New Wine for New Wineskins August 2008

By , July 31, 2008 9:32 pm

Is It A Monster?




A couple of summers ago when we were visiting my sister-in-law and her family we had her little three year old boy with us a lot of the time. He kept singing a couple of lines from the same popular song (where he had picked it up I have no idea) over and over.  It had a catchy tune and so we learned it pretty quickly whether we wanted to or not!  Recently, as I was meditating on the different manifestations of the church that exist in our generation these few words from the song came back to me!

“What’s that coming over the hill?  Is it a monster?”

I began to realise that what God has made good and perfect can be ruined by the hands of men and a monster can be unleashed!

Romans 6: 13 – 15

13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

In the first generation of mankind God placed the apex of his creation in a perfect environment that included an abundance of everything that man would ever need!  God gave man dominion over everything and blessed him and told him to be fruitful and multiply!

As I was re-reading the Genesis account in preparation for this message I saw something that I had never seen before.  God told man that every herb that yielded seed and every tree that yielded seed were given to him for food.  So what does that tell us about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?  It didn’t yield seed!  It couldn’t produce life – only death!  Man was told that the day he ate from that tree he would surely die!

Tragically, the temptation to take and eat from the one tree that was forbidden proved too much and the monster of sin and death was unleashed that day that has been ravaging the descendants of Adam ever since!  Man lost the fullness of the image of God by believing that he needed to do something to make himself more like God when the reality was that he was already as like God as he could ever be!

How many times do God’s people fall into sin that they were warned against and that they were aware of and then they will say something like, “I just don’t know what came over me…”  It was the monster!  I can imagine Eve or Adam saying, “I don’t know what came over me…”  It was the monster!

Sound familiar?  How many born again, new creation people are still listening to the lies of the enemy that tell them that there is something extra that they need to do in order to make them more like God?  The truth is that when we are born again we are recreated as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and God stamps his image in our born again spirit opening up the cry, “Abba, Father”!

Paul said that he had learned to be content in every situation and circumstance!  How could he say that?  Because he knew he was blessed!  He knew that deliverance was down to the LORD and not to anything that he could make happen by acting out of frustration and impatience.  He knew that the blessing was working for him even if he couldn’t see it.  He simply had to continue in obedience to the word that he had received!

Isn’t it amazing that there are still supposedly intelligent people who think they are smart enough to be able to take of that which is forbidden and still be immune from the penalty which is to lose everything that is good in the process!

The kingdom of God works the opposite way to the world system!  David Livingstone – the famous Scottish missionary to Africa – said that it is a fool who is not willing to give up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose!

I believe that there is only one way to keep the monster at bay and that is to believe that we are already so blessed that there is nothing more that we could add to ourselves that could increase that blessing in any way!  In fact, the very act of attempting to bless ourselves will inevitably lead to us short-circuiting the blessing that we are designed to contain!  God made us with the intention of blessing us to be a blessing!

Jesus said that it is not necessary to try and bless ourselves because our Father already knows our needs and has purposed in his heart to meet these needs!  We are simply to focus on the kingdom of God and exercise his dominion in the earth!

In the second generation of mankind we see a similar scenario as the way which God has blessed – blood covenant – is rejected by one of Adam’s sons.  The rejection of God’s way will always end in death and even though God brings a warning to Cain and tells him that he can still get it right he chooses to ignore God’s counsel and the monster is unleashed!

Genesis 4: 6 – 8

6-7 God spoke to Cain: "Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won't you be accepted? And if you don't do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it's out to get you, you've got to master it."
8 Cain had words with his brother. They were out in the field; Cain came at Abel his brother and killed him.

God’s counsel to Cain uses language that actually communicates to him the nature of sin as being like a wild animal – a monster! I can imagine Cain after murdering his brother saying, “I don’t know what came over me…”  It was the monster!

Tragically, as the generations of mankind multiply the influence of the monster increases and the effects of his reign of terror accelerate until the thoughts and inclinations of men’s hearts are continually evil.  Scripture reveals that the LORD’s heart was filled with pain at the condition of the earth that he had created and so he decided to wipe out mankind with the exception of one man and his family who found favour in his eyes.

According to 2 Chronicles 16: 9, the eyes of the LORD scan the whole earth looking for those whose hearts are completely after him – those who are trusting in the blessing – so that he can show himself strong on their behalf!  That is covenant language!

Sadly, as Noah and his sons leave the ark to begin afresh it is not long before the monster is unleashed again as a curse is spoken by Noah over his son Ham’s descendants for revealing his father’s nakedness while he was drunk!  Afterwards, you can imagine Ham saying, “I don’t know what came over me…”  It was the monster!

Abraham – the friend of God – unleashed a monster of rejection, bitterness and resentment by following his wife’s counsel and seeking to give God a hand in fulfilling his covenant promise! Maybe Abraham said later, “I don’t know what came over me…”  It was the monster!

Aaron unleashed a monster of destruction when he yielded to the people and gave them a golden calf to worship.
Afterwards he may have said, “I don’t know what came over me…”  It was the monster!

Even David – the man after God’s heart – unleashed a monster in his family when he took Uriah the Hittite’s wife and had Uriah killed.

2 Samuel 12: 10 (The Message)

And now, because you treated God with such contempt and took Uriah the Hittite's wife as your wife, killing and murder will continually plague your family.

Later on down the road David woke up to what he had done and perhaps he thought, “I don’t know  what came over me…”  It was the monster!

