My God and My Neighbor

May 22, 2024

Partisan Politics and the Biblical View of Things

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“God Looks on Your Inside, Not Your Outside”

Have you ever heard that “Man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart?” We’ll talk about this statement in I Samuel 16:7 and discuss what it means for our lives. We’ll also look at some interesting evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible and consider “partisan politics” from a very different viewpoint than most discussions of politics today.

Read about this subject:
  • Scriptures: I Peter 3:15; Daniel 4:17; Isaiah 48:10; II Corinthians 1:3-10
  • Church, State, and Disease” by Kerry Duke, chapter nine, “The Divine Dimension.”


Kerry Duke: Hi, I’m Kerry Duke, host of My God and My Neighbor podcast from Tennessee Bible College, where we see the Bible as not just another book, but the Book. Join us in a study of the inspired Word to strengthen your faith and to share what you’ve learned with others.

Do you remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They were thrown into a fiery furnace, the Bible says. Why did that happen? Why were they punished by being thrown into a furnace of fire? That’s the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And we’ll come back in a few minutes and look at the answer to that question.

Now let’s turn to 1 Samuel, chapter 16, verse 7 for our Scripture reading this day. 1 Samuel, chapter 16, verse seven. Here the Bible says, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance or on the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord seeth not as man seeth. For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

When you think about those last words—that God does not see as man sees, because man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart—when you really think about those words, is it any wonder that we misjudge people sometimes? Is it any wonder that we’re not as fair with other people as we should be sometimes?

Is it any wonder that we get fooled and disappointed with people? Well, when we look at the outward appearance, that is inevitably going to happen. And it’s interesting to see what happened here in 1 Samuel chapter 16 verse 7. You see, Samuel had gone to the house of Jesse to anoint the new king. Now, if you know your Bible well, you already know where that story is going because you know that David was the one who was anointed king out of that house.

But at this point, Samuel, the prophet does not know that, and so he goes to the house of Jesse, and the Bible says that the first son of Jesse that came out before him was the oldest. His name was Eliab, and there was something in Eliab that Samuel saw that made him think that this one was going to be the new king.

In verse six, the Bible says, “It came to pass when they were come that he looked on Eliab, this oldest son of Jesse, and he said, surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” In other words, this is surely going to be the next king of Israel. Perhaps because of how his face looked, perhaps because of how tall he was, he seemed to have fit the image of what a king should look like.

But God didn’t see it that way. And that’s why God said what he did in verse seven. He said, don’t look on his outward appearance now. Don’t look at his face. Don’t look at his countenance. Don’t look at how tall he is. Because I’m looking at the heart of man, and how often we as human beings make that mistake.

In the Bible, there are many times when men are misjudged and even mistreated because of how they looked. For instance, Solomon said to be careful about outward beauty. And be careful about putting too much emphasis on how a person looks on the outside. He says that is very deceptive. In Proverbs chapter 31, verse 30, he’s talking about a virtuous woman and he says, you have to be careful not to confuse outward beauty with inward virtue.

He said, “Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” And we have all kinds of little sayings or proverbs that are similar. You can’t judge a book by its cover. Beauty is only skin deep. Pretty is as pretty does. Solomon said that favor is deceitful and beauty is vain.

You have to be careful about judging a person just because of how that person looks. And in this case, he’s talking about a person who is outwardly beautiful. As a matter of fact, Solomon had earlier said, In Proverbs chapter 11 verse 22, that this kind of beauty can be so out of place that it is offensive.

In Proverbs 11 verse 22, listen to what Solomon said. He says, “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman.” that is, a beautiful woman, “which is without discretion.” So he said, if you can just picture a hog with a gold ring in his nose, that gold ring is very valuable. It just doesn’t fit, does it? It just doesn’t match. He said, that’s the same as it is with a woman who is outwardly very beautiful, but she doesn’t have any morals. She doesn’t have good judgment. She doesn’t have good sense when it comes to making decisions about right and wrong. Be careful, he said, about judging outward beauty.

