Character Traits of the People Who Know Their God!
This morning I want for us to look at into the Word of God to see some of the character traits of the people who know their God. Now there are many people in this world who call themselves Christians and they may very well be. There are also many church people, cultural Christians, who have chosen the name of Christian for some fleshly, worldly reason. Of those who are the real thing, some are more mature and stable than others; some are more serious than others. There are some believers who, due to immaturity, instability, or poor doctrine, are very flighty in their study habits; jumping from one subject to another but never getting into any subject very deeply. And the result of the surface type of theology, their lives are characterized by a surface kind of devotion; no strength of character, no depth of biblical knowledge and therefore no ability to defend the faith when confronted by error. They are also unable to explain what it means to be a Christian when asked.
As I look through the pages of my life I see much of this type of individual in me. For a time I was really into eschatology, the study of last things; prophesy and the like…but during that time I never got deep into biblical truths so as to be able to form a solid argument for the truth that I was learning and talking about. This was my approach with other subjects as well. I had no depth of root because I had no knowledge of how to dig deep into the Word of God and really had not considered the aspect of prayer; seeking the face of God and asking Him to show me great and wonderful things which I knew not! Because of this I was full of little bits and pieces of wisdom but there was no continuity in or completeness in my theology.
Sadly I thought I was doing rather well…that is until I read the biographies of David Brainerd and Robert Murray McCheyne and Keith Green. Then I began reading some of the sermons of Jonathan Edwards and suddenly I realized tha there was a whole new world that I never knew existed. The uncomfortable realization began to dawn on me that I knew nothing at all. I had been spinning my wheels in the dirt thinking I was getting somewhere and then I saw these men who were deeply committed to the study of biblical truth, who applied that truth to their lives in a very real and tangible way…and I had never done that. The realization came to me that I have squandered much time and opportunity in my life.
Now I could make excuses all day long for the lack in my life but the reality of the situation is that we are all commanded by God to be students of His Holy Word! God tells us in 2Ti 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. Now some would say that this passage only applies to pastors but I don’t see Paul making such a narrow application. Indeed, God has placed this in the scriptures for all of us…we are to labor in the word and doctrine so as to know what we believe…so as to be able to articulate what we believe…we are to be ready to “preach the word; (to proclaim the word of truth at a moments notice) be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” 2Ti 4:2 There are no loopholes for any of us…we cannot get off the hook!
More and more I understand that there is a great need for an ongoing discipleship class of sorts in our lives because discipleship is something that begins at conversion and continues on until we leave this life to meet our Lord in heaven. Now ideally, good discipleship habits should start at conversion, being nurtured by godly men and women who know the truth, love Gods children and long to see them grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But this in no way lets us off the hook because, and I am speaking for myself, the lack of a good example is no excuse! As Christians we are to be in constant communion with our heavenly Father and once we are brought to see and understand the truth of our great need to be immersed in the Word of God we are responsible to either seek out godly men who can show us the way to study our bibles or we must look for resources that have been provided by godly men for our use but we must not neglect this vital aspect of the Christian life…of our walk with Jesus.
I am reminded of the words of a wise man who once said that if we ate and drank as often as we prayed and fed our souls with the Word, we’d be dead. And I’m not talking about the ‘getting my bible reading out of the way’ kind of a thing. I’m talking about the actual reading of the word of God where you are being fed, where you are growing, where you are learning and where you are applying what you learned to your life for the purpose of glorifying God. You see, there is a Grand Canyon of a difference between just reading mass quantities of bible verses and actually sitting down and listening to God as He speaks to you from His Word…followed by the writing down of what you have been taught…followed by the actual, purposeful application of that lesson to your lives in a real, visible, tangible way so that others can see that truth being lived out in your life!
Do you see the difference here? Do you understand what I’m saying? Do you understand that this is one of the characteristics of the people who know their God? Is this true in your life? Do you do this? Remember that the true disciple is one who emulates his teacher and as our teacher is Jesus Christ Himself we are to be emulating Him. Remember the testimony of Jesus Christ from the scriptures; Joh 8:29 “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” And what do the scriptures further teach us but “the one who says he abides in Jesus ought himself to walk (live) in the same manner as Jesus walked (lived).” 1Jo 2:6 It is by our conformity to the life of Christ, our modeling of the life of Christ before men that they will see our lights shining.
