The Problem of Addiction. An obstacle to growth. 2 Peter ch 2.
Consider some of the areas of addiction in society today.
1. Drugs – drug addicts – including nicotine.
2. Alcohol – including binge drinking.
3. Over eating – gluttony and under eating – anorexia and bulimia.
4. Swearing – blasphemy and foul language. Some cannot stop using the words. Some have only two adjectives in their vocabulary.
5. Stealing – a man may be described as an habitual thief.
6. Worrying. Anxiety. 124 times Jesus says: “Do not be anxious.”
7. Gambling and gaming machines.
8. Sexual activity. Many are becoming addicted to pornography. Everyone is at risk today. In previous years it was embarrassing to gamble or find pornography in public places but today it is online in the home where people can have access alone. Satan came to Eve when she was alone. Every child is at risk. The web site on pornography has a severe warning – “Don’t look if you are under 18.” Whom will that stop?
9. Television. Telly Addicts.
10. The materialists in society are addicted to acquiring more and more material possessions. They are known as shopaholics. Shopacholics wander up and down the shopping malls of the land. It is better for a man to shop after having eaten when he will be less inclined to buy.
11. Mobile phones and the internet.
12. Perhaps the most serious addiction is work – many people are workaholics. The largest untreated addiction is of those who are workaholics.
Addiction is perhaps the major issue today.
What does it mean to be addicted? The dictionary definition is “one who has become dependent on something and is unable to do without it.” The activity assumes a greater importance than it merits.
It is important to differentiate between a habit and an addiction. A habit is a tendency or practice. There are good habits and bad habits, but the bad habits are not dangerous to health or to others. Good habits, like making the meals at the same time each day are helpful. Addictions are harmful to the individual and may also be harmful to others. Some habits are not sins e.g. nail biting. But they are still hard to give up.
It is difficult to get people to change their ways. The Governments are finding that with aids. They want people to change their sexual behaviour. They have passed legislation to stop smoking in public places. People feel comfortable if others behave the way they do – especially in sinful areas. Sin always loves a companion. It seems less wrong, if everyone else does it. One of the characteristics of sin is that it is slavery. Romans ch 6 v 16. Gal ch 3 v 22. God uses the picture of the Israelites in Egypt to show the power of sin over a person. They could not escape by their own efforts. The Egyptians were too powerful. They needed God to help them.
A man should not feel guilty about a habit, if it is not a sin. Often parents make children feel guilty to try to break the habit. Are some people possessed? An addiction need not lead to a person being possessed. But it may do. It needs discernment as to whether or not a person is possessed. A gardener wishing to grow good potatoes needs fertile soil in which to plant his potatoes. In the same way Satan needs fertile ground to plant his demons in the life of a person. A person who is a heavy drinker gives Satan the opportunity to plant a demon of alcohol in that person. Someone who is into serious eating might find a spirit of gluttony has invaded his life. Gambling and pornography are other areas where Satan may move in. Peter and Paul both warn believers to beware the wiles of the Devil. The challenge to believers is that they too are vulnerable to addictions.
God created man with 3 basic instincts.
Not to be eaten – an instinct for security or self-protection. God built into human beings healthy fears – the fear of being burned keeps a man away from fire. The fear of falling keeps a man away from the edge of a cliff.
These instincts are also built into the animal world. Birds and animals instinctively eat to survive and reproduce. They instinctively seek to preserve themselves. They are careful to watch out for predators.
As a result of the fall these instincts are out of order. The craving brain drives them.
The instinct to eat is flawed and as a result there are the eating disorders – Anorexia. Gluttony.
The instinct to survive leads to fear, anxiety and the control of others. Many join gangs and organisations like the Masons to protect themselves. Is this what is behind children carrying knives and then guns. In many countries people sleep with a gun under their pillow for self-preservation.
Sexual disorder leads to adultery, pornography, prostitution, and all kinds of perversion.
Jude v 10. “Those things they know by instinct, like wild animals, are the very things that destroy them.”
If a plant is placed in a pot and given adequate soil, light and water, it will grow. But if the pot has little soil and is full of rocks the growth will be very limited even if placed in the sun and given plenty water. Eventually the plant will die. There are certain basic requirements if a person born of the Spirit of God is to grow spiritually. There are various obstacles to spiritual growth such as inferiority complex, false teaching, rejection, shame, fear, memories, idolatry, etc. An addiction in the life of a believer will stunt his spiritual growth. As a result many believers do not grow spiritually as they ought to grow.