Now, James in the New Testament said that there were people in the early church who treated people at church services based on their clothes, that is, on their outward appearance. And in James chapter 2, verses 1 through 5, he got on to those members of the church for mistreating poor people because their clothes didn’t have the outward appearance as the clothes of a rich man who came into church services wearing expensive clothes. Don’t base your judgments, he says, in other words, on the outward appearance of a person and especially the clothes that that person wears.

Paul said that there were people in the church at Corinth who criticized how he looked, not necessarily from the standpoint of him lacking beauty as far as his face was concerned, but you see, Paul had a thorn in the flesh. And as far as his body was concerned, he was not strong in his appearance. He appeared weak.

And that’s what those people at the church at Corinth said about him. They said his bodily presence is weak. So in all these cases, what do we have? We have people judging by the outward appearance. Solomon said be careful about judging a woman simply based on her outward beauty because that can be deceptive.

James says don’t look at the kind of clothes that a person is wearing as far as whether that person is rich or poor. Don’t judge that person based on his income level. That’s judging by the outward appearance. And the Bible says that man is prone to do that, but God doesn’t see it that way. Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

And it’s interesting in Second Corinthians chapter 10 that Paul asked the Corinthians that very question. He said, “Do you judge things after the outward appearance?” Now that’s second Corinthians chapter 10, verse seven. And then in verse 10, that’s where he said that they were criticizing him because of his outward appearance.

That is because of the weakness of his body. So they were looking on the outward appearance—the very thing that the Bible talks about back in first Samuel chapter 16, verse seven.

Jews and Samaritans in the Bible had nothing to do with each other simply because they were of different races. They looked upon each other and they prejudged each other because of their outward appearance.

And that happens many times today. But I’m going to look at this from another perspective. I want to talk about the fact that there is an encouraging side to what we’re looking at here. And again, we’re looking at the verse in first Samuel 16 verse seven that says that God does not see things, he does not see people as people see themselves and as they see each other, because he says that man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. I’m saying that if you think about it, that is an encouraging passage of Scripture. It’s not just something to talk about how that people misjudge each other, but there is an encouraging side to that story.

And I’m talking about this. If you’re a Christian, God is not interested in or impressed by how you look on the outside. And he never thinks less of you because of your physical appearance. And so, when your body grows weak, that doesn’t cause God to think less of you as a child of God. When your body becomes tired, when your body becomes ill, when your body becomes aged, God doesn’t look on the outward appearance.

This doesn’t matter to God. He sees you differently. You see, if you’re a Christian, you may get discouraged because you see your body fading. But God, on the other hand, does not look at it like that. God looks at your soul, and He sees it shining and growing stronger. Now that’s what 2 Corinthians 4, verse 16 says: Our outward man perishes, but the inward man is renewed day by day.

No, the Lord does not see as man sees, because man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. First Samuel, chapter 16, verse 7.

We’re going next to a segment that we call On Solid Ground. Now in this segment we look at some principle or some example or some evidence that helps us to see that as Christians, we have the utmost faith in God, and we ought to have the utmost faith and confidence that the Bible is the Word of God.

And so, some people would say that this is a segment about Christian evidences. And the Bible does say in first Peter chapter three verse 15 to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and with fear.”

And so the Bible does say that we ought to be ready to defend the Christian faith. We ought to be ready to defend God and Christ and the Bible. Now the example that I’m looking at today has to do with the inspiration of the Scriptures. And I’m going back to a man by the name of Sir William Ramsey. He lived from 1851 to 1939.

He’s usually regarded as a Bible scholar and a biblical archaeologist. But just because he was regarded as a Bible scholar did not mean, and it does not mean, that he started out as a true Bible scholar. In fact, he started out as a Bible critic of the worst kind because he didn’t believe that the Bible books of the New Testament were actually written by the people that we believe wrote them, and at the time that they were written.

