I’m teaching this week on the 10th commandment, “You shall not covet…” The secret to not falling into covetousness is learning contentment…being pleased and satisfied with what God has already provided. Some of my resourcing came from the following article by my former pastor, Bob Yandian. Hope you enjoy. It’s a powerful teaching.
So many Christians believe the new birth is the goal for all people in the world. Yet, being born again is only the beginning, not the end of God’s plan for our life on earth. Even the Great Commission is divided into two parts. Mark 16 gives the side of the preaching of the gospel which redeems a person who believes in Jesus. Matthew 28 gives the second part of the mission given to the Church – discipling and teaching the word of God to those who have just believed. Jesus, in John 8:31-32, told the Jews who believed on Him while He was preaching, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” It is not even the truth that makes us free, but knowing the truth. The goal of the Christian life is to first receive Jesus, then begin maturing in the word. The new birth is instant, but growing up lasts a lifetime. We never fully reach the goal of maturity.
Renewing the Mind
Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times and strength of salvation (Isaiah 33:6).
The new birth recreates our spirit and makes us a child of God. But the word of God, taught to us as a believer, renews our mind, making us a mature child of God. What the world needs more of is not necessarily more Christians, but more disciples. Those who continue in the word of God. Christians do not bring stability to the world, but those who know and act on God’s promises bring stability. Stability is not spiritually genetic, but learned. In other words, who you are does not make you stable, but the knowledge you possess and the wisdom you walk in does.How you think makes you stable.
I Have Learned, I Know, I Know, I Am Instructed
Not that I speak in regard to need: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to have plenty and to be in need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
How often have we quoted verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” but fail to read the two verses before? There is four times more learning and knowing than doing.
Paul first declares that in whatever condition he finds himself in, he has learned to be content. Contentment is not a feeling. Contentment is learned. When you apply what you have learned to the situation, you may have a feeling of contentment come over you, but feelings are a result, not the goal.
Then, Paul declares twice that he knows how to be at the bottom of circumstances and he knows how to be on top. He has been broke and rich. He has been hungry and full. Yet, he is not moved by his situation, financial condition or lack of food, only by what he knows from God’s word. In other words, what does it matter what the situation is? “My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). God’s promises do not change despite the circumstances. Yet, the circumstances will change when the Word of God is applied.
Next, Paul tells us that in the hunger or financial need, he is instructed on how to handle the situation. Again, the circumstances should not change what you know. But, what you know will change the circumstances.
It is often difficult to shut your eyes and stop your ears to what is going on around you. Bills in the mail and phone calls demanding payments can be overwhelming to the senses. Running away to some island will not solve the situation either. You just take your problems with you. Wherever you go, there you are. But, what you know from God’s word can make wherever you are an island of tranquility. Having your bills paid, a clean doctor’s report or your wife asking you to take her back is not the present answer. Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times right now. A change in circumstances will come in due season. You can be at peace when all hell is breaking loose around you.
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:19)
Is your life in danger? Have the doctor’s given you a short time to life? Have you been wrongly blamed, and your reputation, job or security is threatened? What does the word say? What you know is more important than what you are going through. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).
Deliverance comes from what you know.
Are You Doubting You Are Even Saved?
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
Assurance you are saved is not a feeling. Assurance comes from what you have learned and what you know. Or as John says, from what is written. Because you do not feel saved, does not mean God has moved out of your heart and left you a sinner. You are still the temple of the Lord and you still possess eternal life. How do you know that? Because the word of God says so. What you feel will not change the word of God. But the word of God will change how you feel. Feelings come, and feelings go, but the word of God never changes. You are saved, whether you feel like it or not.
How Is This Situation Going To Change?
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
All things do not work together for good for all believers. Only for those who know they do. Many Christians are bitter because they think God is a respecter of persons. He has met the needs of others and their situations have turned around. But their needs are not met, and their circumstances have not changed. God is not a respecter of persons, but a respecter of His word. Ignorance of scripture or lack of application of the word is an open door for Satan. Obedience to God’s word shuts the door in Satan’s face and opens another door for God to move and alter the situation. You do not know how God will change the situation, but you just know He will. It is up to me to trust Him and up to Him to handle the situation.
Fear of Death?
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:38,39)
One of the things Jesus came to save us from was fear of death (Hebrews 2:15). Being free from the fear of death is not a feeling. It comes from being persuaded. It is learned. The same scriptures you have depended on for years to assure you of your salvation and deliver you from fear and circumstances, is the same word you can depend on when you die. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8) “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) “I know my Redeemer lives.” (Job 19:25)