Evangelists may preach a message about Jesus and claim that it is now up to them. “It is their responsibility. Their destiny is in their hands.” Many come to Jesus in response but the addiction or addictions in their life are never dealt with. A shallow diagnosis of their problems leads to a shallow cure. There needs to be a true biblical diagnosis before true conversion. Only a small percentage of people who respond to the call of the evangelist are able to persevere to the end, because their spiritual doctor does not tell them either that they need to deal with their addictions or, if they do, how to do it.
How do the addictions arise in the first place? Eccles ch 3 v 11. There is a hole in the human heart to be filled with Jesus. Without Jesus there is a hole – an emptiness- a loneliness of the soul. Man turns to various alternatives to fill the void or hole and can easily become addicted to something or someone to fill that hole.
People live today in a highly addictive society. Society promotes addiction. The vast majority of people come from dysfunctional families – no one is perfect due to original sin. There is a built-in flaw. Today so many live in a single parent family. The pain of loneliness often pushes people towards addiction with a desire to belong to a group – a gang. Adverts tell a man that he has a problem. Something is wrong with him if he does not have or use their product. Then they offer a solution by buying their product.
The brain produces a craving for something or someone. During adolescence hormonal changes like surges in the body produce changes in the brain leading to addictions. The teenage years are dangerous. They are like waves against the shore landscaping the shore. The lives of young people are shaped by events. The brain is landscaped to cope with the chemicals in the body and images on the mind. This can lead to a lifelong craving. The death of a parent or a divorce can lead to addictive behaviour.
Childhood trauma is created by children being abused physically and verbally. Names hurt. They cause emotional wounds. Large numbers of boys and girls are sexually abused. Adults are afraid of aids and take out their perversion on children who are a safer option. Many children in society are unprotected because their dad is often not there to protect them. As a result many children suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. They feel abandoned when there is a loss of love within families. They experience rejection and shame. As a result they look for value outside of themselves and approval through achievement. “Maybe if I work hard and achieve at school I will be appreciated and loved.”
Man is inclined to seek pleasure and avoid pain. The heating is controlled to keep the temperature comfortable. For a young person the first pint of beer gives a buzz but then it needs another one to continue the buzz and slowly an addiction builds up. Gradually a man reaches beyond his tolerance limit and then the mind becomes addicted. Sexual addiction may move on to perversion. There is an increase in activity to get the same buzz or pleasure.
There are 3 symptoms or signs, which indicate that a person is addicted.
Loss of control.
Caffeine can be addictive and lead to a person having a headache when there is no caffeine available and they are forced into withdrawal.
There is a cycle for addicts. Emotional or physical pain sets in. The addict takes steps to ease the pain by serving his addiction. This is followed by a period of well-being. Then that feeling of well-being departs and the depression sets in again. With lust there is an act of sexual gratification. This may give rise to a feeling of well-being. But then guilt sets in. Then there is a fresh craving to do it again. The mind is out of control. God always intended that man would live under the control of the Holy Spirit. Part of the fruit of the spirit is self-control – the ability to say “No” to temptation. Gal ch 5 v 23.
What are the personal consequences of addiction?
Denial. “I am not really doing any harm. I can stop whenever I want.”
Loss of feelings. Self-centredness. Pornography leads to loneliness and isolation.
There may be mood changes as the hormones in the brain are affected.
The need for control of the addiction once it becomes out of control.
Dishonesty. Lying to cover up what is going in.
Financial consequences. The alcoholic’s family may be suffering financially. The family of the gambling addict will certainly be suffering unless he is on a winning streak and able to stop when he is on top.
Eph ch 2 v 1-3. There are: 1. Generational issues. Psalm 51. “In sin did my mother conceive me.” There may be a spiritual problem in the family, which leads to immoral behaviour – a spirit of adultery. His father and grandfather did the same thing.
2. Environmental sin. Man lives in a fallen World system where the king of darkness rules and pressurises people to behave in a certain way. The Government brought in a lottery. The Government advocates promiscuity – just not too many partners.
3. There are cravings of a man’s desire. James ch 4 v 1-4.
Before true conversion all three issues need to be addressed.
Romans ch 7 v 24-25. “Who will deliver me?” Not a system or programme but a person – Jesus. Then there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
The way out of addiction. To get rid of rats you must first get rid of the garbage.
1. Detach. Repent. Receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Put down idols.
Withdrawal. This may involve depression as the brain craves the substance. Starve it to death. “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” James ch 4 v 7.
2. Grieve your loss. A man needs to sit on his pain and allow God to heal him. It may result in a miracle but more likely it will be a process. For most healing is more or less. And most people are healed over a period of time. There will be a process of recovery from addiction. Where there is possession does the person want to be delivered? There should not be an assumption of demons. However, where there are symptoms, demons may be present. It takes discernment to decide between addiction and possession.
3. Accept personal discipleship.
A. A. looks for a sponsor to whom the addict can relate and turn to for support at any time of the day. Jesus as the perfect man needs to be the sponsor. Jesus is fully in touch with His emotions. Men are inclined to suppress their emotions and not show them. Jesus helps a man to get in touch with his emotions. Jesus longs for a man to be free and to be more like Him.
There is a programme with A. A. known as the steps to freedom. It can be adapted.
1. A man needs to come out of denial and accept that he has a problem.
2. He needs to believe that Jesus can restore him to sanity and turn his life over to Jesus.
3. He needs to prepare an honest moral Inventory in order to expose sins in his life.
4. Admit his wrongs to Jesus and to another person. “Confess your sins to one another.” James ch 5 v 16.This releases the power of darkness. It can be humiliating and risky, if the other person talks. When the sin is exposed to the light the darkness disappears.
5. Ask Jesus to remove the defects. Alcohol. Eph ch 5 v 18. “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery: but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Don’t do that. Do this instead.
7. A man should list all people who have been harmed by him as a result of his addiction and take steps to make amends where possible. There is a release where restitution is made.
8. Keep a personal inventory for regular check ups. Repentance is a life style.
9. Pray and meditate. Build up a spiritual life again.
There are 5 other practical steps to take.
Connect to healthy people who are becoming like Jesus. A man becomes like people with whom he shares time.
Keep away from the source of the addiction.
Find people who are grace-filled and broken. Never trust a person who does not walk with a limp.
Make time to worship Jesus. “Abide in me and let the fruit grow.” John ch 15.
Be serious about discipleship and keep in touch with people who know their Bible.
Deep wounds need careful healing.
A man’s biggest problem in life is himself. He does not really understand himself or know enough about himself. What is in his body? How does it work? Why does a man behave in a certain way? What controls the future? What effect does man’s past have on his life today? What lies ahead when a man dies? If a man does not know all the answers, who does? There are many knowledgeable people in the World. What advice do they have for a man? Different people tell a man what he should do about himself.
1. Know yourself. Socrates advised that a man should know himself by the study of the science of the body and mind.
2. Control yourself. The Stoics taught a man that he should exercise self-control. He should do good deeds and stop doing bad ones. This will make a man better off and good behaviour will save his soul. A man should obey his conscience and lead a good disciplined life.
3. Adjust yourself. Confucius taught that a man should adapt to the surroundings and follow the trends of society in order to fit in to society.
4. Assert yourself. Nietyche taught that a man should be positive and aggressive. He should drive his own life like a car. A man is the centre of his universe. A man should not let anyone force him into a mould but he should break free and be an individual. It is his life and he should do with it what he likes. Why should a man conform to the rules and ideas of others?
5. Express yourself. Rousseau and modern day psychologists teach that a man is free to do as he likes. A man should cast off traditions and be a unique person in his own right. There are too many ” don’ts.” A man should do his own thing.
6. Enjoy yourself. The Epicureans teach that a man should eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow he may die. Happiness is the most important thing in life. Have no concern for tomorrow or for life beyond the grave. J. S. Mill taught that the greatest happiness for the greatest number is the main objective in life.
7. Suppress yourself. Buddha taught that a man should suppress his desires in order to end suffering. A man should follow an eight-fold path to purity. A man should obey his conscience in right thoughts, right speech, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
8. Forget about yourself. Jesus taught that a man should forget about himself and his own self-interests and seek God’s interests first and foremost. That is impossible to do without the help of the Holy Spirit. Mat ch 6 v 33. “God will gladly give you what you need, if you give Him first place in your life.
1. Gambling is an agreement between two parties whereby transfer of something of value is made dependant on an uncertain event in such a way that one party will gain and another lose. Gambling is an activity in which wealth changes hands, mainly on the basis of chance and with risk to the gambler. There are three legitimate ways in which wealth can change hands – 1. Giving. 2. Working. 3. Genuine exchange. Gambling is a kind of robbery by mutual agreement. Gambling creates nothing. It is an unproductive method of distributing wealth.
2. Gambling directly appeals to coveteousness and greed. It breaks the eighth commandment. Exodus ch 20 v 17. Luke ch 12 v 15. It enthrones personal desires in place of God. Gambling depends on others incurring financial loss. Mat ch 7 v 12. “Do unto others what you want them to do to you.” Gambling is the opposite. The gambler does not seek the good of his fellow man but seeks to bring them into financial loss. In any honest business transaction it is the intention that both parties will benefit. This is not so in gambling. It is contrary to the injunction in Gal ch 6 v 10 to do good to others. Gambling turns money into an idol, substituting the worship of God with the worship of mammon. It is state-sponsored greed. Luke ch 12 v 15. “Watch out and guard yourself from every kind of greed; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Eccles ch 5 v 15. The Bible teaches that a man’s life is one of grace. God has provided for man, despite the fact that he is a sinner deserves nothing. 1 Tim ch 6 v 9-10.
3. Gambling denies the Biblical work ethic, which links honest labour with reward. Gambling holds out the dream of getting something for nothing. It encourages laziness rather than work. It undermines disciplined work habits, thrift, prudence, adherence to routine and the relationship between effort and reward. Prov ch 20 v 21 and Prov ch 28 v 20. The gambler wastes time, which could be spent with family. Prov ch 13 v 11. 2 Thes ch 3 v 10-12.
4. Gambling undermines the obligation for a man to be a steward of God’s resources. Gen ch 1 v 28. Gen ch 9 v 1-2. Possessions are on trust from God and at the end of his life a man must give account to God for what he has done with what God has given to him.1 Cor ch 3 v 13. Mat ch 12 v 36. Eccles ch 12 v 14.
5. Gambling is a form of escapism, rather than facing reality. Chance is glorified and God’s sovereignty is denied. Isaiah ch 65 v 11. The whole of life is governed by chance, fate or providence. The Bible calls chance the false god of Gad, and fate the false god of Meni. By gambling a person is putting his trust in the false god of chance, hoping that he will be lucky and prosper. Those who serve the Lord God are to have nothing to do with false gods. The Lord is the One who provides for each man and for the whole of His creation.
6. Gambling tends to affect the poorer in society. Prov ch 30 v 8-9. They are tempted to see a quick way out of their financial difficulties. The poor get poorer and the rich get wealthier. Prov ch 22 v 22-23.
7. The evidence is that gambling is addictive and has caused great distress to many people and their families over the years. 1 John ch 3 v 8. Gal ch 5 v 1. A compulsive gambler may lose control of his life. Eph ch 5 v 18 teaches that part of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control – the ability of a man to say ”No” to himself. Luke ch 12 v 20. 1 Cor ch 6 v 12. “Do not let anything make you a slave.” The gambling industry thrives on creating addicts. Then a man becomes a slave and loses self-control. The history of gambling is filled with stories of men gambling away their fortunes and leaving their families destitute. Prov ch 13 v 22. 1 Tim ch 5 v 8. 2 Cor ch 12 v 13.
8. Gambling encourages discontentment and dissatisfaction with what God has provided for a man. Mat ch 6 v 31-34. 2. By gambling a man is stating to God that he is not satisfied with what God has provided for him and wants more. That is an offence to God and amounts to sin. 1 Tim ch 6 v 10 says that the love of money is one of the roots of evil. Money is the only thing man has created out of nothing. Mark ch 7 v 20-23. 1 Cor ch 6 v 9-10. Gambling has at its base a desire of something for nothing. Something for nothing is part of the work of the Hivite spirit. “Buy one get one free. Cash back with your loan. Receive a free survey report. Discounts for quick payment.” The Bible teaches that man’s salvation was not without cost. It cost Jesus His life to bring a person back into a relationship with God. The believer is called to sacrifice to serve God and his fellow men and women. This is contrary to wanting to get something for no effort. Greed and charity are incompatible. Gambling fosters the illusion that wealth can be gained without hard work. It breeds a something for nothing attitude. In winning a man obtains the wages that another person has earned but without having to give anything in exchange. Rom ch 12 v 1. Malachi ch 3 v 10. A sale suggests something for less than its true cost. Religion appeals to man on the same basis – reward in Heaven for personal endeavour without self-sacrifice. 1 Tim ch 6 v 6-8.
9. Gambling does not cease to be wrong even if a proportion of the profits is given to good causes. The end does not justify the means.
10. God is the God of order and not of confusion. Everything was made in an orderly way. The preparations for Jesus’ coming were meticulous. God leaves nothing to chance. Gambling leaves everything to chance. A man should imitate God and gambling is not a God-like activity. Eph ch 5 v 1.
Legalised gambling undercuts a Government’s duty to bring order to society and to promote public virtue. It is a state-sponsored vice – a means to transfer money from the poor to the Government by way of the tax on gambling profits. Isaiah ch 5 v 20-23. Isaiah ch 5 v 20-23.
CHANCE. ISAIAH CH 65 v 11. GAD AND MENI.
There is a word, which a large percentage of people use and which they should not use. Too many believers use it. It is a word, which denies the Lordship of Jesus. God wants His children to be different from His enemies – not to be religious freaks, but to be holy – like Jesus. That is what He wants. This word should not be in the vocabulary of a believer. God wants His children to have different standards, different attitudes and different values and not to be like the World. Once the word has been declared to be a forbidden word it is noticeable just how often it is used in everyday language. The Holy Spirit points out the use of it. Is there a danger of becoming narrow-minded? Jesus spoke about the narrow path to life and the broad path to destruction.
The question of chance is fundamental to the whole approach to life. Behind it lies the claim of the World – those who are opposed to God – that this World came about by chance. Life is just a lottery. It is just by chance that a person is born with good looks and of wealthy parents. Such views are totally opposed to the Word of God. The passage is addressed to Israel and tells them that there are two types of people in the World – those who are for God and those who are against Him. Israel was chosen not out of favouritism but was set apart to be holy, so that the peoples around them would see a clear alternative life-style.
Either the World came into being by chance or it was created by a Creator, who had a purpose and a plan, and who is totally in control. Neither the theory of evolution nor the theory of special creation can be proved scientifically, since they cannot be repeated in a laboratory environment. Special creation happened once in the past. Evolution is too slow to observe. There is not a laboratory big enough. Both theories are faith assumptions and on the basis of the evidence a man must choose one or the other. To decide it is necessary to examine the facts.
Isaiah ch 65 v 11. Gad and Meni were the twin gods of chance (luck) and fate. A false god is someone or something, which fills the mind and affects the actions of the individual, e.g. football and drink. People talk about it and think about it. It leads them to act in a certain way in relation to it.
Gad is the god of good fortune. He was worshipped by the Canaanites when Israel entered the Land. “Luck” is worshipped by those, who gamble in the hope that good luck will attend them. One of Jacob’s children was called Gad after the false god of fortune. There are people who touch wood or cross their fingers. Sports commentators say that the contest was decided by luck. Britain spends £4,000 million pounds on all sorts of gambling – horse racing – football pools – bingo – elections – premium bonds – prize draws – raffles. What would £4,000 million pounds do towards the eradication of poverty? Many will say that when things go well they have been lucky. They say that they will be third time lucky. Some carry charms and are very superstitious.
Meni is the false god of fate. 70% of people in Britain read their horoscope each day. The Tower of Babel was built to observe the stars. People felt that there were powers outside themselves, which influenced their lives. They thought that the line up of the stars had something to do with it. Astrology is big business today. Many see an omen in circumstances. Some teams have a jinx team, which always beats them. These matters touch on the basic existence of this World. Apart from Creation or Evolution they throw into question the justice of God and His character, grace and providence and raise the subjects – election and predestination.
God says in the Bible that He created the World complete and perfect. There was no trial and error with improvement as He went along. The evidence in support of the Bible as being true is as follows:-
1. The unity of the Book. It was written by 40 authors over 1500 years in 66 parts or smaller books. It was written partly in Aramaic, partly in Greek and partly in Hebrew. It was written partly in Africa, partly in Asia and partly in Europe. Behind it is the distinct impression of one author.
2. The superiority of its teaching over any other book. There is no other book remotely in the same class. Other books have truth and error but the Bible has only truth. There is not a single known moral truth, which is not in the Bible. Thousands of people have written a book. Why not God? It is one of the best ways of communicating.
3. Twenty centuries of strenuous attempts to discredit the Bible have failed to make any impression.
4. No other book has the power to change lives as the Bible has.
5. The lives of those who live under the authority of the Bible speak to its power and life-giving vitality.
6. The inexhaustible depth of the book. Brilliant men have been astonished that such infinite wisdom is packed into one book.
7. Fulfilled prophecies. The Bible contains 850 prophecies of which approximately 750 have come true exactly as the Bible said they would. The possibility of these coming true are billions to one. The rest of the prophecies relate to the last days of this Earth. The whole of the Bible is prophetical – its history – its people – its institutions – its ceremonies. They all foreshadow and point to Christ and His Second Coming.
8. Jesus testifies to the Bible being the Word of God. The Bible and the words of Jesus have stood the test of time. Every promise made by God has been kept.
There are a number of obstacles to accepting that the World came into being by chance and that it has evolved to be as it is today.
1. The fact is that nothing cannot by itself create something. Where did the first two atoms come from before they bumped into each other by chance?
2. All matter in the Universe is in motion. Some power is necessary to put the matter into motion. Inactive objects do not just start moving by themselves.
3. Laws such as gravitation and nature imply a law-giver.
4. The second law of thermodynamics implies that, left to itself, everything tends to become less ordered and not more ordered or complex. This rule is simply an observation of the obvious that things grow old, run down and die or decay. They lose their structure. The theory of evolution says that things develop their complexity and structure. This is simply not the case.
5. There are six billion people in the World and each one is different in appearance, personality and even how they walk. Each one is a unique being. Does this speak of chance or design?
6. There are three trillion cells in the body all functioning together. This speaks of design and not chance.
7. So far as scientists can prove the Universe, their findings are that the World is unique in the Universe.
8. Organs such as beaks, eyes and ears are all fully formed. There is no evidence of a partially formed organ. Such would have been useless. How would an animal have kept alive with a partially formed beak until it was fully formed? These had to come into being at once, fully formed.
9. The song of the bird could not have happened by chance. Music, laughter, truth, hearing and sight had to happen at once.
10. The instinct of whales, birds, bees, fish etc in migration speak of a master designer. The sheer variety, colour and balance of life speak of a master designer.
11. All people are aware of a moral law bearing down upon them. It tells them what is wrong and right. The moral law is the same the World over.
12. Where a person is confronted with a problem, evolution has nothing to say to the moral dimension to life. Evolution leaves a person feeling insignificant. It offers no hope. It is not a philosophy or a discipline. It is an excuse for not facing the facts of life.
13. Where there is a large house and a small house no one would say that the small one developed from the large one. Obviously they are different, although there are certain similarities and certain characteristics in common. They had the same architect and the same building materials. One will have been designed for one purpose and the other for another purpose. So it is with man and other animals. There are certain characteristics in common but each was created for a different purpose.
14. Man is different from the animals. He is able to be aware of himself. He has a hope beyond death.
The Bible tells of an all-powerful God who designed and created this whole Universe by His Word of power. He states that He sustains this World by His Word. One word from God and this World will come to an end. Then He will create a new World where only those who have come to serve Jesus as their Lord will be. All sin will be banished since God has said so. The new Earth will be even more glorious, beyond man’s imagination. The real Hell will be indescribably tortuous. God gives a man a lifetime to face the facts of this World and turn to Him. If a man chooses to ignore His warnings, he will take the awful consequences, which follow. No one will have any excuse.
The whole Bible speaks of God in control of His Universe. The Exodus shows God with His plan being worked out and there was no chance involved. Time after time God said what would happen – and it did, just as He had said. The preparations made were immaculate and precise in their detail. God has a plan for each of person. While Jeremiah was in his mother’s womb, God knew all about Him. Everything, which happens in this World, does so at a time when God decides. God set man to grow and planted the spiritual life in each one at the exact moment of time of His choosing. Jesus knew exactly what was expected of Him and why He had come into this World. He chose His Disciples carefully and deliberately. He knew about those He healed beforehand. Even when assaulted and in extreme pain He was in control. He made His way to Jerusalem, knowing that the cross lay ahead. He alerted Judas with exactly the correct amount of time to accomplish His purpose of dying. He masterminded His own death. He wants His followers to be like Him in this respect, obedient to His leading and in control. If His disciples have a difficult decision to make He wants them to consult Him. He expects them to be in control of their life since He is to be Lord in their life. He does not want man to be out of control or leaving things to chance. Satan, meantime, tries to give the opposite impression that life is a lottery and that God is not in control. The good things, which happen, are not by chance but by God’s blessing.
If it were left to chance, surely the male babies born would not be in the correct ratio to female babies. Anthropologists cannot find any incidents in history when the male/female ratio has been out of balance. Even after times of war when there has been a large loss of life of males, there are more males born than females. This redresses the imbalance. China today is the exception. There they let the females die at birth in many instances, since a male is preferred and there is an imbalance of males to females. The policy of only one child in the family is responsible. What will happen a generation from now? Who will bring the babies into an all-male society to continue the race?
It is no chance that Israel is back in the land of Israel today. It is not a question of chance that Israel is at the centre of the World or that Jesus was born when there were new roads being built in the Roman Empire in order to take the Gospel out from Jerusalem. Man is compelled by facts to choose between the true God of providence or the false gods of chance and fate.
The Character of God. Ideas about God abound. Religion is an attempt to find God and to please Him in order to earn His favour. It stems from a realisation of man’s own emptiness and unworthiness. It is a search for meaning to life. As gods, are Gad and Meni any use to man? Is life all a lottery – as Gad suggests, or is man fated to act in a certain way with no free will of his own – as Meni suggests?
The Bible reveals God as in control. It teaches that man is a steward and responsible to God for how he acts in this World. There are promises of blessings for obedience and warnings of problems for disobedience. The Exodus from Egypt – the prophesies – the manner and timing of Jesus coming to Earth – His control over His own death – all speak of God in control. The World is an ordered and orderly World with laws, which cannot be broken without disasters – physical, moral and spiritual. God is slow to anger, consistent, compassionate and concerned for His creation and His people. God makes the sun to shine on the righteous as well as the unrighteous. God was prepared to send His Son to die for His enemies. God is anxious for a personal relationship. By contrast, Gad is unpredictable. Meni is unfair. Both leave their worshippers uncertain and helpless. They are no use in a crisis. They provide no assurance, no purpose and no justice.
Grace is God’s free unmerited favour to sinners. All are sinners and deserve nothing. There are a wide variety of gifts: music – academic – hands – intelligence etc. When all the gifted people are pulling together society works well. If a person has good parents, clothing, a home, talents, work to do, etc is man blessed or is he lucky? It would be a dull World, if all were the same. If all men were farmers, who would mend the machinery? If all men were academic, who would do the work?
THE HOLY SPIRIT
(a) originates, maintains, strengthens, and guides all of life, organic, intellectual and moral.
(b) enables man to maintain a certain order and decorum in communal life.
(c) gives power to develop talents with which people were endowed at creation and heightens artistic skills.
(d) enables man to render spiritual obedience to God and to carry out special tasks in the World e.g. Prime Minister.
(e) gives physical and spiritual life.
(f) gives intellectual insight or the ability to understand problems.
This often results in the accusation that God is unfair. Look at the life of Jesus. He was born in difficult circumstances in an outhouse, He lived in poverty, was rejected and despised, was subjected to loneliness and died in public disgrace. God is not unfair. He longs for justice and looks for man to dispense it on this Earth. The message of the Bible is about the grace of God and there is no element of luck or fate.
There are many worshippers of Gad and Meni. Those who belong to God are to stand apart from these false gods in language, thought and action. The passage is challenging the readers as to where they stand. To acknowledge Gad or Meni is an affront to God – a personal insult to the Almighty. It is (a) to deny His character as utterly dependable and purposeful (b) to deny His creative work out of nothing and (c) to deny the truth as is revealed by the evidence concerning this wonderful World and man’s sin. Rom ch 1 v 18-23. The Bible gives meaning to life, tells man who he is, where he came from, where he is going, why he behaves as he does and tells him about his Creator. A man should have nothing to do with Gad and Meni.
The meetings, which Jesus had, were not by chance but by design. e.g. Legion – the woman at the well.
The Disciples were not chance appointments but God chose all twelve of them.
The Land promised to Israel was chosen deliberately by God to be at the centre of the Earth.
All that the prophets said to date have come true.
Preparations for the birth of Jesus were immaculate as to location and timing.
Gambling indicates that man is not satisfied with what God has provided for him – it is coveting.