Defeating Our Human Nature (Part 10. Emulations - "I Must Have What You Have!")
Although this article is part of a series, it is a Complete study on its own. (10 of 18 in series)
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture quotes are mine. *
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before your God?" (Micah 6:8)
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh...
...For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be of led the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these;adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft,hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings,murders, drunkenness, revelings and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such things there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." (Galatians 5:16-26)
Welcome back to our series on Defeating Our Human Nature!
We are in the midst of an 18 part series on works of the flesh. I believe that all people are aware that somewhere deep inside of them is a part of them that loves to sin. That is because, each person whether or not they know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, are sinners since birth. This series digs into sin and tries to convey the horrible cost these sins exact on the sinner. Although the world's saying is, "If it feels good, do it," one finds that there is a price that's paid. Nothing.. absolutely nothing in this life is free except God's grace. Even in the matter of one's personal activities, and even in the matter of a person's inner mind and body, and even when practiced in the privacy of their own homes and bedrooms,
Nothing.. absolutely nothing in this life is free except God's grace. Even in the matter of one's personal activities, and even in the matter of a person's inner mind and body, and even when practiced in the privacy of their own homes and bedrooms, sin exacts a price.
We began in part 1, by introducing two concepts, that of "fruit of the Spirit" and of "works of the flesh." We spoke of how in the life of the born-again believer, each person that knows Jesus as personal Lord and Savior toils in battle to maintain a walk with the Holy Spirit of God. Their newly alive human spirit wants to please God and to see "fruit" in their life, while their flesh falls prey to sin. When this person's faith weakens, he lets down his guard and the flesh is more than willing to steer that sinner into sins that their flesh craves. But that's not all, the hunger for particular sins will increase. Sin will give only a temporary satiation to the flesh, but then like an addictive drug the dose of sin is not enough to satisfy, so the flesh will pull to do more and more. God loves us and in no time at all God begins to convict hearts that what they are doing is wrong. The flesh and depravity of each individual do not want God to win. Like a "tug-of-war" with a person's renewed spirit on one end of the rope and a person's sinful flesh on the other, this never-ending struggle ensues. Only when the life ends on Earth does this struggle stop. When the Holy Spirit is obeyed and gains ground "fruit of the Spirit" is produced. When the flesh and Satan are allowed control, a person will begin to build into his life, a "lifestyle" that keeps certain sinful practices in place. In the actual game of tug-of-war, if one side wraps its end around something anchored, like a tree trunk, the game is halted right where it is. As long as the rope is allowed to be around the tree, the opposing team is stuck right where they are. This is how a work of the flesh operates. It is like a fortress of the mind where battlements are erected and habits are formed to keep the mind on sin and off of God.
In part 2, we explored a sin that is in epidemic proportions in this country. Marriages fall apart every day due to the fact that one partner cheats on another. We spoke of adultery and how great a toll is exacted on both partners and why it matters so much to God. Mentioned also was the spiritual betrayal that happens when an act of adultery occurs.
In part 3, we broached the topic of fornication and the lesson exposed how widespread the sin is. In our twenty-first century culture, we have instant access to any sexual material we crave. It is delivered right into your laptop, right into the bedroom or anywhere it is desired. It is also in all media and displayed in people's everyday manner of dress. All is geared to stimulate the senses and inflame the lust. The motto "If you got it, flaunt it" is the rule of the day. We mentioned it is possible to be spiritual but Christians have to take precautions in their lives or it is only a matter of time before a person will be stuck in a sexual mode waiting for the consequences of sin to strike.
In part 4, the fact of our fleshly nature was further explored. We learned as we looked into Scriptures, how within our fleshly human nature lives a desire to be unclean. Like a pig loves to roll in the mire, a sinner's flesh craves to overcome a heart that is focused on Christ. It is like a clean wall to the graffiti artist, begging to be painted a sinful scarlet, the flesh wars to keep a person in a state of uncleanness, distracted, focused on the temporary pleasure of sin for a season rather than building treasures in heaven that last forever.