In other words, when he looked at the book of Acts, he didn’t believe that the book of Acts was written by Luke. He didn’t believe that the writer of the book of Acts was Luke, was a contemporary of Paul, that he actually traveled with Paul. In other words, he thought that the book of Acts was actually made up by somebody that lived a hundred or a hundred and fifty years after the events of the book of Acts actually had taken place.

And so I want to quote something that he said about that. He said, as he began his studies of the Bible—and he was educated in a very liberal school in England—he said, “I’d read a good deal of modern criticism about the book,” that is the book of Acts. And he said, “I accepted the current opinion that it was written during the second half of the second century by an author who wished to influence the minds of people in his own time by a highly wrought and imaginative description of the early church.” So he just believed that the book of Acts was a fraud. So he went to Asia Minor and tried to find the truth out about these cities and places and events and he traveled thousands of miles.

He spent hundreds of hours reading the book of Acts and also other books in the New Testament. This took place over the period of several years. And what were the results? What were his conclusions? What did he think about the book of Acts when he actually looked at the evidence for himself? Let me read it to you.

After he had spent all these hours studying the New Testament and all these miles traveling in that area and minutely studying this area of the world, he wrote, “The more I have studied the narrative of the Acts and the more I have learned year after year about Greco Roman society and thoughts and fashions and organization in those provinces, the more I admire and the better I understand. I set out to look for truth on the borderland where Greece and Asia meet and found it here. You may press the words of Luke.” Now, the words of Luke that he’s talking about here does not refer to the book of Luke, specifically. It does allude to that, but he’s specifically talking here about the book of Acts.

Now, that’s the same book that this man, who had been to one of the most prestigious religious universities in the world, which said that the book of Acts was not written in the first century. It was actually a forgery. Somebody made these things up, and he believed that at first, but he said, I want to check it out for myself.

Now he says, about that same book of Acts, he said, after all his investigation, he said, I have changed my mind. He said, you can take those words of Luke in the book of Acts, and you can press them. That is, you can scrutinize them, you can analyze them, you can criticize them all you want. And he said you can do that in a degree far beyond any other historians.

He said you can test the Book of Acts all you want to, but he said the words of the Book of Acts will stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment. Now that’s from a man who started out to be a skeptic and ended up to be a believer when he really looked at the evidence. Yes! When we talk about the inspiration of the Bible, we are standing on solid ground.

Our next segment is what we call God and the Nations, or we could call it all nations under God. We’re familiar with the phrase “one nation under God,” but we’re talking about all the nations of the earth being under God, that is being accountable to God. Although many people don’t see it that way, God is the sovereign ruler of this world.

He is the one that we’re ultimately accountable to. God is the great governor, the great king. And so, what we’re going to do for the next few minutes. is to look at a phrase that is oftentimes used, and that is partisan politics. Now, I’m not a politician, I’m not an expert, or even a good student in politics.

But I know this, that if we’re going to look at the subject of politics the way that we should, we have to look at two sides to that issue, two sides to the question of government. And that is, we have to look at God’s side. There’s no way that we’re going to be able to see rightly if we only look at the human side and most people today in the mainstream media and even conservative talk shows only look at the human side.

And when we look at the Bible, when we see this issue through the lenses of the Scriptures, we see a completely different perspective. And I want to go to the book of Daniel again to look at a couple of verses and a few examples that show that God is indeed involved in the governments of men. Now, the famous statement that we have based this segment on is Daniel chapter 4 verse 17.

That’s where the Bible says that the Most High, that is God, rules in the kingdom of men, that is the nations of men, the governments of men. The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and He gives it to whomsoever He will. The will of God is involved in the course of nations. The will of God is involved in governmental affairs, not just in this country, but in all the nations of the world.

And the Bible says in Daniel chapter 4, verse 17, That he also sets up over it, that is kingdoms, governments, he sets up over it the basest of men. Now, the word base there in the King James Version simply means low. That is, low in their morals, low in their character—sorry men, bad men. Why does God do that?