But to emulate Jesus, we must know Him! We must know how He lived and to learn this we must know what is written of Him in the Book. And we must know what He has commanded us as far as how we are to live for Him! And one of the first things we must get through our heads and then keep on holding up before our eyes as a sign post…to remind us lest we forget is that we are not our own but we have been bought with a price and Paul reminds us of this truth in 1Co 6:19-20 when he says “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” And those very familiar words from the word of God must again ring in our ears as we read from Ga 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
One of the daily battles we must face is the battle against the flesh; our old nature which wants to gain the mastery over us. When you hear a voice inside your head saying, “Hold on a minute, I am somebody, I have self worth, I have self esteem and I deserve to have my fair share…understand that this is the voice of the enemy, the old nature which continually sets itself against the truth of the word of God. I’m going to tell you something that you may already know; there is no such thing as self esteem in the Christian life! Self and Christ are eternal opposites! Christianity is not a mano a mano affair where we get to do our own thing in the center of Gods will! If this were the case then we would have much to boast of…and Ephesians 2:9 would be null and void when it declares that no one can boast…and this cannot be!
Keith Green described the Christian as someone who was bananas for Jesus. But it goes further than that doesn’t it. I remember one Pastor giving this description of the Christian, “A Christian is one who is all wrapped up in Jesus…Jesus is all and I am nothing!” Now this is the truth of scripture and it grates against our old nature which hates to be put down and put under. But it is the Truth!
Remember that Jesus Christ is the Light, the True Light. And we are to be reflectors of that light! It is like the sun and the moon. The sun has light in itself and the moon has nothing. But when the sun shines on the moon, the moon lights up as it reflects the true light. The only time the moon is dark is when the earth stands between it and the sun and then the light is eclipsed.
Are you shining the light of Jesus to the world around you…or is there something eclipsing the light?
I want for us to look now at Matthew chapter 5 and the Beatitudes or as Rick Ousley called them, the attitudes to be having or possessing. We are to be “beatituded” he said with these characteristics which bring much glory to God. And what are they? Let’s take a look:
Mt 5:1-4 “When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Ponder the truth of verse 3 for just a moment. It says “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” Now exactly what does that mean? Is Jesus speaking about depression? Is He saying “Blessed are the depressed? I can almost guarantee that there are preachers out there who have tried to make this application to this passage. But Jesus is not dealing with depression here. In fact, if this were the case, everyone who is depressed, who haven’t taken Zoloft or other anti – depression drugs, these people are to be considered extremely blessed…indeed according to this type of theology the depressed are the ones who will be going to heaven. But is this what Jesus is saying? Consider the setting, the events that have gone on before Jesus uttered these words…He has healed a man with a withered hand and for His troubles; the religious leaders have begun to plot His demise.
Consider too the character of the Pharisee; a proud, self sufficient, self made man who believed himself to be of a blessed class of men. The Pharisees believed that they had arrived! Indeed, they seemed to be of the opinion that they were so holy and so pure that they were actually doing God a favor by letting Him spend time with them. This is anything but Christian Character.
Again considering the events that have gone on just prior to this, Jesus had been healing men of all manner of diseases. And now He goes up on a mountain and sits down to teach His disciples. And He says “Blessed or, Oh the great blessing and contentment of those who realize their spiritual poverty. The Pharisees didn’t realize anything of the sort. Indeed, before we jump up on our high horses and begin to boast, understand that no man, woman or child on the earth realizes their spiritual poverty…until God rends the heavens and comes down and opens their eyes so that they can see that they are spiritually impoverished.
Now why is this a good thing? Why is it a good thing to realize your spiritual poverty? Is it good because admission is the first step on the road to recovery? Does it mean that if you admit you have a problem then you can do something about it?
To answer that question let me ask another one: what does it mean to be spiritually impoverished? It means that before God you stand empty, hopeless, helpless and condemned. It means you are lost and undone. It means that God is holy, holy, holy and we are sinners, condemned already because of our wicked nature. It means that if you stand before a holy God as you are, you are without hope! But tell rebellious, spiritually dead men of this and they will look at you as if you were from Mars! “What do you mean I’m a sinner?” They think you are nuts! They may admit to having a few problems but its nothing that they can’t handle themselves, or with a few drugs, or some alcohol or…you fill in the blank!
But the man whom Jesus is speaking of here is the one who, like the Prodigal son, has come to the end of himself and has by the grace of God, for the first time seen that he is an empty shell, that he is lost and undone, a condemned sinner before a Holy God; a worm and no man. And having come to this knowledge, which knowledge flesh and blood has not revealed to him but our Father in Heaven, this man stands forth like the tax collector in Jesus parable, beating his breast and pleading with God to be merciful to him…the sinner! And what did Jesus say about that man? He went to his house justified, cleansed of his sin and made a new creature in Christ Jesus!
Oh the great blessed contentment of the man who realizes his spiritual poverty. Why? For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven!
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Mourning does not sound like a positive thing does it. I mean, who likes to be sad, who likes to cry? Nobody! But again consider that the great blessing and contentment of those who mourn because of their spiritual poverty because they will be comforted! Notice that the word is “will” not “might.” If God has revealed to you your spiritual destitution and has caused you to mourn for your sins before His throne, then He Himself will comfort you!
