When the Man of God is not at all like God

Warning: Men, this will be a painful devotional if we are determined to review our track record, ignore our sin nature, gloss over our sins, and proclaim our faithfulness. Who do we think we are? Read the early chapters of God’s Word. Adam, Noah, and Abraham quickly proved to be horribly unfaithful fellows, and the same is true of every male leader whose name is not Jesus Christ. Oh friends, let us open our eyes and understand the holy magnitude of God’s laws and expectations. Let us get over ourselves and cease our boasting. We may be called “men of God,” but in our natural condition we are not godly men. However, God’s gracious power has not yet been exhausted. So let us read the text below, think through it together, realize we are like Father Abraham, and rejoice that we have been foreloved, totally justified, entirely forgiven, and positionally sanctified. And let us enjoy the fact that Christ and his Spirit, who have “begun the good work in us,” will “be faithful to complete it.”

Genesis 12:10 – 13:4 Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels. But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.” And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had. So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb. Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord.

Abraham was a man graciously and greatly blessed by God. Yahweh found him in his idolatry, granted him faith, gave him eternal life, made incredible promises of land, seed, and blessing.

However, the God who gave was the God who took away. In accordance with God’s infinite wisdom and sovereign power, famine came to afflict Abraham and his family. There he was, married, a long way from home, with little support network, desperate to find food, and surrounded by hostile neighbors.

Abraham feared at this point. He lacked internal faith and this resulted in his being external faithlessness. His sins, they harmed him greatly. However, even greater was the damage done to Sarah — his bride — who had placed herself under his “loving care” and “leadership.”

Abraham, being the self-absorbed leader, led in such a way that Sarah was abused. His sins were of the omission and commission variety. Passively, he withdrew his protection from her; actively he commanded her to hide her true identity as his bride. In the end, he would rather see his wife taken into Pharaoh’s harem than for him to be inconvenienced and endangered. In this episode, Abraham proved to be the “man of God” who was not at all like God.

Pharaoh, was another abusive male leader. He was the self-absorbed monarch who was more than happy to add Sarah to his collection. He proved to be another “leader” willing to sacrifice others for his own personal interests.

Tragically, this sinful and abusive tendency is seen throughout the Bible, throughout history, and throughout our current culture. How great is the number of “men of God” who prove to be ungodly husbands, fathers, elders, employers, and governors. All of them, all of us, deserve God’s wrath, justice, and execution.

But great was the grace of God …

Grace was seen in the rescue of Sarah. God saw her need and came through when the men in her life would not. (Men, this should be one of our prayers — that God would step in and make up for our sinful leadership.)

Grace was seen in the magnification and advertisement of God. God made himself known to Pharaoh. He gave Pharaoh divine revelation and encouraged Pharaoh to bow the knee to the King of Kings.

Grace was seen in the temporal blessing of Abraham and Sarah. God saved their lives, their marriage, and he enriched their portfolio.

Grace was seen in the Spirit-inspired repentance and progressive sanctification of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham saw his sin, built an altar, and pursued fresh communion with his Heavenly Father and earthly bride. And in some way, God used this to build Sarah into a woman of faith.

And all of this was founded upon the gracious work of the coming Christ — the real “Man of God.” Jesus would be the Leader willing to sacrifice everything for the good of his bride — the elect, the church. Jesus would see the danger, consider the cost, and willingly offer forth his body and blood. He would love his bride to death. Greater love has never been displayed by any male leader. Jesus was the woman’s gentleman. He was the man’s man. Jesus was the top-drawer leader. He was the “Man of God” who was thoroughly godly.

And great is the grace of God …

Yes, the Good News continues; the gracious working of God is not yet exhausted. Through the Spirit, the Son continues to shower grace upon “men of God” who are not godly. It is really good work that the Holy Spirit does; he is still in the business of increasing our Christlike knowledge, affection, character, and skill.

Therefore men, how can we respond right now? Let us …

  • Understand God’s lawful commands.
  • Humble ourselves and acknowledge our sin and sins.
  • Run to the Father, Son, and Spirit for Gospel comfort and encouragement.
  • Confess our sins to those we lead and request their forgiveness.
  • Go back to God’s good law and reacquaint ourselves with his good counsel.
  • Spend more time in prayer asking that the Spirit might fruit us more.
  • Rejoice that Christ will “be the man” for our loved ones as we prove not to be so sharp and holy.

And women, what can you do right now? Why don’t you …

  • Run with us to Christ who is our really Godly Leader.
  • Pray more fervently for us.
  • Cheer us on and encourage us when you see the Spirit working through us.

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