What a tragedy!  We are blessed!  We don’t need to turn aside to bless ourselves!  It will always end in disaster!  The LORD is our helper and so we don’t ever need to help ourselves!  There is a worldly saying that declares “the Lord helps those who help themselves” but the truth is that the LORD helps those who trust in him and the fullness of his provision!

The Pharisees started out looking for the Messiah but by the time he came they had lost their focus and their movement had unleashed a monster that sought to kill him from the moment he appeared!

Jesus said that we are to be the light of the world and that a city built on a hill cannot be hidden!  We are simply to let our light shine so that people will see our good works and bring glory to our Father who has blessed us to be a blessing!

Psalm 107: 1 – 7

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say this — those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.

God designed the church to be a city of refuge!  It is supposed to be a living organism – the body of Christ under the leadership and direction of the head.  But when men get their hands on the church they tend to turn it into a self-serving organisation and a monster is unleashed!

This can be seen all the way through church history.  It has been said that those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are destined to repeat it.  This is also true of those who are ignorant of the history of the church! 

It is not that the church should not have organisation. In the natural our head is the coordinator and organiser of the movements of our body.  Similarly, the church should never stop being a living organism that functions under the direction of the Head – the Lord Jesus Christ.  When the body is disconnected from the Head it becomes nothing more than a machine that exists primarily to carry out the will of the organisation!  That is where all of the competition and striving between churches comes from!  When we trade church as an organism for church as an organisation we become disconnected from the Head and from each other and so we begin to compete rather than complete and complement!  Thus the monster is unleashed!
Organisation is a very necessary and often missing part of the life of the church that Jesus is building but it should never be an end in itself!

Paul said that he preached the word of faith!  The message of faith is the message of the Bible.  But when men take the message of faith and make it into a method a monster can be unleashed!

The enemy is continually seeking to come over the hill and corrupt and destroy the city in order to put out its light.
When God creates something with his word it is always good but the enemy is continually looking for a way to infiltrate the scene by provoking men to create something that will unleash the monster.

Even the message of faith can unleash a monster!  If it is presented as a legalistic method  it can unleash a monster that controls you through fear.  Everyone becomes scared of the monster and they are continually afraid of saying the wrong thing!  But we are not supposed to live under the grip of fear – we are to live in the freedom of faith! Or if the message of faith is presented as a license to simply do what we want and to get what we want then it encourages the taking of that which is forbidden and unleashes a monster of devastation and destruction!  We are not set free to live a life that only pleases ourselves but we have been redeemed and given liberty to live the life that we were created to live – a life that pleases God!

We must be able to discern if what is coming over the hill is a monster!  There is a continual stream of fads and fashions that pass through the church – many of which are a monster in disguise!

The enemy wants to take us captive to do his will but the LORD sets us free to do his will!  Where the Spirit of the LORD is there is liberty!  Where there is a humanly devised method you don’t need the Spirit anymore but where there is no longer complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit the monster is unleashed!

Remember – the blessing is ours!  We are blessed!  Jesus became a curse for us so that we could live in the blessing.  When we were born again we were placed in a perfect environment where everything has been provided and where we are part of a living organism that is an instrument of salvation, healing, and deliverance!  We are simply to take dominion by the power of the blessing and be fruitful and multiply!

We are to resist every monster that tries to come over the hill and put out the light!  We need to ask, “What is that coming over the hill?  Is it a monster?”  When it appears that the light is going out in the church it is because we are experiencing a power cut caused by disobedience and mishandling of the blessing!  We don’t need to bless ourselves – blessing is the Father’s business!

Matthew 5: 14 – 15

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 

It is time to slay every monster!  We are blessed!  Blessed to be a blessing!  Tell people that you have come to bless them!  Reach out to everyone and overflow the blessing!  Even attempts to vindicate, justify or defend ourselves move us out of blessing mode!  The blessing itself is more than enough to vindicate, justify and defend us!

Look out for the monster!  Does what is coming over the hill have multiplication in it?  Does it contain a fruit-bearing seed that can multiply the blessing to others or is it simply something that can satisfy me and meet my need?

Cities don’t appear overnight – they spread out over time and absorb small towns and villages.  Scotland’s newest city – Inverness – is a perfect example.  It has only recently been designated as a city because of the way that it has grown and spread out over the surrounding countryside.  The villages that it has subsumed may retain their name but they are now a part of Inverness as far as everyone is concerned.

There are some cities – like London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, etc – whose influence reaches out across the world.  Different cities even have different personalities and atmospheres.

The church is the city of God!  It’s influence should spread out and influence the surrounding culture with the principles of God’s kingdom!  The church should be a blessing that changes the atmosphere in the world around it.  The biggest enemy of this is division.  When you see division you  know that the monster has come over the hill!  Someone has turned aside to focus on blessing themselves rather than continuing to be a blessing to others.

We need to renew our vision of THE CHURCH as a living organism that can spread the blessing instead of a man-made doctrine or a method.  It is time for the church to arise as a city set on a hill whose influence spreads across the whole earth!
He is the God of this city – the church – and now it is time for the church to permeate every strata of society with the influence of the kingdom – with the blessing!

The Apostle Peter put it very clearly when he said that we must be self-controlled and alert because we have an adversary called the devil who goes around like a roaring lion seeking to devour the isolated and the weak.  It is too late to say, “I don’t know what came over me…” after he has pulled you down.  Peter also gave us the solution when he said that we can resist our enemy by standing firm in the faith – by holding fast to what God has said and resisting every subtle argument or invitation that would cause us to think that we have to help ourselves.

What is that coming over the hill?  Is it a monster?  Release the power of the blessing that will take his head off!


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