Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

Abnegation

In my personal study, I recently came across a word with which I was not familiar. The term is “abnegation.” It is interesting that in consulting dictionaries about the word, one didn’t have it, several defined it simply as “self-denial”, and only two (both online dictionaries) gave the meaning that coincided with its usage in the example I had encountered. WordNet gives as the primary meaning of the term, “the denial and rejection of a doctrine or belief.”

Though the term might be a bit rare, the concept or phenomenon of denying and rejecting a doctrine or belief is commonly found in scripture.

Note the following:

When the children of Israel clamored for a king, God told a disappointed Samuel, “And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them’” (1 Samuel 8:7). Their desire to be like the people around them caused them to abnegate the theocracy that had been established by God through Moses.

In Isaiah 53, the prophet foretold the abnegation of Jesus Christ as the Messiah. “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (vs. 3). Jesus came to save the world, and the world killed him.

Paul condemned the abnegation of Demas in 2 Timothy 4:10, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica.” His love for the world caused him to reject his service to God. The Hebrew writer referred to such an abnegation of Christ as, “crucify (-ing) again for themselves the Son of God, and put (-ting) Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:6).

Abnegation of any truth contained in God’s word carries grave consequences. A bumper sticker rather popular a few years ago stated, “God said it, I believe it, That settles it.” While I appreciate the well meaning sentiment contained in the slogan, it is not entirely accurate. Rather, “God said it, That settles it,” is the reality, whether I believe it, or not.

The nature of free will necessitates the Almighty’s allowance for abnegation. We are not puppets. While God requires us to accede to His will in order for us to gain his approval, he does not compel either faith or obedience!

If you wish to deny God, you may! If you wish to live a life of licentiousness, dishonesty or violence, you may! If you wish to follow after other deities, you may! Just remember this, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

To many it seems that an abnegation of God’s truths can be made without consequence. Some deny the very existence of God, or the inspiration of His scriptures. Others elevate their own desires or philosophies above the canon. All of them are as the scoffers mentioned by Peter in his second epistle, “walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’” (2 Peter 3:3-4). The apostle assured them that their view that they could escape judgment was wrong. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…” (vs. 10).

The nation of Judah had the same attitude in the days of Habakkuk the prophet. The evil men had the upper hand, and in despair the prophet cried out, “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ And you will not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2). The Lord’s answer was telling, and serves notice to all who would today reject Him or His will, “Look among the nations and watch — Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you” (1:5).

Indeed, God sent the Chaldeans in judgment against ungodly Judah, and the nation was utterly destroyed. Those who reject God (abnegate) will suffer the consequence of their action.

However, in the midst of such destruction and pain, the prophet wrote, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (3:18). Comfort and protection wasa available for those who accepted God and obeyed His will. The moral that is learned from this passage? Truth is truth. Abnegate at your own peril.

We make the choice either to accept God and His will, or reject Him and it. However, rejecting it has no bearing on its validity. It only determines our ultimate disposition with regard to God. As the writer John wrote, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 9-11).