In part 5, We introduced the term lasciviousness to our study. We learned that lasciviousness is a filthy mindset where depravity begins to be connected to all activities of life. Words take on double meanings. Distasteful jokes and a twisted bent are adopted in our speech. We begin to connect innocent things in our life to filthy perversions. Lasciviousness soon begins to take over every aspect of a person's behavior. The world will love a lascivious person because they dare to "cross the line" of propriety over and over. He is the "life of the party" but soon the way back to anything descent is barred and they have a harder and harder time getting back to a place of connectedness with God.
In part 6, Idolatry was examined in detail. Pictured were the gods of the people of ancient times to which God's people did fall prey. Gods and goddesses of the ancient Middle East were the bane of the children of Abraham. Next were the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and then Rome that new-born Christianity faced. Idolatry was always a problem throughout history. We saw how many parts of the world still bow and worship idols and how even in our American culture that, for the most part, consider themselves Christian, the fashionable idol of the day is "the self."
In part 7, the much-downplayed subject of witchcraft was discussed in detail. The practitioners of this religion maintain it is a harmless alternative to worshiping God. They maintain that the source of a witch's power is the earth and perhaps some nature goddess. We learned from Scripture the abomination this is to God. We saw the Scriptures that say the worshiping of the creation instead of the Creator is heresy. We also discussed what power was behind this and we delved into the words and history to show the religion's connections to the use of drugs.
In part 8, we did an interesting study on the topic of hatred. We looked into how hatred as a phenomenon was growing and why. We saw the uses people make of hatred and where hatred gets its power to keep on going instead of just burning itself out.
In part 9, was another concept of which many people are unaware, that of variance. We learned that people who practice this sin work behind the scenes to undermine God and God's kingdom to any and all that will hear. We learned how the world clings to and values variance as a necessary evil to balance out all the forces of the universe, many even calling the sin being the "devil's advocate."
In this installment, we will delve into what the Bible calls the sin of emulation.
Welcome back to our study on Defeating Our Human Nature.
Satan's Sin Of Emulation Contributed To His Rebellion.
"Let us not be desirous of vain glory [accolades from other people, a fame that is empty, meaningless in light of eternity] provoking one another [parading oneself to show off the blessings of God in order to create a jealousy in others] envying others [neither are we to be jealous of the blessings that other people have been given]." (Galatians 5:26)
This verse in Galatians is a summation of the sin of emulation. In a nutshell, emulation is a string of emotions, hot and fired by the flesh. The emotions of pride, envy, jealousy and self-glorification, are mixed in together resulting in an irrational anger. The result is a volatile concoction, that if allowed to age, will become rage and violence beyond what is natural for that person's "normal" behavior patterns.
We learn more of this term emulation when we look deeper into the word emulation itself. Paul used the Greek word zelos (tzay'-los) which means "a fervent heat or ardor, emotional frenzy." This word may be used in a sense of something very much blessed of God or it can be used in the way Paul used it, to refer to a stronghold of sin. When used in the positive sense, it refers to the blessed act of romantic sexual passion in marriage. God did design marriage to have an intense passion which has elements of fervent heat and desire found in no other place. This type of zelos is ordained and blessed of God. This type of fervent heat is the depth of love that God feels for His children. (see also article "Romance and Passion of God's Salvation")
But we know that the apostle Paul was not speaking in a "pro-zelos" sense. He was using the negative aspect of the word. In this negative sense, zelos means "an unfounded jealousy, a fervent mindset that will corrupt, indignation born from envy and frustration." Its root word is the word zeo (tzeh'-o) a verb which means "burning, raging jealousy." Its literal meaning conveys the idea of, "a fervent heat, red-hot iron; molten, boiling, liquid lava."
We can see a physical example of this zelos when we look at the methods of a person intentionally stirring up a mob to violence. He uses elements of envy, jealousy and pleads with them to see the justice in taking a physical action now, immediately, before it is too late. Couched in his words, in order to make the cause seem justified, he makes it seem like everybody sees the same unforgivable, intolerable menace that must be destroyed. He will use just a few statements, all the while openly showing rage and murderous anxiousness in his movements, on his face, in his mannerisms. He knows that if only one or two more people in the crowd can be stirred up, the whole mass of people will begin to mimic the instigators until all are engaged in like action that builds to mass destruction and heinous crime. It is called "mob mentality." It is not reasonable. In fact, the vast majority of the crowd could not explain the intensity of their rage if they tried. In the fast-paced metamorphosis from peaceful to crazed, the emotion that had transferred to every one of the people there was like pouring hot molten metal or lava onto the crowd, each man falling to the frenzy.
