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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
June 19, 2016
Being a Man of God
A Confused Society
I have been thinking about what I would preach on today for quite sometime because over the years I have often used Father’s Day as an opportunity to challenge men to be what God has called them to be. I will be doing that again this morning because it is a critical issue that keeps becoming more important. That should not be surprising since we live in a society in rapid decline in which the common ideas of what it means to be a man continue to morph into things that are opposite of what God says about men.
In years past when I would ask the rhetorical question, what is a man? I was referring to the character qualities that men should develop in the quest to be manly. Last year I had to begin to answer that question with some basic biology because of the fawning praise the media was giving to former Olympic hero Bruce Jenner in his decision that he wanted to called Caitlynn and be considered a woman. He was being touted as a model of courage and freedom. The tragic reality is opposite for he has fled from the truth and enslaved himself to a lie against every cell in his body in a quest to fulfill the ultimate dream of a drag queen. He has become a role mode for a sick society, but he is an anti-hero for every boy that wants to grow up to be a man. I didn’t think it could be get worse than that, but it has, and in less than a year.
Earlier this year the state of North Carolina enacted a law that would protect its women from men that wanted to gain access to their bathroom, changing facilities and showers. The law said that people using public facilities were to use them in accordance with the gender on their birth certificate. Private companies could allow whatever they wanted. This was immediately denounced as an attack on transgender people with our own governor unilaterally enacting a boycott of North Carolina by New York State government. However, in North Carolina, if you meet the legal requirements for claiming to be transgender, the gender on your birth certificate is changed. The new law was not an attack or even discrimination against such people, yet the rhetoric and actions against North Carolina, often vile or coercive and almost always logically idiotic, has continued unabated. Why?
The answer was found in something I had a hard time wrapping my mind around. The current claim by morally challenged progressives is the confusing idea that gender is fluid. A recent Oregon court ruled that a man there could refer to his gender as “non-binary” and be whatever gender or non-gender he wanted. Weslyan University in Connecticut offers housing for the “LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM” community – 15 gender definitions. That is quite a departure from the beliefs of the great evangelist for whom the university is named. New York City’s new non-discrimination ordinance lists 31 gender pronouns. Pro-family advocate Peter LaBarbera observed, “I think there’s already like what, 54 identities” I can’t keep track anymore, but their going to continue to invent these weird identities like this one, which is ‘genderqueer,’ which means you can be anything on any given day.” North Carolina is getting grief and being boycotted because it wants to prevent predatory anatomical males from using claims of gender fluidity to gain access to the private areas used by girls and women. New York State has gone the opposite direction and made it open season on our females by such predatory males. Gender fluidity is being given priority over safety and privacy for females.
At the same time social progressives are pushing this claim of gender being fluid, they are also pushing the claim of homosexual activists that they are born with a sexual orientation that cannot change and therefore psychologists and counselors must be banned from helping those with unwanted gender confusion reorient themselves according to their physical anatomy. This is the third step down of God’s judgment in Romans 1: 28 of being given over to depraved minds to do those things which are not proper. They no longer have the capacity to think properly or even logically.
Attacks on Manhood
Gender fluidity is only the latest and strangest of the mix of ideas causing confusion in our society about what it means to be a man resulting in many adult males in our nation that are not men. I still like the definition for being a man Stephen and Alex Kendrick give in their book, The Resolution for Men. They state, “A man is an adult male who accepts his masculinity, speaks and acts with maturity, embraces responsibility, functions independently, can lead a family faithfully, and recognizes his accountability as an image bearer of God.” I like the fact they state that it takes much more to be a man than just being an adult male.
