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Don’t Neglect Common Sense

We’ll start with Psalm 127:1-2: “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. 2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”

Obviously having God’s favor and God’s protection on everything we do is worth more than whatever amount of labor and overall diligence that we could ever put into it.  It’s obvious that if God’s honor is not what we’re seeking in our labor, and if we are not demonstrating God’s ways therein, then our work is in vain and so why even bother.  But many would take this a different way and say that if the Lord is building the house, then man has no place in building the building!  If the Lord is keeping the city, then the watchman has no need to watch at all!  So even the obvious lessons about man’s need of God’s grace, and man’s need to depend on God, can get twisted by fools who take verses that emphasize such out of context and don’t consider common sense and the whole of Scripture in the conclusions that they make.

We concluded our study last week with Matthew 6:24-34, about not taking thought for the morrow- and obviously the context of the passage is store up treasures in heaven by making righteousness your principle concern today and not being like the heathen who are, typically, wrapped up in the pursuit of mammon and take care excessive care to make sure that they have adequate food and clothing (and often make sure they have way more than that, even to the point of excess and luxury).  Obviously none of this means that we’re not supposed to work and not supposed to make reasonable preparation for the future.  The Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”  It also talks about how if any won’t work, then he shouldn’t eat as was mentioned last week at the end of the study from 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12.  And there are even fools who actually say that well, maybe we should work to help others, but not work to buy our own food.  I couldn’t believe it when I heard it, but there is a very popular youtube channel which teaches this!  (Of course while they buy food from the donations that other people have made through working!)

The principle verse they use to justify this strange doctrine is John 6:27: “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”  It seems these weirdos don’t even focus on any part of the verse besides the very first phrase, but they sure don’t consider the context of the verse and they don’t consider that Jesus and those who are inspired by His Spirit in Scripture often use extreme phrases to make a point because they are rebuking a bad tendency in man; and they therewith expect that their hearers will be reasonable and use common sense and the rest of Scripture to balance what they’ve said in order to take the extreme statement for what it is worth while also not going to another extreme conclusion which is just as bad or worse than the bad tendency which the extreme statement they made was a rebuke to!  In the case of abuse of John 6:27, which we’re dealing with now ,they don’t and they won’t consider that Jesus said “labor not for the meat that perisheth” to people who chased Him for at least dozens of miles to the other side of a sea He had walked over because He had just miraculously fed them with bread- and they yet wanted more bread.  These people were not even working in this instance in the sense of work related to farming (plowing, planting, watering, pulling weeds, harvesting, etc).  They were actually going to great lengths to get food apart from the natural process and were earnestly seeking more of it by the miraculous means which Jesus had just provided on the other side of the sea.  Now their need greatest need in Jesus’ eyes was to be shepherded spiritually and if you compare John chapter 6 with the account of the same event, the feeding of the 5,000, in Mark 6:34 it says “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34)  So you see in the following verses that Jesus feeding this crowd the bread and the fishes was also an act of compassion, but it was not meeting what their greatest need was in Jesus’ eyes.  So many from this crowd followed Jesus to the other side of the sea to get more food and this was the context of John 6:27- it was a meant as a statement to get our priorities in order- to have being fed with the Word of God and living out the Word of God as our principle aim in life that we will go to any lengths to have.  This was the reason that the people ought to have been seeking Jesus! Luke 11:42: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” Matthew 12:49-50: “And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  Luke 8:20-21 “And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. 21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.” 

In its proper context then work is not only compatible with this, but in many situations is actually an essential part of this.  Acts 20:32-35And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Now consider the same principles we’ve just looked at now in relation to another topic:

Joshua 1:1-9: “Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

So does ALL Joshua and Israel need to do now is heed and obey God’s Word so they’ll have success in battle and conquer Canaan?  If they do that, will they not need to fight at all?  Or could they just send out the women and the children to fight instead of the men in order to show how great God’s power is and to better ensure that God gets all the glory for the victory?  No!  Obviously Israel having God with them is essential.  They’re not going to be victorious otherwise, they don’t stand a chance otherwise.  But we see as we go in the Book of Joshua that Israel really needed to fight to subdue Canaan- and they really needed to have battle plans.  And in fact, the time God obviously had forsook He left them to go fight presumptuously without a battle plan.  And then when they got right with Him again, we see He actually gave them a battle plan.

Joshua 7:1-13: “But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel. 2 And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. 3 And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. 4 So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. 5 And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. 6 And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. 7 And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! 8 O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! 9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? 10 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? 11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. 12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.13 Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.”

So Israel deals with that and gets the accursed thing out, they are in God’s favor again, and now God is with them as they go to battle.  So do they just go out to battle without a plan and say God will take care of it.  No, that is what they actually did when God had abandoned them.  Now that God was with them, in this case at least, He actually gave them a battle plan- which they had to actually execute and follow through with (God didn’t do this for them)! 

Joshua 8:1-8: “And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land: 2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it. 3 So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night. 4 And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready: 5 And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them, 6 (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them. 7 Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand. 8 And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the Lord shall ye do. See, I have commanded you.”

We know by reading the rest of the chapter that this did work!  But they needed to not be presumptuous and heed God’s instructions.  In this case they were very detailed and we won’t always get detailed instructions, even Israel in God’s favor under Joshua didn’t necessarily always get these.  Yet there is always the need to use wisdom and common sense in the situations we find ourselves in, whether we are preaching the gospel or whatever we are doing.  The principle is that having God with you actually means we ought to be following better counsel and making better decisions in matters related to this life than we would be making if we were separated from God in darkness and not faithfully serving Him.  Paul rebuked the Corinthians for their lack of good judgment in settling disputes among church members in relation to things pertaining to this life. 1 Corinthians 6:2-3:“2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?”