This is the common physical out-working of emulation. Now we need to explore the mental buildup in an individual. Emulation can be broken down to distinctive heart attitudes, each one an important yet fixable sin in the light of God's power, but left to itself and mixed with the others, this emulation rarely only effects one person. It will have disastrous effects on the person and all those around him.
Here is a common example familiar to all:
A fresh college graduate gets hired by a large company. His enthusiasm gets him hired and everyone sees the way he performs every task he is given. Upon seeing this "hungry" young "up-and-coming" person that has the drive to succeed at all costs, a co-worker will usually give him advice in this manner,
"I know you want to succeed. I see you putting everything into it. I see your frustration, your anger with your career climb seeming to be so slow. Use that anger. Harness that rage. Tap into that energy! It will happen for you."
This is the essence of emulation. It is ambition and drive yes, which alone may not be a bad thing. All men who have a singular goal become focused and strive to do their best. But in this case, the ambition turns a shade darker. Something lurks behind the drive, within the circumstance behind the motivation. It lies deep in the heart. This young man wants to make a mark, to grab the attention of the management as not only a good worker but better than everyone else. He envies those who have succeeded at what he desires to accomplish. He resents the confidence the others have earned by their hard work. The resentment causes a slow, burning hatred for other's accomplishments. He sees the people who are granted power as undeserving, as unworthy. He feels his knowledge matches and may even surpass theirs. He concludes he deserves what they have and he will work to match their achievements and surpass them. He will not only succeed but discredit them someday. His anger and rage boils within him and becomes something that dominates his thinking and reasoning in every decision.
It is no stretch of the imagination to see violence occurring in a scenario such as this. If not put into perspective, this emulation will become so irrational that this young man may be capable of any sin, even though he never had any propensity to be violent before. The rage inside is boiling, is eating him up, consuming his mind and will.
Formula For The Sin Of Emulation
In America, the sin of emulation has become the driving force of motivation and of the economy. It is heard every day in all media and a common topic of conversation everywhere. To understand this fleshly stronghold we need to cite a "before-and-after" example to see how emulation will shred a whole society, crumbling its standards, and unless it is quelled, won't stop until all are destroyed.
Let us examine a piece of our own history to deeper understand motivations for emulation of which the apostle was speaking. Then we need to assess our own beliefs and attitudes and root out any behaviors that are similar. We are all sinners and present in our sinful nature is the tendency to corrupt anything godly, if the sin is not reined in.
When the first settlers came to this new land of America they were, for the most part, God-fearing, Bible-reading men and women. They believed that they could make their new home a better place than the land from which they came. The struggle to even stay alive that first year took its toll and in order to survive, they put everything they had in a common store. They took this straight from the Bible where the apostles in the early church would distribute to the needy from a store that came from any who had a surplus. Between this method and the kindnesses from natives, they survived.
"If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit." (Leviticus 25:35-37)
"If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,' [Every seven years any outstanding debts were forgiven and any lands sold were returned to original owners. Sometimes a person would reason within himself that a poor individual needed no help because he could make it to the seventh year and soon wouldn't be in the tough situation he now faced.] and your eye be evil against your brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.'" (Deuteronomy 15:7-11)
Soon, however, the thinking behind the distribution method for sharing all of the surplus goods changed. Instead of a person who had surplus donating to the individual in need, people began to think of the cache of surplus as the answer to supplying necessities to the needy. Instead of giving of surplus to someone that was then distributed to the less fortunate (as did the people in the days of the apostles, they began to look at the supplies as belonging to everybody (a change from "common-ism" to "communism"). Soon, in everyone's mind, no one owned anything of his own, but it all belonged to the general population (a concept central to communism). No one worked for the maintenance of his own self and family but worked for the "whole society." Everyone worked for the central supply. This is clearly not what the Scripture had taught. Jesus had taught that there would always be needy people that were going to be blessed by others who possessed more. As a result of this policy and the thinking that now varied from Biblical concepts, poverty and hunger became rampant and there was less and less in the stores from which to draw. People began to rely on the strength of the whole and eased up on production because there was no urgency spurred on by a natural need to work toward their own survival.
