Mastery of the Details of Life, No. 2
We come this morning to the subject of
the facet of the mastery of the details of life. This is
the second in this series. Now we have
been learning about what the objective is of the Christian way of life. We have indicated that this objective is a
spiritual maturity structure in the soul.
This spiritual maturity structure consists of divine
viewpoint to the believer which makes him a lighthouse in Satan’s world.
This spiritual maturity structure has
several facets to it. We’re dealing with it in terms
of five specific facets. You may discover
other areas but these five pretty well cover what the Word of God
presents as constituting a mature Christian. It is
in effect a pentagon-shaped building.
The pentagon becomes the headquarters of the
Christian’s defense for it is this structure that enables the believer to meet the attacks of
Satan upon him in this age of grace.
Each of the facets in fact expresses a
certain mental attitude which we draw from the Word of God.
The foundation of this building is doctrine in our
human spirits which
we have received because of our positive volition toward the Word that
taught. The spiritual maturity structure
is actually the reflected glory of God and it is, as we say, the shield
1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “For we
are bought with a price;
therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are
God’s.” The way we glorify Him
is through (the)
erecting of this pentagon of defense within our souls.
Now the facet that we’re looking
at, the mastery of the
details of life, means the control (you will remember) over the things
of lesser important in life, so that you’re not dominated by
things that are
secondary in your life, in terms of both this life and of eternity. It’s a matter of always giving doctrine
central place, making it the centrality of your life—giving
priority. That … has expression in
variety of ways.
It means in part to be in church where
you can hear the Word
of God. A person who is erratic in
church attendance and is sometimes here Sunday mornings, sometimes here
nights, and most of the time not: one of
the things you may see about yourself from that is that you have a
relative to this area of spiritual maturity in your life.
If the Word is available, you have the option
of being here and you refuse, then you are rejecting the opportunity of
on the materials that you need for developing a spiritual maturity. You have not made doctrine top priority in
your life. You made the TV program that
night, or you made the fact that you were tired, or you made the fact
just got home from someplace, or any number of other things top
We may illustrate what we have said
thus far with these two
circles. Here’s a scale of values. In one circle the details of life form the
center of your life. So you have the
detail of family that preoccupies you; of money; of success; of
pleasure; of your health; of your variety of material things; your
and your friends; and, your status symbols.
And doctrine is out here on the periphery of the
orbit your life. Doctrine is forever
coming up against
conflict with the details which dominate your life, and the result is
misery as the pattern of your life.
But, if instead you follow the pattern
of the Word of God,
and doctrine here is at the center of your life, then your life has a
different result. The details are out
here on the fringe of your life. They’re
in the outer orbit. You will remember
that last week we tried very carefully to make it clear that we were
that the details were not important.
Obviously you do have to eat, and you do have to
have shelter, and you
do have to have a car to get around, and you do have to have vacations,
do have to take care of your family, and you do have to be in good
you probably ought to be smart enough to take vitamins and do a few
keep that good health, and exercise. And
those of you who don’t, we can see it on your right here: decrepit; weak; fallen; some of you are
propped up here this morning just to be able to make it.
The details are important but you keep them
in their place. Priority is doctrine.
So what is your life then?
Well you have the spiritual maturity structure. That’s a big thing in your life. You have divine viewpoint.
That’s what’s guiding your thinking. You have occupation consequently with Jesus
Christ, not with people. You have a
grace system of perception that’s functioning in your life and
you’re taking in
the Word. You have prevailing
prayer. Your prayers are being
answered. You’re functioning in
prayer. You are a witnessing agent of
the Lord. Every place you go there’s
ambassador of Jesus Christ who’s up on his homework and who knows
what to say
and is saying it at the right time and in the right place.
Every place you go you sweep through with the
impact of a person who knows God, the God who is really out there, and
how to tell people how to get in touch with Him. And
the result is that the details then cause
contentment in your life rather than misery.
Now that’s the option that you
have, one or the other, and
this morning you sit in one or the other.
To the degree that you are in this condition, in
this lower circle, you
have entered and developed the facet of a mastery of the details in
life. You have developed this facet of
the pentagon structure.
