August 2, 2020
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church August 2, 2020
Church Service Notes
Scripture: Exodus 20:17
We are looking at the 10th commandment this morning: do not covet. While the other commandments considered actions, this commandment is one of the heart. We have to recognize that our heart condition matters. In society and culture today, perhaps this command, to not covet, is broken more often than others. Coveting is common to us. We covet people’s possessions. We have heard the phrase, “keeping up with the Joneses”. We see something someone else has, and we desire it. Coveting can lead us to commit other sins. When we covet someone else’s possessions, it may lead to stealing that possession.
We can covet also relationships. We could covet someone else’s spouse and find ourselves in an affair. We can covet closer relationships with people we become infatuated with. This could lead to lying about other people who enjoy close relationships with that person. If we don’t obtain the closeness in the relationship it can cause it us to turn against that person and slander them.
The Bible gives us examples of how covetousness leads to destruction. Genesis begins with God creating a perfect world for Adam and Eve to live in. In Genesis 3, covetousness comes along and causes a real problem. God instructed Adam and Eve to maintain the garden and to not eat from tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent comes and twists God’s instructions to tempt Eve with a promise of equality with God. Everything was perfect but the serpent seems to say there is a better thing than perfect. Eve believes the lies the serpent told her and covets equality with God. She and Adam act on the covetousness and eat from the tree. This disobedience, driven by covetousness, results in the falloff humanity. Now there is death, toils, and pain because of sin. Now we live in this decaying world and there is evilness in it. A few chapters later, in Genesis covetousness leads to the first murder. Cain covets the respect God gives to Abel when Abel gives a worthy offering in comparison to Cain’s unworthy gift. Cain murders Abel in jealousy. King David provides one of the most well-known examples of coveting when he covets Bathsheba. His covetousness results in an affair, murder of a husband, and generational conflict.
In Luke 12, we have the account of a man coveting his brother’s inheritance and asking Jesus to make things fair. Maybe it was not fair what this man got, but Jesus tells him that He is not there to make it fair. Jesus never tells us He is going to make things fair. It was not fair that He would be put on a cross when He did not wrong. Fairness was not at the top of the agenda for Jesus, but He does say sin is a problem. That was one of His top priorities. He says there is more to life that what you possess. God gives us many things. We are supposed to be good stewards of it. There will be some with more than you have and some with less. Jesus tells us we are not supposed to covet. Jesus puts the priority not on fairness or material possessions but on the kingdom of God. The things of God are what we are to pursue.
As we live, we need to focus not on the things we do not have but on the gifts from God and on pursuing closeness with God. Contentment in the Lord is something we must learn and apply in our life. 1 Timothy 6:6-12 gives us guidance on contentment and on how to busy our life with God’s work. We are to shun lusts and coveting and greed. In place of pursuing these evil workings we should fight the good fight. We need to live for righteousness, love, worship, and to share the hope of the Gospel to others. Let’s put God first in our lives and in our hearts and live with contentment in the Lord.
Scripture: Job 1 & 2
Everyone experiences their own unique trials. God brings and allows trials to happen in our lives for a variety of reasons, as we will see in the book of Job. It is part of living in a fallen world that is groaning and longing for the new creation of heaven and earth. Tonight we are going to continue in Job 1 and 2 and look at the conversation that happens between God and Satan that initiates Job’s suffering. We looked at Job last week to get an example of the foundation we need in our own life to withstand sufferings. Tonight we will look at who Satan is, what he does, and what his purpose is. Understanding these things will help put our suffering in perspective so that we are not overwhelmed and lose hope.
We know from other passages in Scripture that Satan was once an angelic being who was very high in the angelic order. Satan developed sin within his soul and decides he could be equal to and even overthrow God. Satan challenges God’s authority by attempting to take God’s throne. God rejects Satan’s sinful rebellion and throws Satan out of heaven. Satan has since roamed the earth opposing the will of God.
Evidently, God permits Satan to return to His presence at the time of Job. We read that Satan enters God’s presence with angels. I am assuming Satan was deceptive among the angels to get into their presence, but he was not deceiving God. God talks to Satan about Job. Satan wants to bring about destruction to Job in order to do harm to the Lord’s name. Satan is all about overthrowing God’s glory, overtaking His throne, and stopping His plan. Satan suggests to God that Job only worships God because God has blessed Job with such good things. Satan is hoping to accomplish the spiritual downfall of Job and to make Job sin against God. He is also trying to suggest that God does not know His own people and that God is not worthy to be worshiped apart from His blessings on people.
We see in Job 1 that Job loses everything, but he never loses faith in God. He remains faithful to the Lord. Satan is shown to be in the wrong and not all-knowing. As the story continues in chapter 2, Satan returns before the Lord. God points out to Satan that Job remained faithful to Him even though everything was taken away from him. Satan then suggests to God that if Job’s life and physical well-being were threatened, Job would curse God. Satan failed in the first attempt to break Job’s faithfulness to God and thereby take away glory from God. He wants to make things worse for Job. After the second conversation, Satan is permitted by God to strike Job with terrible pain and suffering and disease. Job again does not lose faith and continues to be faithful to the Lord.
