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Listen to the episode here: https://gospelofeverything.com/podcast/the-poisonous-voice-of-saruman/
Welcome to the Gospel of Everything podcast, where we consider everything in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am your host, John Davis. On this show we do not obsess over the end of the world, but rather we are looking to see the glory of God show up in every area of our lives. We are not waiting to go down in glorious defeat. We are expecting to win.
Welcome a friend to this episode of the Gospel, the Gospel of Everything podcast. Am John Davis, your host and talker in chief. And here on this podcast we talk about anything and everything in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have been calling you in previous episodes Victorious Kingdom Ambassador, and that is what you are. You are called to spend your life as an ambassador of the Kingdom of God into whatever field that God calls you.
You are not looking for and obsessing about the end of the world, but rather you are looking to bring God's kingdom more and more into the world. You are not looking to change the world by humanistic man made ideas, but rather you are looking to embrace God's revelation and everything that flows from it. And you are looking to submit your whole self to that revelation. You are not looking to be saved by some political government scheme, but rather you are looking to be saved by Christ, and that you are expecting to live out Christ in every area of life. A very important note and disclaimer about this episode.
I don't know that it's kid friendly, so if there are kids in the room, you might want to pause it and listen to it later when you can listen to it privately and then decide for yourself whether it's appropriate for your kids. But moving on from that, my goal in this episode is to prepare you, young man, young woman or young in heart, to promote God's kingdom in the earth. One of the things that you will need to understand in order to do this is how to discern truth with your spirit and your mind more than with your emotions. I want you to consider if you have watched The Lord of the Rings or read the books. I want you to think about the power of the voice of Saruman.
When Gandalf and others approached Saruman at the Tower of Orthank, after Tree Beard and all the ants defeated him in battle, there was an interesting dynamic that happened whenever Saroman spoke, everyone that spoke after him sounded like they were saying something awful and coarse rather than something good, even if they were speaking goodness and truth. So not only were his lies clever and deceiving and able to get into people's heads, but they made the actual truth and actual wisdom and actual reality sound bad. This is like what we actually have going on in the popular culture today. And if you don't learn to think with your spirit and with your mind, rather than just your feelings and your emotional reactions. You may find that your emotional reactions have been programmed by everything that's going on around you and everything that is being said around you.
And you may find that you have accepted lies on a level that you have not even thought through. I want to give you some examples of this dynamic happening in our culture that I have experienced in my own conversations. One of those hot gotcha issues that is often argued about, or maybe I should say used to be argued about in our culture. Is homosexuality and human sexuality in general. Is homosexuality a lifestyle choice or is it the way God made some people?
This debate eventually developed into the debate about gay marriage. I want you to observe in the culture what has happened here, and I do not want you to be too distracted by the issues I'm using as examples, because this is not a podcast episode that is primarily about those issues. But I do want you to train your mind to understand what truth is and how to discern truth and how to understand reality and how to sort through the emotional appeals that the culture will make to you or will try to put into your mind through television, through music, through talking heads on TV or even through other Christians. I have noticed that sometimes even Christians can be falling over themselves, trying to sound like they are accepting and tolerance towards homosexuality. And if someone were to condemn homosexuality as a sin, they will be falling all over themselves to make sure everyone understands that they want you to love the homosexual but hate the sin.
Love the sinner, but hate the sin. I'm not saying that this is not true. I just want you to think through and observe why are Christians trying so hard to be acceptable to the world? Why does it matter if the world disagrees with the teachings of Christianity? Why would we have any obligation at all to try and make truth acceptable?
One reason for this dynamic is that people have a distorted understanding about what the issue even is. For the Christian, the issue should be what does the Bible say or not say about homosexuality? The issue should then be what does God want us to do about it? If the Bible does say something one way or the other, what does not matter is whether or not the world, that is, the popular culture approves. This voice of Saruman has been coming from the world itself for some time.
Those who have embraced certain views about sexuality and even about the Bible itself, have basically, in a sense, persuaded the world to see things from a certain angle that makes it almost impossible to discern the truth. And it is this angle of are you being loving? It is presented that you must love the homosexual, which is true, by the way. But it is basically that society, the culture, and even many Christians have become persuaded that in order to love the homosexual, you cannot state that the Bible says homosexual sex is a sin. It misses the mark.
It is outside of God's plan for human beings. Society. The culture has basically somewhat successfully persuaded everyone as a whole that homosexual is something that somebody is rather than something that they struggle with or something that they tend towards or something that they do or want to do. And what gets lost here? What gets lost is what the Bible does or does not say.