Now no one wants to be a slave to
these major areas of our
lives. The sin in reference to these
details, we said, was not that you possess these things, but your
attitude toward them—the fact that they are given priority in
thinking. No one wants to be a slave but
freedom begins with an attitude of mind, and then it has outward
Satan gained control of the world in
the first place because
he enslaved humanity by conquering the woman’s mind.
He gave the subtle suggestion to Eve that God
is not fair; that God didn’t want man to be as wise as God was. So Eve at the moment failed to apply
doctrine, and she entered into the mental attitude sin of pride. She wanted to be like god so she lusted for
that specific detail above everything else about her.
She got to lusting for that specific detail and
it became the central factor at that moment in her life.
Negative response to the Word of God that you
were taught will create the same low pressure condition in your soul,
will draw in human viewpoint and satanic viewpoint.
This morning we look at some
illustrations, following now on
what we said last Sunday. We’re
at some illustrations of enslavement—the pattern of enslavement,
first of all,
by the details of life. It starts, as we
have said, when a Christian goes negative toward doctrine.
He rejects what he has learned from a
pastor-teacher for one reason or another.
Or maybe he’s in such a carnal state with
unconfessed sin that he’s
sitting there not learning at all, or he’s home and not even
being around where
he can hear the Word. But the results
are a deficiency in his soul which lead to frustration so that nothing
Then he turns to what the psychiatrist
sublimation. Another word for
sublimation is substitution. And he
proceeds, because of his frustration.
Because of his rejection of doctrine, he proceeds to
through a frantic search for fulfillment and happiness in these details
life. And you and I have all experienced
times in our lives when we’ve been negative toward something,
toward God, or
ignorant of something about God. And
we’re running around like crazy, preoccupied with these details
of life, and
they consume us. Doctrine is not the
motivating factor of what we do, but these details become the
factor, and we never get satisfied. We
never come to contentment. We’re
constantly reaching out.
The result is we build spiritual
callouses on our soul
(Ephesians 4:17-18). The lust patterns
of our old sin nature take over. Pretty
soon we are dominated by these desire.
Psalm 81:12 says, “So I gave them up to their
own heart’s desire and
they walked in their own counsels.” Now
this is a grievous thing when God says, and He is a gentleman, and if
insist on pushing, He’ll let you have your way.
He will give you the permission to pursue your will
will), and he will let you go into your own heart’s desire and
walk into your
own counsel. There are a lot of
Christians that think they’re pretty smart and that their counsel
good to follow.
James 1: 14 tells us that every man is
tempted when he’s
drawn away of his own lusts and enticements.
Verse 15 says, “Then when lust hast conceived
(the old sin nature has
been permitted to express its lusts), it brings forth sin (outwardly),
when it is finished bringeth forth death,” which in the case of a
experiences immediately the break of fellowship, the separation from
in fellowship. And he experiences that
kind of death immediately, until confession is made.
Where does it come from? From
the lusts of the old sin nature.
Now that thing is going to take over. It’s going to pursue with a frenzy
details of life until you come to the point where you control it
maturity that enables you to find contentment.
You now become guilty of mental attitude sins, and
the result is misery
on the inside and details dominating us on the outside.
So a Christian thus becomes enslaved.
Nobody wants to be a slave, and yet there are
Christians and Christians who are totally enslaved.
Titus 3:3 says, “For we ourselves once also
were foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and
pleasures.” And the
“lusts,” by the way, is the Greek
word “epikomion” which means an intense desire.
It could be for something that’s good.
It could be a desire for what’s bad.
In the case of the old sin nature, it’s an
intense desire for what’s
Living in malice and envy, hateful,
and hating one
another. 2 Peter 2:19-20 say, “While
they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of
corruption. For of whom a man is overcome,
of the same is
he brought in bondage, for if after they have escaped the pollutions of
world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they
entangled in it, and overcome. The
latter end is worse with them than the beginning.”
It is a great tragedy when a Christian
who has come to a knowledge
of what it is to have true freedom permits himself to be enslaved all
again by these details of life.