Masculinity has been attacked by feminism for many decades which has had a terrible consequence of effectively emasculating male character traits from many men resulting in them being dominated by women. As I explained from Proverbs 14:1 in my sermon on Mother’s Day, the wise woman builds up her house, but there are many foolish ones, including those professing to be Christians, that tear their home down with their own hands. As a wife, such a woman may give lip service to wanting her husband to lead, but that is only if he is going the direction she is telling him. As a mother, such a woman destroys her sons before they even get a chance to fulfill their God given roles. Instead of instilling in them the courage and boldness that are needed to step out and lead, she instills in them risk avoidance, and the greatest risk is failure to acquiesce to her will. Of even greater tragedy is that she has dominated her husband to such an extent that he will not protect his son from her and becomes himself a very poor model of manhood. It is so bad in some homes that the sons become effeminate.
Another attack on manhood has been the extension of adolescence to beyond even the college years. There are a lot of men that simply do not grow up. Males in their mid teens should be considered young men and treated accordingly with an expectation of being able to fulfill the increasing responsibilities of adulthood. Instead, our society treats teens as big kids who must be coddled and protected and allowed, even urged, to pursue pleasure and enjoyment. That continues throughout college so that many males get the idea that life is about fun and games. So many remain immature into their late twenties and early thirties that even secular women are complaining they cannot find a man who is responsible enough to be worth marrying. They want a man that will take on the role of a husband and treat them as a wife, but what they find are males that desire a sex partner who will take care of them like a mother.
Government and society also attack manhood with its changing definitions of family and removal of responsibility. Welfare has become an entitlement instead of a safety net. Men are not held accountable for their actions – or inaction. The idea of a minimum annual income, whether you work or not, is now being floated by the socialist political wing. Males who are allowed to be lazy and dependent on government handouts do not become men. Such a man lacks the skills necessary to lead a family even if he stays with his children and their mother.
Another attack on manhood is the increase in the secularization of our society. How can a male be the man God designed him to be if he will not submit himself to his Creator, or in the case of an increasing percentage of the population, even acknowledge God’s existence?
Let me emphasize here that the world is trying to mold you into its image and so society will have an effect on you unless you are diligent to fight against it and are being transformed by the renewing of your mind. You have to watch out for not only what obviously comes from a secular culture, you also have to watch out for its perversions of Christianity. Dads, you must help your sons with this because they are the ones most vulnerable to the dangers I have already talked about this morning.
For example, humans are selfish and more than willing to twist or edit Scripture for personal advantage. There are women that intimidate their husbands by citing the command in Ephesians 5:25 that husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her. Her charge is that he is not sacrificing enough for her, but the reality is that no man will ever be able to match the sacrificial love of Christ even if he is selfless. Why? Because he does not have as much that can be sacrificed as Christ even if he died for her benefit. No man is an equivalent to Jesus and no man can take away his wife’s sins. But that brings up verse 26 which is usually conveniently left out in a call for a man to prove his love by sacrificing himself for his wife. The sacrifice he is to make is not so that she will be happy. The sacrifice he is to make is specifically for the purpose in following Christ’s example that he might sanctify her.
No doubt you have heard the quip, happy wife, happy life. Men, it is not her happiness that you need to be concerned about. It is her holiness. Pursuing her happiness so that you will not be miserable is selfish. Sacrifice to lead her in holiness even if she does all she can to make you miserable for it. And while there is no doubt that God wants your marriage to succeed because it is to be a picture of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32), don’t be afraid of 1 Corinthians 7. She needs to know that Jesus Christ is more important in your life than she is, and if she can’t take that, then she doesn’t have to stay. You will do everything in your power to have a successful marriage, which includes holiness, but you must not compromise your own walk with the Lord to appease her. A miserable marriage in the pursuit of holiness is better than a happy marriage in the pursuit of sinfulness.
Overcoming The Obstacles
To all these attacks on manhood I give you the challenge King Joab gave to his army when they found the enemy armies of the Arameans were both in front and behind them, “Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous.” The Philistines gave a similar challenge to one another as they faced the army of Israel and learned that the Ark of the Covenant had just come into their camp, “take courage and be men, O Philistines! . . . be men and fight.”
