Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Psalm 36

Psalm 36
Sermon Notes
The Worst Flatterer
March 8, 2015
Lynchburg, Virginia

            Flattery is always a dangerous game. The flatterer spends compliments to purchase favor. He may not really believe his words but he does believe in his benefits.
To flatter and to be flattered are both dangerous occupations. The flatterer is insincere but the flattered is also potentially deceived. What he thinks is a legitimate compliment may be nothing of the sort. His adoring fan may have convinced him that he is wise, or bold, or benevolent when he is may, in fact,  be none of these things. He may be foolish, fearful and greedy.
To flatter is to lie. To be flattered is to love to hear lies. The anti-dote is honesty before the Lord. Our concern must be what God thinks of us not what man says he thinks. God always gives us an honest evaluation. He speaks the truth in love.
As we learn to think God’s thoughts after Him, we, too, learn to speak the truth in love. We do not flatter but we do seek to encourage. Encouragement sometimes requires hard words, even words that will not earn us favor. This is why we must be a people of faith. If we do what God calls us to do, then we can trust that He will take note and will reward us accordingly. We are not concerned with man’s rewards and so we do not seek to cultivate favor through flattery.
No man is in a worse position than when he flatters himself. If you tell yourself lies to justify your views and actions, you will soon prove to be convincing. You will build yourself up in your deceits until you believe them so strongly you cannot be made to see the lie. This is what happens to a man when there is no fear of God before his eyes.

Psalm 36 To the Chief Musician
A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD.

Psalm 36:1 The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. 
No fear of God is a bad place to be. This is tantamount to an atheistic view. He does not fear God because he does not believe that God takes note and keeps count. If he believes in God at all, he does not believe that God is omniscient and all-powerful. Namely, he denies God’s sovereignty over men. The Psalmist declares that this is a bad position.
Keep in mind that it is not merely the wicked man that says this. A wicked man may say that he has the fear of God in mind. He may claim that he does what he does with God in mind. But his transgression speaks differently. A wicked man deceives himself and others but his actions speak clearly.
If he says that he love God but hates his brother, then he is a liar. He does not really love God. If he says that he loves God but is living in open scandalous sin, drunkenness, pornography, adultery, homosexuality, fornication, then he does not love God. He is a liar. His transgression reveals the lie.
He says that he loves God but his transgression reveals that he does not fear God. He says by his actions that God does not take note. He is not concerned whether God knows or not, because he seeks to fulfill his own desire rather than seeking to glorify God.

2 For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. 
It is bad enough to flatter others. A flatterer has an agenda. His comments are not necessarily heartfelt. They are given to earn the other’s favor. Flattery is dishonesty in relationship.
But how much more wicked is a man who flatters himself? He compliments himself on his behavior so that he can earn favor from himself? He tells himself that he is wise or benevolent or cunning or smart and then he believe the lie that he tells himself. He gets caught in his own deceit.
Eventually, his iniquity is found hateful. What he says is love, what he says is wisdom, what he says is smarts, eventually crashes down on his own head. He would not submit himself to true wisdom and consequently reaps foolishness. But he does not really see that he is the fool. He thinks that he is playing others for the fool at just the moment that he is about to take his biggest fall.
We understand this sort of story. It plays out for us in the movies. It plays out for us in real life. Just when you think you are wise in your own eyes and have pulled one over on somebody, your sin is revealed and the truth is shocking.
Children, you understand this, right? The Bible calls you to tell the truth. But if you tell a lie and then get caught in it, you might be tempted to tell another lie and another until you actually believe your own lies. Just when you think you’ve got away scot free, the lies unravel, including your own self-deceit and you are humbled before God and your parents. So, do not get too high-minded. Stay humble in your own eyes. Listen to counsel and not to your own self-flattery.

3 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good. 
Iniquity and deceit go together. The Lord calls us to be men, women and children of our word. But a man, woman or child who begins to deceive will certainly fall into iniquity. He thinks he is being wise or cunning but he is not. He has left off being wise and has become a fool.
Seeking to do himself good, he deceives himself that his actions are good. But they are not. They are bad.

4 He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.
Where does your mind run to as you lie in bed? Do you devise plans of evil? I guess it depends on how you define evil? But do you deliver speeches to your parents, or pastor or friends, defending your actions against their remonstrances? Do you seek to put them in their place? Do you secretly hope or even plan their demise? Do not be deceived. As a man thinketh, so is he. You are what you set your mind on. The hands follow the heart.
We have all had moments when our thoughts got away from us. We have imagined a vain thing. We have imagined harm to our neighbor rather than love to our neighbor. I do not call you wicked for committing such a sin. We are all sinners. But what do you do with that sort of sin? Do you confess, repent and seek to set your mind on whatsoever things are good, and honorable and beyond reproach? Or, do you feed the evil imagination with iniquities? That is the difference. Do you flatter yourself in your vain imaginations or do you condemn such thoughts to a deserving death?
Are you set in a good way, a good path, or a bad one? What is your trajectory? Where are you going?
Do you abhor evil? Like God, do you hate those men who love their sin? Do you hate your own sins? If you do not hate evil, then you might make friends with the devil. Christian, do not do that. Cultivate a divine mortification of sin.

