by Jeannette Haley
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
To me, one of the most amazing portions of Scripture is Matthew 7:22-23, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
What I find amazing is how any person could stand before their Creator and argue with Him. What a graphic example of the delusion that comes from the sins of pride, arrogance and self-centeredness! A careful scrutiny of both Scripture and history reveals that religious people are often those who display the greatest levels of self-righteousness, hard-heartedness, prejudice, rebellion, and downright stinginess.
Surely no born-again believer deliberately sets out to argue with God. But, a closer examination of Christianity today reveals that it’s not uncommon for those who consider themselves to be standing in God’s favor to actually habitually argue with Him in their heart (thoughts), words, deeds, and attitudes. Christian, your fruit tells on you!
Concerning the thought life, must we be continually reminded that God knows our thoughts? Do we think that we can hide our vain imaginations from the scrutiny of Almighty God? Psalm 139 1-2tells us, “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.” In verses 23-24 we read, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Here we see that God knows our every thought, and that includes our attitudes toward His Word concerning our own, personal lives. In other words, God knows when we claim certain verses that make us feel good, while automatically skipping over those that warn us that the way to heaven is straight and narrow. The flesh doesn’t want to die, it wants to be exalted, to be a “somebody,” to be pampered, noticed, and fawned over. But, it is our responsibility for our soul’s sake to humble ourselves before the Lord and allow His Spirit to search our thoughts and heart to reveal “any wicked way,” so that we may repent. Anything short of that is arguing with God.
If any person fails to truly repent, he or she will perish. There are no in-betweens. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come torepentance.” [Emphasis added.] Judging by the covetous, carnal lifestyles, self-serving agendas, worldly causes, and attitudes that many people display today who claim to be a Christian, it becomes apparent that they truly do not understand repentance. Repentance means a total about-face—a complete change of direction. Confessing and professing does not constitute repentance, and in some cases can even be a platform for pride under the guise of fake nobility.
Repentance is complete and absolute brokenness before God—coming to Him as a totally yielded, broken beggar who agrees with God’s evaluation of him or her as a sinner and who is ready to exchange the self life for God’s life in every area. The Apostle Paul put it this way inGalatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Is this true of you?
We are then to submit our way to God, that He might lead us in the way of salvation. But, how many of us argue with God about the way He is leading us? After all, most of the Church is told today that by coming to Christ and by “receiving Him” (note: not by repenting) that they will be blessed with riches, success and a happy life. What a lie perpetuated in the pit of hell! Yet, multitudes of people believe this unbiblical lie to the point that when they are confronted with truth, they become angry and defensive. By refusing to receive a love of the truth (See 2 Thessalonians 2:10), they are in reality arguing with God. The result of this arguing is strong delusion. The question is: who can deliver one from such delusion?
By giving God permission to lead us in His way means that we are no longer going our way. It means that we have relinquished all of our rights to the self-life, of doing things our way for our own selfish purposes. By submitting to God’s leading in every area of our lives means that we look to Him and seek His will. Sadly, most people argue with God by habitually making their own plans and decisions based on their carnal desires, and then ask God to bless those plans.
Another way we argue with God is failing to glorify Him in both our body and our spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” When Christians look like the world by dressing seductively or neglecting proper hygiene, they are arguing with God. When Christians destroy their physical health through gluttony, poor eating habits and so forth, they are arguing with God. When Christians allow their spiritual vigilance to slip, they are arguing with God. In other words, their very lifestyle is a denial that they have been bought with a price and that they no longer belong to themselves. Glorifying God is not their priority.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount reveals the principles of how believers are to think and act. He left us an example to follow. Yet, how many of us argue with Him because we have convinced ourselves that we are somehow an exception to the rule? Think about it.
This brings us to the one area that blaringly reveals what we are made of—whether we truly belong to God or not—and this is in the area of sacrificial giving. Granted, we often see people who do give sacrificially, but they do so for all of the wrong reasons. They give for their own glory. They give to be seen of men. They give to things that benefit them, such as the church that raised $2 million on a comprehensive renovation and technological upgrade of their sanctuary.
It’s bad enough that millions are spent on church building programs that include gymnasiums, swimming pools, espresso bars, and other “fun” paraphernalia, but nowadays any church that doesn’t have the latest state-of-the-art sound and lights technology is out of date. ”This is the language of this emerging culture—sound and image,” said Sweet, who teaches at Drew University in Madison, N.J. ”You bring the two together, and it helps create a worship experience.” (Taken from a report from Information from Knight Ridder News Service.)
What has this to do with arguing with God, you may ask. Plenty! Show me in the Bible where Jesus, or any of the disciples, ever took money from the people to build buildings! Show me where Scripture admonishes us to go into the entire world and make converts to a religious system and build big, lavish, edifices with the latest innovations in acoustics to appeal to the pagans’ lust for “sight and sound.” You won’t find it. It’s simply not there.
What about spending millions of dollars to create a “worship experience?” This is not “worship”! True worship is in spirit and truth (see John 4:24), not in a fleshly “experience”! The day is coming when the Lord of the harvest will return suddenly and unexpectedly. At that time, He will demand an accounting of every cent spent in His Name that went for these extravagances while orphans starved, millions perished without the gospel and Bibles, missionaries struggled in poverty and danger to bring the Gospel to lost souls, and the poor cried out to God for help. The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:17, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” In other words, those who continue to argue with God through disobedience and careless, self-centered living are doomed.
What you will find in God’s Word is His heart concerning people hearing the Gospel preached and being made (or discipled) into followers of Jesus Christ. You will find within the pages of your Bible God’s heart to the poor and needy, to the single women, the fatherless (orphans), and to needy saints. What does God think of these mega, modern church buildings that people are so proud to be a part of? He says to REPENT. (Read Revelation 3:14-19.) Collections in the early Church were taken to supply needs within the local body of believers. (See 1 Corinthians 16:1; Acts 2:45; 4:32-37.)
How can we be hard-hearted, stingy and tight-fisted when God’s Word is replete with examples, parables and admonitions concerning benevolence? How dare we call ourselves a Christian when we spend every waking moment planning out what we are going to lavish upon ourselves? Consider the widow who gave ALL of her living (Mark 12:41-44). Talk about faith! Do you have that kind of faith? If so, prove it by giving out of your need, not from your surplus. Consider what happened to the successful farmer, who thought in his heart to build bigger barns to hold all of his goods, so he could sit back, relax and enjoy his retirement. This man died that very night and had to give an account of why he never considered those less fortunate than himself (Luke 12:16-21). Consider the rich, young ruler who walked away from Jesus and eternal life because he loved his riches and refused to obey Jesus and sell it, and give the proceeds to the poor (Luke 18:18-25). All of these people argued with God—and lost.
The next time you read Scripture or hear a biblical message, why not stop and ask the Lord to reveal to you if you are walking in obedience, or if in your mind, heart, attitudes, and actions, you are actually arguing with God. Remember, the people in Matthew 7:22-23 were religious. They called Jesus “Lord.” They even prophesied in His name, cast out devils and did miracles. From all appearances, they were zealous, super spiritual and probably leaders in their churches. But, by their very lives, they argued with God by not seeking to personally know Him and His will. In the end, they will argue with the Judge of all who will utter these sobering words, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23b).
What will He say to you?