I don't have a problem with people seriously digging into the Bible trying to understand what is or is not there regarding the topic of homosexuality. But the truth is, most people are not even really that interested in what the Bible actually says. This idea is present and very strong in the culture in general, that it's all about love. Only love is not defined. It is left as an undefined feeling.
The effect of this is that if someone comes along and says, the most loving thing you can say to someone who struggles homosexuality is that God has a way out for you. God can help you. The culture has instead embraced the idea that just suggesting that help is even needed or that escaping is even necessary, is itself a hateful and unloving thing to say. So without actually even analyzing or studying, what does the Bible actually teach? What is the spirit and letter of God's word?
Both Old Testament and New Testament? And what is the application that we can derive out of that? Instead of trying to understand this, even Christians are reacting emotionally and trying to be accepted. I'm not one of those big meany Christians. I just want to tell homosexuals that God loves them.
So let me follow over myself for a minute and say of course you should love them. Homosexual strugglers are not a unique kind of sinner that are somehow the one thing that most needs to be punished in the world. Our Bible teaches us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. This is normal Christianity. Calling a certain behavior sin is not hateful or unloving.
In fact, it could be practically hateful and unloving to not call certain behaviors sin. I kind of wonder if the root of all this is a misapplication of an idea that has been around for some time, that has gone off in the wrong direction. And it is the idea that it's not about religion, it's about relationship. Well, of course that's the case, John. Of course it's not about religion.
It's about relationship. Well, I think I understand why this was originally said. People were exposed to a form of Christianity that maybe was overemphasizing rules and under emphasizing relationship or overemphasizing structure and under emphasizing, connecting with and encountering God. So someone came along and made the catchphrase it's not about religion, it's about relationship. This is an attempt to reach a heart and a soul that is far from God because all that heart sees is empty ceremonies and rules.
So I get it. But while I get it and understand this catchphrase, it appears to me that it has, rather than just making one little point that has some usefulness to it, it has become a replacement for the whole Bible. If I go out into the world and have to say having sex out of side of marriage is sin, or two men having sex with each other is a sin, or two women having sex with each other as a sin, jesus said that even looking at someone with this kind of sinful intent is a sin. Why are you judging me? Is all that you will hear back?
The voice of Saroman has gone out into the world and poisoned everyone, including your fellow believers. I have often wondered what I would do if I was asked in some public and yet hostile setting, some gotcha question like what do you believe about gay marriage? Or what do you believe about transgenderism? Those kinds of questions that are designed to put you at odds with the emotional feeling about love that the audience has. I'm not sure if there is a one size fits all answer to what you should do in that situation.
One thing I have thought of, as far as I've observed, jesus was pretty direct with people. He confronted sin pretty directly, but he also seemed to have some skill and some awareness of seasons. It is always interesting to me that Jesus was repeatedly saying, don't tell anyone who I am or what I did or what you have seen, or even saying things like flee persecution. He was in a season where he did not want to be publicly known. Then there came a future season where he was much more confrontational and directly confronted the Pharisees and confronted others, including going into the temple with a whip and driving out the money changers.
So there's a part of me that would rather just say, this is a season to not talk about those issues where the voice of Sorrow Mountain has poisoned the world against Christianity. There's a part of me that would rather not talk about these things at all. I want people to like me too. I don't want to be canceled. I don't want to be put on some hate list.
Yet, on the other hand, if we do not address the most difficult issues, the issues that are most controversial, what good is that? I've often also thought, what if I am discipling a new believer? And these issues about homosexuality and transgenderism and gay marriage and things along those lines or hatred for the rich is another one with a voice of that. The voice of Sarman has gone out of what should I say to this young believer, or perhaps almost a believer or inquirer about these issues? Should I avoid these issues to avoid putting a stumbling block before them?
What kind of Christians are we going to create if we teach them and train them by the very method of how we're teaching and training them that you shouldn't offend people or you should never be offended? I'm not sure that this is actually the best way to decipher a young person, a new believer or an inquirer. I wonder if what really the real question to ask the inquirer or the young believer is this or the thing to get them to struggle with? Is this the real issue here is who is Lord and who is the authority and what is the source of authoritative teaching? Because if I can persuade someone or share the truth and let the Holy Spirit persuade someone that God is the authority, jesus is lord his word in the Bible as the authoritative source of teaching, if I can persuade them and teach them and train them that they need to grapple with those kinds of questions from God's point of view, not from the popular culture's point of view.
If I can do this, I am preparing them to find the truth for themselves. I'm not suggesting that we should be afraid to talk about these things. I'm not suggesting that we should be super careful not to offend anyone. But at the end of the day, their real issue is something in the background. It's something underlying all of this.
