Taking things to EXTREMES
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. -- Matthew 6: 33
Do we ever stop to realize the importance of this Scripture?† In the first place, if you were to keep God first at all times, you would not have to worry about things like extremes or any other negative aspects of your life.† What is going to be Ďadded unto youí as the above verse states?† First of all, youíre going to have wisdom and that wisdom will help you to acquire discipline in your life.† And you should know that there is great freedom in discipline.† However, many of us go on and we make the same mistakes over and over again.† We sometimes do not realize how dangerous and devilish living our life to extremes can be.
This teaching is going to involve a subject with which everyone is familiar.† However, you are not actually educated concerning the intricacies of the subject matter referred to as ďextremesĒ from a spiritual standpoint.† At this point and time, on Christmas Eve 2015, the temperature outside is about 60 degrees.† Some people are celebrating and are absolutely drinking too much alcohol.† There are people that are out at different places and they are spending money excessively which could be due to the fact that they are drinking alcohol to an extreme.† So you will see that this subject matter can tie in to two different factors or even more at one time.† I am going to show you from the Word of God some Scriptures that will help you to understand and overcome what is referred to as extremes.† Why am I hitting on this subject so hard?
Let all things be done decently and in order. -- I Corinthians 14: 40
I am concerned about this teaching because of what the above Scripture says.† We are supposed to do things in an orderly fashion and in a decent manner.† When you take anything to an extreme, you are out of order and you are indecent in the way you conduct your affairs.
I learned a very long time ago from the Word of God and the Ministry in which I studied that extremes are not from the true God.† This may shock some people and it may be difficult for some people to make this adjustment as to the truth of this matter.† The enemy, who is the present god of this world enjoys confusing people and throwing off their routine.† He uses an arsenal of tricks and traps, but in this case, we are going to be concentrating on this one subject.† It is that important to be able to understand the genuine and the counterfeit.† Of course, you should always want to run and control your life and your thinking according to genuine truth.† You must know by now that the Word of God is the only truth in the world today.† Everything else is a well-orchestrated counterfeit designed to fool you and to lead you by deception.†† Many people will persuade you to live a life where you take things to extremes.† People will do this to take advantage of you and these people are influenced by the god of this world.† Letís see what God has to say about this.
For such are †false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ,† And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. -- II Corinthians 11: 13, 14
This teaching is not complicated but is it is extremely important.† Most people overlook† simple principles and this results in negative consequences.† The importance of the above Scripture cannot be expressed enough.† The deception of the world tempts people to take things to extremes.† It is because you do not know that the god of this world is the one who is influencing you.† He transforms himself as if he is an apostle of Christ.† The second Scripture also says that we should not marvel at this for Satan has been known over the years, time and time again, to transform himself as if he were an angel of the true God.† There again is my point being made that you must know the genuine and you must know it very well to be able to recognize the counterfeit.
In the teaching called ďGambling - You LoseĒ, the only place I can ever remember gambling in my life before I had gotten to know God was on a pool table.† At least there was some skill involved and I was a real hustler Ė almost no one could beat me.†
Lately, in my area, there was and still is a horse race track and it is known to be a very bad area to frequent.† So what the enemy did was he took this racetrack and now he added a casino to the racetrack grounds.† He calls it Hollywood Casino.† The name is meant to be attractive and to make people feel like they are a big deal, when they are nothing but fools.† What really makes an impression on me is that this casino also runs many ads on television.† There is only one more believer that I have any affiliation with and she said to me, they always show the people laughing and joking as if they are† having a fantastic time.† You think they are going to show the people who have lost half the money that they own?† And they show women that are attractive and good-looking men and they all seem like theyíre having the time of their life.† This is taking a bad habit and expressing it to extremes Ė it is pure and simple deception.
Do any of you remember my story when I was in Atlantic City and had about $100 on me to get my motorcycle out of the shop?† I lost that money in about 10 minutes.† I felt horrible and had to borrow the money from someone in my family so that I could pick up my motorcycle and get back home.† Thatís what itís really like.† Itís not like you see on the billboards and in the advertisements because people who lose try their best and their hardest to win that money back.† So they take their betting to extremes and most of the time, things get worse.† I really hate to see people make a fool out of themselves and I see this many times in a convenience store or a gas station.† People are buying one lottery ticket after another until they are practically broke and guess what they think?† Theyíre going to win Ė someone has to win.† Well if there was a lottery where you would be protected against a lightning strike, you would be better off to stand in the middle of the field and wait to get struck by lightning.† What the enemy banks on is the fact that people are stupid.† Thatís how he leads people around by the nose and makes them live their life to extremes.
