How Do I Improve My Spiritual Understandings

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Every sincere Christian hungers to improve his or her spiritual understandings. Every person genuinely converted to Jesus Christ wants accurate knowledge. But to possess accurate knowledge, he or she realizes it is not enough to have accurate facts. It is just as important to have accurate understandings. It was the desire to understand that played an important role in our conversion.

Our Christian desire to understand is intensified by an enormous personal need. Each of our private worlds creates a very complex existence for all of us. Life is not simple for any of us. Is life simple for you? Our lives and worlds challenge each of us. Our lives and worlds often confuse us. We want to do what is good; we want to do what is right; we want to depend on Jesus–but often the proper way to do that is not clearly evident. How often do you have a week that does not challenge your spiritual understanding? Often personal situations and circumstances force us to realize that we do not have enough spiritual understanding. We are frequently reminded that we need a better understanding of God and His will.

But how do you acquire it? If we want a better understanding, how do we build it? The answer to that question has many parts, and the answer will not be identical for all of us. But there is a common beginning point for everyone. Any person who wants a better spiritual understanding must advance his or her understanding of God. A better understanding of God is essential to a better spiritual understanding.

Tonight we begin focusing on forbearance. I want to illustrate the importance of better understanding God to increase our spiritual understanding. We will do that by examining the concept of forbearance.

