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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #989

Respecting the Image of God
Part One

September 18, 2011

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Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 989 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: I don’t know, I had some thoughts in the last two or three days and then they kind of evaporated and something came back to me so, we’ll see if this is what the Lord has in mind. It’s not exactly what you’d typically call bench-jumping stuff, but I think it’s more important than we might realize.

Turn if you will to James, chapter 3, I think it is. James chapter 3. And this is where James, the half-brother of Jesus, the leader of the church at Jerusalem for many years, is talking about the tongue. It’s interesting when you look in the scriptures just how revealing our tongues and the way we use them are…how much of an indicator that is.

You know, we have many times our own conceptions of how we stand, and what we’re doing, and how we’re living our life, but a lot of times we don’t use the right barometer. We don’t really reckon on where we are and what the real deal is. I believe God wants us to get a clearer picture so that He can do the things that Brother Chip was talking about. I believe His plans are wonderful. I believe He looks toward us positively and with a desire to give us a hope and the future, but in the process of coming to that, there are things that I believe we need to get straight in our own thinking.

I think we read recently a scripture about how the Lord is seeking to renew us in knowledge after the image of the One who created us. That’s the thing. We don’t think like He does, to put it simply. And God wants to rewire our brains so that we think the way He does. How does He see us as opposed to how we see ourselves and how we see each other? A real good question, isn’t it?

But here James is talking about the tongue and again how central it is to who we are and what we’re about. So he says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach…” (NIV). I guess I’d better take this one seriously, shouldn’t I? “…We who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”

That’s pretty revealing, isn’t it? I mean, we have ways of behaving ourselves but saying things out of our lips that don’t quite comport with the way we are supposedly behaving and presenting ourselves. So what’s the real deal? What is the real indicator? I think it becomes plain in this that the tongue is the real indicator of where we’re at.

That’s sobering. It is to me. I don’t believe the Lord would give a truth like this in a sense of condemning, but I believe it is to enlighten. It’s to, as I say, rewire our brains and change the way we think so that we are more like Him. After all, is that not what He’s about…is to bring us…He created us in His image, as we’ve said recently, and that image was marred because of sin and we got totally wired backwards. We’re all about self. But God is seeking to bring forth a people and to produce us by a supernatural salvation to reproduce His life in us, so that we can again become like Him, and like Him permanently. All the bad stuff is gone. All the good stuff is there and we are completely right inside and out. It’s not like we’re acting the part of a Christian and inside it’s different. It’s completely what it’s supposed to be. That’s where God is taking us.

Again the barometer, the thermometer, if you will, of where we’re at, is many times, it’s the tongue. Because as it says we all stumble, don’t we? We all come short. But if anyone is never at fault in what he says…see there you’ve got somebody who’s never, ever, nothing bad ever comes out of their mouth, you’ve really got something going there, is what he’s saying.

And so now he’s going to give a couple of natural examples. It says, “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.” You’ve got one little point of control there, and the whole direction of that horse, what he does, whether he stops or goes, or which direction he goes is controlled by that one little point of control.

“Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” You know we use to sing the song, “It Only Takes a Spark to Get a Fire Going.”

Well, in this case it’s kind of a bad thing. I wonder how many fires we start just with the way we use this. You know the Lord is really trying to bring a love and a unity and reproduce His life, not just in us like we’re model little Christians and not relating properly to everybody else, but there is a togetherness. There is a body life in which we are properly related and expressing His life one to another and that’s critical.

We read in Hebrews for example about how we’re not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Now that’s not just a matter of some religious duty, but it is in light of what life is like in the world, and particularly what life is like as we approach the end of the age. There is a need for body life. There is a need to exhort one another daily, isn’t there? So there’s a positive use of the tongue that is absolutely central to the health and the life of the body of Christ.

Just as the different parts of the body supply what every part needs, and our health as a physical organism is absolutely ruled and determined, I should say, by how effectively all this works…every part works, every part contributes, and the nerve signals and the circulatory system and all that…how that functions…all of that is central to our health— it’s just like that in the body of Christ and God is wanting to bring forth in all of us a greater health so that His body will be more an expression of Him, and not just a bunch of disjointed islands who are religious. Quite a difference, isn’t there? Praise God!

So consider again. “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” That kind of makes the tongue a little bit important, doesn’t it? It’s a pretty good indicator. We got hell here. We got the kingdom of darkness that we live…that’s what our real enemy is. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” But that has an influence upon us and I’ll tell you, this is a key. The devil gets a hold of this, he’s got something.

You know there was one occasion when…I’ll have to do this from memory, I can’t remember exactly all of the words. But anyway Jesus and His disciples were criticized by the religious folks. You know they had a lot of dietary laws and there was a reason, there was a purpose why God did all that at the time, but they had turned this into a religion. And their religion was very much geared to a lot of external things that you did or didn’t do, and that’s what made you righteous in God’s eyes. So in the eyes of these religious Pharisees, Jesus and His disciples were doing wrong.

But Jesus took the opportunity to say, it’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you. In other words, you eat this and oh God hates you…you’re out with God. No that’s not what makes a person righteous or unrighteous…not what goes in but it’s what comes out. The point is this: he says the heart is evil. It’s out of the heart of man all the bad stuff comes. It’s in there, but its vehicle coming to the outside is the tongue, isn’t it? So it’s out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Now of course, we have ways of covering that up, and pretending, and trying to say the right thing, and being sweet, and something different going on in here. But I tell you, you get in an unguarded moment, every one of us is going to express what’s really in here. You want to know where you stand and what your spiritual state is, monitor what comes out of here, not just in the church house, not just when we’re pretending, and maybe even sincerely trying to be what we’re supposed to be.