Letís go over a previous point quickly.† You have a counterfeit $50 bill in one hand.† In the other hand, you have a genuine $50 bill.† Letís face facts.† If you have not studied what genuine currency looks like with a very sharp eye, how in the world are you going to be able to distinguish which $50 bill is genuine and which one is counterfeit?† You also need to know at this point that the devil counterfeits every single thing that the true God does.† Thatís one of the reasons this world is in such a terrible condition in many ways.† People think that they are doing and living and acting and thinking the correct way, but everything that they do and think etc. is a counterfeit in its true nature and in its least common denominator.† Only a true believer can recognize the truth because he studies the truth diligently.† Now we must go to II Timothy 2:15.††
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. -- II Timothy 2: 15
If you are not studying the Word of God on a daily basis and with a diligent effort, you have then just subjected yourself to be deceived by the god of this world.† He will act just like an angel of light and you will never be able to see the deception.† I have gone through this time and time again and many times, I thought I was walking by revelation from the true God, but this was not true.† What the enemy will do is to lead you on and make everything appear like itís right and proper.† Then just when you need things to work out, he will pull the rug out from under you and you will be flat on your face.††† If youíre not studying and not trying to learn more and more, you are wasting your time and you might as well just quit.† Thatís how important it is to study.† Your renewed mind is your key to power.† You can only renew your mind if you study the Word of God.†
I Beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is† your reasonable service.† And be not conformed to this world:† but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is† that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Ė Romans 12: 1, 2
There is only one thing that will change a person so donít bang your head up against the wall trying to do it by yourself.† The ONLY thing in this world and I mean the only thing that changes a person so that their behavior is now different and improved to a noticeable extent is to renew the mind to what the Bible teaches.† I get fed up many times but I donít let it bother me anymore when I watch people worshiping their trucks and their cell phones or any other hobby that they have and God has absolutely no place in their lives.† They never pick up a Bible and they never pray.† The only time youíll hear people say God is when theyíre in serious danger.† Oh God, oh God, please help me Ė please help me.† You even hear it on television all of the time.† You should be praying to God not only when things are difficult, but when things are also going very well.† I like to pray in the morning with my spouse and I usually do almost all of the praying.† I cover almost every important subject that I can think of because God deserves at least that amount of respect.† Think about it.
Now we are going to turn to more specifics concerning the Word of God that address our subject directly.† Some of you may remember that I have mentioned the following three things many times.† In this particular situation, all that is in the world reflects the key subject that we are talking about, which is taking things to extremes.† The following is a Scripture that will give you a clearer view of what the Word says regarding our topic.† There are only three things that are in the world today.† They are all defined with the word Ďlustí which is over-desire.† This over-desire is a perfect example of taking matters to an extreme.
For all that is† in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. -- I John 2: 16
The lust of the flesh causes us to desire things that we really donít need.† So we go out and we buy things that are above our need Ė they are over-desires.† Obviously, these are referred to as extremes when we go to purchase something.
The lust of the eyes is very similar to the lust of the flesh.† Fleshly desires and the over- desire of what we see with our eyes causes us to act in an irrational manner by taking normal desires to extremes.† What is a good example?† We have a small yard and we can easily mow it with a regular lawn mower.† But we see our neighbor on a riding lawnmower and we have over-desires which are based on lust and we want to have the same thing as our neighbor, even though we do not need it.† This is lust Ė it is over- desire Ė it is taking things in your life to extremes.