That issue is who gets to decide what is true and untrue about human sexuality? Who gets to who gets to decide what is true and untrue about gender? Who gets to decide what is true and untrue about marriage? Or to use the example that I referred to but haven't talked about much, what does God feel about wealth? What does God teach about wealth through his word?
Does the Bible teach that we should take wealth from the wealthy and give it to the poor? One of the main discipleship questions that everyone who is considering following Jesus is going to have to wrestle with is this who is Lord here? Who decides these things? In an earlier episode of the Gospel of Everything podcast, I talked about the importance of absolute surrender of your beliefs and your thinking to God. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, as it says in Romans Twelve two.
So it is very clever what the devil has done here. He has managed to persuade the culture to believe certain things that will set their sentiments against straight Christian teaching about sexuality and wealth and money and government and things like these. So we as Christians are put in an awkward place if we come out talking about these things. People are shut down from even being able to receive it before even considering the backdrop of who is Lord? And what is the authority, which is the real question.
So I wish I could tell you an exact formula for how to deal with this, but this is something you're going to have to struggle with as you try to live out your faith in the world. And I don't want to mobilize Christians who are primarily following their sentiments, their feelings, their emotions. Feelings and emotions are good for what they are designed for, but they are not a good way to decide what is and is not true or even to decide, practically speaking, how to love people. So should you be confrontational and tell people to their face that homosexuality is a sin, gay marriage is a sin, confusing your gender is sinful? Should you go straight out into the culture and say those things?
Or should you be wise as serpents and gentle as doves and be clever and wise and discern the seasons? Even these questions, I don't believe have a straight, clear answer because it may depend in some cases on calling and temperament and gifting. In other words, there may be people who will get away with doing things that you won't get away with. Or maybe God has given them a particularly hard head to be able to withstand the heat that is going to come against them through a direct confrontational approach to speaking against sin. Maybe another believer is really gifted as a one on one evangelist and has a great skill and spiritual discernment in knowing just what to say and what to bring up and what to avoid to reach a soul.
Yes, I am saying these things could vary based on your gifting, your calling and your temperament. Now please don't go and use that as an excuse to be a wimp or to hide from speaking the truth and love. I am genuinely concerned that someone who really just wants to stay committed to thinking with their feelings and their emotions, well, that I just give that person an excuse. I don't want to give you an excuse if that's you I think I would rather that you feel somewhat uncomfortable. I think I'm somewhere in between.
My conscience does require me to be somewhat direct and to clearly expose sin sometimes. But I do seem to have an understanding of how humans work and that if they don't wrestle first with the issue of lordship and authority, it really doesn't matter what else I say. Why would someone who doesn't believe Jesus as a lord even really be that concerned with doing what he says? I am remembering encountering a young man who is a new believer at one point and was also a new student at a public university. I made some comment about one sin or another and he looked alarmed and vehemently and strongly corrected me for my hate speech.
I just smiled and trusted that God would show him the truth at some point, even though he was a believer now. He was still under the spell of the voice of Sarin in some things. I wonder how much I am still under the spell of the voice of Sarahman in some things. We should all take a close look at our own hearts. My goal is to become really good at discerning what is true, to become really good at discerning when is the right time to say something and what is the right way to say it, to become really good at not being afraid and not living in the fear of man.
So I want to talk to you a little bit briefly before we close here about the future of this podcast, the Gospel of Everything podcast. I have been brainstorming and thinking and seeking God sincerely about how to go about bringing what God wants me to bring to the world through this podcast. So I want to give you a heads up about the year ahead. We're coming to the end of one year and moving into the beginning of another. If you're listening to this later on, it's the end of 2022 right now, and the beginning of 2023 is about to come.
I hope it is okay with you if I experiment a little bit, try some different approaches. What I do for a living mostly is I talk, I teach. I teach classrooms of young people who are preparing to be missionaries to live out Christianity in a missional way. But in this podcast, I really want to be able to have more of a discussion, even though at least for now, it's just me talking. So I guess I might be having a discussion with myself or a discussion with you, the listener.
This makes me sober and afraid, and I think at least in part, it's the good kind of afraid, because there is a good thing about the safety and accountability of just doing straight Bible teaching, right? But I want to dive a little deeper and really help you wrestle with things. Because my goal is to mobilize Christian revivalists and Christian reformers into every area of life, not just in the traditional sense of being, like, ministers, preachers and teachers and missionaries in that sense, although it would be great if some of you went that way. But I want to mobilize young men and women and all men and women, including those of us who are young and heart, into every area, whatever area that each one is called to, whether that be business or ministry or arts and entertainment or working a traditional job or entrepreneurship. Whatever it is, I want to be a part of sending out some real warriors into the world, people who will turn the world upside down.