We see how Paul himself didn’t take God being with him, and even God promising him success and his life being spared in his travels (more than we have), as a reason to not exercise wisdom and caution in matters related to his safety and in situations where this was threatened.

Acts 23:11-24: “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. 12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. 14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. 15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.16 And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.17 Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him. 18 So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee. 19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me? 20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly. 21 But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee. 22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me. 23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; 24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.”

(The following is part of the same sequence of events related to Paul getting to Rome.  Remember as we read the following from Acts ch 27 that the promise that the Lord had made to Paul about Him testifying of Him at Rome still applied and Paul obviously still remembered and knew that here.  Glean from these examples here, both in relation to the matter we’re discussing and in terms of overall godliness)

Acts 27:9-34: “Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, 10 And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. 11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. 12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. 13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. 14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.16 And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; 19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. 20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. 21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. 22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, 24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. 25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. 26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. 27 But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; 28 And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. 29 Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. 30 And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under color as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, 31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. 32 Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. 33 And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.34 Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.”

One more thing in relation to how Scripture makes extreme statements to make a point while expecting us to use common sense to balance what is said.

Matthew 10:16-20 (I want to focus on vss 18- 20 but am including vss 16-17 b/c of how they also relate to this study) “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”

Now look at what Paul said when he was actually delivered before a Governor and a King to give a testimony. 

Acts 25:24-27, 26:1-2: “And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him. 26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: 2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews…”

A lot of people would accuse Paul of heresy!  “Jesus said it is not that ye speak, but the Holy Spirit.  But you say you’re answering for yourself!  You sure don’t know God, Paul!”  And I’ll say here that Calvinism is full of the same foolish errors and misinterpretations of Scripture that are of the same nature as the fools who teach that John 6:27 means we are never supposed to work for food.  And BTW: Even though we aren’t going to get into it here because doing so would make the study too long, and considering that you guys already have a good grasp of this, I’ll just mention that the same principles here do indeed apply to God’s provision of salvation, man’s duties to to partake and obtain God’s provision, the many Scriptures which taken in themselves greatly emphasize one or the other, and how many latch onto one set or the other and take the Scriptures they latch onto out of context to arrive at errant doctrines relating to salvation.

Some things to summarize and conclude this study:

– We should not just assume plans will work out nor neglect preparation in basic matters of life because we believe God is with us. Ecclesiastes 10:15 “The labor of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.”

– We should not neglect reasonable measures for the safety and protection of our own persons and any in our company or under our care- even if we have got away with such neglect in the past and/or even if we believe we have been given supernatural protection at some point before.  Same with having reasonable provisions when it’s in our power to lawfully have such.  Luke 22:35-38: “And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. 36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.”

– We should never neglect serious, continual prayer regarding anything that is important for any reason- especially due to assuming that things are just going to work out anyways. Phil. 1:19-20: For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” – See especially also Acts 12:1-12

– w/ 2 Timothy 2:15- The need to study to show ourselves approved to God also applies to studying to apply to wisdom and common sense to everyday matters.  Even the direct context of the verse is dealing with things like when not to debate and when to write off things which people say.  One example: See Nehemiah 6:1-9 Another example: John 7:1: “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.”

– There are times when suffering is part of God’s will for us and we cannot righteously avoid it.  But there are times when we could at least bare a little bit of guilt for not doing better than we could have to righteously avoid it.  We see examples in 1 Corinthians ch 11 and Revelation ch 2 of certain people within Christian churches suffering in this life as chastening for not judging themselves like they ought to and not repenting over sin, carnality, false doctrine, etc that they had let creep into their lives and infect them until they were greatly leavened.  And though maybe not as serious as that in terms of personal guilt, but maybe also almost as harmful to the Lord’s work, we can still suffer needlessly by not being as careful and wise as we ought to be in terms of navigating the circumstances that we find ourselves in.  We see in 2 Timothy ch 4 a servant of God suffering in God’s will warning another servant of God so that he will not be harmed by an enemy of Christ who had done him much harm. 2 Timothy 4:14-15: Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: 15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.” (It’s obvious by reading all of 2 Timothy chapter 4 that Paul was imprisoned for the Gospel’s sake and was convinced he was about to die there)

We get a glimpse in 2 Cor ch 11 and many other passages of how much and how greatly Paul had suffered for Christ’s sake.  You can tell that he knew this was inevitable, yet as a steward of Christ whose responsibilities included the care of his own person and the need to be as available and free as possible to go where he was most needed, he used great caution and wisdom to spare himself from suffering and imprisonment, if this were possible without compromising righteousness.  But it was also not always possible obviously- and when that’s the case, we can be assured that this is truly our best life from God’s perspective which takes eternity into consideration. 

And if we have made bad decisions before which have caused us to suffer needlessly, whether related to our sin or related to not being as careful as we ought to have been in earthly matters, then doing what is righteous in God’s eyes while applying, exercising, and learning wisdom and common sense in our decisions now going forward, to the best of our ability, is definitely what will bring us on the best path going forward.  We need to learn from such, but otherwise all we can do now is focus on what is our power to do and change that we ought to do and change.  God is most concerned that we are learning and trying our best walking to walk before Him in righteousness and to be faithful servants of His whose lives are surrendered to Him and cast into His hands.

You may reach bro Aaron at [email protected].