Now here’s the nature of the
lust patterns so we can get
some idea and understanding of what it is we’re talking about,
what it is we
should be on guard on, what it is we want to develop a strength in
to. Every old sin nature has a tendency
toward some kind of lust.
Lust for Praise
Your old sin nature, for example, may
have the tendency
toward the lust of praise. Jude 16 says,
“These are murmurers (walking complainers, walking after their
own lusts) and
with their mouths speaking great swelling words, having men’s
admiration because of advantage.”
Do you find that there is something
within you that really
likes to be complimented? Do you get a
big kick out of people saying complimentary commendable things to you? The quality of your old sin nature may lust
for praise. It may be a big thing with
Lust for Sex
In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 your old sin
nature may have a lust
for sex. “For this is the will of
even your sanctification (you’re setting apart) that you should
abstain for an
occasion, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel
sanctification and honor, not in the lust of sensuality even as the
who know not God. It is perfectly
possible for a Christian to be absorbed with the lust of sensuality. It’s a detail of life.
Lust for Covetousness
You may be preoccupied with the lust
of covetousness. James 4:1-3 says,
“From whence come wars and
fighting among you? Can they not hear
even of your lusts that war in your members?
Ye lust and ye have not. Ye
and the desire to have and cannot obtain.
Ye fight in war, and yet ye have not because ye ask
not. Ye ask and receive not because ye ask
that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
And unless you understand how to be related to God
by the Word of God,
you’ll foul up your whole prayer life, because you’ll be
asking in the wrong
way. What you’ll be asking for is
what God the Holy Spirit is impelling you to ask. Your
old sin nature is impelling you.
Now we’re going to get more
deeply into this business of
Satan and his demon world. I think
you’re going to find some very very fascinating areas of how
Satan comes in and
manipulates your thought life in such a way that you wouldn’t
believe it. And that you are operating and
things that come right out of hell itself.
And you think very often that you are right on top
there with the best
kind of thinking and godly motivations.
And you are just sure that you know that something
is wrong, that
something is off-beat, and you’re just as wrong as you can be.
It is fantastic how Satan can take a
very sincere Christian
and make him an opponent of the very thing that God wants to do. He always does it by misrepresenting the
facts. He twists the picture, and unless
you’re a real real real smart Christian and you ask a few
questions and you
confirm a few things, you’re going to put yourself in a big
pickle. This is how Satan twists
them information that’s twisted and they’re not bright
enough to say, “Just a
minute. I have to confirm this bit of
that has come to me and see whether it is true or whether I’m
flying off the
end of my brain cells again, and what I’ve been told is not true
at all.” This is how Satan works.
Covetousness is a prime tool of the
devil because we all
want things. And how—we want
things. And we want what everybody else
has and we want all the things we envision we should have.
Maybe covetousness is a big thing with your
old sin nature.
Lust for Money
Maybe your lust is for money. 1 Timothy 6:9 says, “But they that will
rich fall into temptation and a snare.”
I’m glad I didn’t say that.
be mad as a wet hen if I got up and told you this.
I’m really glad God said it.
You can get as mad as you want at Him for it. But God is right and I agree with Him. I suggest that you join us in your attitude
toward this lust factor of our old sin nature.
“But they that will be rich fall into
temptation and a snare and into
many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and
2 Peter 2:16 says, “But was
rebuked for his iniquity, the
dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the
prophet.” The context here is
telling about Balaam who
was a religious leader, and his willingness to sell out his services
as a religious leader. So the donkey
that he rode had better sense than he did.
The real fool was not the animal but the one who
Lust for Power
Maybe you have a lust for power. That may be the factor of your old sin
nature. James 4:5 says, “Do you
the Scriptures saith in vain, ‘the spirit that dwelleth in us
lusteth to envy?’” That
“envy” is of authority over others.
Lust for Status
Perhaps you have a lust for status. Mark 12:38, “And He said unto them (in
doctrine), ‘Beware of the scribes who love to go in long clothing
salutations in the marketplaces and the chief seats in the synagogues
uppermost places at the feast.” Do
like to be in a status position?
