Doctrine of Rejection; Grace Orientation. Genesis 37
After we trust Christ as savior we have a new life in Christ and we are spiritual infants. God takes us through a growth process, a training program to prepare us for coming out at the other end at the judgment seat of Christ, to prepare us for our future ruling and reigning and responsibilities. It is the testing of doctrine that is crucial. James 1:2-4 is a passage that shows that God tests us and evaluates us. And these tests aren't the big test. A test is any opportunity where the believer engages volition to either apply or ignore doctrine. It can be anything. It can happen a thousand times a day. We never know when we are going to run into these opportunities to apply doctrine or to ignore doctrine. Every time we apply doctrine it is part of the growth-building process in our spiritual life, and every time we decide just to do it our own way, following the inclination of our own sin nature, then we just go through that downward spiral into sin, human good, temporal death, and if we stay there it has a culminating impact leading to self-destruction and fragmentation of our spiritual life.
We have people testing. We always go through this because we live with people. No matter who it is that you are living with, no matter how much you adore them, no matter how wonderful they are, there are dirty little rotten sinners. And so are you! They not only have to live with you and all of your sin nature flaws and failures but you have to live with them. And that is part of the growth process. We also have to deal with people who just are out to get us, and that can come in all kinds of manifestations. Sometimes it is folks in your family and you just don't understand where they are coming from. It is particularly hard for parents who raised children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and then when those children become adults they turn their back on the Word, they turn their back on doctrine, and it is particularly difficult and painful to deal with that. Or, it is just painful to deal with people who aren't dependable and you can't rely upon them.
When we face all of these we have certain problem-solving devices, stress-busters such as the faith-rest drill, where we take certain promises and mix them with faith and we have to reply on it. That is fundamental and foundational. We learn grace orientation. Grace orientation is foundational for dealing with any people problems because we have to deal with them in grace. The model for that is always the model of God dealing with us, because when God sent His Son to die for us we were at enmity with Him. That means we were the enemies of God. There is nothing about us that is lovable to God. His decision is totally based on who He is and what He was planning to do in history. So that becomes the model for us. We got this salvation and God gave us everything, not because we deserve it, not because we are nice people, but because of who and what God is. We have to deal with our enemies the same way—people who betray us and reject us, people who hurt us. That is what Joseph is learning throughout this whole episode with his brothers.
Then we have thought testing. Thought testing can be the result of all kinds of people testing. We can deal with thought testing in the arena of lust in all kinds of different categories. We can deal with anger. Somebody betrays us and now we have to deal with our reaction of anger or bitterness or any other kind of mental attitude sin. What are the kinds of stress-busters that we can use in that area? Faith-rest drill, the foundation for any kind of response to any level of testing. Self-mastery, which is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. It is self-control: sometimes we just have to say we are not going to think about that. Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think [meditate] on these things." It is a matter of choice and exercising the discipline to redirect our thinking. That involves, of course, doctrinal orientation. We have to let the thinking of our mind focus on the Word.
The third category of testing is system testing. This is where we deal with all kinds of bureaucracies, whether they are governmental or whether they have to do with the work place, the military, local government, police agency, etc. The problem-solving devices that we start with are the faith-rest drill and grace orientation.
There is disaster testing. Once again, the problem-solving devices apply: faith-rest drill, grace orientation realizing that everything we have is from the Lord and it is all grace whether it is good or adverse. That is why the Scripture says that we are to give thanks for all things. Everything is under the providential care of God. There is doctrinal orientation. We understand the plan of God and we have to orient our thinking to it. There is love for God and occupation with Christ.
Joseph is facing people testing. As a result of the fact that his brothers have betrayed him he also has to face thought testing. When he gets sold into slavery he is going to have to start dealing with system testing. He is facing all these different kinds of tests at the same time and God is training him to develop a relaxed mental attitude, to develop objectivity, because the first thing that happens when we get hit with a test is that we start to focus on ourselves—the way we have been hurt, the way we have been disappointed—and if we don't catch that and nip it in the bud the next thing we know we are involved in a lot of self-pity. Joseph has to learn all this because God is preparing him to be the number two man in Egypt and he is going to be hearing and dealing with all manner of problems when those seven years of famine come. He has to maintain an up-beat and objective attitude in dealing with people out of objectivity and not out of emotion.
Basic points on adversity vs. stress
1) Adversity is the outside pressure of either adversity or prosperity. Just about anything in life that we run into puts pressure on the soul, whether we realize it or not. So adversity is that outside pressure which comes from circumstances of life. Stress is inside pressure in the soul.
2) Adversity is what the circumstances of life do to you. You live in a fallen world with fallen people. Those fallen people run fallen systems, everything is part of Satan's cosmic system and you can count on it that there will be adversity. Stress is what you do to yourself, how you choose to respond to that external pressure that comes from situations in life.
3) Adversity is inevitable. You can't run away from it, hide from it, deny it or ignore it. Stress is optional and is your decision.
4) Stress is always the result of the sin nature control of the soul. The fragmentation that takes place internally that as a result of the outside pressure is the result of sin nature control. The sin nature can produce some extremely attractive solutions to external adversity. The look, feel and sound good, and they work, but they only work on the short term. The short term can be a year, five years, ten years, but eventually it doesn't work. The result is always stress and tnhat is a failure to handle adversity through the gracious provision of the ten stress-busters. When you don't use the stress-busters you are using sin. You are relying upon yourself rather than God's provision, God's promises and God's principles.
