Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“If you, then, being evil know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him?”
Jesus, in Matthew 7:11
It was in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s when Preacher Clark had a dream in which he found himself holding nineteen wriggling serpents in his arms, trying to manage them. The next day in his tract office, he told me and Brother Jimmy Tolle about the dream. Suspecting its meaning, I asked him if he knew how many members of the Pioneer Tract Society he had. He didn’t, so I looked it up. There were nineteen, of course.
Now, I know that I had the option of being indignant at the insult, being one of the nineteen snakes he was trying to manage in his dream, but the Spirit kept me from that mistake. I knew in my heart that the dream was from the Lord and that Preacher Clark was only relating what the Lord had shown him in a dream. Doing so took humility, not pride, and I knew that. By that time, I had experienced some things of my own from God and understood that pride prevents men from declaring the counsel of God, but humility inspires them to obey God and pass that counsel on to others. It would have been as foolish to be bitter about Preacher Clark telling his dream as it was for Joseph’s ten older brothers to hate Joseph for telling them the dreams God had given him (Gen. 37).
Jesus seemed to have had no hesitance in telling his followers, including the twelve disciples, what God had shown him; that is, they were evil. The wonder is that when he told them, they made no comment (that we know of) and continued to follow him.
On another occasion, when Jesus refused to heal the demon possessed daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman, referring to that broken hearted, desperate woman as a little dog, she did not become angry and walk away. She did not quarrel with the Lord as she could have, pointing out the wickedness of Jews over the centuries. If she had, her demon possessed daughter would have remained demon possessed. Instead, the poor woman humbled herself and pleaded, “Yes, Master. But even little dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their masters’ tables!” Jesus then healed her daughter.
If we hope to be saved in the end, we absolutely must humble ourselves as Jesus’ disciples did and as the Syro-Phoenician woman did. If God calls you a sinner, do not argue; just repent. If He calls you a fool, don’t defend your wisdom (you have none that counts); just listen to Him and be made wise. If He calls for you to come out of darkness to Him, run. And if He calls you His, don’t rehash the past or try to analyze it; just offer Him a thousand offerings of thanks. Live by God’s Word, or you will wallow in the muck of your own worthless opinions the rest of your life.
Who has ever become wise by explaining himself to God? And who was ever forgiven who became insulted at the suggestion that he had sinned? Understand this! Believe the gospel and know that you are evil by nature. After he was made wise, Paul confessed, “In me, that is in my flesh, dwells nothing good” (Rom. 7:18). When Jesus called Paul, that young sinner fell before the Master, confessed that Jesus was right, and soon was cleansed from his inborn wickedness.
Every person who has ever been cleansed from sin has, like Paul, heard Jesus by some means or by some person call them evil, and has agreed and repented. That is the first step to attaining to true wisdom and holiness because it is only by admitting that we are wrong and God is right that we ever become truly good people.