. It can also mean to be filled with ecstasy or delight. In any case, "ravished" implies no half-way experience. It is extreme. Solomon is encouraging a young, married man to rejoice with all his heart with his wife before the Lord.

Listen to the words of God concerning the righteous patriarch, Isaac: "I will establish My covenant with him" (Gen. 17:19). And listen to some of the things the Bible tells us of the great man Isaac: Even though Abraham had a number of sons, only through Isaac would the promises of God to Abraham be in effect (Gen. 21:12). Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac (Gen. 25:5). God gave the land of Canaan to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen. 35:12). Jehovah told Jacob that He was the God of Isaac, his father (Gen. 28:13). Again, God tells Moses that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 3:6). According to Jesus, Isaac is with God right now (Lk. 13:28). Isaac was a great man of righteous faith toward God (Heb. 11:20).

The carnal mind would have you to see this great man of God as a dour, withered old man who was out of touch with a truly happy life. But the mind of Christ sees him as an eternally young man, full of love of life and vigor. Reconfigure your ideas of righteousness to include in this righteous man's life an intimate and happy relationship with his wife. We are told that once, when Isaac was in the territory of Philistia, the king of that country "looked out at a window, and saw Isaac sporting with his wife" (Gen. 26:8). We do not know exactly what Isaac and Rebekah were doing, but we may safely assume these three things: (1) they were not praying and reading the Bible together, (2) whatever they were doing, there was no sin involved, and (3) whatever it was the king saw that day let him know for certain that Rebekah was Isaac's wife, not his sister, as Isaac had claimed she was.

Do you really think you have to transgress the commandments of God, young man, to have a happy, fulfilled life? Read these excerpts from the Song of Solomon, a love song from the lips of two young people deeply in love:

The young woman, in 1:4: Draw me, we will run after you: the king has brought me into his chambers. We will be glad and rejoice in you, we will remember your love more than wine: the upright love you.

The young woman, in 12-14: While the king sits at his table, my spikenard sends forth the smell thereof. A bundle of myrrh is my well beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts. My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.

The young woman: 2:3-7: As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick with love. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that you stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.

The young man: 4:1-7: Behold, you art fair, my love; behold, you art fair; you have doves' eyes within your locks: your hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.

Your teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.

Your lips are like a thread of scarlet, and your speech is comely. Your temples are like a piece of a pomegranate with your locks.

Your neck is like the tower of David builded for an armory, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.

The young man: 4:9-15: You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; you have ravished my heart with one of your eyes, with one chain of your neck.

How fair is your love, my sister, my spouse! How much better is your love than wine! And the smell of thin ointments than all spices!

Your lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb; honey and milk are under your tongue; and the smell of your garments is like the smell of Lebanon.

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,

Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:

A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.

The young woman: 4:16: Awake, O north wind; and come, O south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

The young man: 5:1a: I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse. I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk.

The young woman: 5:1b: . . . drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved!

Now, how can anyone read these things and think that one must sneak around and disobey God in order to enjoy pleasure? To believe that is to betray a warped view of God, a view promoted by the world, and a view that burdens the hearts of millions upon millions with shame and guilt, even though they are doing nothing evil, because they do not know God. They are hiding from the One who created for them the very pleasure they enjoy, but the world has poisoned their minds with wrong ideas about the Creator. You do not have to sneak around to enjoy the pleasure God freely gives you. In fact, if you are among those who sneak around to obtain pleasure, you cannot enjoy it because a sense of guilt disturbs your heart. How many people stay frustrated because they cannot find that perfectly satisfying pleasure in the darkness of their hiding place! Sin makes pleasure an unfulfilling, frustrating experience. Sin ruins everything.

The Song of Solomon is a majestic parable of the sweet, spiritual communion of Christ and his bride. It uses as a parable a young man and a young woman who are absolutely consumed with passion and love for one another. It was the time in their lives when nothing but each other mattered, and nothing else at that time in their lives was supposed to matter! Their sole attention was upon their mate from God.

The Song of Solomon tells us that the heights of pleasure are reserved for the upright, not for the wicked. The righteous have the greater pleasures because their pleasure is anointed by God for their health and blessing, while the secret pleasures of the ungodly are always mingled with – and diminished by – fear of discovery. Yes, "stolen waters are sweet", as the adulteress in Proverbs is quoted as saying, but those same waters cause rot in the soul that drinks them.

The physical relationship of a man and his wife is, in reality, a small part of the marital relationship, but if that small part is tainted or warped, the whole relationship is adversely affected by it. Jesus is offering to his people a great liberation from the world's warped view both of God and of the pleasure He created if we will trust him. Remember, the Bible says, "At His right hand are pleasures forevermore." God knows how to make your heart rejoice, in purity and holiness!

There is such a thing as the "pleasures of sin", but there is no such thing as experiencing joy and peace with that pleasure.

Think on this fact, young person. When a young man in ancient Israel married, God made it a law that not even the king could draft him into Israel's army for at least a year. Neither could that young man be "charged with any business" during that time so that he would be free for an entire year to be at home with his wife and make her happy (Deut. 24:5). Young person, how does that compare to man's idea of a two-week "honeymoon"? And what does that ancient commandment reveal to you about God? Think about what God was feeling toward people when He gave that commandment to Moses! Do you still imagine that God's Old Testament Law was harsh and cold, as many religious teachers would have you to believe?

Young person, don't be fooled by the immoral students you know in your school, or by the friend that has chosen to surrender his or her purity. In pursuing the greatest pleasure by taking the road of sin, they assure themselves that they will not find it. Your immoral acquaintances might want you to believe that by their sin they have obtained something that you do not yet possess. The truth is, they have lost the hope of obtaining something that you can still have if you are faithful to Jesus. Keep yourself pure, and God will grant to you in His perfect time, a special joy that immoral young people will never be able to know, even if now they repent of their sin. God reserves the best for those who keep themselves pure, and only them. When sin robs a young person of his or her virginity, that young person loses something that can never be recovered.

The secret of lasting satisfaction is hidden in Christ Jesus. Young people who pursue pleasure without God are foolish. They have lost the hope of obtaining a precious gift which you who are still upright may yet obtain. Hold on to your hope. Strive for the best. Paul encouraged the young man Timothy, "Keep thyself pure" and "be not a partaker with other men's sins." The value of your personal integrity, young person, is greater than you can now realize, but you will see it clearly in time to come.

It is a wonderful, touching thing to hear one's spouse whispering thanksgiving to Jesus and loving you at the same time. This is the beautiful way of God. There is no transgressor who can know that kind of pleasure because transgressors cannot be thankful for what they are doing; nor are they allowed by God to know that joy. An English rock group once became famous with a song that said, "I can't get no satisfaction." If they had repented of their filthiness and trusted in the living God, they would have found it.

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