"For you have the poor with you always, but Me [Jesus] you do not have always." (Matthew 26:11)
As this socialistic policy played itself out in the coming months, it was discovered that many would not work, but instead expected to pull from the surplus as if it would never run out. Each family group began to measure themselves against what they estimated in their hearts were the contributions of others. The ones thinking themselves to be clever would do less work, yet claim to be working the hardest. The hard workers, seeing through the situation, eased up on their work ethic and worked less. Anger and resentment sprung up everywhere. The whole operating economy ground to a halt. There were arguments and infighting.
"Let your work appear to your servants [be an example to those in your employ, to show them what is possible with hard work and God's blessing], and your glory to their children, and let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands." (Psalm 90:16-17)
"Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun. [Here, wise King Solomon was saying that now is the time for work, while you are alive. While you work, keep in mind that this life does not hold the rewards that we seek. The life that follows is where we are building real treasures with our deeds during our lifetime on this earth. Life on this earth is vanity or emptiness when compared to eternity.] Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. [Once this life is over, the body rests and the soul and spirit moves on. It is then too late to make changes in your life for eternal reward. This life is all there is to do that.]" (Ecclesiastes 9:9-10)
"Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. [This verse is not contradicting the last we read. Solomon is saying that when we have done well, there are also some temporal rewards for that hard labor besides the eternal rewards in heaven that the good works have accomplished here. It is a good feeling to reap those rewards, for then you will have substance in order to be a blessing to others.] This also I saw from the hand of God." (Ecclesiastes 2:24)
So, a re-examining of Scripture occurred and they found where the official policy went awry. A change needed to be made and so a declaration was given based on a proper applying of Scripture. Restored was the distribution to the poor, (which the Christians have termed "common-ism," where all contributed from their surplus toward the needy, voluntarily, as they had supply). Also, the edict stated that each man would work to provide for his own family. If a man would not provide for his own, he was considered "worse than an unbeliever." If he chose not to work, then "neither did he eat."
"Now all who believed were together [in agreement], and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods [this is not saying that they owned no possessions, it is saying that they were willing to give even of their necessities for the poor], and divided them all, as anyone had need." [This is the key phrase to understanding how possessions were viewed. They were given as another "had need," until then they remained an individual's property. The goods were not taken but voluntarily given. Hence, this was not communism.] (Acts 2:44-45)
"Honor widows [honor is a term that means pay monetary aid because of a loving awareness of their situation and of their need] who are really widows [the truth of this need had to be verified as real]. But if any has children or grandchildren, let them first to show at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. [If there were children, it was the children's responsibility to care for their parents because it was only right as repayment for all the parents had done in the child's life.] ...But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." (1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8)
"...We do not have authority but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:9-10)
This account from America's history is one example of how the sin of emulation can begin in people that would otherwise be peaceful and loving. Notice the jealousy of perceived workload: After the communistic thought took hold the people began to estimate their worth comparing themselves with others and to conclude that they were being cheated and made to work harder. All felt that they were surely the hardest workers and therefore should not be expected to shoulder more of the responsibility simply because they were good workers. Some began believing that they were better than everyone else because of their family's station in life, and thus did not have to work at all, letting the burden fall on everyone else to provide for them. This caused resentment and arguing and hot interchanges between otherwise good neighbors.
The colonists knew the Bible says that a Christian should be content with enough food and clothes to cover their need, yet a "standard of living" was held up as a minimal necessity in life and agreeing to anything less than that scenario would show a lack of respect to yourself. A person's "dignity" began to be associated with how much he had to eat and how easy he had it in life. Working began to be despised instead of being rewarding. The circumstances of food and work gave fuel for emulation.
"And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content." (1 Timothy 6:8)
In our time, in our culture, the notion of how much you have to work is still held up as a status. If someone wins the lottery, the first thing that a person usually does is to tell the boss where to spend his eternity, and the next thing he does is quit his job. They will probably tell everyone that they will never have to work again. At first, this may not be to brag, but simply because they just can't contain the excitement. They have been given a free pass at life to do whatever they want. Then comes the media, who wishes to exploit the good fortune of this common, ordinary person who has broken out of the mold of normal circumstances to become a "person of interest."