Alright now the enslavement to the
lust factor in your old
sin nature is a gradual thing. This does
not happen overnight. It goes something
like this: You know that you’re
around with something that is hazardous.
You know something about yourself and you know
you’re indulging a little
bit and you’re playing a little loose with a factor that is
strong in your own
character. Consequently you play around
because you intend to drop it before you get hooked.
Now right away you have fallen because
of the spirit of
pride. You are so proud of your
spiritual strength. It really gives me
the creeps sometimes when I hear Christians talking on how they have
in spiritual strength. I only hope that
they understand, that they have that in a balance, that God has indeed
them progress in spiritual strength, but they are totally exposed to
defeat just the same. They have the
techniques and the opportunities to be conquerors but they have just as
opportunity to fall. You think you can
play around before you get hooked, but the lust pattern that you slowly
and toy with begins to demand more and more response from you. The details of life that you have to use to
satisfy this lust pattern become increasingly greater until suddenly
realize that you’re enslaved to the details of life and
you’re no longer
free. You started indulging one of these
qualities in your old sin nature.
Now we have some very frightful
examples in the Old
Testament. You have the example of
Samson in Judges 14 through 16. Samson
was a man who was very deeply enslaved by these details of life. His values and the standards in his
conscience which he did have when God picked him were all
his lust patterns that he indulged. He
played loose with the spider Delilah and she trapped him into a slavery
physically for the rest of his life. He
was never a free man again.
Are you a spiritually strong Christian? Well you’re the one who is primarily in
danger of spiritual enslavement to your own lust patterns.
Never forget 1 Corinthians 10:12 because God
the Holy Spirit was sympathetic to our problem and to our hazard in
respect of our confidence. So He gave us
this doctrinal warning. “Wherefore
him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall.” It is the strong Samson-like Christian who is
frequently the one who falls. You have
the hazard of being proud of your stability.
Samson was so strong that he was proud of his
stability. It didn’t seem possible
that he could
You have the example of Ananias and
Sapphira. Ananias and Sapphira went and
sold a piece of
property in the New Testament church and gave the money, and told them
they had given them all the that they had received for that particular
real estate , and they were lying to God the Holy Spirit.
First the husband died and then the wife came
along and she made the same lie to the spirit of God and she died. And it was a very awesome and impressive
event in the church, of people who were caught up in the lust of the
Now these people were caught up in the
lust for praise and
for money. They saw Barnabas. Acts 5:1-10 gives you the story.
It says they saw that Barnabas apparently had
given a gift. Acts 4:37 tells about the
gift Barnabas gave to the church.
Apparently they saw Barnabas give this gift for the
Lord’s work. So they wanted praise
like Barnabas, or they
were jealous of what Barnabas did, or they just wanted a place in the
the local assembly. So they sold this
property but because of the lust for the details of life to which they
enslaved, they just couldn’t part with so much.
You know the story of the woman who
met the stranger who
came in. She was baking cakes at her
fireplace. He was hungry and she made
him a cake. Then she looked at it and
said, “Oh that’s too big.” So
him another one a little smaller and started to give him that one again
too big.” And she got down to where
there was practically nothing and even that was too big.
Well that was Ananias and Sapphira. They just could not give up all of this money
so they gave a part of it. They kept
part of it and said they gave it all.
After all, who would know the difference? And they looked just as good and just as
impressive as Barnabas. All the
Christians get up and say, “Oh you dear brother and sister. That was such a good thing, such a wonderful
thing that you did.”
And it wasn’t wrong for them to
sell the property and (the
money) was still theirs after they sold it, and they were free to do
with it as
they wished. But their mental attitude
toward this detail, their real estate, caused them to sin.
So it led to such a deceit that God the Holy Spirit
took them directly to heaven because god wanted to prevent this
being destructive to the local church so He removed them.
They would have had a guilt complex anyhow
over the matter, but this is an example of sin unto death.
It was their lack of mastery of the details
of life that led to the sin unto death.
It could do that for you.
What they were doing was really trying
to make a deal with
God. They said to God, “We’ll
money if you’ll give us prominence and praise.
