Musings 85

One of the most obvious ways (from Romans 1:18-32) that God hardens hearts and turns men over to sin is when He hardens their hearts toward Himself and turns them over to various forms of humanism. The core aspect of sin is always in relation to God.

1. Men suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them.
2. Men exchange the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man
3. Men exchange the truth of God for a lie, and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator
4. Men do not see fit to acknowledge God any longer
5. Men are haters of God
6. Men approve the sinful practices of others even though God hates those practices

If it is a great sin for men in general, and certainly it is, to exchange the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man, then it is a far greater sin for ministers to do that in their preaching. After all, teachers and preachers will have a greater judgment. The Great Commandment is to love God with all of our being. As I Corinthians 10:31 puts it, “whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Peter 4 puts it directly to those who preach and teach: “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Preaching is not to be practical as for what it primarily is. Preaching is not to be primarily doctrinal. Preaching is not to be primarily gracious and winsome. Preaching is not meant to primarily be encouraging to men. Preaching is primarily to be to the glory of God and is to be one way that God is glorified through Jesus Christ. After all, all the glory belongs to Him forever. Preaching that does not aim at the glory of God out of love for that glory is not preaching with the proper aim and goal. Preaching that aims at the honor of the preacher, whether the preacher consciously says that or not, is idolatry. This is to say that when preaching is not an act of love for God and aimed at and meant to manifest His glory through Jesus Christ that preaching is idolatry.

While men may not intentionally aim at something which is not for the glory of God out of true love, that does not lessen their obligation to preach in light of the Great Commandment and His glory. It is a slippery slope and it appears that men slide downward in terms of their preaching. It is thought to be compassionate to preach to men in a gracious and winsome way, but that makes men the center of preaching and is a lie. It is thought that if we preach in order that men will be more moral that it is the way to preach, but in fact that is not preaching to the glory of God in the face of Christ. We can approach men in a rational way and try to reason them into the kingdom, but in fact that is not preaching to the glory of God. Preachers must get with God and bow to Him asking Him to grip their hearts with His glory and a love for Him before they try to preach.

When the preaching is not out of a heart of love for God and His glory then the hearts of the people will not be taken up with God. When the preaching has exchanged the glory of God for lesser things, then the hearts of the people will do the same thing. When the preacher, though it may be internal and not external, longs for the people to honor him rather than beholding the glory of God that preacher is an idolater and hides the glory of God from the people. The preacher has at that point exchanged the glory of God for his own glory. The preacher wants the people to honor him rather than God. The preacher wants to turn the attention of the people from God to himself. Surely it is self-evident that this is a wicked thing, yet how many sermons in our modern day are all about the preacher or all about his ability to say things or his ability to gain converts? It is not just any old form of idolatry, but it is a hideous and virtually infinite form of idolatry. It is a setting up an idol in the very face of God.

If preaching in the modern day is primarily acts of external religion and is not aimed at the glory of God, then assuredly it is no surprise that God is not visiting His people or those who claim to be His people in our day. One can almost hear Him crying out to let the gods that you are chasing save you. Let the gods that you love more than Me deliver you. What we need deliverance from; however, is the judgment of God upon us who is turning us over to ourselves. We must have God and we must have Him come to us in power or we will perish!

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