One of the first things we can learn about Satan from Job is that Satan is a real being with real motives and purpose. This is important in regards to where suffering comes from. Some theories of the universe and the origin of sufferings suggest the universe is space for two opposing forces to exist. There is a good force and an evil force that are in balance but always in work against each other. Some theories believe one force will win out and we are pawns in this battle of good versus evil. Some theories suggest there will never be a winner but the two will remain in balance.
Let’s consider the theory that these forces are the basis for our suffering. If there is simply an impersonal force with no love or hate for us, no evil or good thought toward us, then what does that mean for our suffering? That is a depressing thought to consider that all suffering has no purpose. If it is just the back and forth between two forces at battle, suffering has no point. If you subscribe to this theory of evil and good forces that are in balance with each other, you may think you are going through something bad and something good will come along to balance it out. What happens if that good thing does not come? That would lead us to despair. This impersonal force theory is a hopeless situation.
I would propose that Satan, as a being with intellect, reasons, desires, goals, objectives, and emotions means something to us in the face of suffering. We know Satan is an adversary to God and us. The Bible tells us he has the goal to destroy and deceive. He wants only what is best for him and to be lord of all creation. The fact that there is a being responsible for the sufferings and evils tells us we have a known enemy, and we also have a known entity on our side. That is the Lord. They are enemies. The Lord loves us and has a good plan for our lives. He wants a relationship with us. There is God who is good, and there is Satan who is opposed to God and wants to cause harm to the people who follow God. That is why Satan brings about these attacks like he did with Job. He wants to challenge God and thwart His plans. Previously Satan tried to defeat Jesus. Failing in that mission, Satan now wants to destroy lives by preventing people from ever hearing the Gospel, by causing people to doubt God’s saving love, and by bringing pain to people. The fact that we know there is an individual who can be defeated that is responsible for sufferings, as opposed to some impersonal force that cannot be opposed, means we have hope and we know what we must resist. There is an embodiment to evil and that is Satan. There is comfort to me to know the source of evil is in this individual. Of course, not every suffering we experience is at the hand of the devil. We cause suffering through our own sins and their consequences. There are times when the Lord brings suffering that to discipline us and mold us to be more like Christ. However, the whole basis for suffering entering the world has to do with the fact that Satan embodies evil, opposes God, and works against His plan. We know the Lord has already defeated Satan, and we know according to Scripture what will happen to Satan one day. As Christians, as we enter into suffering, we can hold onto that assurance that God has overcome evil, defeated Satan, and has won the eternal victory.
The Book of Job’s record of God and Satan’s conversation also reveals Satan is under God’s authority. That provides great hope to us. In Job 2:1, Satan seeks out the Lord. There is a clear authority. God is the authority, and Satan is presenting himself to the boss. Satan has to ask permission to do anything. He wants to bring harm to Job, but he has to ask the Lord to do it. He has to ask a second time to bring about more harm to Job. There is a mindset that Satan is the god of hell and is responsible for punishing people in hell. This is incorrect. We see in these verses that Satan is not in hell. He is roaming the earth looking for lives to destroy but, he is not a god-like being equal in his opposition to God. He is an inferior, limited, entity created by God who is rebelling against God. The day will come when God will cast him into the lake of fire and he will not be in charge there. He will be punished there and in agony. Now Satan does have a lot of power. He can bring about destruction and is deceitful, but he is not omnipresent and omniscient like God. We need to understand that Satan is defeated and that God is sovereign over suffering. This means when we experience suffering because of an attack from Satan, God is in control. If Satan was left with free reign, he would torture, maim, harm, and destroy all; but Satan does not have free reign. He is under God’s authority, and there is a limit to what he can do. We have to understand that Satan will not have his way with us. He can only go as far as God allows.
We may be experiencing extreme suffering, but I do not know anyone who has gone through what Job lost – experiencing the loss of his loved ones, his possessions, his employees, his health, and having friends turn on him. We can know that Job made it through, and we can make it through too. For the Christian, we have eternal hope. We will be a part of God’s family and share in that inheritance. Because Satan is under God’s authority, we know God will deliver us either in this life or in death to eternity. Satan has no power over our eternity.
I want to remind you there is purpose in our suffering. It may be Satan attacking us, God making us more like Him, or the discipline for our sin. God has control over all of it. Take solace in knowing that God is on His throne. If you are in the midst of suffering, God sees you as strong enough to go through your trial. The key is to seek God and rely on His strength, not your own strength. When God allowed Job’s suffering, Job was unaware of the conversation between Satan and God. Yet, he is part of this experience that provides an example for people for thousands of years. Let us be strong like Job and demonstrate to others that we can experience suffering and maintain faith. We have to be people who are content with the Lord in all circumstances – whether in plenty or with nothing, rich or poor, in health or in suffering. Do not under-estimate Satan but do not over-estimate him either. We are a part of God’s Kingdom, accomplishing God’s plan, which is good.
God bless, Pastor Charlie