5) The stress-busters allow the believer to face any situation in life and remain poised, stable and in control of the situation no matter how horrible or agonizing it might be, without giving into the sin nature. This is what we mean when we say that God's Word is sufficient.
6) Sin nature control means arrogance, always. It is either in overt arrogance or it is in pseudo-humility—both are manifestations of arrogance. This means there are the five arrogance skills: self-absorption where you just focus on yourself, always just thinking about your problems, your issues. That leads to and has produced self-indulgence, and that is part of the thinking of our generation. That leads to self-justification, then self-deception where you create your own concept of the world, your own little world, your own little norms and standards, your own value system, and then you start living like all the world should be that way. This leads to self-deification because it is ultimately rebellion against the authority of God, and you have taken God out of the picture and put yourself into the picture as the ultimate authority for everything in life.
When we look at Joseph and Joseph is stuck in a people test, one of the toughest people tests, rejection, we need to talk about rejection: how it takes place and what the dynamics of rejection are. We all have to deal with it in its various manifestations. Rejection is one of those complex things because rejection can be either real or imagined. Everybody in life faces injustice; we are all victims. So that means that since we are all in the same boat nobody has the right top emphasize their problems over somebody else's. We are all in a fallen situation. And to one degree or another every one of us is going to go through the negative aspects of living in a fallen world. The Scripture gives us the solution to these problems. The solution comes from the Word of God and we have to learn how to use the Word of God in order to solve these problems. That comes from claiming promises and being in Bible class and learning how to think about things that are biblical.
The doctrine of rejection in the life of Joseph
1) The brothers have all rejected. They have attempted to kill him and sold him into slavery. How would we respond to that? If we are a believer and we say we need to respond to this situation within the framework of divine viewpoint, what is our mental attitude going to be? How is that going to affect what I say and what I do? So we have to think about this.
2) Rejection comes in many forms: forsaken in a marriage, being attacked by friends or foes (foes we expect; friends we don't; that makes it more difficult), being ignored by those we wish to impact or impress. We may be openly persecuted, ridiculed, physically attacked, bullied, repudiated, or set aside.
3) The natural reaction from the sin nature is to react to these things in terms of emotion, and instantly we are focusing on the fact that we are hurt. This is the first arrogance skill—self-absorption. That is quickly followed by self-indulgence: we are going to keep thinking about it, pull it out of the closet of our memory, and we are going to mull it over. Next thing we know we are just angry all over again. We are not moving through the rejection and solving it, we are just making it worse.
4) At this point we have entered into sin nature control. We are converting the outside pressure from the adversity of rejection into the inside pressure of stress in the soul. Now we are poised for self-fragmentation and spiritual self-destruction. We are beginning to spiral out of control inside of our own soul.
5) We have to remember that as the sin nature dominates we tend to react initially from the emotion in our soul. We move into the third arrogance skill of self-justification, we have all kinds of reasons why it is valid for us to respond the way we do to that person.
6) We have to understand that rejection is very complex; it can be real or imagined.
7) Rejection is often a matter of individual perception of reality. It is one of the greatest pressures in life because you have to have both objectivity and maturity to handle rejection or it will wipe you out. The only source of true objectivity, of course, is from Bible doctrine.
The solution. We have these basic stress busters. We confess sin, and that is our recovery. Then we have to put something positive in there. That comes when we are walking by means of the Spirit and we take the Word of God—faith-rest drill—and take some promise or principle and substitute that for the sinful reactions, thoughts, attitudes that we have. Then we have to think in terms of grace: how can I deal with this person in grace and in kindness when it is the last thing we want to do? Then in doctrinal orientation we have to align our thinking with Scripture. We have other stress-busters as we advance: our personal sense of our eternal destiny, personal love for God, personal love for all mankind, occupation with Christ.
The example is Jesus Christ. Not one of us has ever dealt with even a small percentage of the rejection that Jesus Christ went through. The rejection that He went through that put Him on the cross is far beyond anything that we ever went through. He came to His own and His own did not receive Him—John chapter one. How did Jesus respond? Right there on the cross He said, "Father forgive them for they don't know what they are doing." This is the last thing we want to do, that is, to move on and not take into account those failures. But that is exactly what Jesus Christ does on the cross. He does not react in bitterness, anger, resentment. It was unjust; it was illegal; it violated both Roman law and Jewish law. There was no basis for putting Him on that cross, and He knew it. He was without sin. He was the ultimate victim in all of human history but He doesn't utilize it in arrogance.
David foreshadows this in many of the psalms and gives us a pattern for prayer and application of promises in the psalms.
Psalm 55 David is dealing with betrayal and treachery in this psalm.
12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:
13 But it was you, a man my equal, my guide, and my acquaintance.
14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.
Verses 15-17, the psalmist's prayer: This is an imprecatory prayer where David is turning the injustice over to the Supreme Court of heaven. He is calling upon God to exercise justice in behalf of this injustice.
15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
Then his confidence shifts. Notice the focus. Earlier in the psalm he is talking about his problem. There is nothing wrong with focusing on the problem when you are taking that to God. He is now focusing on the character and the plan and the provision of God.
16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.
17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
18 He has delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.
19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.
21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
23 But thou, O God, shall bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.
God will execute justice from the Supreme Court of heaven. We may not get to watch but He will execute justice and He knows just how to do it and when the right time will be to do it. This is what Joseph is learning so that Joseph can be a good leader when the pressure comes, but he has to learn by going through the furnace of adversity in his own life.