Oh the blessed contentment of those who are completely broken before a Holy God! The Christian is one who stands before God broken and helpless, but with faith that can move mountains because he knows whom he has believed and is persuaded that He is able to keep that which he has committed unto Him against that day! How blessed to be an utterly dependent new creature in Christ Jesus. And blessed are those who continue to keep this attitude before God for they are the ones who will be used by God for His glory. Such people are mentioned in Da 11:32. Daniel speaks of the coming apostasy, and the results of the loosening of the restraining hand of God. Wickedness will flourish, the antichrist will be in power “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
In contrast to this note the misery of those who take their eyes off of Jesus even for a moment…because the moment they take their eyes off of Jesus they will fall into sin, be depressed and have a multitude of problems. Worse still, oh the misery of those who look to men for aid rather than looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith! Consider these words of truth and real wisdom from the word of God. In Jer 17:5-8 we read “Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.” 6 “For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant. What a world of misery do those live in who do not trust in the Lord God; who will not look to the Lord for help but who are double minded, looking to Jesus one minute and to the world the next.
You remember what happened to Peter when he took his eyes off of Jesus just for a moment to see the wind and the waves; he sank! So do we! The world cannot help us. The flesh cannot help us. And horror upon horrors if we would even consider looking to the devil for help. The devil is a liar and has nothing to offer a child of God. Indeed it is his voice that calls us to look away from Jesus to the world for help. This is nothing more or less than the sin of pride. 7 In contrast to this Jeremiah says “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. 8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. Consider too the words of Ps 121:1 “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2 My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. 8 The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever. James gets right to the point in Jas 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
So what does the man or woman of God look like? They look like Jesus! They follow after Him. They obey His commandments. They emulate Him and reflect Him to the world! When reading a passage like Mic 6:8 which states; “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God…” the man of God takes it to heart for his has heard the voice of his Master and joyfully obeys. I have heard many people ask the question “What is the will of God for my life?” Indeed I have asked it myself. And here is the answer! Am I truly converted? Have I truly been born again? Well then I am not my own any longer but belong body and soul to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ who shed His precious blood for my soul. I am His property. I am His to do with as He pleases.
I am not without direction for He has written a whole instruction book just for me. And I am to read it. I am to feed my soul with this glorious truth. And I am not merely to be a spiritual glutton, stuffing my face with spiritual dainties…I am to share, spread it around, give it away!
Ps 119:9 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it or ordering it according to Your word. Verse 105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Rom 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. The people who know their God are those who daily, hourly, lay their lives upon the altar as a daily offering, turning aside from the voice of the old nature and giving ear to the voice of the Lord God!
The person who knows God understands that we must plug our ears to the voice of the old nature and we understand that this voice takes many shapes. It may come from within as pet sins rise up to tempt you. And it may come from the mouths of others who are being ruled by the old nature. You see, the devil is very sly and subtle. He may use that inner voice or he may use the mouth of a wayward friend, a parent, a T.V. personality all of which are being used by the evil one himself to lead us astray. And we know that all we have do is relax our guard, give an ear to these other voices…voices which are united with the voice of the evil one himself…and we even know the message of those voices: look away from Jesus! Look to the world, to your government, your teachers, your friends, your parents…your…you can fill in the blank here. But we also know that once we look away from Jesus Christ, wicked, ungodly thoughts will come flooding in and our lives will turn into a raging sea.
We cannot fight this battle alone for we are already overmatched even before the battle begins! But this is one of the character traits of the people who know their God; they are walking with God already in a n established relationship and so when evil rears its ugly head they immediately look to Jesus; they look unto the hills from whence cometh their help for they know their help cometh from the Lord! And immediately the Lord calls them to look to Him. His voice of grace and thunder calls them to fix their eyes upon HIM! 2 And He says do not be conformed to this world, do not look to this world for help or guidance, or council or a pattern for living but be transformed metamorphosed by the renewing of your mind, And where does this renewal come from? It comes from being filled with the Word of God, from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit of God and as you stand before the Throne of God in prayer and have communion with Him. And as you look to Jesus, as you call upon His name you will find Him an ever present help in time of need…and He will say to the storm that is raging in your life “Peace, Be Still!”
It is at the throne of Grace when you are filled with His Spirit, where you are walking in His presence, worshiping that you will know the truth, which way to turn…so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Eph 2:12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Consider our Lord Jesus Christ who is God Himself, who has stooped to have fellowship with us, who has called us out of the world with a holy calling and has made us sons and daughters. And as sons and daughters we are also disciples, those lives are to be characterized by following after Jesus. And as we follow Him, we will be strong and we will do exploits in His Name.