  1. Let’s begin by reading together Romans 2:1-4.
    1. Consider the context of this scripture:
      1. Because of his devotion to the gospel (the good news about Jesus Christ), Paul suffered major physical abuse–but that abuse did not cause him to be ashamed of that good news (Romans 1:16).
        1. He was not ashamed because he knew that the good news revealed God’s power to save anyone who believes.
        2. He was not ashamed because the good news revealed God’s righteousness.
      2. Paul verified that everyone–excluding no one–needed the righteousness revealed by this good news.
        1. This revealed righteousness allows a person to become righteous through faith, and everyone desperately needs the means of becoming righteous.
        2. Those who abandon themselves to ungodliness need the way to become righteous through faith (Romans 1:18-29).
        3. The “good moral person” who passes judgment on people who do not meet his or her moral standards needs the way to become righteous through faith (Romans 2:1-16).
        4. The teacher and defender of the Old Testament law needs the way to become righteous through faith (Romans 2:17-29).
    2. I want to focus your attention for a moment on the good moral person.
      1. It is common for a person committed to a moral code to judge everyone who fails to measure up to that moral code–that is very characteristic of people committed to a moral code.
      2. It is also common for few people to meet his or her moral expectations.
      3. Paul said what the moral person fails to realize that each time he or she passes judgment on other’s failure to meet his or her moral code, he or she automatically passes judgment on himself or herself.
      4. Why? Because no moral person perfectly meets the standards of her or her moral code–thus condemning the short comings of others automatically condemns his or her own shortcomings.
      5. Paul said in verse 4 that the moralist makes this mistake because he or she places too little significance, to little importance on God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience.
        1. Forbearance is a divine attribute, a part of God’s divine nature that is reflected in His divine character.
        2. Understanding God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience is extremely important, for that is the understanding that motivates a person to repent.
        3. But what is forbearance? How much do you understand about forbearance?
        4. How can you increase your understanding of forbearance? By better understanding God.
  2. Consider the concept of forbearance.
    1. Divine forbearance keeps some close friends: divine kindness, divine patience, and divine mercy.
      1. Forbearance always exists and functions in conjunction with kindness, patience, and mercy.
      2. Forbearance is one of the ways that patience expresses itself.
      3. It is also a specific element of mercy.
      4. The kind God’s patience and mercy interact with each other and express themselves through forbearance.
    2. What does forbearance do?
      1. To forbear means to restrain oneself.
      2. One forbears by holding oneself back.
      3. In God’s actions, divine forbearance restrains divine wrath.
    3. But does God really do that?
      1. Does he really hold himself back?
      2. Did he really restrain his wrath?
      3. Absolutely!
        1. God has been doing that from the time of the first human evil.
        2. God did it in incredible ways until He could offer Jesus in sacrifice for us.
        3. Until God satisfied justice with Jesus’ blood by paying for the evil people committed, it was God’s forbearance that governed His response to human evil.
      4. Read with me Romans 3:21-25.
        1. God has revealed a way to righteous that has nothing to do with law–not Old Testament law, not any form of law.
          1. In this revealed way to be righteous, God could be true to His own righteous nature.
          2. Evil people could become righteous.
          3. The Old Testament law and the Old Testament prophets stood as the witnesses to this revealed way to be righteous.
        2. In this revealed way, righteousness exists through faith in Jesus Christ.
          1. It is available to every person who will place his or her faith in Jesus Christ.
          2. Every person needs this revealed way to become righteous because every person is guilty of doing evil.
        3. This revealed way to be righteous can exist because God gives His grace as a gift.
          1. God acquired this right to expresss His goodness because God justified us.
          2. He justified us by redeeming us with Jesus Christ.
          3. He allowed His son to die publicly, substituting His innocent life for our guilty lives, paying the penalty for our evil with His own son’s blood.
        4. God did this for two reasons:
          1. First, to create a “doable” means by which every evil person can become righteous.
          2. Second, to be true to his own righteous nature.
          3. It was necessary for God to demonstrate His loyalty to His own righteousness because He had been forbearing–He had passed over the evil that was committed before the death of Christ.
          4. He had held Himself back, He had restrained His wrath, until He could pay for human evil with the blood of His innocent son.
  3. Let me show you in a clear manner that is exactly what God did before He sent Jesus to die for human evil.
    1. Go all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.
      1. Genesis 2:8, 9 states that God planted a garden to exist as the ideal place for Adam and Eve to live.
        1. He placed them in the garden to cultivate and keep it (2:15).
        2. They were permitted to eat fruit from everything that grew in the garden except for one tree–the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:16).
        3. They were told that if they ate of that tree, on that day they would surely die (2:17), and they clearly understood what God said and meant (3:3).
      2. Most of my past life I did not understand forbearance, nor did I understand God’s forbearance.
        1. In my lack of understanding, I oversimplified this situation and created a problem.
        2. God said that the day they ate the fruit that they would die.
        3. They ate the fruit, and they did not die.
        4. In my too narrow, too shallow understanding, that fact created a dilemma for me: Why did they not die that day? Did God lie when He told them they would die?
        5. The possibility that God lied was totally unacceptable and contradictory to what other scriptures clearly state–God cannot lie.
        6. Then I created a theological answer to the dilemma: God did not mean that they would physically die (since they obviously did not), so the word “death” as God used it meant something else–it meant that they would be separated from God.
        7. But it is very obvious in Genesis four that there was not a complete separation between God, and Adam and Eve, or Able, or Seth, the men that began to call upon the name of the Lord.
      3. When God did not kill Adam and Eve, it had nothing to do with truthfulness or lying; it had everything to do with divine forbearance.
        1. Adam and Eve defied God in the face of all His love, all His goodness, and all His kindness.
        2. And when they did, God held Himself back, He restrained His wrath, He further extended His kindness in exercising patience and mercy.
    2. That is only the first expression of His forbearance.
      1. Consider God’s refusal to kill Cain when Cain murdered his brother.
      2. Consider God’s saving of Noah and his family.
      3. Consider the way God continued to work with Isaac and Jacob when they did some very ungodly things.
      4. Consider the ways God repeatedly refused to completely destroy the wicked, rebellious nation of Israel in the wilderness.
      5. Consider the centuries that God endured incredible ungodliness in Israel through the periods of the judges, the united kingdom, and the divided kingdom.
      6. Over and over and over you see God’s forbearance, God’s holding Himself back, God’s restraining His wrath.
      7. Even when God exercised His wrath, He restrained it–He never completely destroyed evil humanity, never completely destroyed evil Israel.

Because of God’s forbearance, you and I can be Christians. Because of God’s forbearance you and I have a Savior. Because of God’s forbearance you and I can be forgiven.

And the forbearing God asks those who accept His forgiveness and live in the Savior to be forbearing. But we cannot possibly understand how to be forbearing, we cannot even understand what forbearance is, unless we first understand the forbearance of God.

Don’t you rejoice in the fact that God was and is a God of forbearance?

David Chadwell

Author: Greg

Welcome to Gods Message on the web. My name is Greg and I want to welcome you. I started doing these Podcasts, MP3, and Audio Books back in 2007. Stay awhile and make yourself at home. The Christian Podcasts here are free and for everyone to enjoy. I’m doing a complete series on David Chadwell who is a retired minister from Fort Smith, Arkansas. I’ve also done an Audio Book for Wayne Jacobsen’s the Naked Church. Plus a series of MP3s for Pastor Billy Crone and his The Final Countdown series.

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