I say, so what if the feminists are against us. I say, it does not matter if the progressives fight us. I say, don’t be dismayed if your friends turn out to be lazy and irresponsible. I say, don’t pay attention to the rants of the atheists and agnostics. I say to every male here regardless of your personal situation, be strong and show yourself courageous, be men and fight! I say to you what God said to Job in calling him to be pay attention and be prepared, Now gird up your loins like a man!
Are you a man or just a male? Are you men or wimps? Are you the intimidated or are you willing to stand up and be the intimidator? Are you going to be immobilized by fear or are you going to be courageous and strong? Courage is a basic aspect of manhood. Courage is not foolhardiness or taking unnecessary risk, but neither is it the absence of fear. You do not have to swim with sharks to be a man. You do not have to face the enemy bare-handed to be a man. You do not have to risk your life, health or wealth for an unworthy cause to be a man. You do have to wisely assess the situation and then boldly face your fear and make your best effort to do what is right before God. That is courage. That is being strong. That is girding your loins and being a man.
While all of society would benefit if more males would rise up and be men, just being a man is not enough. You have to be the right type of man, and that is why the Kendricks added in the phrase, “and recognizes his accountability as an image bearer of God.” You need to be a man of God.
Men of God
We can learn a lot about manhood simply by looking at the key characteristics of those recorded in Scripture who were called, “man of God.” There are at least 12 men and one angel (Judges 13) that are given that title. The list includes Moses, Samuel, David, Shemaiah, Elijah, Elisha, Igdaliah and several unnamed prophets. A character sketch of their lives reveals many qualities God wants us to have. Even the unnamed and little known ones give us some idea.
Igdaliah is only mentioned in passing in Jeremiah 35:4, yet we learn from that the importance of a godly reputation. Jeremiah brought the household of the Rechabites “into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the officials, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the doorkeeper.” The particular place is important and described in detail because of its association with this particular man of God. Proverbs 22:1 states that “A good name is to be more desired that great wealth . . .” A man of God will build a good reputation.
There is little known about the unnamed men in 1 Samuel 2:27, 1 Kings 20:28 and 2 Chron. 25:7-9 who were given the title, a man of God, other than their action in being faithful to deliver the message God had given to them. One had an easy task in giving a message of victory to Ahab, king of Israel. One had to give a message of judgment to Eli about his death and that of his sons and a curse on his descendants. The third one had to warn king Amaziah of Judah about hiring valiant warriors of Israel as mercenaries. Each of them was faithful to the task God gave them. The same is true of Shemaiah in 1 Kings 12:22 who warned king Rehoboam. Faithfulness is a characteristic of a man of God.
There is a little more known about the unnamed man of God described in 1 Kings 13 who confronted Jeroboam, the first king of Israel, and prophesied against the altar Jeroboam had set up as a blasphemous alternative to the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This proved to be dangerous because Jeroboam ordered him to be seized, but God intervened and caused his hand to dry up and remain stuck out. The man of God had to pray for Jeroboam for God to restore it. The man of God was determined to obey all the commands God had given him until he was deceived by another prophet that lied to him. The result was that he was killed by a lion for his disobedience. He is mentioned again in 2 Kings 23:16-17 when Josiah fulfilled the prophecy he had made some 300 years earlier. This man of God demonstrated courage and boldness in confronting an evil king, but he also reveals that a man of God is still just a man subject to doubt and deception and therefore failure.
The first named individual who is referred to as the man of God multiple times is Moses. The first reference is in the heading to the blessing given by him to the sons of Israel in Deuteronomy 33:1. He also has that title in the heading to Psalm 90, a prayer which was written by him. The usage of this title in both of these cases is an overall characterization of the man without reference to any specific attribute. In Joshua 14:6-12, Caleb refers to Moses both as the man of God and the servant of the Lord as he reminds Joshua of the word which the Lord spoke to Moses forty-five years earlier promising him both life and land in country they would conquer. Moses is the man of God because the Lord revealed Himself to him and through him.