Well, because God uses sometimes evil men to accomplish his purposes. I don’t understand that. I never will. Well, we cannot comprehend how God can do these things because God is God and we are people. We’re human beings. But the Bible definitely says in Daniel 4, verse 17 that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomsoever he will, that is whomever he wants to give it to.

And he sets up over it the basest, that is the lowest, the meanest, the worst of men. He doesn’t always put a bad man in a position of power, but sometimes He does. Throughout this book of Daniel, that is one of the main themes that you see. And that is God is in control. Now men, because men acquire, men achieve positions of power in this life, oftentimes feel that they’re the ones in control, that they’re the ones that are wielding power.

And to some extent they do, but only as God allows it. But that doesn’t mean that God is not involved. That doesn’t mean that man is the only factor in human politics. The Bible says that there are two sides to it, and so that’s why I say that most descriptions of politics today, most discussions of politics are one-sided.

They are partisan looks or views of politics because they’re only looking at the human side. They’re only talking about man’s side. And that is what is sorely missing in our world today. And that is that people need to consider that God is the one that oftentimes intervenes. Now we don’t know when, we don’t know how, we don’t know why, but He does.

The Bible also says throughout the book of Daniel that God involves himself. God foresees. And He intervenes in the affairs of men, even at the level of government. In Daniel chapter 2, verse 21, Daniel said he changes the times and the seasons. He removes kings and sets up kings. Now, think about that. The Bible says that God removes kings and he sets up kings.

Now, the same thing would apply to presidents, rulers, prime ministers, dictators, whatever the form of government is, and whatever spot on earth that you’re considering, the hand of God is oftentimes involved in those matters. And so today, when you hear people talking about politics, and sometimes you get involved in those discussions, let’s all remember that there are two sides.

People talk about bipartisan support; they talk about bipartisan agreement. We need to have a bipartisan view of politics. That is, we need to understand that there is the human side, but we also need to understand that there is the divine side. God has a part to play in politics as well as man and his part in politics.

Let’s move next to a segment that we call the Furnace of Affliction, and the title for this segment, as well as the idea behind it, comes from Isaiah chapter 48, verse 10. There the Bible says, “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver. I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” A hardship in life can be like going through fire, and that’s why you have that image used in Isaiah 48 verse 10.

So we’re talking about going through troubles and trials and tribulations, hardships and heartaches in life. And we’re looking at some passage in the Bible, in this part of the program, that helps us to bear with those issues of life. Now today, we’re going to 2 Corinthians chapter 1. It’s interesting in this book that Paul talks a great deal about the sufferings that he endured.

If you will go through the book of Second Corinthians, there are 13 chapters in it. You’re going to find that time and time again, Paul talks about all of the heartaches and pains and persecutions and tribulations that he and other apostles went through. So let’s begin today in 2 Corinthians 1, beginning in verse 3, and you’ll notice in verses 3 and 4 a passage that is oftentimes read at funerals.

I would say that many of you have perhaps used if you’re a preacher or you have heard a preacher read these words at a funeral, but I have found that there are some verses that we use at funerals or we hear at funerals that would be good for us in a lot of other situations in life. I’m just saying that we don’t need to wait until a funeral to read these verses. We need to gain the strength and draw the comfort from these words before that time comes.

So let’s begin reading here in Second Corinthians chapter one, verse three, “Blessed be God, even the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Now, notice what happens here. Notice this chain of cause and effect. The Bible says in verse 3 that God is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. In verse 4, he says that God comforts us in all our tribulation. And in this book, my does Paul describe in great detail all the tribulation that he went through.

God, he says, comforts us. And then we take that same comfort and we extend it to other people. God comforts us and then we comfort other people. That’s how we share it. That’s how we keep it going. And what a beautiful image that is in verses three and four. Now I want you to go down to verse eight and look at a particular trial that Paul is talking about here because Paul knew the need and the benefit of the comfort of God. He knew how badly that people needed it in their lives as Christians. Now notice verse 8. He said, “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia.” And that probably refers to what is recorded in Acts chapter 19.

