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BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS OF BEHAVIOR: WRATH, ANGER, TROUBLE, AND DISTRESS

#6 of the Walk Applied Model

Counseling & Discipleship Continuing Series.

The Walk Applied is a comprehensive Biblical model

that is applicable for counseling,

discipleship. mentoring, teaching, etc.

JUDGEMENT AND SELF-SEEKING:

The symptoms of Idolatry that lead

to "wrath, anger. trouble and distress"

Our discussion of idolatry as the basis for our human behavior has led us to see Romans 2 tells us about the two main symptoms of our Idolatry: Judgement & Self-seeking.


THE SYMPTOMS OF IDOLATRY: JUDGEMENT & SELF-SEEKING

Romans and James tells us how idolatry has devastating and profound consequences. Romans 2:1 and 2:8 gives the main symptoms of idolatry: judgment and self-seeking. Romans 2:2 tells us that we all pass judgment. In other words, we attempt to take spiritual authority over one another. Romans 2:8 describes “self-seeking” (from the Greek “eritheia” translated “chaos”), which describes how we do things out of selfish interest such that we foment chaos. (Rom 2:6-9) tells us that self-seekers reject truth and follow evil. Four things await self-seekers: wrath, anger, trouble & distress. Judgement and Self-seeking are exhibited most notably when we elect to not forgive or we feel we are somehow superior to others. Romans 1 gives us a crucial link between idolatry, beliefs and actions, which we summarize here:

God's eternal power and divine nature are obvious; men have no excuse. We don’t recognize him as supreme despite the obvious evidence (read: we are out of His authority!) Thus, our thinking (belief) has become futile; our foolish hearts have become dark (belief) and we worship idols (belief). Therefore, we: bought into the lie (belief); we worship idols (belief); we revel in sinful desires (belief); and we are turned over to depraved minds (belief). The result: we do perverse things (actions).”…they have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, god-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Therefore, we have no excuse…” (Rom 1:20-32 - 2:1-3).

The passage goes on to describe that we also see the destructive actions of judgment – something we all do, yet, we are not authorized to do. Judgment – the taking of spiritual authority over others – is only allowed by God and those who He chooses! James expresses the same sentiment:

(James 3:13-16; 4:1-4). “…But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts…For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…”

Is it any surprise to find out that self-seeking and selfish ambition are described by the same greek word: eritheia? Indeed, what are the results of eritheia? Disorder & every evil practice! We have more examples of eritheia:

(2 Cor 12:20) “... I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”


(Gal 5:19-20). “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, and factions.”

James also addresses the topic of judgment:

(James 4:11-12) “…Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”

The emphasis is clear; the point is well-taken: we are not to judge! Taking on spiritual authority that is not yours leads only to eritheia: chaos!


EXPECTATIONS: A FORM OF JUDGEMENT

Expectations are a form of judgment. We all have expectations to one degree or another depending on the situation and many of these are legitimate and proper. Spouses have a legitimate expectation that they will be faithful to one another. If we use our credit card to make a purchase, we have an expectation that it will be handled without identity theft resulting. Parents typically expect that children will obey. Teachers have an expectation that students will do their homework. Drivers expect that the vehicles behind them will also stop at the red light. Realistically, however, none of these expectations is justified.

Truly all we should ever expect from sinful people around us is sinful behavior. Indeed, the Bible teaches us that we are sinners to the core, and that there is almost no limit to what we are capable of. While we may believe that most will honor our expectations of others, we have no real basis for those expectations. In the same vein, we live in an overwhelmingly sinful, fallen world whereby tragedy happens all the time. Natural disasters, disease, epidemics, crime, war, accidents, economic maladies – just to mention a few - are often significant and profound events in people’s lives. Many times, they bring about life-altering trauma, and people’s lives are never the same. Our hopes and dreams – our expectations – our judgments - of what we think are lives are supposed to be can be shattered in an instant. In some cases, we may face a lifelong condition that will demand suffering and quite possibly drain our emotional reserves and test us to limits we never thought we had. Grief, anger, resentment, despair, sadness, bitterness – all of these and more can describe our emotions when our lives are interrupted drastically and tragically. To be sure, these emotions are normal and to be expected. After all, bad stuff is not supposed to happen to us! Tragedies happen to someone else!

Nowhere does God guarantee that our lives will be free of tragedy and suffering. Indeed, the Word tells us that we will experience suffering in our lives! Instead, the Bible teaches us that he will walk with us while we endure our cup of suffering. Thus, we can see how our expectations – our judgments – of our sinful world can exacerbate how we internalize trauma and tragedy in a profound and deep way.

JUDGEMENT & SELF-SEEKING: HOW ARE THEY MANIFESTED?

Judgment and self-seeking are symptomatic of the flesh. Anything that smacks of power and/or promotion of self (especially at the expense of others) typically finds its roots in judgment or self-seeking. After all, both are merely extensions of Satan’s main thrust: power and control over others. The following list is a good representation of how Judgment and self-seeking are manifested. As you peruse the list, you may wish to contemplate how and why each one is indicative of judgment and self-seeking.

  • Control

  • Manipulation

  • Intimidation

  • Instilling fear

  • Unreasonable suspicion

  • Jealousy

  • Temper

  • Frequent complaining

  • Avoidance

  • Jealousy

  • Excessive/uncontrolled anger

  • Frequent outbursts

  • Criticism

  • Resentment

  • Bitterness

  • Closed/secret areas of life

  • Withholding affection/intimacy

  • Lying

  • Lies even when telling the truth would benefit them

  • Legalism

  • Sees lessening of sin as an indicator they are more “godly”

  • Lack of relationship with Christ

  • Values church/theological standing far too highly

  • Becomes a slave to doctrine

  • Fails to see how faith works practically on a day-to-day basis

Next Time: #7: The Heart Belief System

N. Patrick Marica contributes incisive Christian commentary on this blog on a regular basis. He has been the Director of Godly Training Ministries since 1993. He has his MA from Liberty University in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is the author of the forthcoming book: The Walk Applied". He has been married to Kathy since 1985. They have 2 adult daughters and 1 extraordinary son-in-law.

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gtm@godlytraining.org

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