Psalm 36:2 – “For he flatters himself in his own eyes when he finds out his iniquity and when he hates.”
What David is saying is that when a wicked man learns of his own sins, he smoothes them over. He explains his sins way; he justifies his sins. It’s as if he enjoys them even more! This is certainly not the characteristic of a godly man, is it?
Often in the Book of Proverbs, the immoral woman is described as having flattering lips because she justifies her sins of sexual immorality to the extent that she invites other to join her in her practices. She smoothes them over.
Flattery of oneself is very dangerous. Paul commands us in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly …” Someone who flatters is spiritually naïve. He thinks he is further than he really is.
Moses illustrates the self-flatterer this way: “So that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’ – as though the drunkard could be included with the sober” (Deut 29:18-19).
He looks into his stormy evil heart and thinks the waters are calm.
In a sermon entitled, “The Vain Self Flattery of the Sinner,” Jonathan Edwards gives a multiple number of ways men self-flatter.
- Some flatter themselves with a secret hope that there is no such thing as another world. They think they will be “okay” when their life here on earth ends. They flatter themselves.
- Some flatter themselves that death is far off. They think they will have time to take life seriously and “get right” with God. They think a deathbed conversion will be sufficient and enough. They flatter themselves.
- Some flatter themselves that they lead moral and orderly lives and therefore think that they shall not be damned. They think doing good to others is sufficient to get them into heaven. They think their good deeds will pacify God’s anger and justice. They flatter themselves.
- Some live in a place where the gospel is powerfully preached and among a religious people, where many have been converted; and they think it will be much easier for them to be saved on that account. I experienced that much of my life growing up. They think salvation will just “rub off” on them somehow. They flatter themselves.
- Some sinners flatter themselves that they are already converted. They are deceived about their own salvation. They flatter themselves.
This is the wicked man; he smoothes over his own sins. He denies their realities, consequences and God’s feelings about them.
#1 – What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert (published by Crossway Books, 2011). This was my 2nd read of this book, and my appreciation for it grew stronger this time around. With all the possible missions of the church that people suggests (See the subtitle of this book), these authors bring biblical clarity and simplicity to our priority: making disciples (Matt 28:16-20). These authors also to a thorough job critiquing biblically the other missions that others suggest the church out to prioritize, which anyone who sees the Bible as authoritative will find helpful and stimulating. Any Christian will benefit from reading this book; I would put it in my Top 10 list of books needed to read on the subject of the church. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.
#2 – The Vine Project: Sharping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne (published by Matthias Media, 2016). After reading their previous book The Trellis and the Vine, I was left asking, “Now what?” This book answers that question. What is so valuable about this book are the practical suggestions for helping re-shape your church into a disciple-making church. The evaluation questions and charts are second-to-none. I would buy and recommend the book for that portion of the book. Every elder and deacon needs to buy this book and “take it to heart.” BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.
#3 – Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age by William Powers (published by HarperCollins, 2010). This book bored me. It has been sitting on my “Most Wanted” list for quite sometime and when I found it recently at a discounted rate, I was pretty excited to read it. However, I almost quit half-way through. The author rambles on and on about how “screens” are ruining our lives, and while he has some valid points, he rambles on and on about it. It gets cumbersome to read one chapter after another of the same thesis. BOOK RATING: 5 out of 10 stars.
#4 – Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying by Drew Dyck (published by Thomas Nelson, 2014). A problem in the modern church is the lack of the fear of God or an imbalanced view of God that favors His love over other attitudes like Hus justice or anger. This book wisely critiques this false view of God and offers suggestions for correcting this mindset. While this was not my favorite book on the nature of God, it is still worth reading. I would recommend a young or immature believer read it. BOOK RATING: 8 out of 10 stars.
#5 – Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved by J.D. Greear (published by B&H Publishing Group, 2013). There was nothing in this book that I disagreed with and I am thankful it was written. As the title suggests, the author discredits the “Christianese” statements we make that do not have any biblical basis. In fact, it is because of these statements (e.g., “ask Jesus into your heart”) that so many Christians struggle with assurance of salvation. Salvation is not based upon a prayer or aisle walked or card signed, but on faith in Christ and it is proven by the fruit that is produced. This book would be a good resource for a small group to go through or Sunday School class looking to study the topic of assurance. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.
Arnold Palmer and Jose Fernandez. Both athletes. Both adored by their fans. One died when he was expected to (Arnold at the age of 87) and another when no one thought he would (Jose at the age of 24). One was a Hall of Fame golfer. The other was an exciting, up-and-coming All Star.
What they have in common is death. In Isaiah 40:6-8 we read,
“6 … All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, …” (Isa 40:6b-8a). Man’s life is transitory; it is one of brief duration. Usually, when people talk of the brevity of life, they follow it up with something like one of the following mantras…
- “Life is short; play hard.”
- “Life is short; live each day like it’s your last.”
All of these would be fine sayings, but in the Scripture, when the transitory nature of man is spoken of, these clever sayings do not follow. What usually follows is a comparison to an eternal, all-wise God. Look at the next part of vs. 8 – “… But the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa 40:8b). See the contrast? Man is transitory; God is forever.
James 4:13-14 reads, –
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (Jas 4:13-14).
Our life vanishes as quickly as it comes into being. What does James contrast it with? Keep reading. “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (Jas 4:15). He is Lord; we are not. James is saying, “Our life is a vapor and we have no control over it. Who does? God does, because He is not a vapor. He is eternal.” Every time we see something in this world that does not last – our health, dead grass, rain – we ought to immediately remember God is eternal.
The brevity or extension of human life is no accident; God created it this way. And before you know it, age the age of 24 or 87, death will usher you into eternity.
What are you going to do to prepare for eternity? And most importantly, what is your destination?
Corrie Ten Boom, who was a Dutch Christian that famously saved countless Jews during the Holocaust, said, “The measure of a life is not its duration but its donation.” Your donation on earth – what you do with Christ – will determine your destiny.
- “5 Questions to Ask Before You Start Dating” by Jaquelle Crowe (Desiring God).
- “What Every Young Man Needs” by David Gundersen.
- “Preachers, Plagiarism and What To Do with Peter O’Brien Commentaries” by Colin Adams (Unashamed Workman). Here is one blogger’s suggestion for how to respond to the discovery of plagiarism in Peter O’Brien.
- “Seven Principles for Angry Parents Disciplining Angry Children” by Kevin DeYoung (The Gospel Coalition).
- “These Are the Most Oddly-Named Towns in Each State” by Ryan Nickum (Estately Blog). My favorite on this list might be Plenty Bears, South Dakota.