Choosing Godly Values
Sunday School, MBC 9/29/13
Where did you get your values from?
All around us there are things taking place that we overlook. This includes the spiritual world as well as the physical.
HOW DOES THE WORLD’S VALUE SYSTEM SUBTLY INFILTRATE OUR LIVES AND AFFECT OUR CHOICES?
In football, the goal of the offense is to get the ball into the end zone and score touchdowns. This is usually not an easy task. The problem is the presence of an opposing force on every play. This force is called the DEFENSE. The 11 players on the defensive side of the ball are doing all they can to prevent the offense from moving the ball down the field and scoring. As a result, one of the first things a football coach does to prepare his team to play is to teach his assistant coaches and players how to “READ THE DEFENSE” on every play. The most successful offenses in football are the ones that recognize the defense’s tendencies and strategies and learn to counteract them. You can say the same thing about the Christian life (Page 10). A good quarterback sometimes changes the play the offense is planning to run because he reads something in the defense he didn’t expect. He changes the plan and executes another play that will be more successful against that defense.
As we seek to make a difference in this world for God, we discover that the task is not always easy. Today’s lesson will show us the tendencies and strategies of a spiritual “defensive force” that opposes God’s people and their work for His kingdom.
READ Ephesians 6:12 – we wrestle not with flesh and blood
What can we gain from understanding our foe? By learning to read the defense, we can recognize when we need to change our play, or be ready for a “blitz” in our own efforts. This recognition will not only help us to me successful in our Christian life, it will allow us to live our life on the offensive instead of the defensive.
READ 1 John 2:15-17
Have you ever noticed that our society readily accepts certain attitudes, perspectives, and values as the standard for how life is best lived? These values arise in a subtle fashion, forming attitudes in our minds about sex, money, relationships and other key areas of our lives. We usually see these values emerging in many segments of our society such as magazine advertisement, TV commercials, TV shows, movies, music, books, etc. For example, if you take a few minutes watching any popular situation comedy on TV, you will most likely observe the value that premarital sex or extramarital sex is an accepted way to happiness. You may notice the same about cursing or taking the Lord’s name in vain, the numbers of dumb or absent fathers, ineptness of people of faith, bumbling teachers or administrators, or the attitude and acceptance of drugs and the drug culture. These values and ideas don’t exist by accident. There is an unseen world that parallels our physical world, generating these philosophies. Many Christians overlook this reality. But just by observing the state of our families, many of our churches and communities, it’s obvious that something is at work against God’s people. Many cannot pinpoint what or who the source is.
In the first twenty years of an American kid’s life, he or she will see something approaching one million television commercials at the rate of about a thousand a week. This makes the TV commercial the most voluminous information source in the education of your child. These commercials are about products only in the sense that the story of Jonah is about the anatomy of whales. A commercial teaches a child three interesting things. The first is that all problems are resolvable. The second is that all problems are resolvable quickly. And the third is that all problems are resolvable quickly through the agency of some technology. It may be a drug. It may be a detergent. It may be an airplane or some piece of machine, like an automobile or computer. The essential message is that the problems that beset people–whether it is lack of self-confidence or boredom or even money problems–are entirely solvable if only we will allow ourselves to be ministered to by a technology. Commercials teach these important themes through parables. In eight to ten seconds, the middle part comes, which is Hawaii or a new car. Then there’s a moral. The moral is nailed down at the end, where we are shown what happens if a person follows this advice. And the actor, of course, is usually ecstatic. One has simply got to wonder what the effects are on a young adult who has seen a million of these little vignettes. One has to ask, “What is being taught?”
This unseen world is similar to the presence of unseen germs before the invention of the microscope. Doctors knew something was wreaking havoc with people’s lives, but they didn’t know what it was. As a result, they experienced great difficulty trying to find cures and medicines that would treat and heal illness and disease. They were trying to treat something they couldn’t understand or cure. Unless we become aware of this unseen world and seek to understand its strategies, our attempts to combat are likely to be futile.
John gives us a picture of that battle which many Christians ignore or unknowingly embrace. Let’s look at that now. In 1 John 2:15-17, John uses the Greek word kosmos that is translated “world”. This word refers to an order, a system or an organization. In the New Testament, this word is used to describe a system that is designed to turn people’s hearts against God and His truth.
The world’s system consists of all the attitudes, perspectives, and thoughts we often find commonplace in the workplace and the home. It seems so natural and logical and the right way to go. It was that way with me and Multiculturalism in my classes. I had unknowingly bought into it and taught it. It was not until I read a book by Chuck Colson called How Now Shall We Live did I encounter this.
We need to understand that if taken to its logical extreme, going with the flow of the world’s way of thinking will result in problems such as chemical dependency, poor financial decisions, moral failures and the destruction of families. In other words, the purpose of the world’s system is the destruction of those God loves most.