Psa. 36:5   Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. 
Here is a great encouragement for confession. The Lord’s mercy is in the heavens. That is a way of saying that the Lord’s mercy is as high as the stars. His faithfulness to forgive sins and receives sinners is in the clouds.
The heavens and the clouds are important symbols. The heavens is the place where the Lord is said to reside. Of course, we know that He is omnipresent but His special abode is in the heavens. Jesus even ascended up into the heavens to be seated at the right hand of the Father.
The clouds are a symbol of God’s glory. It redounds to God’s glory to be merciful and forgive sinners. He blesses such sinners, no doubt, but He delights in mercy. This reveals an essential aspect of God’s character. He glorifies Himself when He forgives sin.
Given this truth, it would be foolish to cover up and justify our sins. If we do so, then God does get to glorify Himself by revealing His mercy. But when you confess sins you do reveal the glory of God.

6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast. 
The Lord’s righteousness is like a great mountain. It is big and looms over all. He is the One who does right and always does right. When our actions are set against His, they are revealed for what they are. This is why the wicked flatterer is such a farce. He imagines that he justifies himself. But when his actions are weighed against the great mountain of God’s righteousness, they are mere ant hills to be swept away in God’s judgment.
If even or good actions are wanting in the light of God’s righteousness, how much more so the acts of the wicked. With all his flattering, he cannot must an argument that will stand against God, the One who always does that which is right.
God as judge is a good thing. Many of us have been taught to fear God the Judge. But the Bible teaches us to go to Him and plead for mercy. God, the Judge, is merciful to those who seek out His mercy. But His wrath is against all those who justify themselves. Thus, as Judge, He reveals both wrath and mercy; wrath to those who justify themselves, mercy to those who are justified in Jesus.
The wicked man does not flee to God for preservation. He seeks to save himself. 
(Illustration- Interstallar). Although this was sort of a 'cool' movie, it was one of the most unChristian movies I have ever seen. The bottom line was that we do not need anyone to save us, not even a ghost, not even the Holy Ghost. We are perfectly capable of saving ourselves. What a lie!
The righteous man understands that God is his only hope.

7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.  8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. 
God’s lovingkindness is excellent. The Bible says that God’s kindness leads us to repentance. We know that our kind God will forgive us, grant us mercy and cover us with His loving wings. If God covers us, we are safe.
God provides all food, the fatness of His house and all that is good, the river of His pleasures.  God actually desires our happiness because they flow from His happiness.

9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.  10 O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart. 
The fountain of life is to be found in God. The wicked man is seeking pleasure in anything but God. He cannot escape God because all good comes from God. Even wicked pleasures are simply God’s good things turned inside out. The wicked wants the pleasure of God’s world without God’s rules. But the righteous recognizes that all good things come from God for God is goodness. Once we see this truth, then we can rejoice in all of the goodness of life. It is like a fountain which ever bubbles up the glory of God. If we would only see.
Our ability to see light is only from light. We are moons. Our light is from Christ. To this extent, we ought not to be proud of our light. We see but we see by mercy. We see by grace. So, our pray is that God would continue to bless us in His light and that His light would shine through us to others, enabling them to see the source of the light.
To know God is to know His loving kindness. May God continue to show us this and His righteousness.

11 Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me.  12 There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.
It is good to pray for protection from the prideful and the wicked. We do not fight the wicked based upon their rules. We have a dramatically unfair advantage. We fight with spiritual weapons, prayer, praise, thanksgiving. And when we fight this way, God fights for us.
Were we to knock down our enemy, surely he would rise with redoubled vengeance. But were God to smite him for us, he will not rise. Thus, the workers of iniquity will fall and will not rise.

Where are you going?
            The Lord is interested in culture. He desires to bring the powers under the authority of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the authority but we do not yet see all things in submission to Him. So, in our lives, we should desire to work in such a way as to glorify the authority, the reign of Jesus.
            Thus, we are pleased when the Lord raises up godly leaders, pastors, civil magistrates of various sorts, police chiefs, fire chiefs, mayors, council members, state political representatives, governors, congressman, judges, supreme courts justices and even presidents.
            And it seems that many have chosen the means of rising to position of power through less than honorable means. They want the places of power and are willing to do whatever it takes to get there and stay there.
What’s more, this way of doing business seems to work. We were all told as children ‘cheaters never prosper.’ But the reality is that cheaters do prosper. Cheaters sometimes attain the highest level of commerce or political power. Lying, back door deals, pedaling influence, do in fact get people to the top.
But we are to be a people who know that getting to the top God’s way looks very different. We want to get to the top but we want to get there by God’s means.
When the wicked climb to the top, the Lord holds them in derision and laughs. Like Haman, being high up means there is a long way to fall, a lot of rope to hang one’s self. And this passage tells us that when the wicked fall, they do not rise up again.
It is good for us to pray that the foot of the prideful not be stumble the righteous. We pray that their hand is not raised up against the righteous and that they are caught in their own schemes in such a way that their fall is an utter calamity.
But the righteous, the man of integrity is raised in such a way that he is not cast down. If you are faithful in the little things and refuse to play by worldly standards, then any slanders against you are just that slanders. Lies to bring you down. And the slanderer is one with the flatterer. He will be caught in his own trap.

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