Moses is characterized and set apart as the man of God in the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 23:14. In 2 Chronicles 30:16 that title is used as a means to emphasize that the law Moses had given to the Levites was from God. The title is used in the same way in Ezra 3:2. Moses displayed all characteristics in the Kendricks’ definition of a man. He accepted his masculinity and learned to speak and act with maturity. When he was young he tried to embrace more than his responsibility resulting in his killing the Egyptian that was beating a Hebrew. Moses was hesitant to accept the responsibility God gave him forty years later to go back to Egypt to set His people free, but he embraced it as he learned to trust the Lord. Moses repeatedly demonstrated he could function independently. Like any of us it is always easier to stand up if others are standing with you, but Moses would also act independently as needed. Such was the case when he stood up to the shepherds and helped the daughters of Reuel in watering their flocks and when he became shepherd to those flocks over the next forty years. It is also seen in how many times he met with the Lord alone on the mountain of God even when it was so frightening to everyone else (Exodus 19, etc.). Moses not only led his own family, he led the entire nation of Israel. Those are all attributes of being a man. What made him a man of God was his submission to the Lord, a characteristic emphasized in Numbers 12:3 where he is described as being “very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” Being meek or humble is not being weak. It is power under control because of being in submission to a higher authority. Moses was bold and courageous enough to face down Pharaoh who was probably the most powerful man on earth at that time, but Moses did that in complete submission to the Lord so that he did it the Lord’s way in the Lord’s timing. That characteristic enabled Moses to be used by the Lord in many ways including being the receiver of God’s law to give to His people.
Samuel is called the man of God by Saul in 1 Samuel 9:6 -10. In this context, Samuel was known in part by that title because of his prophetic abilities and Saul was seeking him out with the hope that he might reveal whether he would be successful in looking for his lost donkeys. However, Samuel was also known as the man of God because he was held in honor by all. The previous chapters describe Samuel’s call by the Lord and faithfulness in serving Him as the last of the judges. That is why he was held in such high honor by the people. A characteristic of a man of God is that he is honorable.
David is called the man of God in 2 Chronicles 8:14 and Nehemiah 12:24,36. All three of these references are related to David’s commands as king to organizing the Levites in preparation for the worship of God in the Temple that his son Solomon would build. There are many characteristics of David that demonstrate he was a man’s man ranging from his fight with Goliath though still a ruddy youth, to being a general in Saul’s army, to being a wise king that led his people well. However, the reason that he is called a man of God is because of the priority that he placed on making sure the Lord would be worshiped properly. David wanted to build the Temple for the Lord himself, but God said no because David was a man of war. Instead, it would be Solomon, who would be a man of peace, that would build it after David had died. David had a vision for what would occur beyond his own life span and so prepared for the building of the Temple by collecting the needed materials and organizing the Levites to fulfill their God given roles. A characteristic of a man of God shown in David’s life is living for a purpose beyond himself for the glory of God.
Elijah is called the man of God in several places. The first time it is used is in 1 Kings 17:17 by a distraught mother whose son had just died. Elijah raised the child back to life and she said to him in a very different tone, “Now I know you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” God used the miracle to demonstrate that what Elijah spoke was from actually from God. In 2 Kings 1:9-13 the title is used of Elijah five times, twice by Elijah and three times by different captains of fifty that had been sent by king Ahaziah of Israel to capture him. The first two captains called Elijah a man of God in a sarcastic manner to which Elijah replied, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty,” and so all of them died. Their third captain came humbly and respectfully said, “O man of God, please let my life and the lives of these fifty servant of yours be precious in your sight.” Elijah spared their lives and even went with them to the king whom he confronted again. In both cases it took miracles for people to recognize what should have been recognized without the miracles. Elijah was a man of God because he spoke on behalf of God.
Elisha is the last man in the Hebrew Scriptures called the man of God, and he is called that twenty-nine times in 2 Kings 4-13. It is often used as a second name for him. He is called Elisha only ten times more than that in those same chapters, and only twice are the two combined as “Elisha the man of God.” Like Elijah, this title is used for Elisha because of the miracles he did and his proclamation of God’s word. The Shunammite woman also called him that because she recognized his holy character.