But I tell you, God is looking for something a lot greater. In fact what He’s called us to, it’s impossible. Christian life is impossible apart from God coming in, apart from Christ coming in to live. It’s His life that saves us, isn’t it? That’s the only power I have to be anything other than what I was born in Adam. I don’t care what you do outwardly, I don’t care how you behave, how religious you are, unless there’s a supernatural birth that takes place in here and the life of Christ comes in, then there’s nothing. There’s no basis for anything that’s real that could possibly please God.

But here he’s not writing to unbelievers, is he? He’s writing to people who have entered into salvation but there’s still a lot of immaturity there. There’s a need to get the tongue hooked up to the right engine so that it begins to express the things that are edifying, the things that build one another up.

Okay, so he says, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” Now he’s gonna use another example. He says, “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue.” That kind of confirms what we’ve just said, doesn’t it, about this being impossible. What we’re talking about this morning is totally impossible except by God’s grace. “…No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil…” You try to govern it for a while, sooner or later it’s going to boil over. Something’s gonna happen, it’s gonna cause what’s really in there to come out. That’s what he is saying. “…Full of deadly poison.”

But here’s something that is very revealing to me. I think this is a key more than perhaps I’ve ever paid attention to it before. It says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father…” Well that’s a good thing. We use our tongues, we praise God. Isn’t that wonderful, isn’t that great? Listen to what he says after that. “…And with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.”

Think about what he’s saying there. We know that in the beginning, as we’ve said recently, we were made in the image of God. And though that image was marred, it’s interesting to me how many points and scripture you will run into where God still sees his creatures as made in His image. You go back to the institution of capital punishment…I think it is something that He said to Noah right after the flood and it was embodied in the law. It says if any man who sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. Why? Why did he say that? Anybody remember that? Because he’s made in the image of God. God is still seeing us with maybe the word is dignity, I don’t know. There is something about us that God still sees, in spite of what sin has done, there is an honor, there is a place in God’s eyes that man occupies.

Folks, what he’s saying here is something that is very sobering to me and it’s this. How we treat each other is how we treat God. Now isn’t that what John says? No one has seen God. There’s no way that you can love God and hate your brother. If you don’t love your brother whom you have seen, how can you love God whom you haven’t seen. See, there is an equivalency there that really needs to change the way we think, the way we see each other. There is actually a respect that God has for man created in His image, in spite of his condition, God still gives man the honor of being His creature made in His image. But man, we don’t think like that do we? My God, how quickly we put others down and how quickly do we disparage, how quickly do we disrespect. I’m not hearing too many amens, but I can understand it.

( congregational response ).

Because it kind of hits every one of us, doesn’t it?

( congregational response ).

This is not small stuff. God is looking for a people who will mirror His character in their relationships one with another. How we treat each other is how we treat Him. Now you can see that in principle in the passage in Matthew 25. Jesus is talking about the judgment. And He talks to a certain group and says, I was in prison and you visited me. I needed water and you gave me water. He lists off a number of things where they had done it to somebody, and Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (KJV).

See, there is an identification there, isn’t there? And it’s particularly so with God’s people, but did not Jesus say something about how we treat our enemies. So it’s not just…there is a kind of godly respect, if you want to put it that way, that you even accord an enemy. Jesus said, love your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you and hate you, and mistreat you, ‘cause even the sinners, they love their own. You know if that’s all you do, big deal. But you want to be the children of your heavenly Father, you love those who don’t love you.

You get this thread. It appears. It comes up in many places in the scripture. And I believe God wants us to kind of connect the dots a little bit. He wants us to see the absolute centrality of who and what we are in His grand scheme, and what His nature is and how He sees His creatures in spite of what sin has done to us.

You know, one of the characteristics that’s listed of the apostate in 2nd Peter chapter 2, I believe, they speak evil of dignities. They speak evil of heavenly beings. They slander. They’re quick to disparage, quick to disrespect, and that’s obviously not a godly characteristic. It says even angels don’t do that. There was Michael, the archangel, I think in Jude, it refers back to when Moses died. He says, even Michael the archangel…now here’s somebody who really is high, who’s contending with the devil over the body of Moses. Now don’t ask me to explain all that, I’m just telling you what it says. But the point being, he didn’t rail on the devil or say, man, you wicked devil, you, I hate you, you’re...you know. He said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (NIV).

He wouldn’t even come against him with his railing. He didn’t unload on him basically, is what it’s saying. He didn’t give vent to a lot of rage, and anger, and upset and all, the way we do. See, what God’s getting at here. This is kind of sobering, isn’t it? This is the kind of thing where you have to look and say, whoa. I thought I was up here and maybe I’m not. Well, guess what, I have to do the same thing. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.” I want to say it again. The relationships that God has established, how we treat other people is how we are treating God.

( congregational response ).

Think about it. Kids, how you treat your siblings, your brothers and sisters, is how you’re treating God. How you respect your father and your mother…God says to honor them. He doesn’t say it because they’re perfect, doesn’t put conditions on that, He just says honor. There’s an attitude that comes from you regardless of their condition. God wants us to be what we ought to be, not contingent upon how other people treat us.

That’s how we do it. That’s how we tend to react. It’s how we measure things. How is somebody treating me? Are they doing right? Well, if they’re not doing right, then I am justified in setting them at naught, railing on them, jumping all over them. No, you’re not. God’s looking for people who have His Spirit in them, and manifest His nature. He rains upon the unjust and the just. He doesn’t make that kind of a distinction. I tell you what, you think about all the relationships in your life. How do you treat your husband? How do you treat your wife? Is there a respect? Do you see that person that you’re related to as somebody God made in His image?