Under the layers of excitement is a fleshly desire to finally have the notoriety and attention he deserves, The person will pose for pictures, relishing the idea that all will see him and wish it was themselves who had gotten this "very good thing" happening to them. It would show that they no longer belong to the strata of people that labor for a living, the money has made them "better" somehow. Then the next thing usually done is to make extravagant purchases to demonstrate the reality of their new life; a mansion, a yacht, a luxury car.
Jesus Said, "It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven..."
Emulation is an extreme catering to the wants of the flesh and mainly formed in circumstances in and around the perceptions of money, position, or power.
It is always easy to see the sin in and around money for it is the "LOVE OF money that is a root of all evil." Although it is the love of money and not money itself that is a root of all evil, it is still quite a statement, don't you think? Think for a moment what fleshly strongholds money touches. In this world of ours, money can buy just about anything. It can make adultery and fornication very accessible. It can stimulate the imagination to create any wish the flesh can devise.
It does not have to be this way with wealth. God says that money is not evil of itself, but it does play to the flesh, which if allowed control, will bring on any and all sin. At the center of this sin is the emulation.
"But those that desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition, for the love of money is a root of all evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
"Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
And what of the people who played the lottery and don't win? Well, they often begin to get frustrated and then angry. Thoughts of, "Why couldn't I be the one to win? What makes them so much better than I? I deserve it more than they do!" Some even begin to blame God for making their lives harder than others; as if God had purposely punished them with a lack of luxury as if God is unfair. Anger flares and the person who was blessed with the extra money, no matter how godly that person may be, will become despised because of the sin of emulation.
The simple pattern for emulation is:
1. Pride causes an individual to say, I deserve more honor and attention. This urge to be recognized as better than others is the first ingredient of emulation. Of course, the word "better" is a relative term. It is a very basic sin, to heap glory to oneself instead of giving all glory to God. It's easy to feel deserving of something good than to realize that all men deserve hell (but for the grace of God). The fleshly urge says, No one is more deserving than I, so how will I increase my status among my "peers?"
2. I will observe what the people around me see as signs of success and I will work to obtain those things. All their effort is then toward that goal instead of working toward what God says is building treasures in heaven. They feel they need status; to drive a sports car, to be able to say to friends they can buy whatever they wish, while secretly getting pleasure knowing others cannot do the same.
3. Relentless effort to obtain success becomes harder when the person runs into people who, in their mind, are already successful. Feelings mount because of the thinking is that no one deserves this success more than I. Emulation comes to fruition when the frustration reaches a peak and then turns to internal rage and/or outward violence
Status symbols have changed somewhat but the reasoning for them has not. As society continues to spiral down into a state that will welcome Antichrist to rule, terms have been altered to make the sin of emulation seem acceptable and even necessary. Subtle changes in terminology have been inserted into the language and thus into popular thought by those with an agenda to change what used to be thought of as "acting snooty" or "putting down" others that are less fortunate. The belief that everyone deserves wealth and has a right to it is now the fashionable philosophy. It is taught that everyone should be the same strata in life, and thus all should be able to buy a luxury car or large home if they choose. What once was the product of hard work blessed by God, became known as the "American Dream." It is now unacceptable to be satisfied with less than the American Dream. In fact, now the "American Dream" is a small stepping stone to what "all Americans deserve."
Attitudes conveyed to children have embedded in them, a restlessness and discontentment with life. Children are raised by complaining parents that never are thankful for the sustenance that God provides each day. Instead, they are inculcated with thoughts of riches and the freedom that only wealth can buy. Children are thinking that they deserve everything. They whine when they see the commercials on TV because they know Dad and Mom will buy for them and they can brag to their friends about what they have received. They get presents for Christmas that will be thrown aside by the end of the day because they lack any genuine gratefulness or any real need for such things or any appreciation for how much effort was spent in obtaining that gift. By parents catering to a child's every whim, a basic concept is given the child: I deserve more than this. As those children grow up they turn into spoiled grownups that never know genuine contentment and never are grateful. They pass on the discontentment to their children and the cycle is repeated again and again.