Paul was in the city of Ephesus. And he could have very easily lost his life. It was a very dangerous situation. Now notice what Paul says about this in verse 8. He says that we were “pressed out of measure above strength.” Paul says that situation was beyond words to describe and almost more than they could take.

He said “insomuch that we despaired even of life.” Now, that means to be just at the point of death. Paul saw no way out of this situation. He didn’t think that there was any way that he was going to be able to live. And the Bible tells us in verse nine that he says, “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves.”

Sometimes today we talk about somebody receiving the death penalty or the death sentence or being on death row. Well, that’s what Paul felt like. He felt like that the end was in sight. He felt like that the end, that death, was inevitable. And that means from a human point of view, it looked like that they were going to die, that they were as good as dead.

But Paul said we had this sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves. As far as their human ability was concerned, there was no way that they could see that they could get out of this situation. They just thought that they were going to die. They thought that this was the end, but he said, we didn’t trust in ourselves, but we trusted in God, which “raises the dead who delivered us from so great a death.”

That was a serious situation, a very dangerous situation, and yet God saved us. God delivered us. We didn’t die. And He does “deliver us in whom we trust that He will also deliver you.” And in verse 11 He said, “You were also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks, thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”

These Corinthians were praying for Paul and Paul was delivered from that. What I would encourage you to do is to read through the book of 2nd Corinthians with this in mind. That is, that he begins this book talking about God as the God of all comfort who has comforted him and other Christians in all kinds of tribulation.

Paul is going to spell out for you those tribulations the more that you read through this book. And the more you read this book, the more you’re going to appreciate the faith of Paul, and the more that you’re going to be able to relate to his sufferings, and the more you’re going to learn about how to deal with your own hardships in life.

And when you reflect on what Paul went through and then you compare what Paul suffered to what you’re experiencing in your life, then your sufferings are not going to seem so great at all. You’re going to have a greater appreciation for Paul and a greater understanding of these verses. And so, if you look at the book of 2 Corinthians like this, then what we have in the first chapter, in verses 3 through 11 especially, is somewhat of an introduction to the whole book.

Now, I’m not saying that suffering is all he talks about in this book. He talks about other subjects as well. But that’s one of the main topics that you find in this book. So, 2 Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 3 and 4, which talks about God being the God of all comfort, is your introduction, And then the rest of this book gives example after example after example of how that God does comfort Christian people.

Well, let’s go back to the question that we gave out at the beginning of the program. And that is, you remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were thrown into a furnace of fire, a fiery furnace. Why? Why did that happen? Well, the story is found in Daniel chapter 3, and in Daniel chapter 3, the king, Nebuchadnezzar, made a great image.

He made an idol. Many people believe that this was a statue that was overlaid with gold that was actually a statue of the king himself. And the king demanded that when anybody saw that image and heard the music, they were to bow down to that idol and worship it. And Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, being faithful Jews, refused to bow down to that image.

Well, they were arrested. They were brought in before the king, and the king asked them, Why did you not worship this image? That’s basically what he said in Daniel chapter 3. And he said, I’ll give you another chance. And this was unusual for a king. And he said, when you hear the music the next time, if you’ll fall down and worship it, then things will be fine.

But if you don’t, you’re going to be cast into the midst of a burning, fiery furnace. And then he added this very arrogant question: “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” Now the famous response of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was this, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning, fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O King. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

You have to admire and appreciate so much the courage of these men. And of course, what happened after this is that the king threw them into that furnace of fire, but God delivered them. That’s Daniel chapter three.

Thank you for listening to my God and my neighbor. Stay connected with our podcast on our website and on Apple, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Tennessee Bible College, providing Christian education since 1975 in Cookeville, Tennessee offers undergraduate and graduate programs. Study at your level. Aim higher and get in touch with us today.