That’s why it is wrong in the local church
when you have people, and
sometimes people who have access to finances, when they rise up and do
something, to get up and make a big public issue over it—to make
and much praise. Many Christian works,
organizations fall into the pattern of people who are in the business
who have money, and they’re Christians.
It’s equated with some kind of insight,
spiritual insight and
discernment, and that doesn’t follow at all.
Most of the people who have the
greatest discernment are
those that don’t have too much money because they’ve been
preoccupied with the
things of God. The people who have the
most money have it simply because they were preoccupied pursuing the
money. If that’s what God has called
them to do, well and good. But it
say anything about necessarily that they have great discernment. Yet Christian organizations are breaking
their fool necks to get Christian businessmen on their board and
somehow they’re supposed to have some kind of a knack and contact
instead of pursuing people who have demonstrated a spiritual maturity
whom they are drawn because of the impact of their spiritual lives as
put on the line. It is wrong to put
people who do good things for the Lord in the uncomfortable position of
a scene over them. It opens the door for
others to want to follow for wrong motivations.
If they are doing this as unto the
Lord, they won’t care
whether you thank them or not. It’s
going to make one bit of difference whether I get up and have words of
and praise. And I’ll deeply
it. There isn’t a thing that any
around here does for the Lord with his money that I don’t have
and great honor for him in my own heart.
But I’m not going to throw a stumbling block
in his way because if he’s
doing it unto the Lord, that’s all the thanks he needs.
I don’t have any say-so about
the distribution of rewards at
the Judgment Seat of Christ. Many times
in my relationships with many of you, I wish I did.
Fortunately for you, I don’t.
So I just have to leave it with the
Lord. But you use your money and you use
your details of life in a way that God will honor, and He will keep
and he will keep on honoring, and you’ll have all the blessing
that you’ll need. Poor Ananias and
Sapphira, they could have had a ball.
They could have given this money and God would have
more than supplied
their needs. He’s already told them
would do that. He would have used them
spiritually. He would have made great
sections of the Word of God go.
I had a Christian man say to me the
other day, “The Lord lay
it on my heart to give $1,200, and all I did with it was one little
speck. I couldn’t even call the
little speck of what
I did with that $1,200 anything more than a seed. But
that’s what God wanted me to do and that’s
what needed to be done. A seed needed to
be planted and it cost me $1,200 to plant it.
I planted it, and boy did it grow.”
Now that’s how God uses you to master the
details of your life, and you
thoroughly enjoy everything that you have, which is what He intended
So don’t try to make deals with
God. Don’t go around and say,
“God, if you’ll just
make this fellow smile at me after church, I’ll come to prayer
meeting.” I wish we could do that. Boy would we increase prayer meeting
attendance. We’d get a lot of
for deals like that. You have all kinds
of things you’d like. Here’s
deal, brethren, that God’s going to make with you, so get your
straight please: Hebrews 13:5 says,
your manner of life be without covetousness, and be content with such
ye have, for He hath said, ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake
thee.’” If you have a mastery
of the details in your
life, then you’ll be glad to accept God’s deal on
God’s basis. He will never leave
thee nor will He forsake
thee. If you have this mastery, then you
have everything. Philippians 4:19 says,
my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by
You have the example of the widow. Jesus was sitting by the temple one day. In Luke 21:1-4, you have the story as He
watched this widow and as He watched religious leaders coming up and
their offering into the box. The
religious leaders were filled with lust for praise and for things. In Luke 20:46-47 we have this warning against
the scribes who desired to walk in long robes and love salutations in
marketplaces and the highest seats in the synagogues and the chief
the feast. Verse 47 says, “…
widows’ houses,” they foreclosed on a poor widow,
“and for show make long
They foreclosed on a widow’s
house, and then they go and
they make long prayers at prayer meeting thanking God for how
them in business. “The same shall
receive greater condemnation.” The
watched these people, these religious leaders who were themselves
these details of life. And the clergy
were dropping in great sums of money.
They were spiritual guys but they lusted for praise. They wanted the approval of people, and they
certainly wanted money.