This will require a wrestling through some things in the Bible, and some things might not be easy, and there may be some things that are black and white and others that are not black and white. Someone who was a mentor in my life for a brief time way back in the 90s once described to me something that he called the wisdom grid. Quite possibly I have mentioned that before and I will probably mention it again, but we want everything to be easy to understand and easy to apply. But sometimes it isn't easy to know what to do. Sometimes it seems like different kinds of wisdom are contradictory to each other.
For example, in this episode I could place it is very important to speak the truth boldly, but with love against, be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. I could place bold confrontation of sin versus being clever like Jesus was. Sometimes. Sometimes it may be easy to figure out what direction you should go, but it's not always easy. Each of these kinds of principles, even when they seem to be in tension with each other, are actually like thin strings or very thin beams in a grid or a filter.
So at one point in your life you're learning the importance of being gentle with the lost those who don't know Jesus. At another point you're learning the importance of how sometimes you need to speak the truth even when it hurts. At another point you're learning about the importance of building foundations in someone's character before struggling through the controversial issues. At another point you are learning about how sometimes it is best to directly confront sin. Read through proverbs.
Sometimes it seems to contradict itself one verse to the next. But Proverbs is a book about wisdom, and wisdom works like a grid or a filter in your life. Basically, you build always adding these new principles that you get from the Word and that you get from trying to apply the word to your life. In real world experience, the more of these you accumulate, the more effective your wisdom grid is and sorting through the decisions you need to make and the behaviors that you need to choose. And then of course, behind all this is the power of the Holy Spirit guiding you, teaching you, helping you, both in general principles and also moment by moment.
Have you ever noticed how many Christians will embrace some kind of single, simple philosophy of everything? Church should be a comfortable place, welcoming to unbelievers. Or it should be a place where believers are confronted for their sins and should be convicted of their sins and be called to repent. Or churches just about believers. The evangelists should be outreaching those who don't yet know Jesus.
I'm not convinced that on many issues there isn't going to be a variety in the body of Christ based on different giftings, different cultures, different temperaments and personalities. But also it's just a matter of building up both your individual wisdom grid and your corporate wisdom grid as a church. A very important application I would like to bring in here that applies to this whole topic about the voice of Sariman, that voice of the world which makes the things Christians have to say sound mean. And that is I would urge you to be very careful about taking the side against other believers. I am not saying that you cannot ever expose or teach that something other believers are doing, other believers are doing, is wrong, or even saying to an unbeliever what other believers are doing is wrong or is a mistake.
But be very careful about being too ready to fall over yourself to separate yourself from other believers who may be doing things in a way that distresses you. They might be being led by the Holy Spirit. To be clear, I am not saying that teaching falsehood or teaching that sin is okay or any of that is possibly being led by the Holy Spirit. I am talking more about the way or the approach or the priorities. What does someone bring up first or do they bring up something in a certain setting or not?
Or do they tend to be compassionate in their demeanor or do they tend to be a little bit of a hard nose in their demeanor? These are the kinds of things I'm talking about. I know of in more than one circumstance where there was a street preacher who was out preaching on the street and other Christians were in the crowd trying to kind of reach out to people by distancing themselves from the aggressive street preacher. Be careful about doing that, that street preacher, as long as they're teaching what is true. But maybe you feel like they're not doing it in the best way.
They might be doing what the Holy Spirit is leading them to do and it might be that they have a temperament or a gifting that is more willing and able to take the heat, et cetera, the things that I have been talking about. So I hope this episode has increased your wisdom grid and increased your preparation to go out into battle and has made you more ready to deal with the fact that the world is being poisoned by Satan against who you are, what you are, and the gospel that you have to share. It will take wisdom, it will take boldness, it will take creativity and it will take many different people with many different giftings and maybe different temperaments and callings each doing their part. Maybe some people will be stirring up the waters and other people will just be giving someone some food. It's all good.
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Thank you again and I look forward to talking to you in the next episode. John Davis and the Gospel of Everything signing off. Thank you friend, for taking your valuable time to listen to the Gospel of Everything podcast today. I hope you have been blessed and encouraged and have more hope for the future. Make sure right now to take a moment to subscribe in your favorite app.
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Listen to the episode here: https://gospelofeverything.com/podcast/the-poisonous-voice-of-saruman/