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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Beyond Feeling

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ephesians 4:19
who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Daily Scripture Reading - Galatians 5

Puritan Catechism
Question #38 - What shall be done to the wicked at their death?

Answer - The souls of the wicked shall at their death be cast into the torments of hell (Lk. 16:22-24), and their bodies lie in their graves till the resurrection, and judgement of the great day (Ps. 49:14).

Devotional Thoughts
We have been learning this week from Ephesians 4:17-19 how NOT to walk. If we are to follow Christ, to answer the gospel call and come after Him, then we cannot and must not (and will not) walk like the "rest of the Gentiles" walk - that is, a saved man will not live like a lost man!

The natural man, who is carnal, lost, and dead in his sin is a man who walks in the futility of his mind, having his understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, ignorant of the truth and blinded by a hard heart.

As if this were not bad enough Paul continues in Ephesians 4 to tell us how the lost man walks. We have already seen the Scriptures establish the total depravity of sinners. We see clearly that there is no hope found for the mind of fallen men as if they had some good in them or some ability to even desire to be right with God on their own. But beyond the futility of the fallen mind Paul says that the lost are past feeling.

The term means literally that the man without Christ is not just hard hearted, he is in his whole being past feeling, beyond sensitivity to spiritual things, he is calloused and rock hard. He is not just lost, he is utterly and hopelessly lost. He is far past any ability to even turn and look to Christ for salvation. He is dead in his sin.

We are told elsewhere in Scripture that these people are suffering from a seared, defiled conscience (1 Tim 4:2; Titus 1:15) that leads them to accept and embrace and encourage sinful behavior. They in their hearts actually do know that God exists and that He is holy. They also know that God disproves of their sin. And yet they are so far past feeling that they gladly embrace and encourage wanton sinfulness (Rom 1:32).

To be seared by a hot iron is just as it appears. If you placed you hand on a hot piece of iron right out of the blacksmiths furnace it would only be a few seconds before there would be no feeling left. The utter and immense pain would soon give way to the absence of all feeling whatsoever. The hot iron would kill the nerve endings and the burn would be so bad that the flesh on our hands could no longer feel anything at all.

This is what the carnal man has done to his conscience. He has so embraced his sin and he so desires to please only himself that he sins to the point that his conscience is past feeling. At this point we are told that God gives him over to his sin - He turns him over to be ruled and dominated completely by his sinful desires.

And in fact, Ephesians 4:19 goes on to say that these "gentiles" give themselves over to sensuality and greed. The term sensual (lewd) means the absence of moral restraint in fulfilling lust (see 1 John 2:15-17). And greed refers to the attitude that declares, "Give me what I want, NOW!"

This is the ultimate idolatry. Men and women who in their hearts know better relish the thought of living for self and denying God. They make a god of self, their flesh rules - it dictates from the throne of self will and the result is absolute self indulgence. What self wants, self gets. Whether it is good or bad, in terms of being beneficial or harmful to their very bodies, they give in to every whim and want. Every craving screams for fulfillment and nothing is spared in spoiling the flesh.

A glaring and obvious example of sensuality and greed is seen in how we spend our money as a nation. Evangelist Leonard Ravenhill stated emphatically that America had two chief false gods - the idols of Sports and Entertainment. Just look at the amounts of money, time, and effort spent on sports and entertainment! This coming weekend how many millions of dollars will be spent for 2 hours of cheap thrills by people staring at a movie screen? How many millions will be spent on football, baseball, and other sports?

And while sports and entertainment may have their proper place we must not be deceived and lured into this false belief that it is a good thing that we devote so much time, energy, and money to these pursuits for self pleasure and gratification.

Another false god that Ravenhill was aware of and that obviously has joined these other two at the head of false worship by our nation is the false god of pornography. This "industry", which used to be an illegal business, is now an $8 billion plus annual component of our nations economy. And they are simply giving people what they want!! Lust leads to lust and idolatry leads to destruction! And yet we are a nation that has learned in these three endeavors to use other human beings for our own selfish gratification and then discard them when we are done.

It is interesting that the mind of the unregenerate man is futile (never succeeding), his understanding is darkened, his feelings seared, and his life controlled by unquenchable sensuality and greed. That means in reality that his life is a living hell! Listen to this, because this may be a new idea to many people. We often think of hell as a place where the damned are tormented by the devil and the demons, but in truth hell was created for the devil and demons, so they do not rule, they are the chief prisoners of this dungeon of God's wrath.

But what is so tortuous about hell for the lost man who has died? Is it the fire? The worm that never dies (signifying the reality that to be in hell is to be always dying and yet never completely dead!!)?

Let us read Isaiah 29:8:

It shall even be as when a hungry man dreams, and look—he eats; but he awakes, and his soul is still empty; or as when a thirsty man dreams, and look—he drinks; but he awakes, and indeed he is faint, and his soul still craves: so the multitude of all the nations shall be, who fight against Mount Zion.

Hell will find this man full of all his evil lust and wicked desire, craving and desiring and yearning and longing for gratification of his fleshly sinful desires - but there will be no fulfillment or gratification – only the unfulfilled, futile desire of his fallen mind. That is hell!

Read that again would you? Hell is a place of horrible torments suffering the justice and wrath of God toward our sin and part of that torment is found in that the sinful man still craves sin and yet cannot fulfill his desire!

What then can we do? Where can we go to be delivered from this horrible fate? There is only one remedy for the hard heart and the seared conscience. There is only one solution to the lewd and sensual greed that drives the carnal mind. There is only one way for the futile darkened mind to be renewed, restored, and be brought to bear good and lasting fruit.

Remember that the Word of God is a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces! (Jer. 23:29). Do you know what it means to be “broken?” What is the importance of brokenness? How is one broken? We will cover these things tomorrow. For now, this verse demonstrates for us vividly the need for conviction by the Holy Spirit in our conversion. In fact, I would be so bold as to proclaim that without conviction there is no conversion!

Let me state that again to be clear. There can be no conversion of sinners without first there being the conviction of sin! These self help new age soft and sissy false prophets and cultic preachers leading seeker sensitive emerging church growth mega religious clubs are peddling a false gospel, a false Christ, a false hope, a false salvation, a false church, and a false pathway to conversion. Those who refuse to use the Word of God in such a way that the Spirit brings conviction to bear on sinners driving them to repent or perish are nothing but blind leaders who lead the blind and they have already both fallen into the ditch of dead faith, bad doctrine, and self indulgences that pave the broad road to hell.

We, as followers of Christ, cannot walk as the Gentiles walk for they are past feeling, given over to their sin and greed, practicing lewdness and all sorts of wicked self fulfillment. To walk like this is to deny Christ, for in Him we are a new creation. In Him we find the death of self and true satisfaction as we hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Of the Anger and Wrath of God by John Gill
Heaven and Hell by Charles Spurgeon

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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