This is a plague of the professional
ministry today. There are many many
ministers who stand in
the pulpit Sunday by Sunday, and they are cranking out, they are
widows in effect, because they are conning the people of God with
stereotypes. They are projecting certain
images that they
know is what people look for in a minister so he can con them into
for personal advantage and gain. They’re
looking for approval. They’re
for status in their profession. And
looking for that financial security.
You don’t know what’s
going on in the professional ministry
if you think that that isn’t the case.
But if you’ve got a little discernment, you
can sense that
motivation. You can spot it.
You can see that security and happiness for
some men is based on presenting calculated images and on what they can
of the details of life.
Now this widow dropped in what
amounted to less than a
penny. But it was everything she
had. Obviously she was not leaning on
the details of life, but she was trusting in the Word of God and in
doctrine. The religious leaders gave very
comparison. They gave much more than she
did, but they kept so much more too. Their
money was their security so they wanted
plenty of it.
When you and I give, here’s a
doctrinal principal. And I’m glad
that God has said it and I didn’t
because you’d be mad at me for this.
When you and I give, God says, “I don’t
look at your gift. I look at what you left
at home in the
bank. That’s my basis of judging and
evaluating the legitimacy and the propriety of your gift.” That’s why Jesus said that this woman
given more than all these notorious famous religious leaders that we
because of what was kept in comparison to what was given.
Now the principal of God’s truth
that we draw from this is
that the less the details of life mean to you, the more you’re
going to give to
God’s work. There’s no way
that. I don’t know what else the
Scripture means. The more you have
mastery over the details of life, the more you will give to the
Now we Americans are a discontented
lot though we have
everything in life, because we are slaves to the details of life. There is no lasting pleasure in our present
possessions so we always want new ones.
This is a characteristic of the old sin nature. Thus God says to avoid this trap that
Americans are led into, to be content with such things as we have
13:5). This is the thing toward which
striving. God will give and God will
take. As we saw last week, that
magnificent man Job said, “The Lord has given.
The Lord has taken away. Blessed
be the name of the Lord.” And he
closed the mouth of an aggravating wife who was way off base in her
suggesting to him that he should commit suicide.
Hebrews 13:5 says, “Let your
manner of life once more be
without covetousness and be content with such things as ye have, for He
said ‘I will never leave thee or forsake thee.’” And please don’t go home now and say,
he is telling us again that it’s bad to have things in
life,” because I didn’t
say that. I hope that every one of you
ends up being a fantastically wealthy person.
That’ll make things easier for all of us
around here if you are. I just don’t
want you to be a slave to your
fantastic wealth. I want you to enjoy
it. That’s what God says. When you are on the right beam of spiritual
maturity, not only you enjoy it, but everybody else enjoys it with you. Your prosperity doesn’t become a
and a stumbling block and a strained relationship with other believers.
Our advertising in this country is
motivated by Satan so it
has as its prime thrust to make you discontented and lustful for
details. We are forever being bombarded
parents should have what other parents have and that our kids should
other kids have. I’ll give you a
tip on child rearing. Most of you people
here can give your kids most of anything that they want.
You would follow the course of wisdom to have
regular calculated elements that you deny your children though you are
able to supply them. Just so they learn
that they can do without the details of life and can survive.
Some troubles that have arisen with
young people within this
congregation are because parents never sealed it to their understanding
they could be told, “No,” and that they could be denied
anything, and were
actually denied something. So the kid
learned that, “Sure enough, I can survive without this thing that
I just think
I’m dying to have and I must have.” You
do them a disservice if you do not by calculated effort plan things
keep from your children so the learn to be masters of the details. Instead you’re going to worry yourself
over cultivating the right people, getting into the right social
accumulating your social symbols, and competing for honors. So you go from misery to misery to
Alright, this is the facet of the
pentagon of our security—the
mastery of the details of life. The
problem is how are we to avoid or escape from the mental attitude of
enslavement to the details? We’ve
trained like this all of our lives. How
are you going to enjoy the details but not depend on them for your
and for your personal stability? How can
you live in a great home, drive a great car, enjoy great vacations,
clothes and great possessions, and great entertainment, and yet your
to do with that? Your stability as a
person has nothing to do with that. If
it all stopped tomorrow, it would still be nothing in reference to your
happiness and to your real stability. “The
Lord hath given. The Lord hath taken
away. Blessed be the name of the
Lord.” Now that’s mastery. That’s conquering. That’s
staying on top as God’s man or God’s
Well how are you going to be
completely relaxed and content
without these details? Well Paul has
given us an answer. The apostle Paul was
in prison and he received help from the Philippian church.