This, of course, should be simple for you to understand, but donít miss the main point.† If the world is controlling you, these three things are the only things that are in the world.† If you do not know God and His Word, you have no choice but to make the wrong one.† If you know the Word, you will develop qualities that I will refer to as the fruit of the spirit.† We are going to talk about these individual qualities that are a result of knowing, studying, and applying Godís Word in your everyday life and in your everyday decisions.† There are nine of them and they are illustrated in the book of Galatians.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,† Meekness, temperance:† against such there is no law. -- Galatians 5: 22, 23
First, you need to understand that the fruit of the spirit mentioned above is the result of a spiritual walk with God.† You must be studying and you must be applying the Word of God.† God must be first and foremost in your life and you must be praying and you must be doing, which is practicing, Godís Word every single day.
Now I want you to notice that there is one fruit of the spirit that will set you free from† living a life of extremes.† Taking things to an extreme will eventually destroy your life.† It is of the devil himself and it is one of his tricks and methods that he uses on people almost all of the time.† What one fruit am I talking about in the above Scripture?
It is the word TEMPERANCE.† Temperance is defined in the lexicon as Ďmastery or dominion overí.† It means to have selfĖcommand, but the most important definition that I want to stress is that temperance means to have selfĖcontrol.† When you have self-control, you are a disciplined person.† You should always remember that there is great freedom in discipline.† Temperance or self-control allows you to have dominion over your own self and that includes your decisions.† God gives you this self-control when you keep Him first.† Otherwise, you only have those three choices from the world which we already mentioned.† So in essence, we have been given our answer on how to overcome living life to extremes.† Isnít it amazing how God has covered every aspect of our life?† Remember, that the fruit of the spirit, of which you can see there are nine of them, can only result when you keep God first.† There is no other way you will obtain true temperance.† The world will offer a counterfeit self-control, but it is just that, a counterfeit.† This is how he deceives so many people into living life his way as compared to Godís way.† One of the greatest deceptions that the adversary likes to use is to make people think that he doesnít even exist. †There is a fine line between the true God and the counterfeit.† By studying the true God, you will easily be able to recognize the counterfeit.† Most people today live with lust in their life and in their eyes and in their flesh.† Itís a shame and difficult for me to see this happening.† But God Almighty gives every man and woman free will to believe His Word or not to believe.† Before we get into some other verses that talk about extremities, I want you to take this verse to heart and to never forget that temperance will allow you self-control and self-control will allow you discipline and discipline will allow you freedom to make the correct decisions.† You are the sum total of all the decisions youíve ever made.
An extremity is defined as the greatest degree of something.† Letís examine some examples from the Word and conclude this teaching with these examples.† My main point here is that extremes are NOT from God Ė they are from the god of this world.† When the Apostle Paul went to Jerusalem against Godís Will, he took his love for God to an extreme.† This can happen.† His life was practically ruined.† He became heady and high minded and his Ministry was just about over.† If it happened to Paul, do you think it can happen to you?† I, many times, have to stop teaching for a few days or longer because God knows I am going to burn out and that is an extreme.† I learned to listen to God.
Although I suggest you read the context of this record, I am going to begin at verse 33 of chapter 18 in II Samuel.† This reflects an extremity in regards to grief.
And the king [David] was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept:† and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!† would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! Ė II Samuel 18: 33
The king here lost his son and his grief was overwhelming.† For those of you who care for advanced material, there is a figure of speech here that you cannot miss.† It is called Duplication.† He keeps repeating his sonís name as he is overwhelmed with grief to an extreme.† He even tells God that he would have died in his place.† It took a friend by the name of Joab to help the king to cease from this mourning.† The king was losing it and death can cause this to happen to a person.
I hesitate to tell you this story but Iím going to do so.† For 14 Ĺ years, I walked a beautiful trail with a dog that was truly my best friend next to God.† We had the greatest times on earth Ė times that I can never forget.† These are also times that I documented in a book that I wrote about this dog and myself.† We walked 30,000 miles.† When he passed away, I almost lost my mind.† I felt so alone that I became bitter and out of fellowship for many years.† It took me four years to get over the loss of this little animal.† I took my grief to extremes and it can happen to anyone.† There is something to the old saying that time heals all wounds.† I spoke to a woman two days ago that took her 10 years to get over the loss of her dog.† These are extremes and again, everyone is vulnerable to them.† The more Word of God that we have in our minds, the less likely we are to be susceptible to extremes.† So study and donít stop studying because you will feel better as the Word heals and strengthens your mind.
