Getting Real

If you would like to have people listen to you, be lovingly and transparently honest with them and be willing to admit your mistakes.

Scripture: Acts 15:10, Ephesians 4


Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, friends, how are you? We were studying in the 15th chapter in the Book of Acts, and we were right in the middle of what Simon Peter was saying, regarding this problem that had arisen over who can be saved, people who keep the law, or people who don’t keep it. I’ve often wondered how I might have handled a problem like this, I’m really not sure whether I would have come out as well as Peter and James and the rest did. For one thing, I think I may have been a little impatient and I wouldn’t have let people say their say. That’s one possibility, and another is I might have not gone as quickly to the point as Peter did. He said, “Well, now look what God has been doing. The way to settle any problem is by getting more facts and start with the kind of facts that answer the question, ‘What has God been doing and saying?'” If you can nail down in your own thinking what the Lord has been doing and what the Lord has been saying, then you have a pretty solid basis, don’t you, for reasoning from thereon. That’s what Peter did.

And he said, “Now you know that God actually spoke through me a while back to the Gentiles and that they were saved and that the Holy Ghost was bestowed upon them just as upon us and he cleansed their hearts just like he cleansed our hearts. These are all matters of the fact.” Now, He says in Acts 15:10, “Why tempt ye God to put a yoke on the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” I’ve noticed that when a man is trying to prove a point, he can get awfully righteous. But when the Holy Spirit of God begins to talk to his heart, he’s apt to get a little more honest and admit some things.

Our problem I think in evangelical circles is that too often we’re trying to win arguments, instead of win souls. Would you say so? Well you see, it’s perfectly human, once you take a point of view and establish it, then in order to keep from losing face, you have to maintain that point of view and defend it. And so you end up probably making some statements that you would not otherwise have made because you have to defend that point of view. You take a discussion between a husband and wife, now many of my listeners are married people, and you’ll recognize this immediately. Discussion between a husband and wife, and one of them either he or she, it doesn’t really make any difference who starts it, says, “You don’t really appreciate me.” Well, the discussion goes from, “You don’t appreciate me,” now, the point of view, has been established, right? Well then, whoever said it has to keep on defending the statement with all kinds of arguments, and the other party to the discussion probably drags in a good many unrelated thoughts and arguments as the time goes on.

So before they’re done, they’re talking about each other’s families, about the way she burns the toast. About the way he growls around the house, and about the way why doesn’t he make more money, and so on. And oh boy, you can get into all sorts of discussions can’t you? Sure, you can. Now, where did it all start? But it started when you took a point of view, and you had to defend it, so you got awfully righteous about it, didn’t you? Sure, you got so self-righteous about it because you were trying to defend the point that you had established. I’ll tell you something, and this isn’t in the text, it’s just good sense. Most of the things people argue about really aren’t worth arguing about. Did you know that? I guess you do.

If you wanna prove it to yourself, get a tape recorder, and record the next family argument that you have opportunity to either to be anywhere near it or perhaps, unfortunately, you’re a part of it. And when you’ve gotten it all recorded, then everything has simmered down to a dull roar, then play it back to yourself and see how banal and empty and senseless and probably downright cruel many of the statements are, that people have made to each other in the process of trying to maintain a point of view. How much better it is when the Holy Spirit of God is leading you, lovingly to be able to say, “I’m sorry, I was mistaken.”

The sixth hardest words in the language to pronounce, you know what they are? You know what the six hardest words to pronounce in our language happen to be? Well, I’ll give them to you here they are, “I was wrong, you were right.” Oh, those are hard to say. Oh boy, are they hard to say. And mean it, that is.

But you see when the Spirit of God is in control of your heart and mind and speech, my dear friend, you’re more apt to tell the truth, aren’t you. Paul says that for Christian’s job, he mentions this in Ephesians 4, the Christian’s job is to manifest the truth in love, and that word, ‘manifest’ is related to our word ‘epiphany’ which means God wrapped up in a package of human nature, that’s what it means, God wrapped up in a package of human nature, so manifesting the truth in love. Oh, what a precious, wonderful privilege that is, to tell the truth about yourself and do it lovingly.

