Summary: Opening people’s eyes to the true intentions of their heart in terms of why they profess to worship, encouraging them to surrender completely to God.
Sunday AM – Lynn Haven – 12/09/07
• Manipulating God
• Surrendering to God
• To open people’s eyes to the true intentions of their heart in terms of why they worship God
B. This is a sermon that we all should have heard a dozen times already, and I dare say that none of us ever has.
C. It goes to the very core of
1. our relationship to God,
2. how we think about Him,
3. and how we live our lives in relation to Him.
D. And we’re going to begin with a simple realization
1. The realization is this: At one point or another in our lives, we have each tried to manipulate God.
a. Some of us may still be trying to do so.
b. But at one point or another, we’ve tried to harness the power & will of God for our own interests.
c. We’ve tried to manipulate God.
2. We weren’t interested in God’s will, but our own.
a. “Not thy will but MINE be done!”
b. But whatever method, we have all tried to take the God’s choice away & compel him to choose to appease our own will.
3. That is what manipulation is. It’s what separates manipulation from mere influence.
a. Influence is trying to sway the opinion of someone – to get someone else to act in a way you wish, but allowing them to act according to their own will.
b. Manipulation, rather, robs someone of their choice.
c. It compels a desired action from someone who is being robbed of their free will to choose.
d. And the main problem we have with trying to manipulate God is that we don’t have the kind of power that it takes to take away from God His ability to choose.
E. Leaders of Christian movements have tried to prevent such thinking with false teaching
1. I mean, we see in Scripture where it seems like people influence God’s decision-making, because he is compassionate.
2. And so, for centuries, the medieval church upheld the doctrine of the impassibility of God.
a. That is, stating that God is utterly without passion.
b. To say that God is impassioned means two things:
1) That God is emotionally unstable or erratic
2) That God may possibly be manipulated emotionally.
c. So it was thought that since God is neither unstable or capable of being manipulated, God had to be pronounced impassible (wholly without passion).
3. This, of course, was the wrong step to take.
4. God clearly has passion. But He is neither unstable nor susceptible to manipulation.
F. We even see folks in Scripture who seek to manipulate God for their own gain.
1. King Balak in Numbers 22
In the Old Testament there was a soothsayer named Balaam who God allowed to have certain powers. He appeared to be quite faithful, for when Balak, the king of Moab, offered him money to curse the Israelites, his response was (Num 22:18): “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of the LORD my God.” Does this sound familiar?
The problem was, Balaam coveted the treasures offered to him. He thought he could “beat the system” by manipulating God to serve his own personal desires. And, while he never did curse the Israelites, he was willing to tell Balak how to corrupt the Israelites by having them commit fornication with the women of Moab (Rev. 2:14). He convinced himself that he was doing God’s will while practicing the ways of the world. Balaam died by the sword for his sin, and his sin is referenced often throughout the bible (e.g., 2 Pet. 2:15, Jude. 1:11).
2. Simon the Sorcerer
A second case involved a man named Simon, who had long sought the approval of men. His story is in Acts 8:9f. The bible clearly says that he believed and was baptized. He was greatly impressed with the miracles that confirmed the new teachings. However, when the apostles came down to Samaria to impart miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit to them, Simon offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” He was immediately rebuked by Peter, and fortunately, he repented of his sin.
G. You may be thinking, “Well you say we’ve all done this, but I don’t know if I’ve ever done anything like that.”
1. Well let’s look at exactly how we try to manipulate God.
I. Action – If I just do everything right, God will be forced to react kindly to me
A. Unfortunately, people commonly find ways to reduce religious relationship into religious rules & regulations.