Since devil spirits also have free will, we should examine a record of how Lucifer fell as a result of extremes in his thinking.† Letís take a look at this record in Isaiah chapter 14.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [O, Morning Star] how† art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!† For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God [star God]:† I will sit upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:† I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Ė Isaiah 14: 12 - 14
Do you see what happened to the devil?† He was second in power to the true God because God had placed him in that position.† It went to Luciferís head and by his own free will, he decided that he was going to overcome Godís power and be number one.† His thinking went off into extremes and he said all these things to God about exalting himself above the true God and above the star God.† Then he made a statement that he would be like the most High God.† This resulted in a mutiny in heaven and 1/3 of the angels went with him making up the devil spirit kingdom today.† In the next verse which is verse 15 God tells him his fate.† Just so you know, this is the ultimate example in pride.† Pride can easily bring on extremes in your lifestyle.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. Ė Isaiah 14: 15
God reacted immediately to what Lucifer was saying and so began the battle between two arch enemies that still rages on today.† When Jesus Christ returns, he is going to put an end to all of this for all eternity and we will live in the third heaven and earth wherein dwells righteousness.† There will be no pain and no suffering and no death.
I must stress that this is one of the greatest examples in the Bible of what extremes and thinking can do to a person or even to a spiritual power.† That is how dangerous taking anything to an extreme can be.
Remember the story of the wayward son who disobeyed his father?† That younger son took the portion of goods that his father gave to him and he wasted all of it with riotous living.† Instead of using what his father had given him for a rational lifestyle, he went out and wasted everything that he had by taking his lifestyle to extremes.† He mustíve partied all night long and just kept blowing everything that his father gave him.† He got to the point where he spent all that he had and then on top of it, a famine came upon the land.† Letís read the record from the Word.
And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.† And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.† And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.† And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. Ė Luke 15: 13 Ė 16
This really is the story of the forgiving father and not the prodigal son.† This is a parable which teaches a lesson.† It begins with the father who had two sons and he gave each son a portion of the goods that the father owned.† He divided those goods among both of his sons.
The younger son took his portion and for some reason left the country and his life was taken over by extremes in his lifestyle.† He lost all of his money either through gambling or with wild women.† I do not know the specifics because the Word of God does not tell me.† But just using an adjective called íriotousí says about everything that we should know.† Then watch what is the result of this manís living to an extreme.† On top of being dead broke, a famine came upon the land.† He had to go to a man who kept pigs for a living and humble himself to the point where he asked this man if he could have some type of a job.† This man sent him into the fields to feed the swine and he was so hungry that he filled his stomach with the same husks that the swine ate, and no man helped him.† If you want to read the rest of the record, he finally came to his senses and went home to his father.† His father welcomed him back with open arms.† You should read the rest of this record.† But the point we are making here is that the younger son lived his life to extremes and wound up with nothing but eating the same food that the swine ate in the fields.† What he gave out, he got back.†
It was taught to me once that as a believer walking with God, we should have no stress, no sweat, and no strain.† We get ourselves into these positions because we simply do not listen to God.† If we were to master Word of Knowledge, we would then be listening to everything that God tells us not to do and what He says that we should do.† This final example is a good example concerning the subject.
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:† But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:† Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver:† in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; †-- II Corinthians 1: 8 - 10
Somehow, these believers got into such a position that they almost lost their lives.† One of the greatest part of these Scriptures is that they depended on God and not on themselves to be delivered from such a fate.† They trusted that God will deliver them and He did.† But the point that I want to make is that even though human endurance is very high, it is not Godís Will for us to get into these situations.† Iíve always pondered that statement that we should have no sweat, and no stress, and no strain.† This seems like a dream, but it is one that is available to us.† I mentioned Word of Knowledge and that simply means that God is telling you something.† Then we have Word of Wisdom which means that you take the Word of Knowledge and you carry it out.† You do what God has told you to do.† If we were to always do this, it would seem like we were in heaven on this present earth.† But we are not perfect as human beings and God tells us that we will sin at times.† The point is to sin and get out of fellowship the least amount of times that is possible.† And by not living our life in any way, shape or form to extremes, we will definitely see an increase in our more than abundant life.
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it †more abundantly. Ė John 10: 10b