The world never delivers on its false promises. That is why vs. 15 tells us not to love the world. He doesn’t mean the people – he is referring to the values and assumptions we find at work in the world’s system. Unfortunately, too many Christians think they can have both. Can you imagine the result if I came home and told Karen that I really enjoy spend time with another women and I wanted her to be happy about it? She would no doubt develop God’s attitude toward lukewarm-ness with me! We cannot do both!
In verse 16, John reveals three elements at work in the world’s system. He puts “everything in the world” into three categories:
1. Cravings of sinful man – internal desires that control the words we say, what we see with our eyes, and the desires we shouldn’t pursue. The world would have us feed those desires, whether they are sexual pleasure, luxury, possessions, expensive food, etc.
2. Lust of the eyes – desire for accumulation of things we do not need. This is the danger of window shopping! We may not even know we needed something until we saw it. The end result is buying things we don’t need, which results in materialism and debt. Lust of the eyes is not just limited to shopping. It also affects men in the area of pornography. Men are visual in nature and we men need to be especially careful in this area.
3. The boasting of what he has and does – the tendency to hinge our identity on our profession or our possessions INSTEAD OF WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST. We love the world we define our lives by what we do and by what we own. In its original usage, the word boasting referred to a man who claimed to be important because he had achieved so much, when in fact, he really had done very little.
Fortune magazine quotes a comment made by billionaire H. Ross Perot: “Guys, just remember, if you get real lucky, if you make a lot of money, if you go out and buy a lot of stuff–it’s gonna break. You got your biggest, fanciest mansion in the world. It has air conditioning. It’s got a pool. Just think of all the pumps that are going to go out. Or go to a yacht basin any place in the world. Nobody is smiling, and I’ll tell you why. Something broke that morning. The generator’s out; the microwave oven doesn’t work. … Things just don’t mean happiness.”
READ Psalm 20:7
Let me quote the Joker in the movie Batman, “Who ya gonna trust?”
God is not the source of the world’s system. John says it “comes not from the Father.” In fact the “world and its desires pass away”. They are temporary. God is eternal. He reminds us to do the will of God – the only thing that will last forever. We are reminded of this at funerals. The only values that really matter are the ones that transcend this life into eternity. That is why we are called to live “in the world, but not of it”.
When I was a kid year ago I had to fix my bike. I came to that left peddle I had to get loose, and the more I worked to loosen that peddle the tighter it seemed to get. My dad came over and saw my plight. He looked for a moment or two and said, “Oh, this has a left-handed thread. It’s a reverse screw. You have to tighten or loosen it going in the opposite direction.”
There’s a sense in which all the Bible is kind of a reverse screw. Everything in the culture that seems right, in the Bible comes out wrong. The way up is the way down. The way to spiritual wealth is to acknowledge your spiritual poverty. The way to live is to die. The way to rule is to serve. I mean the screw just doesn’t work right.
But unless you understand the reverse nature of the screw, you never do anything. The more you try to work it according to the values of the culture, the tighter the screw gets and the less you accomplish.
The whole Bible is that way. Everything is upside down. When you come with the values of the culture and read the New Testament, it seems crazy. God’s always doing that.
We must make some proactive steps in resisting the world’s value system. When making decisions, we need to examine our presuppositions and compare them to the truth of God’s Word. Otherwise, we will make wrong choices.
There are also some other things we can do
1. Learn to recognize the world’s values and attitudes. You can do this by keeping a discerning eye on the TV shows you may watch or movies you see. Without realizing it, you can allow the world’s value system to permeate your mind on a regular basis. The use of TV Guardian helped me with this. Before installing this, I was unaware of the amount of profanity I allowed into my house.
2. Learn contentment in your spending habits by developing a monthly budget. You have two choices concerning the way you handle your money. You can spend your time wondering where it went, or spend your time planning where it goes. A budget is nothing more than planned spending. Knowing this in advance will help to fight against the “lust of the eyes”.
3. Read God’s Word daily to reestablish your identity in Christ. Ground your identity in being a loved and valued child of God, instead of your possessions or profession. Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one, and Helen Keller is the other.
The comedy film Cool Runnings is about the first Jamaican bobsled team to go to the Olympics. John Candy plays a former American gold medalist who becomes a coach to the Jamaican team. The players grow to like the American coach but later in the story, the coach’s dark history comes out. In an Olympics following his gold medal performance, he broke the rules by weighting the U.S. sled, bringing disgrace on himself and his team. One of the Jamaican bobsledders could not understand why anyone who had already won a gold medal would cheat.
Finally he nervously asked Candy to explain. “I had to win,” said the coach. “I learned something. If you are not happy WITHOUT a gold medal, you won’t be happy WITH it.”
READ Romans 12:2