Consider The Parts Which Make It Up
To connect a biblically stated action or activity carried out by an individual, character, or nation, which seems to be far removed from life today, you have to take a series of mental steps, which can be quantified. Those steps are illustrated in a message by Andy Stanley.
Andy Stanley is speaking from the book of Galatians – The Fruits of the Spirit. Just before the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in chapter 5, there is a list of the actions or activities of the flesh.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21
In applying these two sins of the flesh to his audience, Andy demonstrates how to accomplish that without some “applicational stretch” or “connective biblical gymnastics,” which when done is often easily perceived by the audience as an unreasonable stretch or just grasping at straws — “Really? Come on. That’s a little bit of a stretch.”
Here is what Andy Stanley says at this point in the message . . . .
“You know what interesting about that list (5:19-21).
If we were to go through tonight and I’d say okay let’s all raise our hands and talk about the number one area of the flesh that we have the most problem with . . . . You know what two that nobody one would raise their hand much on – idolatry and witchcraft
okay — now how many witches do we have here tonight — you know
Whoa — we don’t have any witches here – listen — those are the two that we as Christians are most guilty of – idolatry and witchcraft — here’s why
you know what idolatry is . . . . idolatry is depending on the things you’ve created — that’s what idolatry is — it is putting your trust and confidence in the things you created – that’s of the flesh —
- my job
- my career
- my 401k –
- my insurance –
- my relationships –
- my family –
- my — my — my —
- here’s the things –
- here’s the little world I created –
and I’m trusting in it.
God says that’s a neat little world that you’ve created – but it is not for you to trust in
You know what witchcraft is — witch…. — and were all guilty of this – witchcraft is trying to manipulate the supernatural for our own selfish interests —
it is trying to manipulate the supernatural for our selfish interests – you know how you and I do that —
Okay God — here’s the deal — I’m going to – I’m going to — If you will — okay let’s go through this deal — I’ll do this — and I promise — and I’ll never — from here on out — if you’ll just do this — I’ll do this
you know something — that is the root of magic and witchcraft — trying to do a deal with the supernatural — it isn’t some dark person with a funny hat on over in the corner stirring something — okay
this is anytime — listen — this is anytime you and I try to work a deal with God – where we try to manipulate His power to do something for us that is contrary to His will.
. . . .the flesh says manipulate
spirit says follow
the flesh says my way
spirit say your way – Father . . . . ”
— Andy Stanley
Here is what Andy Stanley does.
In regards to “Idolatry” Andy Stanley:
#1) calls up the foundational action or activity associated with an idol in O. T. days — the forming or creating idols from wood or stone — i.e. — “It is something you have created.”
#2) calling up the typical function or purpose of idols — “Putting your trust in it.”
Then he puts those two elements together — “It is putting your trust in something you have created.”
In regards to “Witchcraft” Andy Stanley:
#1) calls up foundational action or activity of witchcraft. What are people basically doing when they go to a witch or soothsayer (i.e., King Saul)? They are engaging “the supernatural.”
#2) calling up the typical purpose or function of such activity – “to use that supernatural power for your benefit.”
Then he puts those two elements together — “You know how you and I do that — Okay God (the supernatural) . . . I will if you will (using the supernatural).”
Andy Stanley —
— breaks down the foundational or fundamental element(s) of the actions or activity and
— identifies the purpose, function, or reason for/of that action or activity.
Now, let’s try that with the actions or activities of . . . .
- a request for wisdom (Solomon – more than long life /wealth/success – I King 3)
- O.T. sacrifice / or living sacrifice / or sacrifice of praise
- robbery (i.e. , “ye have robbed me” – Malachi)
- worshipping the golden calf (i.e., You attribute to something/someone else in your life, that which actually came from God – Exodus 32:23)
- assuming the role of Samuel (by King Saul in I Samuel 15)
- holding back part of the money by Ananias & Sapphira
- Simon wanting the supernatural power of Peter (Acts 8)
Okay — here goes – Let’s give it a try with the first one.
In each one of the above examples, there was an action or activity which may not only be applied directly but can be broken down to apply in a far broader and useful way.
You can apply Solomon’s action of requesting wisdom to your audience directly.
— “We all need wisdom above anything else
— above a long life – for a long life but a foolish life is not a blessing
— above wealth – for money and things used unwisely will be a snare, not a blessing
— above success – for success without wisdom will produce pride, arrogance, self-promotion
i.e., Or you can break down Solomon’s action, his request, this way.
#1) there were apparent options available
#2) his request by-passed all those options and went for something which was greater, more necessary, more useful
“In your life, there are options which are available to you.
In Solomon’s case — in his life — it was what most kings would seek — success, wealth, or a long reign. In your case – in your life – it may be ___ or ___ or ___ or ____ which are before you.
However, like Solomon – none of those so typical options and desires of life and living is what you need to pursue or choose — You need to think outside of the box and throw that list away because what you really need in your life is far greater or more necessary, or more useful. You just need to understand the situation you are really in, in life, and you will ask for something far different.
You see — Solomon asked for wisdom because he understood his circumstances, his situation. He knew that his situation was not at all what some would think it was — it was a situation of responsibility — leading God’s people — and none of the other options would help him do that!
— Ted Martens