When I was a young man the symbol of success was to be able to hobnob with the known wealthy. Status symbols for a man were a fancy car such as a Cadillac, a Lincoln or some other luxury model, and to own a big house with all the trimmings. For a woman, it was to have a huge diamond, to hire a maid to do chores, to own a fur coat, and to be able to buy the finer things without worry. I have felt the pull to work three or even four jobs to be able to stretch toward that "American Dream." I have felt the frustration at seeing others pass me by. A few of my friends won smaller lotteries and with the winnings took cruises or quit jobs to change careers. I remember the anger boiling inside. I remember talking disrespectful of them and judging them without knowing their hearts. That was the sin of emulation.
Anyone that knows what the Bible teaches, knows that riches and poverty are used by the Lord to bring individuals to Himself. He has taken poor men and made them rich. He has taken rich men and made them poor. Why would He do such a thing? Because He knows what life circumstances will most turn a heart to Him. This life is a staging ground for eternity. A person who suffers in this life many times will be closer to God because of it.
"There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at the gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs, which fell from the rich man's table. [Lazarus was only asking for the bits of food that may be left, bound for the garbage heap, thrown away by the rich man each day. Also in the language here is indication that this particular rich man passed him every day and simply ignored him, most likely ordering his servants not to give Lazarus anything, even his garbage, but for them to throw it out.] Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. [Here is a phrase that shows that the rich man knew he was in pain and very sick. It meant nothing to him. It has long been known that dog's saliva contains some healing properties and it seems that this idea of Lazarus needing medical attention was also noted and the rich man's feeling was that Lazarus has the dogs to attend to him, so he need not care.] So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' [If I were to guess here, I would say that this man still expected Lazarus to be treated as a person beneath him and therefore the one made to serve him, even in hell (emulation). Of course, I have no way of knowing that until I get home and ask Jesus about this event.] (Luke 16:19-25)
"A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor [of the LORD] rather than silver and gold. The rich and the poor have this in common, the LORD is maker of them all." (Proverbs 22:1-2)
"...He [God] is not partial to princes, nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; for they are all the work of His hands. In a moment they die, in the middle of the night; the people are shaken and pass away; the mighty are taken away without a hand. For His eyes are on the ways of man, and He sees all his steps." (Job 34:19-21)
How To Stop Emulation In Its Tracks...
The apostle Paul noted emulation to be a stronghold of sin. As times get more and more evil, there will be more and more people that cling to this sin of emulation. Those people will never even consider letting go of the ever-building hatred and discontentment in their lives. There will be many who develop ulcers and other illnesses from the self-imposed stress they live in each day. Some will go to the limit of their endurance and, not able to handle the pain, will commit suicide. Some will convince themselves that the injustice of knowing another possesses what they want is too much for them to endure, and those individuals will hurt or kill the person that has the nerve to live the life that they deserve.
All the while the sinner struggles in pain imposed by the flesh and egged on by the devil, Satan will laugh at him, until the sinner is destroyed or gets things right. But how can this person straighten out his priorities and eliminate this addictive sin from his life?
The Bible has had the answer for centuries:
Simple Fact 1. If you truly love God, you cannot have emulation in your heart.
Loving God with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength will cause His will to be done in your life. You will walk with the Spirit each day. God will begin to transform you into the image of Christ Jesus. Love of Christ will spur you on to learning more about Him. You will take time to be at His feet listening to His direction. You will not nurse feelings of pride and selfishness because you will be made to realize how blessed you are to simply be alive. You will see the priceless worth of being a child of God and will grow in the ability to use the wealth God gives you on the earth to build real treasures in heaven.
Simple Fact 2. If you truly love your neighbor, you cannot have emulation in your heart.
Truly loving your neighbor as yourself will serve to make you see the man less fortunate than you as a person in need of assistance. You will see whatever riches you have as blessings from God's hand and will wish to use them for God's purposes. Many times that will mean gifts to the poor. Many times that will mean you use funds to buy something for yourself that will aid in the goal of winning the lost for Jesus. When you love your neighbor as yourself, you will begin to see people as they really are, as either a child of God or as a person that needs to meet Jesus. You will see rich people that are using their money wisely and foolishly, but instead of envying them, you find yourself praying for them; for their decisions, for their happiness, and to help them through their trials.
