"So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields." Matthew 9:38
When I was twelve years old, I was determined that I was going to be a professional skateboarder. I had received a brand new skateboard for my birthday and could successfully ride down my driveway without falling, so in my mind I was totally qualified. To begin my training, I decided that I should skate down the steepest hill in the neighborhood. I pushed off and began my descent down the hill. The acceleration of the board took me by surprise and suddenly fear replaced what was once courage.
Almost halfway down the hill, I lost my balance and took a bad fall. When I stood up I noticed I could not use my right hand. The possibility of a broken bone did cross my mind, but I really didn’t want that to be the case. So I decided to not tell my parents about it and try to heal on my own. I tried icing my wrist where most of the pain resided. But it was to no avail. The pain didn’t go away, it actually got worse. I then thought maybe pressure would help, so I wrapped my wrist tightly. Again, this did nothing but mummify the issue. I took aspirin and even holding my wrist upright to elevate it, but all these were failed attempts.
Finally, I gave in and told my parents about my accident. And they took me straight to the hospital. Upon the doctor’s examination it was confirmed immediately, I had a broken wrist. I had been attempting to deal with the effects of the issue of my broken wrist, such as pain and swelling. But I had neglected to go to the root of the problem, that being my broken bone, which was the issue that all the other symptoms stemmed from.
Much in the same manner, many times the church tries to deal with symptoms of a greater issue without tending to the issue itself. Preachers will stand in pulpits and say, “If our world just wasnt so sexually immoral…” and then they will preach a sermon against sexual immorality. Or they may hold a conference on marriage and say, “If only husbands and wives would treat one another better….” and then preach a sermon on loving our spouses.
This is not altogether a bad thing. But many times, preaching a sermon like this can be much like breaking a bone and trying to heal it by applying ice. There is a much greater problem that is not being addressed.
You can tell a pig to stop wallowing in mud, but it would do absolutely no good. Why? Because it’s a pig, and wallowing in mud is in its nature. In the same way, you can tell a spiritually dead sinner that they need to stop sinning and it will do absolutely no good. Why? Because due to the fall of Adam, it is our nature to sin. It’s who we are, and without Christ, sin is what we gravitate towards much like a pig is drawn to mud.
“All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.” Ephesians 2:3.
When a person is in physical pain, the first step is not to address the symptoms of pain, but rather determine what the source of the pain is. And when a person is in sin, the first step is not to address the sin, but the source of the sin nature. So the question we must ask is, “Why do people sin?” People sin because they don’t know God. And because they don’t know God, they have not been transformed by God into that 1 Corinthians 5:17 new creation.
The greatest need of the modern-day church is a proper knowledge of God. One of the most neglected studies in evangelicalism today is the Doctrine of God or Theology Proper. It begs the questions, Who is God? What are His divine attributes? What are His characteristics, such as His sovereignty, His omniscience, His immutability, His Holiness, His love, and His wrath? It is only through the study of the attributes of God that a man can properly understand Himself. And only through knowing God intimately can our eyes truly be opened to the depths of our sin nature.
A lack of the knowledge of God is the source from which all sins stem from.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Hosea 4:6.
The implications of this verse are staggering. A man who rejects the knowledge of God is doomed to create a golden calf. He is destined to formulate an image of God based on who he thinks God should be. A man who rejects to seek the knowledge of God may be moral in the worlds eyes, but he will be disqualified from being a priest. This is seen predominately with prosperity preachers today who preach the false message of health and wealth tied to obedience. They proclaim a message that is void of the Holy Spirit, because they are not God’s priests.
In the same way, a man who preaches the love and God and never touches the subject of the wrath of God is disqualified from being a priest to the Lord. Because God’s wrath and His love and inseparable. It is impossible to understand the love of God unless you first understand the justice and wrath of God.
In our house, we preach the law of God to our children constantly. Not to encourage them to live up to the perfect standard of the law, although we do instill in them to strive towards that. Rather, we preach the law of God to our children to show them that they can’t live up to it. They are incapable of keeping even one of His laws perfectly. And the penalty for breaking even one of God’s laws just one time is death.
We preach the law of God in order to point out to our children that they are in desperate need of a savior. They are in desperate need of the one who can perfectly live up to the high standard of God’s law. We are all in need of a perfect substitute who can take our rightfully deserved punishment and impute to us His perfect record. We are in desperate need of Jesus Christ.
Unless we teach our children of their inability and guilty standing through the law of God as well as teach them to know the Lord through studying His divine attributes, they will never truly know Him. In order to shepard our families, we first must be seekers of God.
“But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!” Jeremiah 9:24.
The greatest and most lofty study a man can embark upon is seeking to know His creator. Knowing God takes being totally willing to set aside all preconceived notions of what we may have previously thought God to be like, or what we would like God to be like, and simply submitting ourselves to scripture alone and surrendering to the Word of God. But why is it that so few people in our day and age lack a true knowledge of God? Why is it that people would rather hear about their ability to clean themselves up before coming to God and be totally angered by the idea of a sovereign savior?
Simply put, most people prefer a God who is omniscient but not sovereign. We want a God who is all-knowing, but incapable actually saving anyone unless they are properly convinced to change. Because if we have a God who is omniscient yet not sovereign, then we can wield His power and God is at the mercy of our decisions.
But if we serve a God who is both omniscient and sovereign, we are totally and utterly at His mercy as well as dependant upon Him. And this accurate depiction of our Lord is too scary for many to come to terms with. So they end up forming an image of God in their minds that they are more at ease with. In essence, the masses do not want to serve a God that provokes fear in them. And because of this, they forfeit attaining Godly wisdom.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;” Proverbs 1:7.
Why does humanity practice sin? Because they do not accurately know the Living God.
What is source of our sin? A lack of the knowledge of God.
Where does knowledge begin? With a proper fear of the Lord.
A.W. Tozer said, “I am convinced that the lack of great Saints in this day is due at least in part, to our unwillingness to give sufficient time to the cultivation of the Knowledge of God.”
If a man accurately fears and knows the Lord, then he will treat His spouse as Christ does His church. If a man accurately fears and knows the Lord, He will desire Holiness more than the sins of His past. If a man accurately fears and knows the Lord, seek to be more like His savior than seeking after the ways of the world. Preaching behavioral modification to people with a sin nature is futile. But preaching Christ, along with His divine attributes will expose man for the wretch that he is, and point Him to the beauty of the Lord through truly understanding the riches of His mercy and grace.
There is no greater study than the attributes of God. Below I have links to some great resources for your personal study on the Doctrine of God.
Knowing The Living God by Paul Washer
The Attributes of God by A.W. Tozer
The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink
The Existance and Attributes of God by Stephen Charnock