Mature Class Study, teacher Josh Olmsted.

Many focus on the good Samaritan in reading the account that Jesus told. The Samaritan met the beaten man where he was. The Levite and the priest went to the other side when they saw him.

Luke 10:30-33 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

The Levite and the priest are the religious folks. Why did they go to the other side? There’s a impression that they didn’t want to be dirty or unclean because they couldn’t participate the service of God if they were unclean. Looking at how the good Samaritan acted, what’s the choice and the right voice we listen to? Those things that would keep us safe and protect ourselves, or do we listen to the Spirit of God? How we choose or what we listen to really comes down to going from salvation to sanctification. When someone is in the pit of sin and hits rock bottom, has a fear of hell and wants to make heaven – then repentance and salvation are the best things that can happen to them. One of the worst things that can happen to someone is just becoming a religious person who doesn’t move on to sanctification and what it produces. What’s happening here with the Levite and the priest seems like where the Jordan river runs into the Dead Sea and ends there. There’s no outlet and all that fresh water coming in from the Jordan has nowhere to go, so it evaporates and leaves all the other sediments in the sea. It’s very salty and no fish or any living thing can live in it. It’s like people these days are going down to the Dead Sea. It’s buoyant and probably does some good for their skin but that’s all it does. Like some in religion who have a good time for a little while, but then they move on and it ends there.

What God wants to happen is that we have a man that came down from heaven, who we’re eating and partaking with, and we’re sharing with others. What are we doing with what God has given to us? Are we just keeping it for ourselves? What type of experience do we have? Do we care for others and is it important? Are we hearing the Spirit of God and obeying what he says? The Levite and priest went the other way. They didn’t want to touch a person that looked dead or would make them unclean if they touched his body. The Samaritan was like Christ and had compassion on him and came where he was. He met him where he was and that was different than how the Levite and the priest acted.

It’s a more selfish thing to keep ourselves safe versus meeting someone else’s need. The most important thing is helping others and getting them to make heaven their home. Sometimes we prevent that by trying to protect ourselves or just being secure in our religion. Being the Church Of God with the doctrines that are taught and preached is very important, but the Church Of God doesn’t save us. It’s by obeying God that we’re saved. How well are we hearing and obeying?

We use the word flexible but some think of flexible as being compromised. If we follow the Spirit, we won’t be compromising. In being flexible, do we hear and obey? Peter said, No Lord. I’ve never done that before. But God basically told him, If I call it clean, don’t call something unclean (Acts 10:9-15). God will challenge us and sometimes require us to change our thinking. The situation with the Samaritan is obviously a very foreign situation to us. It’s not typical to come across a half-dead person on the side of the road. If we put ourselves into this story of the religious persons and the good Samaritan, we all think we’d be just like the good Samaritan to go and help that person. Some of us could think of situations over the years when we made a decision to take a stand. It didn’t fix the issue but caused everyone involved to just see us as a judgmental, religious person. It pushed people away and alienated them from us. Our stand was to protect ourselves from being unclean or from sinning. Sometimes these situations happened when we were first saved and saw everything as black and white.

The prodigal son’s brother never left, but he was upset. He said he never left or did any of those things his brother did, but at that point he didn’t have his father’s heart. It’s kind of the same point, we may be trying to make right decisions but really don’t have the Spirit of God like we need so we can meet them where they are. As God works with us, we realize we’ve inadvertently alienated people at times. We didn’t meet them where they were. As we grow in our experience, we find we weren’t helping situations. We could become a place like the Dead Sea where you can’t get fresh water to drink. No one drinks water from the Dead Sea. We may find that we have something about us a person that we need to change so we can hear the Spirit of God. Why do we walk by that one on the roadside? It is because we’re trying to protect ourselves.  If we’re protecting ourselves or staying in comfortable places, our salvation can become stagnant. We say, I’m Church Of God, or These are the things I don’t do. Jesus said the Pharisee prayed with himself. He was saying I’ve kept myself clean and kept away from these people doing all those wicked things. Christ was dealing with the religious Pharisees who weren’t able to receive what he said. We can get comfortable in a religion to a point where our receiver is no good. That stops us from hearing the Lord and creates a dangerous place.

Luke 18:10-11 Two men went up into the temple to pray…a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee…prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

We don’t come a place that we’re comfortable because we go to the Church Of God, have a good pastor who preaches the word of God, and good saints around us. That is about being secure and how we feel about ourselves and our religion, versus really having a burden for souls. There’s a danger in being content to be kept from spots on our garment. We think about not getting spots on our white garment and nothing defiling it. It’s a mistake to try to keep ourselves by “this is what I don’t do, this is what I do, and this is where I go.” That can actually be a place we can’t receive what God has for us.

What are we going to choose? Are we going to be like the religious group or the good Samaritan? We won’t be able to live and do as the good Samaritan did unless we go on to be sanctified. We want to do more than say words we learned from Church Of God lingo. In the beginning of Acts, the disciples got sanctified. God was with them before, but now he was in them. Cornelius had been praying and God told him to call for Peter. Peter was on a housetop praying (Acts 10). There was a question about the Gentiles right. When Peter was accused for eating with uncircumcised men, he told what God said.

Acts 11:5-9 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying…Arise, Peter; slay and eat. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. But the voice answered…from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

If Peter heard the voice before he had the Spirit of God, he may not have received it. He had the Spirit of God and still had a rebuttal. He said, No, I’ve never eaten anything unclean. God asked him to do something he’d never done. God was essentially saying, you have to obey because if I say so then it’s not unclean. The Jewish Christians were trying to put the law on the Gentiles. Many Gentiles might not have been saved if they were forced to be circumcised. God didn’t put more on them than they could bear, but gave them what they needed. God didn’t come to destroy the law but to establish it. It’s a new law written in the hearts of men. That won’t be accomplished if we’re just keeping the law. Without the Spirit of God, salvation can turn into a law that doesn’t bring life. The law was for the lawless. If we live like the good Samaritan, we’re able to meet people where they live. We get past worrying about if I do this, then I’m going to be a sinner. Obeying God from the heart is the most important thing. He says what you’ve done to the least of my brethren, you have done to me.

When God was calling David to be king, Samuel said of David’s brother, surely this is the one. God told him men look on the outward appearance but God looks upon the heart. God still looks on our heart and our ability to listen to him. Sometimes God throws a curveball that makes us uncomfortable so we’ll participate in what he wants. We need to be willing and simply obey like good children obey. We obey and participate in things he wants for our good and for others. In situations of life do we hear God so he can work through us with others? If we say these are the rules we’ve set to stand by and this is what the Church Of God believes, we can become like the Dead Sea. We don’t want to be the Dead Sea but to be full of life, to see others drawn to the Lord. Showing kindness is helpful to others. Being legalistic and judgmental as we try to protect ourselves will work against the Spirit of God working in us to help others. Are we being vulnerable to obey God? Are we like the priest and Levite or like the Samaritan? We want to be someone that that God can use.