It was brought to him from a very dear
Christian brother Epaphroditus. In
Philippians chapter 4 beginning in verse 10, the apostle Paul says,
rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at the last your care of me hath
flourished again.” Here he is in
in Rome. “… of which ye were
mindful but ye lacked opportunity.” They
were always concerned for whether Paul had enough money for functioning
Lord’s work. Many times they
opportunity to be able to convey the money to him, particularly here in
prison. “… Not that I
speak…” Paul says, “Now
I don’t want you to
misunderstand me.” “…
Not that I speak in
respect of want, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, in this
Now you notice that he’s not
saying that he didn’t have
needs or that there were not times when he was really strapped to the
wall. But he says, “When those times
came, I took it in stride in the providence of God in my life. If I could do something about it, I’d go
and I’d work in my employment as a tentmaker and I’d take
pressure off. But when God didn’t
work or when God didn’t let me supply it in some other way, I
didn’t get all
torn up about it. I didn’t foam at
mouth. I just waited.”
Then verse 12 says, “I know both
how to be abased and I know
how to abound. Everywhere and in all
things I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to
abound and to
suffer need. I can do all things through
Christ who strengtheneth me.” He
there were times when he was hungry.
There were times when he suffered need, but he knew
how to take it in
stride. He was master of even the
details of food, clothing, shelter, and basic necessities.
Now I want you to notice some words. Here is what is important.
Verses 11 and 12 give us some secrets as to
how Paul had this mastery. The strategic
words are: learn, know, and
instructed. Now what does this amount
to? These are all explanatory of the
source of Paul’s mental attitude toward the details.
How did he get such a mental attitude of
mastery? Because he learned something
and he knew something and he’d been instructed in something. You don’t get it by hoping.
You don’t get this mastery by psyching
yourself into the idea that you don’t care.
Some Christians try to do this. They say, “Well, I don’t care. I don’t care.”
And they really do care. No,
Paul said it comes from learning. He had
learned. He had taken his mind and he had
doctrine into it. He had gone to
positive volition. It had gone into his
human spirit where God says He stores His contact with us.
And it had come back up here to his
conscience, his frame of reference, his divine viewpoint.
It directed the directive side of his mind
that guided then his actions.
He didn’t sit around and psych
himself into saying, “I don’t
have anything and I’m happy.” He
doctrine and then he came to know. Down
here is where he came to know. This word
for full knowledge. And then he was
instructed. Having learned he came to
know, and now he
could act as an instructed man because the directive side of his mind
giving him right information to the perceptive side of his mind, and
perceptive side of his mind gave direction to his actions then.
Now that’s a great thing to know. Paul knew because he was instructed. Thus the details don’t bring
matter how many or how magnificent, but your right mental attitude
does. But it takes your functioning
under your grace system for perceiving spiritual things which means
of sin and learning the Word under a pastor teacher to give you the
of the doctrine so that you’ll have a right mental attitude as a
result of your
positive response to the Word. And so
that you as a believer can be preoccupied with Christ and His
viewpoint, and then
you will not be a slave to the details.
It comes from learning.
It comes from knowing then because you’ve
learned. And then it comes from being an
man of God. You know what Mark chapter 8
verse 36 says. And it is a question that
no one can really answer. “For what
shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own
soul?” What will it profit you,
Christian, if you
gained the whole world in details and you lose all your reward for
So I bring you back, in closing, to
Hebrews 13:5. “Let your manner of
life be without
covetousness. Be content with such
things as ye have for He hath said, ‘For I will never leave thee
thee.’” Then you can gain or
lose without suffering spiritual breakdown.
And that’s maturity. And
wants you to be grown up in just that way.
John E. Danish, 1971
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