Each of these men were called a man of God because it was recognized that they represented God and spoke His words. They were also recognized for having a character shaped by God into being holy and righteous, though they were still just men and could fail. Some of them performed recorded miracles that proved their title and others did not.
At this point someone might say what relevance does this have now since each of these men were also prophets and it was a long time ago. Can someone who is not a prophet be a man of God? Can someone today be a man of God? The answer to both questions is yes.
In 1 Timothy 6 Paul is giving Timothy instructions for his ministry in Ephesus about what to do and what to avoid and in verse 11 he says, “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”
Timothy was still a young man at this time for Paul had encouraged him in the previous chapter (1 Timothy 4:12) not to let anyone “look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”
While you will not be a prophet like those in the Old Testament that performed miracles, you can be a man of God like Timothy. You do not need to be old and you do not even have to have matured in every area. You only need to be recognized as someone who is committed to serving the Lord and matured enough to be able to credibly represent Him.
How can you become a man of God? Paul answers that question in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” It is the word of God that changes you so that you become a man of God that is adequate and equipped for every good work God wants you to do. That means this is within reach of any of you that are serious about being men who walk with God. It also means we go directly to the Scriptures to define manliness and godliness instead of looking to social or cultural norms. The examples of those who were called man of God have already given us some of these characteristics such as boldness, courage, faithfulness, meekness, honorable, living for God’s glory and declaring God’s word.
Characteristics of Godly Men
1 Timothy 3:8-10,12-13, lists the character qualities that are necessary to be a deacon. Since any man has the potential to become a deacon, this passage sets a good standard for the attributes a man should seek to develop if he wants to be a man of God. Since I preached on these last Father’s Day, I will not elaborate on them this year, but I do want to point them out. (See: Men Worth Emulating)
8 “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, 9 but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. . . 12 Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” Notice this covers both character qualities and practical results those attributes will bring about such as managing their homes well.
Another Scripture text that gives a good description of the basic character qualities of a man is Psalm 15. A Psalm of David. 1 O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? 2 He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. 3 He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 4 In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.
A godly man is known by both what he does and what he does not do. You walk in integrity and work righteousness because these attributes are demonstrated in action. Be suspicious of a person who claims these without action for they are probably liars. Truth will come out in what is said if it exists in the heart, but liars can fake it for a while without it being on their heart. Slandering and taking up a reproach are two of the many ways evil can be done to a neighbor, and all of them are contrary to having integrity and a righteous character. A godly man should be able to discern basic character and will treat people according to what will glorify God and not what will further personal gain. Do not despise the godly and honor reprobates though this is currently popular among societal elite. A godly man keeps his word even when circumstances change and his promises will cost him. It is a matter of his integrity and having a good name. He will also not take unfair advantage of people or pervert justice. A godly man is not shaken regardless of the circumstances that come upon him. He retains his character in all situations. (See: Looking for a Few Good Men)
We live in a confused society, but you do not have to be confused. The characteristics of true manliness and godliness are the same now as they have always been regardless of what nonsense is advocated by societal elite, government or media. God defines such things, not humans. My challenge to you today – be strong, be courageous, gird up your loins like man.
Sermon Notes: Being a Man of God
A Confused Society
What is a Man?
Attacks on Manhood
Extension of Adolescence
Changing Definitions of the Family & Entitlements
Overcoming The Obstacles
Men of God
Unnamed Men of God
Timothy – 1 Timothy 6:11
Characteristics of Godly Men
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times the word “man” is used. Talk with your parents about the characteristics that a man should strive to develop.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What are your thoughts about societies reaction to gender confusion? How would you define a man? Describe your observations of the effect of each of the following on masculinity – Gender fluidity, Feminism, Extension of Adolescence, Government welfare, Secularization, Scripture twisting. What are common characteristics of men described in the Bible as “the man of God”? What would it take for you to be a man of God according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17? What characteristics of a Godly man are described in 1 Timothy 3:8-10, 12-13 and Psalm 15?
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