The Fatal Distraction-Section 3
God’s Word is Important, But…
In Section 2 we looked at “Knowledge without Action is like Fireworks with No One to Watch” and how learning God’s Word without without taking action is like putting a bright lamp under a bushel basket. Today we’ll look at “The Fatal Distraction-Section 3” and try to uncover how we, as believers, become distracted with things that are not an integral part of the ‘Great Commission”.
God tells un in Hebrews 4 that His Word is “sharper than any two edged sword” and that it “is able to judge the intentions of the heart.” While the intentions of our heart are key in performing God’s will, we cannot write off the commands that He has given us as His people in the “Great Commission”. We may not have the gift of evangelism but we are all clearly called to evangelize. We may not have the gift of preaching but we are all called to share the gospel with everyone around us. We may not be gifted by the Spirit as a prophet but we are called to be the “salt of the earth” and speak into a world of darkness the light of His Word.
If churchy activities distract us from doing the things just mentioned it is time to evaluate what is truly in our hearts. Are we pursuing righteousness through deeds of “good works” or are we pursuing the “Great Commission” as commanded by Jesus. Is our inclination to speak the truth of God’s Word or shrink back from the world of darkness? Are we bold in sharing the gospel or have we been caught up in “Fatal Distractions”?
The Fatal Distraction
So just what is the distraction? For whom will it be fatal? How does that relate to us in our walk with Christ? What can we do to avoid being caught up in the fatal distraction? Most of the time we think of fatal distraction as something we do that causes our focus to be such that we become unaware something life-threatening is looming. For the automobile driver it may be something that takes their eyes off the road placing them in danger of collision. For the ﬁghter pilot it is target ﬁxation causing them to be unaware that they are being pursued from behind. For birds at a birdfeeder it is becoming so focused on the food that the swooping hawk goes unnoticed. But for the Christian the fatal distraction is becoming so focused on churchy things, even the study of God’s Word, that those around them who do not know God are allowed to perish in their sin having never been confronted with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For the conservative evangelical the distraction can be, and many times is, expository preaching and teaching that focuses on knowledge rather than action. Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” But what does that mean? Fear here is from the Hebrew word yirah whose root is yare or fear. Yirah in this passage is indicative of awesome fear or reverence as opposed to stark terror. The Hebrew word used for knowledge is daath from the word yada or knowledge. So the writer is telling us that true knowledge is only achieved under the perception of God’s awesome power. That being the case, we can only gain true knowledge through reverence of God and seeking His will rather than reverence for the knowledge itself. The intent, when studying God’s Word, must always be to allow God to change our heart resulting in life-changing action rather the head-puffing knowledge. This exempliﬁes the scripture in Deut11:18 “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as ﬁontals on your forehead” God does not want a people whose heads are filled with knowledge but on whose hearts His laws are written.
This is a key differentiator when it comes to the study of God’s Word. Expository preaching and teaching without accountability under the power of the Holy Spirit is nothing more than a book study with a goal of knowing facts about the book. In Hebrews 4:12-13 it tells us “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Old testament kings and prophets were grieved to tears when they read God’s Word. They tore their cloths, they sat in sackcloth and ashes, they wept over how God’s Word spoke to them and how short they had fallen because of their own self-righteousness and the sin of their nation as a whole. This is exactly how God’s Word should effect every believer when read and studied. In every case the Word of God should cut right through to the heart and the believer should never again be the same.
Learn by Rote, Doomed to Choke
While kings and prophets were profoundly changed by God’s Word, over time the study of God’s Word became rote and a sect of lawyers called Pharisees emerged. These lawyers were more concerned with how others respected their personal knowledge than whether or not others were drawn to God by His Word, thus changing their hearts as was commanded by God in Deuteronomy 11. These Pharisees developed a strict set of ultra-conservative institutional rules and regulations that had to be carefully followed to be considered righteous. Jesus confronted the Pharisees in Matthew 23 with scathing truths. He did not attack the knowledge of the Pharisees but went after what was in their heart. In Matthew 23:2-3 Jesus tells the people; “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses,” therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them ” In verse 7 of Matthew 23 Jesus chided the Pharisees; “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off‘ the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. ” Jesus goes on in verse 23 to say; “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and curnmin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law, justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” Jesus painted a clear picture of a group who had grown to worship knowledge and the traditions of man rather than God. These religious leaders had clear identity with Abraham as their father (John 8:53) and their rules and regulations were rooted in the old testament law. The Pharisees knew the law word-for-word and yet Jesus declared that “their heart was far from God ” (Mark 7:6). Can this be true and applicable today? The answer is yes!
The carnal nature of man wants to be justiﬁed and over time one’s heart can become callous to God’s Holy Spirit. Everyone wants comfort, the “Easy Button”, so consequently, we ﬁnd ourselves beginning to gravitate toward actions and activities based on human perception rather than the power of God’s Word, under the inﬂuence of His Holy Spirit. It is easier to follow rules and regulations which we can see than to follow the Spirit of God Whom we cannot see. The conservative evangelical movement needs to stop and take note of this human tendency and do an about-face. Teaching without accountability is like a car with no wheels. It may look great, it may sound great, it may have the most comfortable seats, the most leg room, the best storage and the most powerful engine, but, as they would say in south Louisiana where I am from; “Dat ain’t goin’ nowhere!”
That being the case, over time, the power of God’s Word can be overshadowed by the traditions of man and the religious perception of righteousness that is based on following rules and regulations rather than God’s Word taken to heart in the power of His Holy Spirit. Here are some questions that may provoke some thought and I hope some degree of controversy:
- Does the Bible command Sunday worship?
- Does the Bible command Sunday morning Bible study?
- Is an institutional facility a command of God?
- Does the Bible command that we invite people to church to hear the gospel?
- Does the Bible command that pastors be seminary graduates?
- Does the Bible tell us that corporate worship is for the unsaved?
- Are youth groups, children’s ministries and other “ministries” commanded by God’s Word?
If one digs into these questions they will discover the degree to which all of us are dramatically affected by the traditions of man versus the Word of God. I would challenge that there are NO Biblical precedents for any of the above mentioned points. But people cling to these churchy conundrums as though their life depends on them and many church goers look at these kinds of programs as “must haves” to consider attending an institutional church organization. A sort of churchy check-list by which church organizations are measured. Sunday morning worship – “check”, nice facilities – “check”, Bible study – “check”, Youth Group – “check” and the list goes on and on – “check”…. But the “Great Commission” given by Jesus Himself was a very personal command and had nothing to do with institutional conundrums with which men become completely enamored. Because the focus shifts to churchy activities that become associated with spirituality and righteousness, believers become consumed with things that are works based rather than things commanded by Jesus Himself.
What Jesus commanded was that believers share the gospel, baptize and teach from one end of the earth to the other. The fact that believers become consumed with churchy activities causes a loss of focus on the command to spread the gospel and the result is a world full of people that are simply left to perish in their sin! Ultimately, the “Fatal Distraction” is anything that causes the believer to lose focus on the “Great Commission”!
In the next section we’ll talk about “The Fatality”. Who really pays the price for our churchy pursuits of righteousness at the expense of the “Great Commission”?
Hebrews 4:12-13 “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
Heavenly Father, I come before You knowing that there is nothing in my heart hidden from You. I pray that Your Word would separate from me the things that are not pleasing to You and I pray that my heart will be filled with compassion for those who are perishing. Give me boldness to face the possibility of rejection and persecution in order to share the good news of the gospel of Your blessed Son Jesus. I trust Your Holy Spirit to give the the words that will bring life to all of those whom you call as a result.
In Jesus precious and Holy Name –
You must log in to post a comment.