"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. Love never fails..." (1 Cor 13:4-8)
I wonder, are you reading this while having a hunger and drive for goals that seem to slip through your fingers? I wonder, how many go to work each day and allow the "rat race" to mold them into people that will do anything to claw their way to the top? The term "dog eat dog" was coined for this very thing, you eat or you will be eaten. I believe God has a better way. In His method of success is a way to find a relief from stress, a sense of purpose that puts you outside of the cruel power struggle.
God wants everyone to come to Him and to be His child. He knows what kind of life will fulfill you and yet give you purpose. He wants to put you on a path that leads to an eternity on a street of solid gold, near a throne that shines like diamonds. The Bible says that those who come to Jesus will inherit real wealth beyond anything we can imagine.
God created the universe in 6 days but He said that He was going away to prepare a home for us. He will come back when that home is ready. Can you imagine the house He has for us? If it took six days to make all that exists of the universe that we can see, what could God do in all of these years since His leaving earth? That's going to be one mind-boggling kind of a house waiting for us when we get there! Add to all this, the promise that you will never get sick again and will have a new body like the resurrected Christ, it makes God's offer to all that much more exciting.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
"Come to Me [Jesus] all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."(Matthew 11:28)
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you [to live], and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:1-3)
"...Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. [Our fleshly bodies are ever progressing to where they will die, but our soul and spirit is being renewed daily. Each day is a fresh new day to live for God] For our light affliction, which is but a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, [Our lives are so short compared to eternity, the life we will live in eternity far outweighs the importance of this present one. In view of the eternity of the next life our sufferings here are but "light afflictions"] while we do not look at things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. [As Christians pay attention to the spiritual reality of their coming life in heaven, we realize this life is temporary] For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, [our bodies of flesh] is destroyed, we have a building from God [a new heavenly body] a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 4:16 - 5:4)
"Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2)
There is one caveat, however, sin cannot enter into God's holy presence... and every one of us is a sinner! We were born sinners. What has God done so that we sinners can enter into the holy presence of Jesus Christ?
"But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sin has hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2)
Jesus Christ came to visit the earth in a body made like ours, but had a body without sin. He lived among us and when it was His time, He allowed sinning men to nail Him to an old rugged cross. While He was able to call angels to come to get Him down, He chose to stay until every bit of that sinless blood dripped out of Him, until His heart gave out, broken for us.
"And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots to determine what every man should take." (Mark 15:24)
"Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" (Matthew 26:53-54)
"[Jesus] in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins."(Colossians 1:14)
"I [Jesus] am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; [His heart ruptured] it has melted within Me." (Psalm 22:14)
His blood paid for our sin and He draws each and every person to come to Him for forgiveness. He longs to adopt you into His family as His own child. But He will not make you ask for forgiveness. Instead, He says that He will reason with each person until that person knows the truth, at which time that person has the opportunity to accept or reject what was done for him.
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness [brass serpent on a staff of wood see- Num. 21:9)] even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:14-15)
"And I, if I am lifted up [crucified on a wooden cross], from the earth will draw all peoples to Myself." (John 12:32)
"Come now, and let us reason together,' says the LORD, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'" (Isaiah 1:18)
I have heard people say that God should make everyone come to Him. Well, it just doesn't work that way. If someone did you wrong and after you told them your feelings about the matter, they still refused to acknowledge any wrong done, there would be nothing more you could do to change their heart. It is the same with God. He will not force people to eternal life with Him. People choose life for themselves or eternal death in a place that was not even designed for humans. Hell was designed as punishment for the devil and his angels (the demons).
"I call heaven and earth as witness today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)
"Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'"(Matthew 25:41)
The first thing a person must do is realize where they stand before a holy God. You must see your sin and that the situation is hopeless without Jesus to pay for the sin debt that condemns you. Then you have to approach God in prayer and simply ask for forgiveness and throw yourself into His arms knowing that God will hold you up.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
"And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Acts 2:21)
Simply trust Him and pray this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I can see that I am condemned because of a sin debt I cannot pay. Please, Jesus, forgive me of my sin and save me. I believe that you came to this earth and died for me. I believe they buried you in the tomb but in three days you arose to sit at Your Father's right hand. I am sorry for living like You don't matter, but I will follow You and obey You for the rest of my life. In Jesus' mighty name, Amen.
Others in this series of independent articles: