There are no new points of analogy in chapter seven.
The Desire for the Little one’s Approval
Adam’s desire for the little ones’ approval represents our desire to be respected by the world. Especially, in our culture, in the academic/scientific community. We can’t stand the thought that smart people would laugh at us or think of us as primitive or foolish. We want to be respected. Very often, Christian writers compromise faithfulness to God’s Word in order to be taken seriously by the academic world.
But it should be no surprise to us that the world thinks us foolish. They think the same thing about God. The cross is foolishness to them. The wisest, most beautiful act of salvation God ever performed is, in their eyes, a dumb idea.
We can win the world’s favor, or we can have God’s favor—but not both.
The Eye Salve
The eye-salve represents naturalism (the belief that only the physical world exists).
Later in the story Adam discovers that the salve gives him great near vision, but terrible distance vision. People who think only physical things exist can see what’s right in front of their faces (this physical world) but are utterly blind to everything else. In the words of 2 Peter 1:9 “they have become nearsighted and blind.”
There are no new points of analogy in chapter ten.
Chapter 8 Questions
|“Fruit is outlawed in the high country,” Alexander said.|
“Outlawed? Why? How do they live without eating?” -p.77
Sometimes it seems like satisfaction would be impossible without the pleasure of some enticing sin. In moments like that, how could Isaiah 55:1—2 and Psalm 63:3 help you?
Isiah 55 reminds me that the thing my soul thinks is bread (satisfying food) is not bread and will not satisfy. And the thing that is guaranteed to satisfy is available—for free. But only to the hungry.
Ps.63 reminds me that what God offers is better than that thing I feel like I have to have—or anything else in life.
How could Proverbs 5:3—4 help you?
By reminding me that the sin that seems so attractive will turn bitter in my stomach and lead to death.
|“So, what’s inside the cottage?”|
“Nothing. I have been through every square inch of that old shack, and I assure you, it is an interesting historical site—nothing more. The uneducated fill the vacancy of the place with contrived fantasies. With a little reading, one grows beyond such stupidity.” -p.77
Secular scholars strive to portray the Bible as a mere historical document, of human origin, no different from any other piece of literature. What claims does the Bible make about its origin? See 2 Peter 1:20–21; 2 Timothy 3:16. What claims does it make about its effect on the human soul? See Psalm 19:7–10, 2 Timothy 3:17, Hebrews 4:12.
The Bible claims to be divine, rather than human in origin. It revives the soul and brings renewal and joy. It thoroughly equips a person for every good work, and it discerns the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Does God call us to blind faith or evidence—based faith? See John 14:11; Acts 1:3; John 20:27. What are some other evidences that support your faith in Christ?
Scripture always calls us to evidence-based faith, never blind faith. Blind faith is superstition, and it’s irrational. God always offers compelling reasons to believe what he says.
Other proofs, beyond Jesus’ miracles, include fulfilled biblical prophecy and my own experiences with God.
|Adam cringed when the men snickered. To be thought a fool by such a venerable council mortified him. Though he did not know them, he craved their approval. -p.78|
It’s good to win the respect of outsiders by our good lives (1 Thessalonians 4:12). But at what point does people–pleasing become evil? See 1 Thessalonians 2:4 and Galatians 1:10. Gives some practical examples of what the right and wrong kind might look like.
There is a vestige of the image of God imprinted on the human soul that enables even unbelievers to appreciate righteousness to a degree. Most people like a person who is honest, kind, selfless, responsible, and compassionate. In any situation where the world appreciates the good, we should win their respect. We should be known as hard workers, good employees, good employers, people of integrity, generous, etc. But whenever winning their favor requires unrighteousness, then we must have their disfavor.
For example, the people at work who value a strong work ethic should look up to us because we work hard. But lazy employees might hate us because our hard work exposes their laziness. Or when a group begins to gossip, if they are gossiping about George, George will respect us if he learns that we refused to join in the gossip and stood up for him. But at the same time, the gossip circle might dislike us because we refused to join in.
What are some areas where you need to be on guard against people–pleasing in your life? (Do you pretend to be better than you are? Is there someone whose approval means more to you than God’s? Peer pressure? Are you crippled by criticism? Are there areas where you tempted with sin to have someone’s approval? Do you measure your worth by human feedback? Do you fear the mockery or disdain of those who see Christianity as superstitious or primitive?)
Of the examples listed, the one I’m most prone to is measuring my worth by human feedback. Part of the way a man knows whether God is calling him to preach is by the affirmation of God’s people that he has the gift of teaching. So it’s appropriate for me to pay attention to whether the saints are affirming my gift. But too often my joy is tied to whether or not people affirm me. My joy should come from God’s love, not my effectiveness in ministry.
Chapter 9 Questions
|He placed his hand over Adam’s face, pressing the gel into his eyes.|
Then a whole new world opened before him. … “It’s all so clear. I can see every contour on every pebble. I can see … everything!”
… The miraculous close-up vision from the salve had so enthralled him that he hadn’t noticed the damage to his distant vision. –pp.82, 107
Unbelievers are people whose portion is in this life (Psalm 17:14). They live as if only the physical world existed and ignore eternal realities. Are there any instances when you find yourself living that way?
- Finances—anxiety level determined by bank account rather than God’s promises and the wealth, generosity, and love of my heavenly Father.
2. My emotions when people mistreat me when I’m doing what’s right. I often forget all about eternal reward, so instead of shouting for joy, I’m all upset.
3. When I assess my day. I feel like it was a good day when I got a lot of temporal tasks done, regardless of what happened spiritually. Or I feel like it was a bad day when I didn’t get anything done, but there was spiritual growth through trials.
4. When I define myself by my career instead of by God’s love.
5. When I’m tempted with “small,” seemingly inconsequential sins and don’t take them seriously because they don’t have any significant effect on the world around me that I can see.
Living as though eternal things don’t exist is nearsightedness in the extreme. According to 2 Peter 1:5–9, what negative outcomes can result when a Christian becomes nearsighted?
What is an example of how forgetting about eternal realities can result in lacking one of the virtues of verses 5–7?
The objections people raise against the Bible are often rooted in anger over painful hardships or losses in their life rather than from honest intellectual questions. What is the proper response to loss and hardship in our lives? See Amos 4:6–12 (note which phrase keeps recurring); Proverbs 19:3.
It should turn us to the Lord. In Amos, God kept sending loss after loss and problem after problem to get them to turn back to him. The genuineness of faith is revealed by whether trouble pushes us toward God or away from God. When times are hard, you naturally run toward whatever you truly trust in.
Anger at God can have a devastating effect on faith. What can we learn from Job’s example about how to avoid getting angry or disappointed with God? See Job 1:21–22, 2:10. See also Deuteronomy 32:4.
Becoming angry at God requires believing that God did something wrong. The reveals a fundamentally flawed conception of who God is. Dt.32:4 is clear that God does no wrong. He only does good and is therefore worthy of our worship whether that good causes us pain or not.
“The so–called Ruler claims to have power over life and death, but he did nothing to save him. I begged him to at least give me a reason, but he wouldn’t say a word.” –p.84
What does Scripture teach about people who require an explanation from God for what he has done? See Isaiah 45:9.
Woe to them. It is a serious thing to quarrel with one’s Maker.
That is not to say it’s wrong to ask God for an explanation. We can ask for whatever we want. And sometimes God answers prayers like that. But there is a huge difference between asking God if he will show you a reason and requiring a reason before you will trust him. If we only trust when we can see, that’s not trusting. It’s seeing.
Considering the context in Job 1:9–12; why was it important that Job not know the reason for his suffering?
The book of Job is launched by Satan’s claim that Job only worships God because God essentially buys him off by blessing him so much. Remove the blessing, and Job would curse God. S the question being dealt with in the book is this: Is God worthy to be worshipped even if he withholds blessing? God wants to prove the answer is yes, while Satan wants to prove the answer is no.
If Job had known all this, it wouldn’t be a fair test. Job might have chosen to worship God, not because of God’s worthiness, but simply because he wanted the test to turn out a certain way. The only way Job’s continued worship of God shows God’s absolute worthiness is if Job doesn’t know what’s going on, and his only options are to curse God or trust God.
Later, when Job did begin to question God’s justice and demand answers from God, the Lord answered him, but not with an explanation of his reasons. What did God tell Job instead? See Job 38:1–11 and following. How does God’s response in chapters 38–41 help us in times when we desire an explanation for why God allowed what he allowed?
God’s response is essentially to say to Job, “I think I’m doing an okay job running the universe without your input.” By reminding Job of the unfathomable power and wisdom required to create to universe, God was showing him how irrational it is for Job to question him or imagine that Job had a better idea of how things should go.
Those chapters have helped me in some of my lowest and most excruciating moments. They have a way of expanding our perspective, expanding our concept of God, and enabling us to trust him. Those chapters are basically God’s resume as Caretaker. And it’s a very impressive resume.
“So your desire for fruit was part of your reason for leaving?”
Another motive that often hides behind intellectual arguments against Christianity is love for a particular sin. Often those who walk away from the faith do so because of a driving desire for freedom to indulge in some cherished vice. See John 3:19–20. Can you think of a period in your life when something in Scripture didn’t make sense to you or you rejected what you now understand as a correct interpretation, and you see now that the reason you were resistant to it was because of the implications it would have on your life?
When I was a teenager, I questioned my salvation because, as committed as I was to God, I had no feelings for God that seemed like love to me. Then I heard a preacher say that agape love doesn’t involve emotion. It’s merely commitment and obedience to God. I ate that teaching up, because I felt commitment was something I could do, whereas having emotions for God seemed out of reach. The idea that love didn’t involve emotion was a doctrine I loved because it fit my personality.
Eventually, many years later, I realized Scripture calls for all kinds of emotional responses. It took way too long for me to come to accept that, and the reason it took that long was my love for the wrong doctrine kept me from accepting the truth.
Chapter 10 Questions
Just as he turned away, blood-curdling screams pierced the air. But they were not a child’s screams. It was one of the mountain lions.
Ephesians 6:12,17 describes our struggle against demons in terms of wrestling and close combat with a dagger. What is the role of our knowledge of and skill in the use of Scripture in spiritual warfare?
When I can’t call to mind a passage of Scripture that speaks to the situation I’m dealing with, or if I misinterpret or misapply Scripture, I’m likely to suffer spiritual failure in that situation. Even Jesus, who was perfect, used Scripture to battle temptation.
What kind of spiritual battle might be lost by someone who knows Scripture but is unskilled in the use of it?
If someone at work belittles me and I’m tempted with pride or anger, I will be likely to lose that spiritual battle if I don’t have the knowledge and skill with God’s Word to recall what Jesus taught about greatness (namely, that what matters is God’s approval of me, not man’s).
What can we learn about fighting temptation from Jesus’ skilled use of Scripture in Matthew 4:3—11? (Note the context of the passages Jesus quotes. What similarities existed between the context of the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6 and Jesus’ in Matthew 4?)
Jesus’ use of Scripture was masterful. Off the top of his head he pulled up passages, from memory, that fit the context perfectly. In Dt.6, the Israelites were hungry, in the desert, being tested. And Jesus quotes that in a moment when he is hungry, in the desert, being tempted.
And the sin the Israelites were being tempted to commit was to think their lives depended on getting food more than on the Word of God. Jesus was facing the same temptation.
What can we learn from Apollos’ skilled use of Scripture in Acts 18:24—25,28? (See also 1 Peter 3:15.)
We learn that it can be done. It’s possible to prove from the Old Testament that Jesus is the Messiah.
We also learn the importance of boldness and fervor. It’s not just a matter of accuracy.
Thirdly, we learn from his example of readiness. As 1 Peter 3:15 requires, he was ready with answers when the circumstances called for them
Then with a deafening roar, the bear charged from behind, hitting Kailyn with such force the dagger flew from her hands. The beast pinned her to the ground with its paw. … Kailyn ceased her hopeless struggle. Her eyes showed discouraged resignation to her fate. –pp.87-88
How might the enemy use the principle in 1 Corinthians 1:17 to strip you of your power?
By tempting me to add human wisdom to it. I might want to add life lessons I’ve learned, things I’ve read that really impacted me, problem solving techniques that have worked for me, great ideas that pop into my head, psychological observations I’ve made over the years, or strong opinions I hold to the gospel.
All of those can be helpful in how I apply the message from God’s Word, but when I make those things themselves the message, I ruin the truth of God’s Word. It only takes a little arsenic to ruin a whole glass of water and make it useless for drinking.
Pastors are often guilty of this. They read plenty of verses in their sermons, but the main points–the parts of the sermon that provide the solutions to the problems or the “how-to” often come not from the text of Scripture, but from their own reservoir of knowledge, life experience, lessons from their last vacation, or something they read in a book.
Lay people are also guilty of this when we turn to human wisdom rather than Scripture for the solutions to our problems.
How might Satan knock the sword of the Spirit from your grasp?
A) Through doubt. If I know the truth but don’t fully believe it, it’s not really in my grasp. To utilize it as a sword, my soul must be fully convinced in the truth of it.
B) If I can’t call to mind the passage I need in the moment I need it, I might as well not have it. So often I know truths like the back of my hand most of the time, but in the moment when it’s most needed, it doesn’t come to mind.
C) When you believe God has promised something that he hasn’t really promised, and it doesn’t pan out, you can end up doubting all of God’s Word.
Read 1 Peter 5:8. What are lions trying to accomplish when they roar? What insight does that provide regarding Satan’s strategies with us?
They roar to intimidate and paralyze you. Satan tries to make you think you’re helpless to resist him. God promises that you can’t be tempted beyond your ability to resist. But if Satan can convince you that’s not true, that this temptation is more than you can handle, you will give in.
|The boy took up another of Kailyn’s toys—a small, wooden hammer—and placed it in her hand while dodging the bear’s deadly swipes. But she did not close her hand around the hammer. When the boy let go, it dropped to the ground. … Once again managed to place the hammer in Kailyn’s hand. This time he pressed it into her palm, forcing her fingers around the handle, and shouting, “Take it!”’” –p.88|
How might one go about doing what Jonathan did in 1 Samuel 23:16? Be specific.
Make a significant effort. Jonathan traveled, presumably for days through rough country and risked his relationship with his father (which meant risking his life), not to fight a war or obtain some treasure, but to simply give a word of encouragement. How far out of my way am I willing to go just to attempt to strengthen someone’s hand in the Lord?
Remind the person of God’s promises (see verse 17). It takes some work to find the promises in Scripture that will apply to that person’s situation. I need to do that work. Then I need to trust the power of God’s Word to strengthen the person. Nothing in God’s Word is a platitude.
Can you share a specific story of when someone did this for you (put the Word back into your hand when you faltered)?
Once when I was very sick, and, I believed, close to death, my dad prayed for me and in his prayer quoted the verse “you are touched by the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15). The comfort I felt from that in that moment was so moving it almost made me glad I was sick. Such a simple truth yet touched me in a profound way that I’ve never forgotten.
Another time I was crushed with guilt over a devastating failure and my sister sent me a card with a picture of Jesus holding up a man who was limp in his arms, and the man was holding a hammer. The hands with which Jesus held him up had nail marks. There was no caption, no words. Just an image portraying a basic gospel truth—Jesus saving a man who had pounded the nails into Jesus on the cross. It moved me to the core. I just sat and looked at that picture and wept for a long time. It was one of the most healing moments of my life.
Here’s a link to the image: https://pin.it/K6a2jpm
In both cases, the truth that was conveyed was very simple. God has compassion on our suffering, and Jesus died for my sins. But the Holy Spirit used the timing and the form in which they were delivered to me to perform powerful results in my heart.
Ask God if there is anyone in your circle who might need you to do this for them at this time. Then give it a shot. Even if you’re not very confident, what’s the worst that could happen?