One of the things that… Well, actually it’s a real release, not to have to defend yourself. I had coffee the other day with Dr. OJ Smith concerning whom I’ve told you many times. It was from Dr. OJ Smith I learned the illustration of the rooms in the heart house. If you want to know how to be filled with the Holy Spirit, take all of the contents of all of the rooms in your heart house and turn each room over by faith to the Holy Spirit, and when you’ve opened by faith, every door in every room in your heart house, you can know that you’re filled with the Spirit of God.

But I was also from Dr. Smith that I learned the simple approach to criticism. When people criticize or they lie about you, perhaps, or they offend you or they attack you in some way. Dr. Smith said again, as I had coffee with him in Chicago, the other day just before my morning meeting at Founders Week at Moody Bible Institute, I said… Well, doctor, I learned one thing from him many years ago. That was your phrase, “No defense, no attack.” He laughed, he said, “Yes, that’s so true.” He said, “If you’re busy working for the Lord, you have no time either to defend yourself or to attack others. Just keep right on winning souls.” The same thing is true about this matter of any kind of controversy. The turning point of many an argument is the point at which the Holy Spirit lovingly leads you. To say simply, I really haven’t made the grade myself. That’s what Peter said, said, “We haven’t kept the law. Why should we insist on somebody else keeping it?” And at that point, he was telling the truth and all of the steam went out of the situation.

How long has it been since you admitted to anybody that you could be mistaken? Especially the people who know you best. I find that we’re apt to be more insistent on our own correctness and more imperious in terms of demanding from other people, a certain… Obsequious kowtowing to us. We’re more demanding to the people who know best seemingly. Have you noticed that… Well, how long has it been since you admitted to somebody who knew you pretty well? A close co-worker in the shop or the office or the operating room, or the factory or a member of your family, how long has it been since you admitted frankly, and lovingly and at the behest of the Holy Spirit that actually you can be mistaken about something? You’d be surprised at how people warm up to you when you identify yourself as a fallible human being, you become vulnerable at that point and they feel safe with you. Now that’s what Peter said, he said, “Why should we put a yoke on the neck of the disciples?” a yoke which neither our father’s nor we were able to bear. We haven’t kept the law 100%, why should we insist that they keep it? Because we have to be saved by grace and so are they. We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved even as they.

That’s interesting, isn’t it? He said, “Look, we haven’t really kept the law, ‘For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.'” So Paul says, Peter said, “We haven’t kept the laws and we have to be saved by grace, we Jews,” so he said, “The Gentiles are saved by grace, the same way, with or without the Mosaic Law, they have to be saved by the grace of God through faith. So why should we put any kind of demands upon them?

Incidentally, once you realize that salvation and the Christian life is all a matter of God’s grace and a matter of receiving by faith, His godliness in your life. The Christian life is a matter of receiving by faith, the presence and power of God in your life, Paul says, “I live the life now, by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me, no longer I that live but Christ liveth in me,” he said, “The mystery, the secret that we preach among the nations is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” He said to the people at Colossae, “When Christ who is our life, Christ our life shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory.” He said, “Always bearing about in our body, the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” Mortal, that’s subject to death. After you die, you’re corruptible, while you’re still alive, you’re mortal. And so this tells me that the life of the Lord Jesus can show out and shine out through my body, which is subject to dying but it’s still alive. It’s great, huh? Saved by faith by the grace of God, kept by faith, by the grace of God, led and guided day by day, by God’s gracious provision. Everything depends upon him as I commit my life completely to my blessed Lord.

Well, when Simon Peter had said this is, all the multitude kept silence and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul who were declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. The net result of honesty such as Simon Peter manifested is that people are willing to listen. Would you like an audience today, specialize in being lovingly and transparently honest. It will be such a shock to people who are used to argument and hypocrisy combined that they’ll listen to you. Let me leave you with this thought then, if you want an audience specialize in lovingly telling the truth, God will bless you for it. Now, let’s pray.

Dear Heavenly Father, have your way with us, grant us to speak effectively of Jesus this day I ask in His name, Amen, Amen, God bless you, dear friend, all the way.

That’s all for now till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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