"Free Will (and the Book of Malachi)"
TEXT: Malachi 3; Jude; Matt. 15; Romans 7
1. The human heart is the same today as when Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord in Eden. Meaning, the human heart is capable of evil, and every human person has the potential to commit wicked acts of disobedience. Misunderstanding this reality causes unrest in the human soul and often causes someone to misinterpret the actions of other people and even themselves.
2. The Bible documents a tragic worldview that was adopted by many of God’s chosen people (the Israelites) before the arrival of Christ. The Jews wrongly believed that their ethnic heritage was the key to their salvation. They asserted that a person’s nationality was the most critical factor in determining one’s position before God, and as a result, wrongly assumed that they were superior to other nations who had not been chosen by God like they had.
3. No believer has authority over Satan; not even Michael (an archangel) would rebuke Satan when contending with the powers of darkness over the body of Moses (the Book of Jude). He rather declared that the “Lord will rebuke” our enemy, showing us that it is not wise or remotely biblical to think that we can dispute and rebuke Satan using our own authority.
4. Every generation of believers has the privilege and responsibility to pass on a very important truth to the generations below them: life is about others! Younger generations must see the believers who have gone before them passionately caring about the souls of unbelievers. We will miss out on being a part of God’s work if we fail to understand our role in advancing God’s Kingdom.
5. Jesus seemed to be most frustrated with the religious leaders of His day. Those leaders had essentially stopped their spiritual growth because they perceived that they had “arrived.” They wrongly assumed that they had reached a point in their lives where they didn’t need to be humble or teachable. We need to be aware that we can make the same mistake in our hearts and minds. It is incredibly easy to think that we have progressed to a point in our spiritual growth that allows us to sit back, relax, and let others do the “heavy lifting” as it relates to God’s Kingdom.
6. Remember—God expects His children to resist the urge to grumble and complain about their lives.
TALK TO EACH OTHER:
1. Can you think of any examples where the American church has committed the same mistake that the Jewish people did (Truth 2)?
2. Why is it important to know and understand Truth 1? What are the practical implications of this reality? What are some of the potential dangers associated with misunderstanding this truth?
3. How should believers' model what it looks like to care for the souls of unbelievers? What do younger believers need to see from older generations in order for this truth to be imparted to them?
4. How can we fight against a life that is full of grumbling and complaining? What are the helpful disciplines we need to be committed to in order to keep our lives free of this particular sin?
TALK TO GOD:
Pray as you feel led concerning the following areas:
- Humble and teachable hearts
- Caring about the souls of unbelievers; modeling this for the next generation
- Prayer instead of grumbling; praise instead of complaining